‘Pursuit of Happiness’ Means ‘Free Stuff’ from the Government

Maybe the arduous campaign trail and the presence of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul are forcing Mitt Romney to be more conservative. That’s a good thing. Consider the story of a heckler who demanded from Mitt Romney that he campaign on a platform of free birth control. She cites portions of the Declaration of Independence in her defense:

“So you’re all for like, ‘yay, freedom,’ and all this stuff. And ‘yay, like pursuit of happiness.’ You know what would make me happy? Free birth control.”

The Declaration does not say a person’s “pursuit of happiness” is open ended. It doesn’t mean that whatever makes you happy, you are free to do. In addition, pursuing one’s own happiness does not require anybody else to pay for it. If going to college or travelling around Europe makes you happy, then go for it, but don’t ask me to pay for it and certainly don’t vote for people who will force me to pay for your version of happiness.

Mitt Romney had a good comeback line: “If you want free stuff, vote for the other guy.” I would have said something like this:

“Somebody has to pay for your version of ‘free stuff.’ If you can get someone to give you free stuff voluntarily, then good for you. Stealing someone’s money to pay for what you want for free is immoral and criminal even if it’s for your pursuit of happiness. Voting for someone to take stuff from me so you can pursue your version of happiness is equally immoral and criminal. Theft by majority vote is still theft.”

The second rule of economics, after “Thou shalt not steal,” is TANSTAAFL — “There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.”

While something might appear to be free (e.g., education, healthcare, housing, birth control, etc.), there is always a cost to someone. Ignore this law, and all economic hell breaks loose. Of course, politicians believe they can ignore and break any universal law. They believe they can create economic prosperity “out of nothing” simply by legislating it. Many, maybe even a majority, of Americans don’t care about these economic realities any more than the politicians who propose them because they are the first-in beneficiaries.

Just because politicians can create economic programs that transfer wealth from one segment of society to another does not mean they are moral or will work. Putting people in power so they can take money from your neighbors and give it to someone else does not make it right, whether they are Republicans or Democrats.