Friday, March 15, 2013

Ben Franklin on the Pursuit of Happiness

Ben Franklin explains that our Constitution describes our right, as citizens, to pursue happiness and property. However, it can not grant us that happiness. We must earn it for ourselves. 

A free society should strive for equality of opportunity, where all men ("persons") are equal in the eyes of the law. We cannot, and should not, promote or promise a utopian vision of equal outcomes for all. 

We are all individuals of differing abilities and makeup. Every one of us has a unique drive, personality, and outlook on life. Can we therefore expect everyone to outperform and achieve a certain prescribed level of happiness, wealth, and personal fulfillment? 

In our recent interview with "Trader Vic" Sperandeo, Victor pointed out that some of his friends were happy driving a bus while others were driven to work 70-80 hours a week on Wall Street in an effort to get rich. In real life, people are driven by different desires and passions. While some would label their difference in situation an "inequality", our society acknowledges their right to pursue happiness and a living in the manner of their choice. 

As for the end result, as old Ben says, we have to catch it for ourselves. 

Related posts

1. Lessons from Benjamin Franklin.

2. Marc Faber's advice to young people and the meaning of success.