The meaning of most holidays is clear: Valentine’s Day celebrates romance; July Fourth, independence; Thanksgiving, productivity; Christmas, good will toward men. The meaning of New Year’s Day–the world’s most celebrated holiday–is not so clear. On this day, many people remember last year’s achievements and failures and look forward to the promise of a new year, of a new beginning. But this celebration and reflection is the result of more than an accident of the calendar. New Year’s has a deeper significance. What is it?
On New Year’s Day, when the singing, fireworks and champagne toasts are over, many of us become more serious about life. We take stock and plan new courses of action to better our lives. This is best seen in one of the most popular customs and the key to the meaning of New Year’s: making resolutions.
On average each American makes 1.8 New Year’s resolutions. When the rest of the world is taken into account, the number of people making resolutions skyrockets to hundreds of millions. From New York to Paris to Sydney, interesting similarities arise as shown in two very common resolutions: people wanting to be more attractive by losing weight, and to be healthier by exercising more and smoking less. They want to do things better, become better people.
New Year’s Day is the most active-minded holiday, because it is the one where people evaluate their lives and plan and resolve to take action. One dramatic example of taking resolutions seriously is the old European custom of: “What one does on this day one will do for the rest of the year.” What unites this custom and the more common type of resolutions is that on the first day of the year people take their values more seriously.
Values are not only physical and external. They also can be psychological. Many New Year’s resolutions reveal that people want to better themselves by improving psychologically. For example, look at your own resolutions over the years. Haven’t they included such vows as: be more patient with your children, improve your self-esteem, be more emotionally open with your wife? Such resolutions express the moral ambitiousness of a person wanting to improve his self and life.
What then is the philosophic meaning of New Year’s resolutions? Every resolution you make on this day implies that you are in control of your self, that you are not a victim fated by circumstance, controlled by stars, owned by luck, but that you are an individual who can make choices to change your life. You can learn statistics, ask for that promotion, fight your shyness, search for that marriage partner. Your life is in your own hands.
But what is the purpose of making such goals and resolutions? Why bother? Making New Year’s resolutions (and doing so even after failing last year’s) stresses that people want to be happy. On New Year’s Day many people accept, often more implicitly than explicitly, that happiness comes from the achievement of values. That is why you resolve to be healthier, more ambitious, more confident. You want to enjoy that sense of purpose, accomplishment and pleasure that one feels when achieving values. It is happiness that is the motor and purpose of one’s life. It is New Year’s, more than any other day, that makes the attainment of happiness more real and possible. This is the meaning of New Year’s Day and why it is so psychologically important and significant to people throughout the world.
If people were to apply the value-achievement meaning of New Year’s Day explicitly and consistently 365 days each year, they would be happier.
So every day, fill your champagne glass of life to the brim with values–and drink deep to your life and the joy that it can and should be.
Happy New Year. Happy life.
Scott McConnell, Capitalism Magazine
“People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.”
― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
A very good case can be made, on moral as well as economic grounds, for a system in which the individual is required to stand on his own feet, not to lean on the state for handouts. Character, resourcefulness, capacity are formed and developed in struggle with obstacles, not in waiting passively for benefits from outside. – William Henry Chamberlin
The governors of all 50 states, and the mayors of many large cities, have assumed unto themselves the powers to restrict private personal choices and lawful public behavior in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
They have done so not by enforcing previously existing legislation but by crafting their own executive orders, styling those orders as if they were laws, using state and local police to enforce those so-called laws and — presumably when life returns to normal and the courts reopen — prosecuting the alleged offenders in court.
It is hard to believe that any judge in America would permit a criminal trial of any person for violating a standard of behavior that has not been enacted into law by a legislature. We know this because under our system of representative government, separated powers and guaranteed liberties, only the legislative branch can craft laws and assign punishments for noncompliance. This is Constitutional Law 101. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has written that the executive branch cannot enforce a law that it has written. If it does, we will have approached tyranny.
Have we approached tyranny already?
During the past eight weeks, governors and mayors have closed most businesses, public venues and houses of worship, prohibited public assembly and restricted travel — all of which they have unilaterally decreed to be nonessential.
In his terrifying novel “1984” — which posits a future of total control of all persons by the government and total control of the government by one political party — George Orwell argued that he who controls the meaning of words controls the laws as well.
That Orwellian truism has been manifested like never before here in America, where executive branch officeholders have used state and local police to restrain people from engaging in private and public behavior which they concede was lawful two months ago because today it is not deemed “essential.”
Frankly, I am surprised at the ferocity of police enforcement and the lameness of police compliance. The police have taken the same oaths to uphold the same Bill of Rights — it’s not the Bill of Safety; it’s the Bill of Rights — as have all other officeholders. The police also know that it is unlawful for them to obey an unlawful order, particularly when they use force.
The lockdown orders are all unlawful because none of them — none — has been enacted by a legislature, and all of them — all — interfere with fundamental liberties, each of which is guaranteed — guaranteed — by the Constitution.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I recognize the scientific value of personal efforts to control contagion. But under the Constitution, these social-distancing, wear-your-mask, shut-your-business, stay-at-home edicts constitute mere recommendations that should induce rational voluntary compliance, because the government in America is without lawful power to compel compliance.
The governors complain about resistance. They need to know that Americans will resist efforts to interfere in behavior that remains as moral, natural, lawful and constitutional as it was 60 days ago.
Last week, President Donald Trump, sounding fed up with gubernatorial lockdown orders, declared that religious worship is essential — meaning, in his opinion, all houses of worship should be opened — and he offered that he was prepared to “override” any governors who disagreed with him.
When he realized that he lacked any authority to override even unlawful gubernatorial decrees, he dispatched the Department of Justice to begin filing challenges to governors in federal courts and to argue that constitutional freedoms are being impaired by the states.
I applaud this, but it is too little, too late. Where was the DOJ when Catholic priests were threatened with arrest for saying Mass or distributing palms and when Jewish rabbis were put in COVID-19-infested jails for holding funerals? At all these religious events, folks freely chose to exercise their freedom to worship; and to take their chances.
These DOJ interventions provoked the question: Who should decide what goods, services or venues are essential — the states or the federal government? The question is Orwellian, as the answer is: neither of them. The government in America — state or federal — has no power and no right to determine what goods, services and venues are essential.
Those determinations have been for individuals to make since 1776, and those individual choices have been constitutionally protected from the feds since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791 and from the states since the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868.
What is essential to the laborer or student or housewife may not be essential to the former Goldman Sachs partner who was elected governor of New Jersey, and who decreed last week, “It shall be the duty of every person or entity in this State… to cooperate fully” with his orders, or essential to the ideologue who is mayor of the Big Apple and who, for all his professed liberality, threatened to close permanently — permanently — businesses and houses of worship that flaunt his guidelines
A duty is undertaken voluntarily or by nature, not by executive command, Governor Murphy. And the government cannot take property away from its owners except for a legitimate public use and only for just compensation, Mayor de Blasio.
Governors and mayors can make all the dictatorial pronouncements and threats that they wish. But they cannot use public assets to enforce them. And when they seek to use force, those from whom they seek it should decline the offer.
In America, we decide for ourselves what produces happiness. We have never delegated to the government — ever — the power to make personal choices for us.
And some of us are willing to take chances and even do “nonessential” things. The essence of the freedoms for which we have fought since 1776 is the liberty to be ourselves.
“Joy is the goal of existence, and joy is not to be stumbled upon, but to be achieved, and the act of treason is to let its vision drown in the swamp of the moment’s torture.”
― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live–that productive work is the process by which man’s consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one’s purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one’s values–that all work is creative work if done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others–that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human–that to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to become a fear-corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to settle down into a job that requires less than your mind’s full capacity is to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay–that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live–that your body is a machine, but your mind is its driver, and you must drive as far as your mind will take you, with achievement as the goal of your road–that the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch, that the man who stifles his mind is a stalled machine slowly going to rust, that the man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap, and the man who makes another man his goal is a hitchhiker no driver should ever pick up–that your work is the purpose of your life, and you must speed past any killer who assumes the right to stop you, that any value you might find outside your work, any other loyalty or love, can be only travelers you choose to share your journey and must be travelers going on their own power in the same direction.”
― Ayn Rand
Undergirding the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution is a set of philosophical principles that are under assault by Progressives. These founding principles, derived mostly from the Federalist Papers, provide the lens through which we read and understand the Constitution. Without this lens, the meaning of the Constitution and American law becomes putty in the hands of every special interest group.
Progressivism seeks to replace the founding principles with a new set of doctrines based on the tenets of social justice — a system which elevate the rights of “protected classes” (non-whites, LGBTQ, women, etc.) by subordinating the rest of society. This so-called “just society” is not the kinder, gentler America that Progressives promise, but a dystopia where the rights of the many are trampled, dissenters are punished, and government has nearly unlimited power and scope. The examples that follow are selected from my recent eBook, The War on America’s Founding Principles: How Progressives Are Dismantling America One Plank at a Time.
Inalienable Rights. The assault on America’s Founding Principles begins by dismantling the inalienable rights upon which our nation is built. An attack on these rights, which are endowed by God rather than the state, is an attack on our entire constitutional system. The first inalienable right, according to the Declaration of Independence, is the right to life — the right to exist. Legalized abortion on demand, which Progressives promote with fanatical zeal, is a complete rejection of this inalienable right. Progressives have further embraced this rejection by elevating abortion access to a fundamental human right and insisting that the government fund abortions. Ironically, this renders government, which is charged with protecting inalienable rights, complicit in violating the inalienable rights of the most powerless members of our society.
Abortion is the first logical step in demolishing the American system of rights in order to construct a Progressive society with new rights, focused almost exclusively on protected classes. A philosophy draconian enough to seize the most fundamental right from the innocent without due process will not hesitate to curtail or confiscate other rights, even if they are guaranteed under the Constitution.https://lockerdome.com/lad/9371484590420070?pubid=ld-8832-1542&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.americanthinker.com&rid=www.americanthinker.com&width=692
Liberty. American liberties include freedom of religion; freedom of speech (and, yes, that includes hate speech); freedom of the press; and the right to bear arms. The principle of liberty restrains government power, preventing it from unduly interfering with or denying our divinely endowed freedoms. Except where authorized by citizens through the Constitution, government does not have the authority to limit these freedoms (Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments). Accordingly, every action of government should strive to protect liberty and should be weighed by this principle.
But we find an opposing inertia at work on the left. Progressivism commences with an authoritarian, regulatory-minded impulse that restrains the freedom of citizens. Government power is used reflexively to limit personal freedoms by regulating businesses, markets, consumption, education, speech, religious conscience, etc. All of this is necessary, according to Progressives, to create a “just society.”
Examples of this authoritarian impulse include the House-approved Equality Act (which severely limits religious freedoms in order to accommodate LGBTQ “rights”); the Affordable Care Act (which attempted to force religious ministries and schools to cover the insurance cost of abortion-inducing birth control drugs); federal zoning laws (which are intended to destroy the suburbs by merging them with large cities); onerous gun control legislation; and the relentless attempts on social media, in corporations, and on college campuses to limit or deny the free speech of conservative speakers.
In all of these examples, forced conformity to achieve a “just society” is valued by Progressivism above free thinking, individual liberty, conscience, and self-determination. This stands in stark opposition to the goal of the Founders, which was to minimize government interference in our daily lives — the right to be left alone — allowing us to pursue our own happiness.
Private Property. “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort,” said James Madison, including conscience, “the most sacred of all property.” The founding principle of private property is not limited to real estate. It encompasses the natural rights of all individuals to create, obtain, and control their possessions, beliefs, faculties, and opinions, as well as the fruits of their labor (Fourth and Fifth Amendments).
Progressivism subordinates the protection of private property to the goals of social and economic equality and environmental justice. Equal outcomes, or “equity,” as it is often called, can be achieved only by reallocating wealth through centralized planning and control, government coercion, confiscation of private property, and limiting individual economic freedom.
One of the primary vehicles for achieving these goals is excessive taxation, which is used to redistribute wealth through massive federal programs.* Though Progressives are not seeking to abolish private property outright, they believe that their vision of a just society warrants government confiscation of private wealth and property to whatever degree is necessary to implement “economic justice.” Effectively, the purpose of government is to appropriate private property rather than to protect it.
Not only do these policies violate the natural right of private property, but, as history has shown, attempts to heavily regulate and control businesses and markets, and to redistribute wealth through taxation, end in widespread poverty, shortages, and even starvation (e.g., the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, Venezuela, etc.).
Limited Government. The principle of limited government maintains that citizens are best able to pursue happiness when government is confined to those powers that protect their life, liberty, and property. History is littered with innumerable examples of “absolute Despotism,” to use the words of the Declaration of Independence. The lesson is clear: tyranny grows in proportion to power, threatening individual liberty. The Founders had a realistic understanding of the human condition and its tendency toward corruption and control. “It will not be denied,” warned James Madison, “that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it” (Federalist 48).
Progressivism, on the other hand, originates from an entirely different set of assumptions regarding government power. Progressives, as evidenced by their compulsive dependency on government, maintain that government should be as large and as powerful as necessary to implement social, economic, and environmental justice. The government, especially at the federal level, is viewed as the first resort in resolving social and economic problems such as health care, education, unemployment, housing, poverty, and the environment.
The Green New Deal, which will cost trillions of dollars, is the largest, most expensive proposed government expansion in history. It would use federal control to restructure utilities, transportation, infrastructure, agriculture, society, and the economy. Similar proposals include taxpayer-funded health care, taxpayer-funded childcare, taxpayer-funded college education (at state colleges), a minimum guaranteed income, slavery reparations, and even taxpayer-funded internet service. These programs promote an uncontrollable dependency on government that is diametrically opposed to the Founders’ vision of America.
The fatal flaw in the Progressive project is not just the expansion of government with its 430-plus federal agencies, but the failure to connect this growing government power with increasing tyranny. Progressivism has no limiting principle to restrain the growth of government because government is regarded as a benign agent of the people. But this is a naïve delusion. As we have already seen, a number of our constitutional rights are in jeopardy as government inches toward authoritarianism. Innumerable examples across the globe, especially from socialist and former socialist countries, also give proof to the Founders’ belief that tyranny and corruption always grow in proportion to power.
Though Progressives, like most Americans, believe they are defending and preserving our democracy, they are actually undermining and replacing American democracy with something radically and dangerously different. The threat extends far beyond the principles of limited government, private property, liberty, and inalienable rights. Progressivism, in its relentless attempt to delegitimize our historical foundations, also endangers the rule of law, due process, consent of the governed, and federalism, among other principles, as explained in my book. This sweeping demolition of our founding principles renders Progressivism the most dangerous existential threat America has faced since the Civil War.
William DiPuccio, Ph.D., is author of The War on America’s Founding Principles: How Progressives Are Dismantling America One Plank at a Time, a free eBook. His articles, books, and videos can be found on his blog, Science Et Cetera.
*Though citizens have a moral and civic duty to help those in need and improve society, it is not the prerogative of the federal government to coerce philanthropy. State governments, which are closer to the people and whose powers are more general, may, as the Founders believed, undertake such relief as a last resort (e.g., to help children, the disabled, the destitute, etc.). Thomas Jefferson, for example, co-authored the Virginia “Bill for Support of the Poor” in 1779.
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The most pitiful spectacle: Willfully stupid sheep doing things to VIRTUE-SIGNAL and impress other … willfully stupid sheep. One blindly obedient sellout trying to impress another blindly obedient sellout, all in the name of “virtue” that isn’t really virtue. It’s just stupidity. It’s the cycle of insanity, and we are living it right now.
Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason