The Social Justice Disease Plague of America

One of the most misunderstood phrases in the Constitutional lexicon must be the “Pursuit of Happiness.” This is unfortunate as the Pursuit of Happiness is one of the three natural rights identified in the Declaration of Independence. It is a ground floor hard granite foundational element of our democracy. The acknowledgment of natural rights as a legitimate basis for power is attributable to the influence of the Age of Enlightenment.  Enlightenment allowed the Founding Fathers to acquire the wisdom, and exercise the courage to found a country on the premise that when we the people are left to our own devices, we can and will ultimately make the best informed individual decision for ourselves and in matters of political will, find the right answers in equality and justice for all.

If we accept Virginia Governor, and associate of Thomas Jefferson, George Mason’s Declaration of Rights for Virginia as the prequel to the Declaration of Independence, we can define the Pursuit of Happiness as “the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” This right as applied in the United States has been found to include both personal property and real estate, including the right to pursue one’s own home. Is this not part and parcel of the American Dream?

Notice if you will, I said pursue, not obtain. Nothing in life, and certainly nothing in the Constitution, guarantees you success. However, all natural rights are inalienable, meaning your right to pursue happiness cannot be denied or impeded by undue governmental interference. Los Angeles and, in this case, San Diego, should not be in the business of picking who is entitled to happiness. Due process rights demand cities to act at all times within the boundaries of fundamental fairness, their legislation no more intrusive upon individual rights than necessary.

Recently, a great deal of concern, consternation, constipation and to be fair a little movement in the right direction has been spent on a seemingly constitutionally unremarkable issue, overnight parking on public streets. As a consequence of growing economic inequality, the number of homeless persons sleeping in their cars and recreational vehicles overnight within city limits has skyrocketed. It is in our residential neighborhoods where most of the double shot trouble coffee is brewing. While homeowner concerns for the safety of one’s family and property are real, by impounding vehicles and levying excessive fines for let’s be honest, parking violations is, simply put, unfair, unjust, unwise, cruel, and I suggest unconstitutional as an unwarranted interference with the Pursuit of Happiness. It is better to be in a car than on the street. Health, safety and mobility encourage better job performance and opportunities leading to financial security and the American dream.

Do not self-delude yourself (there’s plenty of that to go around) we are the city. We are the State and we, the citizens of California are right now denying single, hard-working three jobs deep but still homeless mothers often with children (the anti-welfare queen if there ever was one) their natural rights to use their time, strength, skills and initiative to seek a better life for their families and themselves, to pursue happiness. How is society benefitted by taking away her vehicle and creating an avoidable, deeper hole of debt and despair resulting in an endless cycle where a return to the dangerous streets and homeless shelters is all but inevitable?

Modern problems demand modern solutions. Here’s one: How about we designate pre-approved, safe and humane clearly marked parking lots? Vehicular sanctuaries for the less fortunate among us. Si se puede? Yes, we can.

Next week, the Great Society revisited.