In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson succinctly specifies the rights of individuals:
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
We as Americans have in essence been given the opportunity to grow, to achieve, to prosper and of course to build financial independence. Given this blueprint, it is no wonder that so many people in countries all over the world have lined up to immigrate to America throughout her history.
Jefferson was a scholar of human rights as well as a brilliant leader. His ideas were inspired by a variety of religions and philosophers. The words in the Declaration of Independence clearly demonstrate that its author had empathy for the needs of all people; that is, people from the entire spectrum of economic and religious beliefs.
Recently, Professor Denise Spellberg’s research about Jefferson were highlighted in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Jefferson was a strong advocate for religious liberty being strongly influenced by John Locke. In 1689, Locke wrote “A Letter Concerning Toleration.” Professor Spellberg quotes Locke: “neither Pagan, nor Mahometan, nor Jew ought to be excluded from the Civil Rights of the Commonwealth, because of his Religion.” But that is not all that Jefferson read in preparation for writing the Declaration of Independence. He read the Qur’an which is still in his library today.
Jefferson’s blueprint for freedom provided a base for the development of this great nation. For it is the many opportunities to achieve presented in this society that result in millions of success stories. Some countries may call themselves democracies but a true democracy is one of deeds and behaviors. Isn’t it interesting that countless immigrants and their children have prospered in our country while they barely eked out a living in their homelands?
In contrast, consider present day Russia. A recent report by Credit Suisse indicated that 110 households in Russia own a staggering 35% of all the personal wealth in that country or the equivalent of $420 billion. Translated, the Credit Suisse research indicates that the total private wealth in Russia is $1.2 trillion. Noteworthy is the fact that, according to Forbes, the richest 400 Americans only own about 3% of this country’s private wealth.
In the U.S., the wealthiest 300,000 Russian American households [approximately 0.3% of our household population] have a combined net worth of about $1.8 trillion or about 2.8% of America’s private wealth. Perhaps if the Russian government had provided these immigrants and their forefathers more freedoms and opportunities they would have kept their talents and ambition at home.