Thursday, 21 April 2005

Right to property = a place to stand

Yesterday I commented to Lucyna that you can't be sure that someone is actually on the same side as you if there is disagreement over what concepts such as property rights actually mean.

Today Tibor Machan writes here on the confusion over property rights, and some of the consequences of that confusion:
Now if it is clearly understood that the respect and protection of the right to private property facilitates not only the pursuit of one’s direct, immediate self-interest but also all those other projects that people so evidently and widely support, then the abrogation of that right can be seen in a different light from the usual.

Many who oppose private property rights do so on the grounds that ... it simply facilitates the pursuit of private goals. Thus it must neglect others and impersonal goals. But if we understand that private property rights facilitate much else besides taking good care of one’s immediate concerns, including many of those I have listed above, then attacking it takes on a very different coloration...

Putting it a bit differently, attacking the right to private property amounts to attacking the judgments of private individuals who would have the option to support various goals they believe in. Instead, government officials—politicians, bureaucrats and their advisors—get to confiscate private property in taxes and other takings and they get to say to what ends these will be contributed.
Note especially what Tibor says about confiscation, and remember that compensation for confiscation is what many still believe as being being the essence of property rights: ACT's 2002 manifesto for example offers the plank: "Improve the security of property rights by establishing a prima facie right of compensation for regulatory takings."

What can one say except, 'Marx help me!'

And he can. Remember that point one of Marx's Communist Manifesto - point one! - was the abolition of private property. Marx understand the importance of private property; he knew that as a bulwark of freedom it would need to be destroyed first so that the terrorism could commence forthwith.

The UN even understands the importance of property rights: Article 17 of the Universal Dclaration of Human Rights declares: (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Ayn Rand understood the concept of private property rights and unlike the drafters of that declaration she knew how to defend it; she knew that this bulwark of freedom must be protected by being defended with the right ideas, and defend them she did. She understood that "the right to life is the source of all rights - and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights" - without a place to stand - "no other rights are possible."

Point that out to the drafters of the RMA Amendments when you get a chance.

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