December 18, 2007

"The great thing about America, is that once you own property, you own it."

"Am I right? You can do anything you want with with that property. You can build a house on it, a business, you can plant flowers, grow daisies. Whatever you want to do with it. It's your property. You own it."

So says Drew Carey — obviously overstating it — but nicely capturing the emotional significance of ownership, in a well-made Wall Street Journal video about eminent domain. It's worth putting up with the intro commercial for the opening segment alone, where various men on the street are flummoxed by the question what is eminent domain. ("I don't know. I'm a tourist.")

75 comments:

AllenS said...

"The great thing about America, is that once you own property, you own it."

Only if you continue to pay your property taxes.

Simon said...

Isn't there an economist (DeSoto, maybe?) who's made precisely this point about why it's been so hard for market economies and the political freedom that generally goes hand in hand with economic freedom to grow beyond countries like America and Britain, viz., because their conceptualization of property ownership simply isn't as effective and established as ours?

Douglas said...

You may buy it from the previous 'owner,' but you rent it from the government. Try missing a few 'payments' and see if they don't take it back, selling it to the highest bidder on the court house steps.

Windbag said...

Coffee is another you can't own, only rent.

Bill_45 said...

I can't get the WSJ link to open, but this sounds like one of Drew Carey's videos for Reason Magazine and their Reason TV project.

MadisonMan said...

I liked the Eminent Domain is like cancer analogy.

LutherM said...

The "right" of property ownership never has been absolute. Traitors' property used to be forfeited - now it's the property of drug dealers, illegal importers, etc. There can be zoning and health restrictions on property use in addition to the possibility of Governmental taking for some ill-defined purposes. Property taxes must be paid, and the various Death Taxes (estate/inheritance) eventually come due. The property owner can not create long-term restrictions on the ownership or use of the property.
It seems there are substantially less limits on Governmental action regarding real property than there are on restrictions of dissemination of pornography - which is an interesting Public Policy comment on the U.S.A. at the end of 2007.

dax said...

You can build a house on it, a business, you can plant flowers, grow daisies. Whatever you want to do with it. It's your property. You own it."

What a crock!
Sure you may own the property, but don't think for one minute that you can do on it as you please.
I own properties that I can't plant more trees on, can't cut the existing trees, can't contour the slope or remove rocks, or cut any access roads on. Develop it? Yeah right!!!

dax said...

Ps: I do receive a 6 digit property tax bill every September and I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

GOD SAVE THE AL

AllenS said...

6 digit? As in $100,000? Good grief! Do you know the Gore's or Edwards?

Pogo said...

Property rights are currently only honored in the breach.

All the more reason to keep and bear arms.

paul a'barge said...

Give the environmentalists time, and property rights will be completely gone.

class-factotum said...

Simon,

Yes, Hernando (the economist, not the explorer) de Soto is a Peruvian economist who theorizes that lack of clearly defined property rights is one of the factors hindering development in the third world. He discusses poor people who do not hold title to their land or property and hence cannot borrow against that property. (That is, it makes it very difficult to get capital if your property isn't defined.)

Hoosier Daddy said...

Only if you continue to pay your property taxes.

Don't even get me started on that. Here in Indiana we practically had a tax revolt in Indianapolis. I mean it was nearly torches and pitchforks at the City County building. Some people saw a 150% increase in their property taxes and more than a few were going to lose thier homes over it.

Then again that's typical big government that when you made a good investment choice in a home, they need to get thier slice of it even if it means foreclosure.

Tim said...

AllenS said...
"The great thing about America, is that once you own property, you own it."

Only if you continue to pay your property taxes.


Yes. And some continue to deny that our tax system is about redistributing wealth from the productive to the unproductive classes, or that it collects enough for essential public services.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Some people saw a 150% increase in their property taxes and more than a few were going to lose their homes over it.

Prop 13 in California: the best thing that happened to home owners. How that snuck through the legislative process is a miracle.

My parent's bought a home in the early 60's in the Carmel area for the then huge sum of $35,000. If it weren't for Prop 13, they would not be able to continue to live in the home because of property taxes.

The taxes are usually 1 to 1.5% of assessed value. Due to Prop 13 the assessed value cannot go up more than 1% a year. Otherwise their taxes would be in the 6 figures!!

Just because they were lucky enough, or had the foresight, to buy a home in Carmel with an ocean view, is no reason that they should be forced out of their home because of the unreasonable increase in property values driven up by speculators.

Oh, and they don't really own their home either with all of the CC&R restrictions.

Tim said...

"Then again that's typical big government that when you made a good investment choice in a home, they need to get thier slice of it even if it means foreclosure."

Test question: What, if any, freely chosen economic transaction between consenting adults in the U.S. goes untaxed, by law?

Labor?

Investment?

Sales?

Use?

Transient Occupancy?

Rental Car?

Personal/Residential/Business Property Ownership?

Real Estate Transfers?

Anyone? Anyone?

Tim said...

"Prop 13 in California: the best thing that happened to home owners. How that snuck through the legislative process is a miracle."

Half right - yes, best thing to happen for property owners - no, it didn't sneak through the legislative process - California voters bypassed their legislature and approved the initiative on the ballot.

AJ Lynch said...

Dax:

I have read this a bunch of times -"God save the AL?"

What is the AL ? American League?

hdhouse said...

I'm sure this baffoon will be able to explain that statement to about 2 million x-property owners over the next year. Squatters rights anyone?

Seriously, and to Simon's observation, I'm not so sure that market economies and political freedom equate. Our own market is the most contrived experience on earth with a bazillion rules and the government virtually owned by lenders. I also doubt the core political freedoms issue...think about it. The fate of this nation via leadership, will likely be decided or narrowed down to 2 in a matter of weeks, almost a year before we elect anyone, and that perhaps 4% of our population in early primary states will produce the proclaimed winners. Living in NY, I have yet to see a political commercial except on the news nor have I received on mailing or one email except from my normal congressional lists.

Just how fragmented is our political system anyway and is our economic mess just its equal?

Trooper York said...

Well this argument for property rights didn't work out so good for John C. Calhoun. (That's for you hd for nostaglia).

dax said...

GOD SAVE THE AL is our take on GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

http://www.myspace.com/acrossthesandbpond

http://acrossthesilverandblackpond.blogspot.com/

Roger said...

I certainly agree with HD re the bizarre nature of the existing presidential primary system. Unfortunately, I havent got a clue about how to fix it, and think even less about the federal government jumping in to try to fix it. I do fear we are heading for a permanment presidential campaign in this country.

jeff said...

Trooper, if I understand your reference correctly....Wow.
Heh, but still....wow.

Trooper York said...

Nothing like a little civil war humor to get the bile flowing early in the morning.

Freder Frederson said...

Isn't there an economist (DeSoto, maybe?) who's made precisely this point about why it's been so hard for market economies and the political freedom that generally goes hand in hand with economic freedom

I've never understood what one has to do with the other. Economic freedom is not a prerequisite for political freedom and political freedom certainly does not necessarily arise from economic freedom. In fact the quest for economic "freedom" and private property for some almost inevitably leads to crushing oppression, enslavement, and even genocide for those who stand in the way of progress.

Freder Frederson said...

Isn't there an economist (DeSoto, maybe?) who's made precisely this point about why it's been so hard for market economies and the political freedom that generally goes hand in hand with economic freedom

I've never understood what one has to do with the other. Economic freedom is not a prerequisite for political freedom and political freedom certainly does not necessarily arise from economic freedom. In fact the quest for economic "freedom" and private property for some almost inevitably leads to crushing oppression, enslavement, and even genocide for those who stand in the way of progress.

PatCA said...

Sure, we ignore property taxes and mortgages at our ownership peril, but IMO the real point of our notion of private property is that an owner is protected from its confiscation by the state. It again enforces the founders' belief that too much state is necessarily an evil state and requires constitutional protection for the individual.

Bloomberg and his health director might disagree, but the majority of Americans still believe that and think fighting the nanny state--that surely would morph into an oppressor state--a worthwhile endeavor.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Drew Carey evidently doesn't live near a wetland.

froggyprager said...

This is part of a disturbing property rights/ anti eminent domain movement that uses exceptional anecdotes to make the case that local governments should not promote redevelopment using eminent domain. While the tool may be misused in some cases by a few local governments, a huge number of redevelopments have been undertaken responsibly across the country resulting in major benefits for communities. This line of thinking has led to the major overreaction by state legislatures after the Supreme Court Kelo case. The extent of blighted areas, environmental pollution, crime, slum lords, etc. is very serious and extensive and local governments need to have the tool of eminent domain to address this serious problem. I really wonder whether Drew Cary would share the same views if he went on a tour of all the areas that have been improved in communities across the country and heard from neighbors and regular citizens who supported these efforts. Also, there are more and more projects with huge community support that have been held up when eminent domain is not an option. The problem with this example of the bar in Hollywood is that people don’t care about their local government actions, don’t get involved with the local political process. If idiots listen to this silly video and support efforts to limit the use of eminent domain, that would harm economically depressed areas and inner city areas across the country.

dax said...

If idiots listen to this silly video and support efforts to limit the use of eminent domain, that would harm economically depressed areas and inner city areas across the country.

HA HA HA!
Are you saying that the only way to revitalize depressed areas in through the confiscation of property by the Gov. for redevelopment??

Paul Zrimsek said...

Froggy, go to school. Learn something.

Pogo said...

Economic freedom is not a prerequisite for political freedom and political freedom certainly does not necessarily arise from economic freedom.

That is perhaps the single most ignorant argument ever written at Althouse, and that's saying something.

Let's just say our Founders felt otherwise.

Middle Class Guy said...

I beleive that the Supreme Court errored in their last decision over eminent domain. The fact that private developers can take your property at the price they decide does nothing to protect government or enhance infrastructure. It only makes private developers wealthy.

froggyprager said...

Of course eminent domain is not the only tool that local governments should/ can use to help improve economically depressed communities.

I am quite familier with the Kelo case and this it was a good decision. Whether or not the redevelopment efforts in New London, CT post Kelo were successful does not mean that local governments should not have and use this tool. I can point you to many redevelopments that relied upon eminent domain across Wisconsin (where I work) and have had major huge impacts on the neigbhorhoods and communities.

What I take from Paul's little education is that citizens and local governments need to be smart and involed with the redevelopments they get involved with.

John Kindley said...

Thomas Paine expressed a different take on who really owns land in his essay Agrarian Justice, as did Henry George in his bestselling book Progress and Poverty. Well worth looking into.

dax said...

Show me a society that doesn't have:

1. Privately owned banks.
2. The opportunity for individuals to own property.
3. The opportunity for individuals to 'develop' their property.

and I will show you a 'shackled' society forever destined to poverty.

froggyprager said...

Middle Class Guy - the court said that a local government can take property for economic development, most do it under very rare circumstances.

Zeb Quinn said...

You can do anything you want with with that property. You can build a house on it, a business, you can plant flowers, grow daisies. Whatever you want to do with it. It's your property. You own it."

Not in Oregon.

Hoosier Daddy said...

In fact the quest for economic "freedom" and private property for some almost inevitably leads to crushing oppression, enslavement, and even genocide for those who stand in the way of progress.

That sounds so profound as to be idiotic even Marxist but I repeat myself.

Lord knows that collectivisation and state apportionment of property never led to any of those things right?

Chris said...

Blackstone: "There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination, and engages the affections of mankind, as the right of property; or that sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe."

Roger said...

Milton Friedman's 1962 classic still makes the best case for the relationship of political and economic freedom--although St. Milton uses "liberal" in the classic, JS Mill sense, in his book.

dax said...

The ONLY government involvement in redevelopment should be:

1. Enforcing existing zoning ordinances.
2. Approving redevelopment site-plans.
3. Hearing rezoning applications.
4. Providing additional infrastructure (water, sewer, roads,etc etc) where needed.

PERIOD!

GOD SAVE THE AL

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I really wonder whether Drew Cary would share the same views if he went on a tour of all the areas that have been improved in communities across the country and heard from neighbors and regular citizens who supported these efforts

I really wonder if you have any idea of the pain and suffering inflicted on those people with marginal or fixed incomes whose neighborhoods have been razed in the name of development.

Another personal story. In the early 1970's I had an aunt and uncle with 6 kids who lived in an older area of downtown San Jose. Those homes were mostly built in the 1930 and 40's. Almost everyone who lived in this neighborhood either rented and the rents were reasonable or the homes were owned outright by the people who bought in the 1930's and who had lived their for 40 years.

The City decided that the area needed to be "revitalized" and they did eminent domain on the entire area and bulldozed hundreds of Craftsman style homes. Having nowhere else to live that was as affordable in the San Jose area, my relatives along with hundreds of others were forced out of their homes and ended up moving away from their families and memories.

Now, instead of a neighborhood full of families, trees and historic homes we have a lovey shopping mall in the ubiquitous California tan stucco mode which is becoming dilapidated and is now full of junky Vietnamese and Mexican stores that cater to the poorest people in the city. Because shoppers want NEWer restaurants and name brand shops the Mall that displaced people and destroyed lives is about to be torn down itself.

I guess you could say that the area has been improved if you were a developer making the money in the construction and destruction phase. I doubt that the people who used to live there felt much improvement in their lives.

Simon said...

Pogo, you have to keep in mind, Freder's never read Hayek, by his own admission, and from his track record here, he's not smart enough to figure it out on his own. Treat him the way you treat that uncle that everyone secretly hopes won't show up to the family christmas party this year.

froggyprager said...
"I am quite familier with the Kelo case and thi[nk] it was a good decision. Whether or not the redevelopment efforts in New London, CT post Kelo were successful does not mean that local governments should not have and use this tool. I can point you to many redevelopments that relied upon eminent domain across Wisconsin (where I work) and have had major huge impacts on the neigbhorhoods and communities."

That's irrelevant to whether Kelo was a sound interpretation of the takings clause, which is really the only metric for assessing whether it was a good or bad decision from a judicial standpoint. It may or may not be an unjust decision, and it may be good or bad policy, but in my view, neither of those issues come into play to the extent that the decision simply isn't tenable as a matter of constitutional law. The dissenters had it exactly right.

dax said...

DBQ
'I guess you could say that the area has been improved if you were a developer making the money in the construction and destruction phase'

While I 'agree' with your post, the last sentence couldn't be further from reality.
The retail development you mentioned would have been successful had the developer decided to purchase all of the individual properties (assemblage) from the individual owners at a prices determined by the buyer and seller. If the entire land cost, soft costs, and the cost of development proved to be profitable (determined by the income realized from the leasing of retail space) then the project would have been successful.
Also realize that developers borrow money for projects and lenders are involved in determining the viability (they want paid back) of a project.
Risk is a wonderful thing! Unfortunately, it's an unknown and alien subject to bureaucrats.

Freder Frederson said...

Pogo, you have to keep in mind, Freder's never read Hayek, by his own admission, and from his track record here, he's not smart enough to figure it out on his own. Treat him the way you treat that uncle that everyone secretly hopes won't show up to the family christmas party this year.

Well no, I'm not talking about utopian libertarian paradises that never existed and never will (or for that matter Marxist utopias either). I am talking about real life. And of course Hayek's predicted parade of horrors simply never came to pass.

This country and all the property rights that we enjoy in it were gained through conquest and genocide. Property rights in common law originally derived from the concept that the King owned all the land through divine right. Once we got to the Americas that didn't quite work since the Pope had already decided that God wanted the Portugese and Spanish to split the undiscovered world 50/50. When we became a country, the theory that God gave governments the right to own land and parcel it out to its subjects didn't quite work in a secular society, so we winged it when we needed excuses to displace native peoples who just happened to be living on land we bought or took from France or Mexico. To this day the government acknowledges that some of the displacements were outright illegal and we literally stole land from the Indians. This pattern was repeated all over the world by a myriad of nations and peoples.

There are plenty of countries where there are lots of economic freedom but very little political freedom. Just a few months ago someone over on Volokh was extolling the virtues of that libertarian paradise of Somalia. But to be less extreme you've also got Singapore, Malaysia, the Oligarchies of the Middle East, China, where the government maintains an iron grip in the face of rapid economic expansion. Political freedom in Eastern Europe enabled real economic freedom, it wasn't a result of it. Russia is slipping back into a dictatorship while maintaining economic freedom.

Where are your counterexamples?

dax said...

Logic and common sense have left the building.

GOD SAVE THE AL.

Pogo said...

"This country and all the property rights that we enjoy in it were gained through conquest and genocide."
Bullshit Marxist claptrap.

"Political freedom in Eastern Europe enabled real economic freedom, it wasn't a result of it."
Bullshit.
Define "real economic freedom".
I suspect it's more Marxian claptrap.

"Russia is slipping back into a dictatorship while maintaining economic freedom."
Again, define "economic freedom". I don't think it means what you think it means.

Hoosier Daddy said...

This country and all the property rights that we enjoy in it were gained through conquest and genocide.

We're talking about private property ownership Freder, not wars of national conquest. I didn't kill any Indians to buy my house and surrounding land. If you're going to apply the sins of 200 years ago to me, well, have fun with that. None of your examples have anything to do with an individual's right to own property but rather the excesses of the state which is exactly what this topic is about. Do try and keep up.

Russia is slipping back into a dictatorship while maintaining economic freedom.

Nonsense. If you think for a minute that economic freedom will endure under a Putin dictatorship, you're sorely mistaken. He's proven that he is willing to jail (or assasinate) opponents thus, economic freedom that lasts soley under the pleasure of the dictator is not freedom.

Freder Frederson said...

Again, define "economic freedom". I don't think it means what you think it means

As astoundingly cogent and well thought out as your arguments are Pogo, I would define economic freedom as the right to own and keep property without arbitrary confiscation by either government or private entitities (which of course requires a reasonably competent, non-corrupt, impartial, and functioning justice system--both criminal and civil). Freedom of contract and impartial enforcement of contracts. No use of coercive labor including debt-labor. No criminalization of unpaid debt or the ability to transfer debt to third parties.

Pogo said...

Pretty good.

But with that definition, your points don't make any sense at all.

Freder Frederson said...

We're talking about private property ownership Freder, not wars of national conquest.

Look at the headline. I was merely pointing out that the sentiment in the headline is not true in all cases.

We are not talking about private property, we are talking about eminent domain, the concept of private property, where the ownership of land comes from in the first place.

The simple fact is, except for a very few people in this country, our claim to this country is because a bunch of Europeans showed up around 500 years ago and decided God wanted them to have these two continents, never mind the people who happened to be here at the time. To claim that your 40 acres and a mule is some divine right that exists outside of the government that platted the land and then practically gave it away (after either buying it from the French, capturing it in war from the Mexicans, or booting the British off it, and then displacing the Indians living on it) is to ignore the largesse, hard work, and efforts of the government.

dax said...

Logic and common sense has left THE PLANET!

GOD SAVE THE AL.

Pogo said...

The simple fact is
That is a common but deletirious interpretation, and the Founders disagree. The right to property is felt to exist prior to any government. You share the distressing leftist view that all rights essentially are granted at the suffrance the state.

While you may find agreement with Cass Sunstein and Karl Marx, you will be opposed to George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, or James Madison. I favor the latter.

Hoosier Daddy said...

To claim that your 40 acres and a mule is some divine right that exists outside of the government

Clearly you are taking this issue to a higher philisophical level. Considering that the Indians didn't have a concept of property rights it's hard to make the case we stole their land. Our 'taking' their land is really no different than the tribal wars they fought amongst themselves when one side happened to enroach a little too much. For the Indians, thier land encompassed as much as they wanted until some other tribe (or the Europeans) kicked them out.

Oh and its not my divine right to own property but my wallet and means to pay for it.

Blake said...

You know, of course, that the original phrase was life, liberty and property and Jefferson mixed it up with the more poetic but unfortunately vaguer "pursuit of happiness".

I think this thread illustrates really well the difference between the statists and the (classical) liberals.

Statists seem to believe that the state can take all your production and yet you're still "free". I guess that's true, in the sense that you're freed from any worries about what to do with your money.

Freder Frederson said...

The right to property is felt to exist prior to any government.

This of course is nonsense, and of course not what the founders believed at all. Without government, there can be no right to property other than what you can defend by brute force, which reduces to what you can carry on your person. Heck, without government, you wouldn't even know what property you owned, or if you even owned it.

I suppose Pogo, that you also don't believe that the government should regulate who can call themselves a doctor.

Pogo said...

All Freder's 'freedom' does is leave you free to obey.

Without government, there can be no right to property
Bullshit. Government makes it more feasible and less violent, not possible in the first place.

Start at first base:
Do you own your own body?
Yes or no?
Do you need the government a priori to grant that right, or does it exist only by their suffrance?

suppose Pogo, that you also don't believe that the government should regulate who can call themselves a doctor.
We have a computer doctor in town. No regulations against that. We have Rug Doctor too.

Freder Frederson said...

Bullshit. Government makes it more feasible and less violent, not possible in the first place.

Tell me Pogo, how do you know where your property ends and your neighbor's begins?

John Kindley said...

Freder is right in the sense that our property regime began in the mass confiscation by the government of land which naturally belongs to everyone equally, including those yet to be born. It then sold off for a price title to what did not naturally belong to it, and those who presently hold it through a long succession of titles have no more of a natural right to it than the government originally did. What people have a natural right to is the fruits of their labor, including improvements made to land, and what they receive through voluntary exchange with others. Some form of title or usufruct is therefore necessary so that people can securely enjoy the fruits of their improvements to and labor on the land, but the underlying value of the land itself still belongs to everyone in society equally. From this concept came Henry George's proposal for a "Single Tax" on the unimproved value of land, to the exclusion of all other taxes.

The Founding Fathers, including George Washington, were heavily involved in land speculation, and one of their main gripes with the British Crown and a major instigator of the American Revolution was the stop that the Crown had put to land speculation west of a line that the Crown drew. George Washington had hoped to make a bundle by laying claim to large swathes of land (which as someone who was politically connected he could presumably get dirt cheap), putting up no trespassing signs, and then eventually selling it off at monopoly prices.

See the libertarian classic Our Enemy, the State by Albert Jay Nock for further illumination of this fundamental aspect of American history. See Thomas Paine's essay Agrarian Justice for the Cliffs Notes version.

And now consider the poor young sucker embarking on his life in the 21st century. It may be fair and just to charge him rent for the building in which he lives which someone else built, but it's not fair and just to charge him out his presumably meager earnings rent for the piece of land upon which he stands and sleeps. Maybe after ten years of paying rent for something that was his to begin with he somehow has scraped up enough for a downpayment on a house, and now he can look forward to thirty years of paying principal and interest to get back a piece of what was taken from him before he was even born.

Pogo said...

In the Old West, it was fences.
In some eras, there were landmarks alone.
Today, we use property lines.

We find the goverment the most feasible and least violent means to that end, but not the origin of the lines, and certainly not the only means.

Yours is a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

Pogo said...

land which naturally belongs to everyone equally,

I do not agree with this basic premise.
Why "naturally"?
Why "all of us"?
Why "equally"

Sounds more like Rousseau than Nock.

John Kindley said...

Pogo,

It's one of those self-evident things. You know, like that "all" men are created "equal," and that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

You'll have to trust me on Nock, unless of course you bother to read him yourself.

Pogo said...

John, I have read some of Nock's stuff. Much is quite good, some veers into anarcho-utopianism. Regardless, I have always enjoyed his distaste for the State, large or small.

I am unsure however that "all men are created equal" was ever coupled with or can coexist at all with "the underlying value of the land itself belongs to everyone in society equally".

The former permits competition, the latter is the origin of the tragedy of the commons.

It raises

Roger said...

John Locke explores the right to property and explains why it is an individual right--Its also why Locke described it in the second treatise as the fundamental right of live libery and property which Jefferson paraphrased, substituting pursuit of happiness for property.

As to untrammeled property rights, I don't think that Locke, or Hobbes for that matter, would have objected to restrictions or regulations on property rights as a proper role of government should the people ascribe and cede that right to government--rather like owning cars--an unstricted right, except government may, people permitting, let government issue administrative restrictions on the right to own and drive cars.

With respect to Freder's question about knowing where rights begin and end: those are the administrative devices necessary when humans give up the right to judge in their case and assign it to a government in order to regulate such conflicts as might arise (in Hobbes' worst case).

Freder is, in my opinon, arguing the state of nature--which both Hobbes and Locke decried and used the excesses of the state of nature to specify the need for the social contract.

We would all do well to understand the political writing of seventeenth century Emgland to understand the roots of our prevailing political philosophy: King James, Hobbes, Locke, Harrington, Sydney and many others of the epoch are the source of the founders political philosophy. Even to include the English fear of standing armies resulting from Cromwell's new model army and the nasty experience with the Lord Protector.

Good thread, and it's always worthwhile to walk thru these arguments. Thanks to all for excellent commentary.

Roger said...

Freder: I do take except to your assertion that the founders would not have recognize that (at least theoretically) the right to property is an a priori right--In fact, it is just that right (along with life and liberty) why the state of nature that preexisted government is not a good thing--Hobbes was more pessimistic than was Locke (life being nasty poor brutish and short in the state of nature whereas Locke viewed it somewhat more gentilely: a state of liberty but not license.

As to your point about excesses: most assuredly there were excesses committed in the name of God, country, rights and all of that. And in many respects, Marx was on target when he wrote in the mid 19th century--capitalism was not pretty--what Marx failed to comprehend that capitalism and liberalism, for all its excesses was also capable of reform--Christians ended the slave trade; capitalists made the parliamentary reforms that ultimately ended child labor--in fact it was liberalism as a political philosophy that reformed the excesses of unfettered 19th century capitalism. The proletarian revolution never happened in England and Germany (as Marx predicted) because England and Germany reformed themselves. That was the power of nineteenth century liberalism with its christian roots, pariliamentary goverhnment and underlying political philosophy. All of this, of course, IM not so humble O

AlphaLiberal said...

It was taught in zoning class that people don't own property but rights to property.

It has also be said that we don't own the land, the land owns us. The land's been here a long time and we are all relatively transient.

In my experience, the more adamant the property rights advocate, the more they seem to claim a right to pollute. There is no right to pollute. That should not be a controversial statement.

Roger said...

Alpha: there is no right to pollute--OK--perhaps so; but that right has to be balanced with right to use my property as I choose--the one right does not cancel the other; the rights compete, and it up to society, the government, or some other body to solve the competing claims.

Civilis said...

"There is no right to pollute. That should not be a controversial statement."

I take it you go through the process of getting an environmental impact statement before you go to the bathroom?

Seriously, while there should not be a blanket right to pollute, the process of being alive creates pollution. If you're serious about that statement, and the statement about the "land owning us", I worry for the future.

Trooper York said...

Estelle: You think you know somebody after 25 years. And then one day, Israeli Intelligence comes to the door.
Anna: "Israeli Intelligence".
Estelle: Last Tuesday. That's why I've gotta sell the house. It turns out, Carlos was Hitler's pool man.
(The Money Pit, 1986)

Fen said...

our property regime began in the mass confiscation by the government of land which naturally belongs to everyone equally, including those yet to be born.... It's one of those self-evident things. You know, like that "all" men are created "equal," and that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Perspective: native "savages" were considered subhuman. We've evolved since then, but judging the past by today's values is not reasonable.

Freder Frederson said...

I take it you go through the process of getting an environmental impact statement before you go to the bathroom?

Actually, the government (assuming you are hooked up to a municipal sewer system) has already taken care of this for you and secured the necessary treatment and discharge permits for your waste. It is one of the many conveniences and necessities of modern life that libertarians seem to forget when they fantasize about their society without government interference.

Even if you are not hooked up to a municipal sewer system, government regulations require setbacks and treatment standards for septic systems and other individual treatment systems to try and ensure that your neighbor, or you, don't contaminate ground and surface waters.

I think that is a very good thing.

Freder Frederson said...

In the Old West, it was fences.
In some eras, there were landmarks alone.
Today, we use property lines.


Pogo, in this country, the government platted almost the entire country once we got over the Appalachian Mountains, the land was divided along grids (sections and townships). The fences were set along the gridlines established by the government, not the other way around.

Freder Frederson said...

The proletarian revolution never happened in England and Germany (as Marx predicted) because England and Germany reformed themselves. That was the power of nineteenth century liberalism with its christian roots, pariliamentary goverhnment and underlying political philosophy.

Actually, although there were some reforms in the late nineteenth century that were initiated by a few industrialists, most of the gains made by working people were achieved through great sacrifice, personal risk, and in the face of violent suppression, often with the backing of the government. It took the revolutionary collapse in Russia and the slaughter of World War I for the lot of the working class to really change for the better in the middle of the 20th Century as the ruling classes realized without extreme social concessions (e.g., recognizing trade unions and worker rights, implementing social welfare and public housing programs and increased democratization), they might go the same way as Russia. Of course, some countries (e.g. Germany, Italy and Spain) took a different tack and responded to the communist threat by implementing fascist regimes, that at least in the case of Germany, ended up worse than the disease they sought to cure.