Birdnow on property rights
Timothy Birdnow, writing in today's The American Thinker makes some excellent arguments and provides valuable historical context as usual for understanding the scope of the danger of the recent Kelo ruling in regards to the taking of private property.
Tracing the roots of our tradition of private property back through our history, from English law back to Roman law and even Judaic law, he explains how fundamental the right to private property is to a free and democratic society. Bit by bit our freedoms are being eroded, until soon there will be previous little left that the state does not control. If we let it go too long it will be too late to turn it around -- we will be reduced to little more than serfs -- paying rent on our properties until such time as the state decides it can use it better. Don't miss Tim's excellent tour through the history of property rights -- it's older than you think.
Property rights are the fundamental building blocks of Liberty.� The freedoms we enjoy in these United States may be our heritage through Natural Law and given to us by the Creator, but the free exercise of those fundamental rights is dependent upon a devout view of the�sacred right to property.�
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling�which stated, in effect, that the government of the United States has no interest in protecting property rights, and that these rights are at the mercy of state and local jurisdictions.�
. . . The Founders looked to the great natural philosophers of their day for guidance on setting up a better system of governance, and they appealed to Natural Law:
``We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.``
These words did not come out of a vacuum.� More precisely, they came from� the English philosopher John Locke, who, arguing from Natural Law, claimed all men had a right to Life, Liberty, Health, and Property.� Jefferson and company changed the wording slightly (on the urging of Ben Franklin) because they believed that property rights would be self-evident (given the source quote) and because they did not want to exclude non-property owners from the rights enjoyed by all.� Still, it is clear that they intended property ownership to be a sacred institution, and considered it important enough that it was addressed in the U.S. Constitution under the Bill of Rights�(which many of the Founders did not want to include, since they thought these rights should be self-evident.)
. . . Even though this particular issue may well be resolved at the state level, it still points to a dark malady in this country.� We have simply lost our zeal for the right�to property.� Too many people think that democracy should extend to property rights, and that the will of the majority should trump a landholder or property owner's rights.�
This is at heart a problem which transcends government; this is a moral and philosophical issue. Why, for instance, aren`t we controlling our borders?� I would argue that part of the reason is that Americans don`t value property rights enough; many of us don`t want to scratch a line in the Arizona sand and say "You shall not cross!"� Many among us don`t believe we have a right to possess this land, and don �t believe that our ownership means we can exclude others.� Too many Americans no longer believe in the sanctity of property.