A curious question, “Do property rights exist in our day”? The reason I asked had to do with recent observations on the social medium Facebook. Most of the articles that I commented on recently had to do with property rights in one way or another; but the issues associated with each comment came across as if the property rights mentioned by the Founders were considerably different than those in our day.
There must be some kind of common footing, an agreement on the use of language upon which to start this off; what better foundation than one supplied by Ezra Taft Benson in his talk, The Proper Role of Government.
“It is generally agreed that the most important single function of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens.”
But what is government?
“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. So, the question boils down to this. What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized governmental form?”
And what powers/rights belong to each individual? Elder Taft included a simple explanation as written by Bastiat:
“Each of us has a natural right – from God – to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but and extension of our faculties?” (The Law, p.6)
Our Founders understood these basic principles and placed them in front of the world in our Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Some reading this are already mumbling, “Yea, yea, yea…so what’s point?”
There’s a fellow up in Oregon, Gary Harrington, who went to jail because he was collecting rain water on his own property.
“For years, Gary Harrington has battled with the Oregon Water Resources Department over reservoirs on his land that collected rainwater. The water officials claim that Harrington is violating a 1925 law by diverting water from the Big Butte River.”
The presumption made by the Oregon Water Resources Department must be that rain water belongs to the State and would have been redistributed among the masses if not for Harrington’s collection methods which restricted the rain from running off his property. It must also presume that the State created that rain, omitting the existence of God or, for those without faith, omitting natural forces beyond the control of the State.
Time to back up and explain to the Oregon Water Resources Department something they have neglected or ignored, “The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.”
Do I have, within my God given or natural rights as an individual, do I have the ‘right’ to tell anyone else how to conduct their use of natural resources which occur on that individual’s private property? Clearly the answer is, No. Then can I give to a government agency power to do that which I do not possess to begin with? Again, No. Lastly, can a group of my neighbors gather together and deny anyone the use of their inalienable God given or natural rights? You see where this is going?
Our Founders made sure to put down in writing that individuals have inalienable rights to protect them from the collective. In modern terms, all of you progressive communist leaning pricks don’t have and never had the power to impose social justice mandates on any individual regardless of how many conspire to erase that individual’s inalienable rights.
I won’t bring up Federal mandates on how much water a toilet can use to flush away a pile of progressives at the bottom of the bowl or what kind of light bulb can be used to illuminate the shadows wherein communists hide and carry out their works of darkness. (Oops; too late, I just inserted that idea)
What about the couple in Texas who were asked to take care of their neighbor’s vacant house, the couple who responded to an audible burglary alarm, caught a felon in the commission of his crime while inside the vacant residence, a felon who then assaulted the caretakers of the vacant property? Did these folks violate the law when they shot the burglar; did they go too far?
I ask only because there are many who believe it was none of their business, that they had no ‘right’ to confront anyone who wasn’t on ‘their’ property. They also brought up an interesting twist, that while they might have been given stewardship to watch over their neighbor’s property, they shouldn’t have placed themselves in confrontation with a burglary suspect (that’s for the police), a confrontation which eventually led to shooting and killing that burglary suspect.
While unspoken, these good neighbors were compared to vigilantes;… judge, jury and executioners all wrapped up in a concealed handgun permit.
“As a general rule, the law tends to view human life as being more valuable than material things. The law also tends to take a dim view of people who escalate a non-life threatening situation into a deadly force encounter.”
“The couple could be charged with man slaughter or even murder for the killing of the burglar.”
It’s time to hit the “stop right there” buzzer. I’m not going to let that journalistic BS pass without hanging a red flag on it, and by the way, that’s a pure communist red flag which marginalizes inalienable God given property rights as if they were not inalienable,… even to the point of taking the life of a thief.
Getting back to Ezra Taft Benson’s explanation of The Proper Role of Government…
“Since God created man with certain unalienable rights, and man, in turn, created government to help secure and safeguard those rights, it follows that man is superior to the creature which he created. Man is superior to government and should remain master over it, not the other way around. Even the non-believer can appreciate the logic of this relationship.”
The protection of property, whether it is your own or your neighbor’s includes the individual’s right to use any and all means available, and yes, that includes the use of deadly force. The problem with communists/socialists, call them what you will, these folks don’t believe our founding ideas regarding inalienable God given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Progressives would rather impose their idea that the State is the source of ‘rights’, all the while renaming any and all rights as entitlements or permitted activities under control of the State. In this way individuals no longer need be concerned with defending life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness; these don’t really exist in our day and have been consigned to the scrap heap of antiquated language no longer valid or even understood. Common Core students would be hard pressed to recognize these archaic thoughts.
Using deadly force for any reason bothers some folks. We’ve been told to run and hide, retreat to avoid confrontation and avoid stopping criminals at all cost; that’s a job for the police. These generalities on human interaction have been imposed because nobody wants to be responsible for their own actions;… but to take a life simply because a thief or burglar wants to take something that doesn’t belong to him/her… Oh the humanity! (sarcasm button in use)
So who decides what belongs under the umbrella of protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property rights)? In our day it has fallen on the court of mass media, trial by television coverage. The public’s perception of nearly any event can be shaped to fit the desired outcome of those running the media; and the large media outlets all just happen to be run by progressives (communists).
So, back to my original question, “Do property rights exist in our day”? Yes; but you’ll still have to prove it in court and the odds are now stacked against you.
This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.