March 16, 2011

No liberty without property rights

By No liberty without property rights

Author:  Luke A. Wake

In this day and age, a lot of people hold the "democratic process" to be sacrosanct. Sure, Democracy is great when it respects the rights of individuals, but all too often our rights are thrown under the utilitarian democratic bus in the name of some popular conception of a "greater good." This is exactly what the American Founding Fathers were worried about when they referred to the problem of the tyranny of the majority. Indeed, James Madison explained in the Federalist Papers that the Constitution was designed to prevent factions from using the hand of government to take away the natural rights of individuals.

Today few people talk about individual rights in a serious manner. All to often "rights" are spoken of cheaply, and the 'holy grail' of rights is supposedly our right to influence the political process through free speech. But, the Founding Fathers would remind us that we would have no freedoms without the fundamental right to private property.As my colleague, Timothy Sandefur, explained in his recent book, property rights are the cornerstone of liberty.

This is a principle of natural law, and as true in the United States as it is anywhere in the world. Interestingly, the Calgary Herald ran a great piece today explaining the importance of preserving property rights, and emphasizing that we would have no freedoms should property rights be stripped away. For these reasons, the fight for liberty begins with the fight for property. 

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