The Use and Abuse of Property Rights

October 08, 2012 | By JAMES BURLING

My new article, The Use and Abuse of Property Rights in Protecting the Environment, 1 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference Journal 373 (2012), has just been published in the premier edition of William & Mary Law School’s Property Rights Project’s journal. About a year ago several dozen Chinese and American scholars and pratitioners met at Tsinghua University in Beijing in the first joint American – Chinese conference on property rights. Articles from Chinese and American participants are included in the complete journal, soon to be available on Lexis and Westlaw. Interestingly, and maybe not surprisingly, in some cases scholars from the Chinese academy seemed to have greater respect for property rights than some Americans. Be that as it may, my article explains that in this age of enlightened environmental regulation, property rights ain’t what they used to be. And because property rights are inexorably tied to our other freedoms, we should all be concerned about the long-term implications of living in a society that lacks a robust respect for property rights. One hopes that if some American academics don’t understand this, at least some Chinese scholars will.