Monday, October 13, 2008
Why the Right to Property Keeps Popping Up
Brian Phillips, who specializes in issues relating to property rights, makes the following interesting observation about blogging:
I sometimes struggle when choosing a topic for this blog. The problem isn't the lack of topics, the problem is the absolutely overwhelming number of potential topics. Any political or economic issue in the news is worthy of comment, because all of them involve a property rights issue in one form or another.He then provides numerous supporting examples, and concludes with a quote from Ayn Rand explaining why this is the case.
Property rights must be protected so that each individual can effectively tie together thought and action.
No less interesting than the centrality of property rights as a political issue are its implications. I have noted numerous times here that government infringements on property rights result not just in more of the same (often as a "corrective"), but also in infringements on other rights, and vice versa.
The nature of rights is not generally understood, but most people seem to appreciate them on some level, although if I had to pick the least-appreciated one, it would be the right to property. It is no coincidence that this is perhaps the right most routinely and grossly infringed upon by our government today, and the problem feeds upon itself. People are used to the government claiming large amounts of their money through taxation and telling them how to dispose of their property. This in turn leads to people having less and less of a gut feel that they are entitled to their own property and that causes them to feel (wrongly) like the issue isn't really a big deal.
Other rights will inevitably follow unless more people in the public are made aware of what a right is (and why rights are important) generally and what the right to property is in particular.
Read the whole thing. Also, in the comments is a succinct reply to someone who attempted to equate the "pro-life" position on abortion with support for property rights.
A Few New Links
Despite being so busy I barely have time to follow blogs (let alone write one!), I have somehow managed to learn about four more of them over the past few weeks.
Of the four, I have recently noted comments by two of their authors at locations other than their blogs, which in both cases, I was unaware of. The first of these is Sylvia Bokor, whose recent comments on a "hearing" about socialized medicine I attended were spot-on. The second is Mark V. Kormes, who recently appeared at Principles in Practice. They blog at Sylvia Bokor Comments and Rational Passion, respectively.
The two remaining bloggers are Eric Clayton, who hosts Atlantis is Real, and Renee Katz, whose comics and commentary can be found at Adventures in Existence.
You can now visit them any time from the sidebar.
The Cost of Ignorance ...
... for everyone includes the fact that savages can manage to look reasonable to the ignorant:
Muslims should take advantage of the global financial crisis to build an economic system compatible with Islamic principles, influential Sunni cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi said on Sunday.Notice how the financial turmoil caused by fiat currency and government intervention in a mixed economy is dishonestly and intentionally equated by this witch doctor with capitalism. This permits him to look reasonable while he indiscriminately attacks both virtues (e.g., charging interest on loans) and flaws (e.g., fiat currency) of the current economy and proposes his medieval philosophy as the only alternative.
"The collapse of the capitalist system based on usury and paper and not on goods traded on the market is proof that it is in crisis and shows that Islamic economic philosophy is holding up," said the Egyptian-born, Qatar-based cleric.
Oh yeah, and if, as Sheik what's-his-name asserts, "riches are ours", it is only because the West has foolishly handed them over to Islamic kleptocrats after producing them.
In better days of the past and in better days that can come, this man would be a a laughingstock, if anyone knew who he was at all. He would not be able to get away with damning the system that makes oil valuable, makes it possible for millions to live in the desert, and makes me able to hear of his silly utterances within hours. (Hell, even the mixed economy of the West as it is now, has, thanks to its free-market elements, managed to do all this!)
People in the past at least appreciated the ample evidence that filled their daily lives that a free economy can produce great wealth. And, if I have anything to say about it, more will learn what capitalism is:
Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.In a society where this is understood, there will be no media market for foolishness like the sheik's, no paper money, no economy-wide collapses, and probably no need to concern ourselves much with what the flea-bitten tribesmen outside the fences of our oil facilities think their imaginary friend wants them to do. That would be their funeral, and theirs alone, as it should be.
The recognition of individual rights entails the banishment of physical force from human relationships: basically, rights can be violated only by means of force. In a capitalist society, no man or group may initiate the use of physical force against others. The only function of the government, in such a society, is the task of protecting man’s rights, i.e., the task of protecting him from physical force; the government acts as the agent of man’s right of self-defense, and may use force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use; thus the government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of force under objective control. ("What Is Capitalism?" Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 19.) [bold added]
Government Causing (Even More) Panic
This article is very flawed, but it names just a few concrete ways that the government's massive bailout effort can very quickly cause new market distortions. This isn't exactly what I had in mind when I spoke of this the other day, but it still illustrates my point.
10-14-08: Corrected a typo.