Why Property Rights Matter

John Adams said, “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God … anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.”

I am not a politician or public figure. I am one of many Americans whose property is under assault by government. I am a student of self-governance living in New Jersey. My state and local governments make a habit of redistributing private property among the private parties it chooses. This is absolutely forbidden by the U.S. Constitution. If it can happen here in my state, it can happen anywhere in America.

As attorney, Jennifer Kruckeberg, writes: “Corporations . . . are proposing the following assignment: ‘Find me your most prominent location, get rid of what is on it, help me pay for it, and maybe you will be lucky enough to have me move to your city.'”

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To clear out areas for big business, local governments force mom and pop businesses to leave. Multimillion-dollar companies establish close relationships with government officials in communities across the nation where they squeeze out, come hell or high water, any opposition.

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Court rulings disregard constitutional protections of private property in the “takings clause” and play a big part in the abuses of property rights. They also disregard the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits denying any person equal application of law.

Say, for example, a big box store wants to build in your town. But they want your property to do it. What chance do you have against a huge corporation?

Sensibilities for justice are thrown out the window. If the local government wants the corporation’s presence in their town bad enough, they will not follow the rule of law. They will obscure important facts concerning the matter. The property owner then seeks protection of property rights from the courts, which then orders the matter back to the same local government for a hearing.

Sometimes this process can take years. How can a rehearing give a property owner opportunity to present objections after the big box store has been fully built and operational for over 10 years?

The property owner is the only one in this scenario who follows what they think is the proper course of action according to law. They realize too late that the entire project had been rigged in favor of the big box store from the beginning.

Was there anything positive that came from the process of defending private property rights? Yes!

A clearer understanding of the inner-workings of government was gleaned. Valuable information was gathered. A few elected officials clearly revealed themselves as opponents of liberty. Eventually, they must face the voters during the next election cycle. The people will be informed of the officials who violated the constitution, their oath of office, and failed to act as representatives of the people. Citizen involvement will be rallied, just as our founders intended.

Additionally, in the process of verbalizing this story, the ability to articulate a message to fellow citizens was sharpened. Writing articles such as this one has increased public awareness about property rights and why they are so important to our freedom. Perhaps other Americans will be inspired to take action when they see property rights threatened.

Our Founders understood liberty meant one must have the freedom to keep what one earned through one’s own labor. American colonists felt it unjust to have the fruits of their work confiscated by a powerful dictatorial British government. What was wrong for individuals to do to one another was wrong for government to do to the people. The Founders devised a government to secure the people’s natural rights of property, not create a government that would take it away.

As James Madison said, “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort …. This being the end of government, that is not a just government,…nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has … is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest.”

Look for next week’s article on the fundamental principle of property and the proper use of eminent domain.

*Article by Dr. Sylvia Zika

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