Property Rights Redefined

A New Kind of Blight

Years ago, a Christian evangelist friend of mine complained about doing the Lord’s work in the South.  Everyone is a Christian there, he lamented, whether or not they really are one.  His point was well taken.  It is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, which is a problem not just for Christian evangelists but for those of us who spend time advocating political ideals.

Everyone in America believes in freedom, or so they say.  And everyone believes in property rights.  Yet many of those same people will eagerly support antifreedom and especially anti-property-rights laws.  If the public really cared about property rights, we would not see a continuing flurry of measures that strip owners of their property through eminent domain or of the value of their property through environmental and other regulatory “takings.”

Recently, some local activists wrote an article supporting a local initiative that would subject almost every new private development to a citywide vote.  It is difficult to imagine anything more antithetical to the traditional concept of property rights.  Subjecting property rights to public vote is akin to having “free-speech” rights, provided everyone gets to vote in advance on what you plan to say.

The activists agreed “that protection of property rights is important.”  But then they went...

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