Guest Saturday with A Coservative Teacher

The following essay was originally published by A Coservative Teacher on Friday, June 24,2011.


A Lesson in Property Rights

Imagine that you lived in a state of nature- your plane crash landed on some previously unclaimed island that has no inhabitants and there is no hope of being rescued or contacting your previous home nations. Or you go to the moon, or an asteroid, or the bottom of the ocean, or some other location where there are no laws and no legal rights are written down. What sort of rights would you have?

Another way of asking this question is for you to think of things that others would do to you that you would think are wrong- that you would believe are wrong because you know that to do these things are wrong, with or without a government or any sort of legal authority telling you that they are wrong. These are what are called your natural rights.

What sort of natural rights would you have, whereby you would feel violated and wronged by others, even if there were no government or state or authority? Let’s say you crash land on the island or find yourself on the moon- would you feel that you had been horribly wronged and violated if your fellow citizens didn’t pay for your healthcare insurance in case you got injured? You’re on an asteroid, and you demand that the other people on the asteroid buy a house for you or subsidize your loan, and they say no- have you been wronged and your natural rights violated? Of course not- you don’t have any sort of right to have others pay for your healthcare insurance, house, car, food, or anything of that sort.

Imagine that you begin to work on your island, tilling a field and growing a crop, where others lay around and do nothing other than to watch you. After you are done growing your crop, they all band together in a large group and vote to have you distribute your crop to everyone, with everyone getting an equal share, even though you contributed all the labor. Were you wronged? Did someone violate your rights? Or let’s say on the moon, you provide some sort of service that is essential- taking care of the banking, entertaining others by playing a sport, taking a risk and thinking up a new product- and you work hard at your service and in return others pay you some sort of compensation, that they voluntarily pay for your service because they recognize its worth; and after this, someone else comes along and demands a share of your ‘money’ in order to pay for someone else to conduct a study of the effects of drinking in prostitutes in China, or to build a road that you will never travel on the other side of the moon, or to cut a check to the older people stranded on the moon, or to hire a bureaucrat to supervise you and tell you all the things you are doing wrong. Would you be wronged then?

Of course you would have been wronged- your labor is yours, and the profit from your labor is yours, and the government does not have any ‘right’ to your labor, not unless you are a slave to the state. You are okay with voting to provide a military to protect your property from outside aggression, or police or fire service to protect it from theft or fire, or to create a court system to resolve any disputes that may arise regarding your property. But for the government to come and demand the fruits of your labor and lay claim to it is tyranny- it is your property, it existed before government, it will exist after government, and you are the only person who can lay any sort of right to that property. This in your natural right to property.

The purpose of our government is to protect these natural rights- life, liberty, and property. There is no such thing as a ‘tax cut for the rich’- the government does not have any sort of claim on the rich citizens’ property, so a more proper name for this would be a ‘lessening of the unequal taxes levied on those earning high incomes’. You do not have any sort of right to healthcare or housing; but neither do you have any sort of right to social security or medicare- those are provided to some in our society by violating my rights and the rights of other young people in society to keep and earn property in order to provide forced charity to those who have had ample opportunity to earn and pay for their own retirement and healthcare- but they have no right to this sort of forced charitable giving.

Understanding property rights and the nature of them is important, because once the state becomes destructive to these property rights that state is on the road to tyranny. We can see it already in our nation, where our government has arbitrarily violated contracts because a car company is going bankrupt, failed to properly issue permits to energy companies who have gone through the (excessive and capricious) permit process, or the forcing someone young and healthy and full of life to buy a product like health insurance in order to subsidize the costs for others in society. Once it has been established that your property rights can be violated by a government- that rights to keep and earn property that existed before government was around and would be around even if government was not around- then the next step is to go after your freedoms and liberties, and lastly, your life.

Fight for the right to keep and earn property, and stop engaging in class warfare, because it will only lead to tyranny and injustice.


About A Conservative Teacher

As a public high school teacher and an elected official, I’ve been on the front lines of communicating conservativism for many years. I have taught many subjects in social studies in a public school near a major city in Michigan, and have been recognized several times for my teaching. Before that I worked in government and business for many years. My education includes a degree in political science from a top school, and another advanced degree in teaching from another top school. This blog addresses education, teaching, religion, politics, elections, the environment, media, and whatever else catches my interest. Enjoy, and please feel free to link to my blog and pass on my thoughts to others.

3 thoughts on “Guest Saturday with A Coservative Teacher

  1. I like the premise of this piece and I am well aware of the property interest in my work product.

    Unfortunately, our government practices confiscation. You cannot own property without paying property taxes. You cannot work without paying income taxes. The harsh reality is- is that we own very little. The government has seized it from us. Or will. They have become central planners- deciding what to do with our money.

    It is very difficult to try and avoid class conflict when Bush tax cut policies have created the greatest rift ever between the haves and have nots. Ten percent of our citizens own 90% of the wealth. How are you going to avoid talking about a tax system that allowed the rich and elite to escape paying taxes? How can we not talk about class warfare when the elite have had every break imaginable? Fascinating.

    I have great disdain for both parties. They are one mongrel dog party. They are central planners, statists, rich and elite. They are self absorbed. I have nothing in common with either party. Nor does any middle class American-

    Piece was well written. Thanks.

  2. Excellent post! One of the problems with a lot of people today is that they don’t own anything, or are invested in anything! It’s like they are squatters, just using what ever they have been given or what they can take, until it’s not worth anything or something better comes along. Barrack Obama is an example of a squatter. He has noting invested in this Country and is just using what is here until something better comes along!

  3. An addendum to Social Security and Medicare…

    Whether we agree with it or not, through payroll taxes the government takes money from every paycheck to pay for those two services.

    They are suppose to put all those collected monies into trust funds to pay for those services.

    The government has long since violated our trust and spent EVERY penny of those collected funds.

    In essence, that is theft.

    Now THAT is a serious violation of “natural” rights!

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