Monday, February 25, 2019

What Is Property?

What is property? And why does it rank up there in importance with life and liberty?

image from here

First, we start with the premise that we value life. If there’s one entitlement we can agree on, it should be that we are each entitled to our right to life. The only way to forfeit that is voluntarily, as in war, or stepping in to protect someone being harmed. Or, if we take some other innocent person’s life, then the law can allow society to take our life. So we start with valuing life.

If we can’t agree to the right to life, then it’s hard to find any common ground. As I write, there’s a bill in Congress to protect the life of children born alive—particularly in a failed abortion procedure (failure to kill the infant before birth). [The bill failed. All Democrat presidential candidates and other likely candidates just voted that murdering newborns is fine with them. Remember that when it’s time to vote and someone tries to tell you Trump is the worst president ever.] The anti-life people, who like to euphemistically call themselves pro-choice, are finally admitting that there’s no difference between a baby just before birth and just after—and if they’re willing to kill just before birth, then they have no reason not to extend that willingness to kill a child after birth. What ought to go without saying—that an innocent baby is a life worth protecting from murder—is something we now have to spell out.

If we were to exemplify savagery, killing innocent babies would be on the poster.

So, let’s start with valuing life.

And then we can move on to how we spend our life. Freedom, or liberty, means we get to choose how we go about living, which will include doing work to sustain ourselves. Because we’re all born naked, shelterless, and ignorant—so much so that we really need a family to provide the necessities until we grow and learn to provide them for ourselves, which can take close to a couple of decades. Once we’ve become capable, liberty is how we pursue overcoming our original state of poverty and ignorance, and then enjoy the fruits of those endeavors.

In short, liberty is freedom to spend our lives, portion by portion. We may exchange our time and energy in exchange for money, which is a symbol for exchange of labor—or for a portion of our lives. Money makes it easier to exchange a piece of our labor that results in, say, a chair we built, with a person who fished for some food for dinner, if we have a common rate of exchange. Then you can get fish for dinner—or the several dinners a chair would be worth—from someone who doesn’t need another chair, but who does want something someone else produced, who does need a new chair. It’s just an easier means of exchanging our work for what we could use beyond simply the fruits of our own labors.

It’s a free exchange.

What is it when your work is required, but it’s not a free exchange? That’s slavery. Someone uses your time and energy—a portion of your life—and takes the fruits of your labor, instead of leaving you those fruits for your use. If you value life, you can see that stealing a portion of a person’s life is also wrong.

image from here
That covers life and liberty. Then, what is property? It is the result of your labor, above and beyond what you need to survive, that you can continue using. It’s another word for wealth, which simply means the accumulation of the results of your labor beyond what you need to subsist.

There’s another word for that: capital. It means that you have acquired wealth—results of labor beyond subsistence, that you can then use to invest in tools or other ways of creating more wealth. Or just keep it on hand until such an opportunity arises. It’s not evil; it exists only from successful work—or successful spending of a portion of your life.

Capital isn’t bad. Property isn’t bad. In fact, your property is just a way to enjoy the fruits of your labor over time—and possibly to help produce more fruits of labor. It’s evidence of a life well spent.
What happens when someone acquires far more property than someone else? That’s evidence that the person has offered something other people value enough to exchange the fruits of their work for. That person has benefited a lot of people. He then has an opportunity to spend that money, to the benefit of other workers. Or he might invest it in ways that provide work—and income wealth—to multiple workers. Or he might stuff a mattress with it so it benefits no one. But it’s his choice, because it’s his property.

Owning more property than someone else, then, isn’t wrong; it’s just evidence of serving society in a way that society appreciates.

What about those whose work doesn’t result in enough to subsist? That’s a social issue we can choose to care about, and do something about. It might be that we have enough surplus to offer a portion to the needy. That’s called charity. On a larger scale we might call it philanthropy. It’s a voluntary gift. Or, you could say it’s the exchange of the results of our labor—or wealth—for the sense of well being that comes from helping out another human being.

A righteous, caring people will want to do enough for a needy person to meet their needs without discouraging them from trying to get themselves to a more self-reliant state. You don’t want to create dependence. You don’t want to discourage someone from trying. You’ll want a person to feel valued and encouraged to contribute as much as they can to society. That takes actual caring, and often close acquaintance with a person’s situation, such as in a church community.

As long as a person in need is helped out by caring people, it simply doesn’t matter that there are large differences in property ownership.

If you think you’re entitled to the fruits of someone else’s labor, you’re a thief at heart. And let’s spell that out even more clearly: you’re a slaver. To take the fruits of someone else’s labor is to take the portion of their life that went to producing that wealth.

When government takes the fruits of your labor to “redistribute” it to someone who didn’t work for it, then government is the slaveholder and you’re the slave. This is true of anything government does beyond the proper role of government: protection of life, liberty, and property.

The way things are right now, government enslaves us for a pretty large chunk of the year. 

Entitlements—the euphemism for redistributing wealth, or pretending to do charity by coercive theft—make up a larger part of the federal budget, and most state and local budgets, than the necessities of protection.

And, as we know here at the Spherical Model,

Whenever government attempts something beyond the proper role of government (protection of life, liberty, and property), it causes unintended consequences—usually exactly opposite to the stated goals of the interference.
We make better use of our money—our property—than government can.

If there’s any person thinking about leaning toward socialism, ask, sincerely, who has the right to enslave you by taking away the fruits of your labor? It doesn’t matter if other countries, or other states, do it. Taking property away from those who paid for it with the fruits of their labor is taking a portion of their life. It isn’t fair. It’s wrong. As wrong as slavery has always been.

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