Three Great Principles, Part 2 to blupete's Essay
"On Property Rights"
The right to possess and use property is a legal concept. It is a right which can only be lawfully obtained through the creation of the property itself, or more commonly in advanced societies, through a voluntary exchange between people by way of contract -- "I will trade you this right of mine, in exchange for that right of yours." The beauty of a contract is that it comes about on a strictly voluntary basis, with the state only getting involved to enforce the contractual obligations where they are not voluntarily discharged by the parties themselves: and, which they do, 99.9% of the time. Without the legal concept of contract nothing would move in our economy and we all would have to go back to the caves. Thus, it is, that property and the full freedom to deal with it has become essential to our very civilization.3 The right to our property and the right to do with it as we wish, within the bounds of criminal law, is something to be left entirely to the citizens. This is and has been the great canon which has guided people into civilized society. It is one of the three great principles of English law as was stated by Blackstone: First is the Security of the Person; Second, the Liberty of the Person; and, Third, "inherent in every Englishman," the Right to Hold Property.4 Though, as you will see from the arguments next following, the possession of property is a natural right -- the reason the right to hold property is one of three great principles of English law (indeed, I would assert, the great principle upon which the others rest) is, that, as a practical matter, if a person, who labours to bring property into existence or into a useful form, believes that he might lose it to the first brute who comes along -- why, then, that person will not make the effort in the first place. The end result will be that the life sustaining products, meant for the consumption of all, will, therefore, not come into existence, and; well -- without basic security, food and shelter; it is useless to talk of the value of life and liberty. Only when a nation is wealthy, will the great numbers of people of which it is composed have the basics with which to carry on in life. "The natural tenancy," as Macaulay has said, "Of every society in which property enjoys tolerable security is to increase wealth." That wealth, is created by different people in different degrees depending on their natural talents and greater opportunities, is, beside the point.5
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