Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Private Property Rights

"Property is the fruit of labor. Property is desirable, is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently to build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence."

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Wouldn't that get laughed off the stage today if Lincoln was in a debate today?

Private property? "What about human rights?" people would say!


Private property is integral to and essential in a capitalist system. It forms the very basis of the system. The one cannot exist without the other.


Private property rights are specific to human rights because they allow humans to voluntarily exchange their owned goods and services in a free-market way.

"But when the rich have more than their fair share (whatever in the world that means) the poor are treated unequally!"

Note Mr. Lincoln's quote - "property is the fruit of labor," and "just encouragement to industry and enterprise." It's the Parable of the Sower all over again - we reap what we sow! Certainly people have gotten rich off of others in a conniving, sneaky and underhanded way. Look at the porn industry, for example. And some have inherited their wealth because of a previous generation's industry and enterprise.

But for the most part the rich, and we ALL have our own definition of what "RICH" is, have earned it.

A property right is the authority to determine how a resource is used. I own a house. Well, better put, I am renting a house from a bank that owns my mortgage until I pay it off, but I claim home ownership. That allows me the exclusive authority to determine how that resource is used. I can live in it, I can rent it all or in part, or I can let it sit unattended so long as I meet my mortgage obligations. That is a human right! It's MY house!

Society can approve the uses selected for my property. My HOA, for example, can demand I maintain the house in a certain state of repair. But my HOA cannot tell me to whom I can rent the property, and the gubment can place restrictions on how I must go about renting that property. But, for the most part, it remains private property.

When are property rights removed? Certainly in socialist or dictatorial countries, where the people have no say in how "public" (read that the state) resources are used or exchanged. And is wealth created in those societies? Is there incentive to create wealth in those societies? Are the people actively engaged in voluntary exchange of private resources in those societies?


What creates wealth? Mr. Lincoln said it best - the fruit of labor and encouragement to industry and enterprise.
What preserves wealth? Mr. Lincoln said it best - let not him who is houseless (and the includes the gubment) pull down the house (private property) of another.

Mr. Reagan said it well - one of his campaign mantras was "Get the gubment off our backs!"

I think Mr. Lincoln would approve.


  1. Wow, great article, I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you!
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  2. Thank you! And I'm glad you stopped by. What Mr. Lincoln said then is no different in terms of relevance than if he said it today. The government, however, is substantially more powerful now and controlling of our ability toward industry and enterprise.

  3. Thank you Rentals in Rio. Now that all my past posts are up, this blog will be added to every Tuesday. Stop by!

  4. You can do it, I believe in you. And when it's done, it will be awesome!

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  5. Thank you robot! I put out a new blog every Tuesday morning, always about free enterprise or American capitalism. It has been a fun thing to do now, for over a year!