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Friday, July 01, 2005

Founders: Protection of Property Is Paramount

Thanks to Mark Alexander who carried the following quote from John Adams in his column "The Founders' Cornerstones":

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If 'Thou shalt not covet' and 'Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.

There is a lot in that quote. First, we must recognize the relevance of the 10 commandments to a moral and ordered society. Second, the protection of property is not something to just help "fat cats". It is inherent in our being that the rewards from our sweat cannot be taken from us. If our lives consist of time, then theft of the rewards (and I include over-taxation and trade protectionism) of labor is removal of a piece of our lives. Last, laws enacted to protect those rights provide expectations of order that, when removed, produce anarchy and tyrrany. Courts routinely over-ride laws and contracts (voluntarily derived laws) to reach their view of justice. What is just is allowing people to order their own lives without inserting the interpretations of those not in privity to effect a result never intended.

The concept of law protecting property rights has eroded during the 20th Century. On this up-coming July 4th, remember those who are sacrificing their lives, limbs and time to protect these values.

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