Life, Liberty and Property.

I have decided to take some time to cover the 28 principles outlined in W. Cleon Skousen’s book “The 5000 Year Leap”. The founders believed these principles to be necessary to establish and maintain the form of government that has made this country the greatest bastion of freedom in the world. In each post we will dissect one of the principles and apply it to problems faced by our country. I hope you will take the time to read “The 5000 Year Leap” and accompany me on this journey of exploration.

The fourteenth principle: Life and Liberty are Secure Only so Long as the Right to Property is Secure.

This is one of the most profound principles in that true freedom cannot exist in the absence of property rights. John Locke reasoned:

Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common (as the gift from God) to all men, yet every man has a “property” in his own “person”. This, nobody has any right to but himself. The “labour” of his body and the “work” of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that Nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with it, and joined to it something that is his own, thereby makes it his property….

He that is nourished by the acorns he picked up under an oak, or the apples he gathered from the trees in the wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself. Nobody can deny but the nourishment is his. I ask, then, when did they begin to be his? When he digested? Or when he ate? Or when he boiled? Or when he brought them home? Or when he picked them up? And it is plain, if he first gathering made them not his, nothing else could.

But if everything is a common gift to man than what makes property unique to an owner? Locke addressed this as well:

That labour…added something to them (acorns or apples) more than Nature, the common mother of all, had done, and so they became his private right. And will any one say he had no right to those acorns or apples he thus appropriated because he had not the consent of all mankind to make them his?...If such a consent as that was necessary, man (would have) starved, notwithstanding the plenty God had given him…It is the taking any part of what is common, and removing it out of the state Nature leaves it in, which begins the property, without which the common is of no use.

…Thus this law of reason makes the deer that (property of the individual) who hath killed it; it is allowed to be his goods who hath bestowed his labour upon it, though, before it was the common right of everyone.

It is important to note that it is not the property itself that rights are bestowed upon; but the right to property. Justice George Sutherland of the US Supreme Court said:

It is not the right of property which is protected, but the right to property. Property, per se, has no rights; but the individual, the man, has three great rights, equally sacred from arbitrary interference: the right to his LIFE, the right to his LIBERTY, the right to his PROPERTY…The three rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life but deny his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty is to still leave him a slave.

This is the crux of the problem faced by modern society in the face of an ever expanding federal government. As a necessary means to support the ever increasing federal budget each of us will lose more of the fruit of our labors.

Taxation is in fact a denial of property. To take from the populace a portion of their wages is to deny them the use of that which they have labored to obtain. We must guard against taxations in every form.

Recent Supreme Court decisions have allowed for the conversion of private property for public use without just compensation. This was done in the interest of the common good but has only succeeded in eroding further our property rights.

Justice Sutherland recognized that all of our rights are essentially tied into the right to property yet our leaders seem to have little reservation when it comes to seizing our property in the name of “common good”. Be it by the name of taxation or eminent domain it is nothing less than a direct attack on our rights.

The government’s primary purpose is to protect property. In this our government has been at least negligent and at worst malfeasant. Recent protests are representative of the populace’s discontent with their leader’s stewardship of the country.

Our government has seen fit to neglect its duties and sought to engage in social engineering through the redistribution of wealth. The founders knew this to be a dangerous path and sought to prevent it by means of the constitution.

The Supreme Court has so distorted the “general welfare” clause as to allow this unlawful practice. The Supreme Court had historically stood against the practice saying:

No man would become a member of a community in which he could not enjoy the fruits of his honest labor and industry. The preservation of property, then, is a primary object of the social compact…The legislature, therefore, had no authority to make an act divesting one citizen of his freehold and vesting it in another, without a just compensation. It is inconsistent with the principles of reason, and moral rectitude; it is incompatible with the comfort, peace and happiness of mankind; it is contrary to the principle of social alliance in every free government; and lastly, it is contrary to the letter and spirit of the constitution.

That passage sums up the problems faced by our nation. Our leaders have abandoned the common sense reasoning and sound principles our founders laid out in the constitution. Until we elect leaders who understand and respect the wisdom of the founding fathers we will continue on a path that leads to the destruction of a once great nation.

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