Liberty and Property
No other economic system has brought more people out of poverty, provided for the health and well-being of millions and raised the standard of living more societies than capitalism. When people cooperate to fulfill their own self interest, they all benefit. That is the basis of liberty.
Capitalism and freedom are inextricably linked. When the Declaration of Independence was first drafted it read “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and Property.”
This was changed later to read “pursuit of happiness” because they did not want the document to be perceived to support slavery. But the first draft read ‘property’. Why?
The concept of property, and private property rights are indispensable to freedom and liberty. They are also indispensable to capitalism. Realize first that the term property includes much more than the material items we buy, store or make. Property also includes our thoughts, actions, education and experience and labor. Our voices, spirituality and even our lives are also our property. What we do with our property, how we employ it to better our lives and take care of our families ought to be completely up to us. Government was created, and its only function should be to protect our property and our right to employ, or not to employ them as we see fit.
The Declaration of Independence listed those three specific rights, and then the very next line explained the function of government: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men”. Then, in the US Constitution, the government created specifically to secure our rights is strictly limited in its power, lest the government created by the governed become too powerful. Also, to further restrict the power of government and to secure our rights and property, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution before the states would ratify it.
So, our God-given rights are our property and government exists to secure these rights and the Constitution exists to protect us from government. The freedom assured to the people in such an arrangement naturally leads to capitalism. It is this system, a Federal government with strictly limited powers and a populace with the freedom to employ their property as they wish, that allowed the United States to rise from a small, backward agrarian society to become a world power in less than a century.
It is this legal respect for personal property that allowed great innovation, invention and industry to flourish. It is the mobility that was granted to our people by our freedoms that allowed the country to grow and our people to prosper. It was the extension of the concept of property to include our ideas that allowed the Wright Brothers to invent the first powered aircraft. It allowed the Thomas Edisons, Henry Fords and the Steve Jobs of our country to patent and protect their ideas, grow companies and provide incomes and livelihoods to an untold millions of people.
I’ve seen the other side. In my time in the Army, I’ve served both in Germany and in South Korea. I’ve seen what communism looks like staring back from across Europe’s Iron Curtain and the DMZ. I’ve seen the misery and poverty that comes from a centrally planned economy where personal property rights don’t exist and liberty is unknown. The walls that I guarded wearing the uniform of freedom were not constructed by us to keep the forces of communism out. Those walls were built by the forces of communism to hold their own people in.
For once you strip the people of their liberty, their freedom and their property, in all its forms, you’ve stripped them of their individuality. They no longer exist for themselves, they no longer have any worth except to fill some role that betters the State. They are more like workers in an ant hill with no individual rights, no personal property, no way to improve their lives for all property and all means of production belong to the queen.
But, now, our Constitution and the concept of property are under attack. We have a president that is alienating those that create. He, and his allies on the Left, are making enemies of those that innovate, build and dream. He is espousing a philosophy that states that in order for anyone to get ahead, we have to pull the successful among us down. Somehow he is trying to convince us that by taking money from some of our citizens and giving that money to the government, that the poor among us will be better off. The truth is that all that will happen is that all of us become poorer.
This rhetoric is designed to simultaneously group us into the “masses” and divide us into groups. It has been called “class warfare” but it goes much deeper. The term “fairness” is used over and over to espouse a false argument that there should be an equality in outcome, that we should all be the same, that some having more is somehow unfair to those that have less. In capitalism, wealth can be created exponentially through innovation, invention and starting a small business, hiring people and becoming a large business. Having wealth and creating wealth is not dependent upon seizing the wealth from others. Now we are being told that we can achieve equality, and “fairness” only by seizing the wealth of others and to give it to those that do not contribute.
We must recognize that if we stand idly by and by our inaction, allow the government to seize the property of some of our citizens under the false premise that it benefits us all, we all lose. For once a freedom is lost, once we surrender a liberty, it will not come back. We must recognize that the government is not only trying to convince us they are only seeking to achieve “fairness” and only they can best determine what that means and they will take, by force, the property from some of our citizens for those ends. How is it, in the words of Mark Levine, that we are wise enough to choose our leaders, but not our light bulbs? This entire concept turns our founding on its head and the government has become supreme. The people have surrendered their Liberty.
Capitalism, and the concept of private property, has proven that one can employ their property: their ideas, labor, experience, education, hard work, spirituality, time and dreams and put them to work to advance your well-being, raise a family, and leave this a better country, a better world for your children than how you inherited it. We are close to losing this America. We are close to losing our freedoms. We have a government now that does not respect personal property and believes it can choose better than you how you should employ your property. It also believes that it pull our freedoms and rights away for every bit of power the government gains, it takes a like amount of freedom from us.
Unlike wealth and prosperity, Liberty is a zero-sum game.