In Defense of Property Rights

by Eric on May 21, 2010

I like Stossel’s defense of Rand Paul.

This discussion illustrates a favorite statist power grab formula:

  1. Have the state interfere with the free market. (In this case the method of interference was Jim Crow laws).
  2. Observe and deplore the undesirable consequences.
  3. Blame the imaginary ‘free market’ which the state has rendered un-free by its interference. (Seriously, how was the free market supposed to eliminate racism when it was the law?)
  4. Enact more laws to compensate for undesirable consequences. Of course these laws interfere even more with the free market.

People and businesses should not be forced to use their property in a way to which they object. It’s important to defend this principle, even in those scenarios we find distasteful (or in the case of Jim Crow, disgusting). Once we accept the notion that government can tell you how to use your property – even if we deem the use desirable – we have no grounds to resist when they mandate a use which we don’t find desirable. Put another way, if some jackass wants to exclude some group of customers because he doesn’t like the way they look, that’s his right. We should defend it, even if we find it disgusting. (It’s the old principle vs. pragmatism tradeoff. If we’re willing to erode principle to achieve some expediency, one day we’ll wake up with the principle destroyed and expediency determined by whomever is the best armed.)

It’s sad that defending property rights gets one tagged as a racist.

Update: Dr. Williams says it better than I do.

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