WHY PRIVATE PROPERTY MATTERS:
PART 1 – PROSPERITY – STABILITY – FREEDOM
By Tom DeWeese of The American Policy Center
Most Americans tend to think of private property simply as a home – the place where the family resides, store their belongings and find shelter and safety from the elements. It’s where you live. It’s yours because you pay the mortgage and the taxes. Most people don’t give property ownership much more thought than that.
There was a time when property ownership was considered to be much more. Property, and the ability to own and control it, was life itself. The great economist, John Locke, whose writings and ideas had major influence on the nation’s founders, believed that “life and liberty are secure only so long as the right of property is secure.”
John Locke advocated that if property rights did not exist, then the incentive for an industrious person to develop and improve property would be destroyed; that the industrious person would be deprived of the fruits of his labor; that marauding bands would confiscate, by force, the goods produced by others; and that mankind would be impelled to remain on a bare-subsistence level of hand-to-mouth survival because the accumulation of anything of value would invite attack.
One only has to look to the example of the former Soviet Union to see clearly what happens to a society when an outlaw government exercises brute force to take control of private property. Under that tyrannical government, each of Locke’s predictions came true there.
Throughout its history, the Soviet government excused its every action under the banner of equality for all. There were no property rights, no freedom of enterprise, and no protections of individual actions. Instead, the Soviet government enforced redistribution of wealth schemes, confiscating homes from the rich and middle class.
The same basic redistribution schemes of the Soviets were later used by Zimbabwe’s former dictator Robert Mugabe to destroy that agriculturally rich African nation. Mugabe confiscated farmland owned by white farmers and gave it to friends of his corrupt government – most of whom had never even seen a farm. The result was economic disaster, widespread poverty, and hunger in a land that had once fed the continent. The nation of South Africa is now following in the murderous footsteps of Robert Mugabe as it attacks white farmers, taking their property and again putting it in the hands of those who know nothing about running a farm.
Locke warned that human civilization would be reduced to the level of a pack of wolves and cease to exist because lack of control over your own actions caused fear and insecurity. Private property ownership, Locke argued, brought stability and wealth to individuals, leading to a prosperous society of man. That’s because legal ownership of property is the key to productive development. Private property ownership is the reason the United States became the wealthiest nation on earth, almost over night. Free individuals, using their own land to create commerce and build personal wealth through the equity of their property, are the root of American success. Sixty percent of early American businesses were financed through the equity of property ownership. And sixty percent of American jobs were created through those successful businesses. That’s how a free-market economy is built. Private property ownership is the source of personal, individual wealth for the average American.
Clearly John Locke’s warnings have been vindicated. Private property ownership is much more than a house. It is the root of a prosperous, healthy, human society based on the individual’s freedom to live a life of his own, gaining from the fruits of his own labor. Take that option away and the people always react the same way. They stop producing.
PART 2 – THE LOST DEFINITION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS
In the 1990s, an all-out assault on property rights was well underway, lead by a radical environmental movement, resulting in massive federal land grabs in the name of conservation. As one can imagine, courts across the nation were flooded with cases of people attempting to defend their property rights from government takings. In the state of Washington, one of the major targets for such programs, the state Supreme Court realized it didn’t have an adequate definition of property rights to use in considering such cases. That’s when State Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Sanders wrote a “Fifth Amendment” treatise which included the following definition of property rights:
“Property in a thing consists not merely in its ownership and possession, but in the unrestricted right of use, enjoyment, and disposal. Anything which destroys any of the elements of property, to that extent, destroys the property itself. The substantial value of property lies in its use. If the right of use be denied, the value of the property is annihilated and ownership is rendered a barren right.”
“Use” of the land is the key. Using the land in a productive way beneficial to the owner is what gives the land value. Simply paying the taxes and mortgage while some undefined government entity can rule and regulate how the property is used, according to Justice Sanders, is a “barren right” that annihilates its value.
When you purchase property, how much of the land do you own? What is the depth of the soil? Do you own the water on the land? Do you own the air above it? As property rights expert, Dr. Timothy Ball wrote, “All these questions speak to political issues that transcend private, regional and national boundaries. Nationally and internationally, lack of this knowledge is being exploited by those who seek control…”
In the beginning of the nation – after the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution, and the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Great Britain – the American people became complete, sovereign freeholders in the land with the same prerogatives as the King once had. Now in this new nation the English King had no further claim to the land and could neither tax nor otherwise encumber it.
From that point the United States government acknowledged private ownership by issuing land patents, also called “Letter Patents.” They were signed by the President of the United States and recorded in the county record. The land then became the owner’s property in a “true land title.” There were no other claims on the land. Land Patents or “Allodial Titles” were one of the major motivators of the American Revolution, providing rights to the land, free and clear of the liens and encumbrances of the King of England.
A Land Patent is a contract or Document of Title, issued by a government or state for the conveyance of some portion of land from the public domain to private individuals. According to Black’s Law, a Land Patent Contract means the complete and absolute ownership of land; a paramount and individual right of property in land.
But, as property expert Ron Gibson has written, the enjoyment of free and clear title allowing owners to “own” their land without interference from any government, including the government of the United States, didn’t last long. Today, this history has been largely ignored by our government. Instead of a Land Patent or Allodial Patent issued when one buys property, we are issued a Warranty Deed. That is not a true title, but rather a “color of title.” That means you have a partner in the ownership of the land. The partner is the State, which encumbers the property with taxes and liens and all of those things, which simply render you a tenant on what should be your own land.
Writes Gibson, “As a result of generations of constructive Trust Fraud perpetuated against the American people. . . we’ve been conned into believing we are ‘owning’ property, when in fact, and by law, we’re only in ‘possession’ of property utilizing it as a renter or tenant would. So long as we pay our rent (i.e., taxes and mortgages), get the licenses, pay the fees, have it insured, regulated, zoned and permitted, we can still remain ‘in possession”.
And therein lies the root of the misconception that property is just the place where we live. The Government’s refusal to acknowledge true property rights has led to a massive destruction of the American system, and is at the root of the creation of the largest reorganization of human society ever attempted.
PART 3 – THE GROWING ATTACK ON PROPERTY RIGHTS
The increasing encroachment of government regulations, pontificating politicians and the enforcement of Social Justice schemes have led to a loss of understanding of the terms private property and property rights.
Once it was understood that the unauthorized entering of private property was a violation to the utmost. The property owner was justified and supported in taking necessary actions to remove the trespasser and secure that land. Today, such ideas in the new America are considered radical, old fashioned, out of touch, and even reprehensible. The homeowner can be arrested for defending against an armed intruder. The intruder can actually sue a homeowner for shooting them even as they break down the door intending to rob and do harm. Home protection is called violence, perhaps even racism. It’s a whole new world of compliance, fear, and acceptance rather than pride, protection, and prosperity in ownership.
The Green New Deal is the current name for the agenda to control living standards and obliterate private property and sound energy sources. Massive wind and solar farms bury massive amounts of land under their steel and concrete infrastructures, as private land and farms lying in their path find it nearly impossible to co-exist. Driving people off the rural lands and into the cities is the stated goal.
Inside the growing high rise city forests, the new Biden Administration is now preparing an all-out assault on private property ownership. In the name of Climate Change, Biden plans to form “denser, more affordable housing next to public transit.” This is be done by removing zoning protection for single-family neighborhoods, destroying property values as public housing complexes are moved into the neighborhood. This is already being done in Oregon and in cities such as Minneapolis, where the mayor calls single-family zoning, “racist.”
Landlords are also under attack as some new policies are actually forbidding them to even ask if a potential tenant can afford to pay the rent. Meanwhile, more regulations on landlords are raising costs, yet forbidding them the ability to raise rents.
Most of these programs come under programs with names such as Smart Growth or Sustainable Development, and are enforced through community comprehensive development plans mandated by state legislatures and funded through federal grants, primarily from HUD, EPA, or the Department of Transportation. Compliance to the grants dictates even more Sustainable policy.
The most recent attack on property rights, now gaining momentum across the nation, is called 30×30. The plan calls for locking away 30% of America’s land and waters. Under Biden’s new EO, at least 30% of all land in the U.S. would be permanently set aside and maintained in a natural state. Activities such as energy development, forest management, livestock grazing, mineral exploration and development, and many recreational uses would be prohibited. This would require at least 680 million acres of land to be set aside – more land than the entire federal government currently manages.
Most of the land dedicated to achieving the 30 x 30 goal necessarily will be the federal land found in the 11 western states and Alaska. Forcing rural communities and businesses that depend on the use of public lands and national forests to bear the brunt of the program would be inequitable. There is no other alternative, however. The bottom line is that “30 x 30” is an excuse to end the productive use of public lands and national forests and to set aside massive tracts of land to remain fallow.
If these policies for community development, landlord control, and confiscation of rural lands are allowed to carry out to their logical conclusion, eventually there will be no private property in the United States and all housing, farming, and industry will be simply government programs. In a word, communism.
PART 4 – HOW TO FIGHT BACK
How do we effectively fight to restore private property, and our freedom of movement in America? Most think that just getting a president elected is the answer, but what if we lose that race? Or, what if we win the Presidency but lose the House of Representatives and the Senate? What chance do we then have to make any progress in protecting liberty? We have to live in the days after an election. We have to make our way forward in our lives. So, do we simply surrender and accept our fate? Or do we create a new path to protect and promote the ideals of freedom?
The first step to answer that question is to stop depending on one person, one icon to lead us forward. We must take the responsibility ourselves to assure that government does not move forward unattended. We need to be directly involved at every level, especially on the local level. Change the debate to attack anti-freedom policies, expose non-governmental (NGO) carpetbaggers hiding in the shadows dictating policy, force elected officials to be personally responsible for their actions, and organize to assure the election of leaders who promote and defend the principles of freedom.
Picture how different our nation would be if we dug in to create a majority of governors across the nation who understood and operated under the Tenth Amendment which acknowledges the States’ power to stand against Federal overreach. What if you had a county commission that refused to participate in non-elected regional government? How would your life change if your city council was made up of individuals who guided your community under the three pillars of freedom, including protection of private property, encouragement and support for local businesses to operate and compete in free enterprise, and the lifting of rules and regulations that stifled personal choices in your individual life? How do we make all of that a reality? Set a goal to turn your local community into a Freedom Pod. . . .
Simply focus on making these goals a reality in your community and, if successful, as prosperity spreads, the idea will certainly spread to a neighboring community, and then to the next. The challenge is to create a successful blueprint and a cadre of dedicated elected representatives that will begin to move from the local into the state level of government. That will set the stage for effecting a federal government as conceived by our forefathers. The result will be the growth of Freedom Pods across the nation.
Here is the end game for the forces of freedom. No matter who is president, we must take control of our cities, counties, state legislatures, and governors. Only then can we stand up the potential tyranny from Washington, DC. To live your life as YOU choose, start to grow your Freedom Pod today.
The American Policy Center (APC) is now working with organizations across the country to train and motivate local residents to take action in their own communities to begin to push back and restore American freedom. APC has created a Local Activists Handbook and a Tool Kit to help with training, and improving communications between activists and organizations, to share tactics, ideas, and successes. Learn more at www.americanpolicy.org.