Have you ever seen the phrase above? I’ve encountered it only once, and that was in a fictional context:
“What made you think that I’d accept a gift of this kind?”
“It is not a gift, Mr. Rearden. It is your own money. But I have one favor to ask of you. It is a request, not a condition, because there can be no such thing as conditional property.”
Is that assertion factually correct? Or have developments in the sixty-five years since it was published replaced true, unconditional property that’s yours by right with conditional property – property that can be withdrawn from you like a government-issued license?
It’s worth a few minutes’ thought.
Ever since the infamous Kelo v. New London decision, in which the Supreme Court ratified a Connecticut city’s seizure of a whole neighborhood to turn over to a private developer, it’s been clear that there is no such thing as “real property” in these United States. Frankly, it was a belated recognition. What about property taxes? “Your” land and home can be take from you for not paying those levies, right? So how “real” was your “real property” before the Kelo decision?
The stories of cash seizures by police on absurd pretexts are now too many to enumerate. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the citizen thus victimized never gets any of his money back, despite never even being charged with a crime. Ironically, the usual reason is the amount it would cost the citizen in lawyer’s fees to sue successfully. However, there’s also the little matter, once the suit has been won, of forcing the government to issue the refund…which can take months or years after the refund is ordered.
Then there’s the banking system. You may feel secure about your savings, but how real are they? In the usual case you can’t touch them. No one could, for they consist of entries in a digital ledger. Under “normal” circumstances you can draw on them – once again, digitally – to pay various bills and other obligations. You can withdraw some of them as pieces of paper with steel engravings on them, whether through an ATM or at a bank teller’s window…for the moment. But the entire system is digital – virtual – and under the control of the Federal Reserve Board, whose members are political appointees and whom you probably couldn’t name.
I could go on. I could talk about cryptocurrencies, stocks and bonds, 401(k) and IRA accounts, town and county emergency-seizure ordinances, eminent domain…. The number of rationales under which a government can seize “your property” is sufficient to give anyone who reflects upon the matter a nice little chill. Perhaps you’re feeling that chill about now.
If Ragnar Danneskjold was correct, and there can be no such thing as conditional property, then does property exist at all?
There’s a good argument that it doesn’t. Property, in the original American conception, involved an individual right rather than a grant of permission. To seize it required extraordinary circumstances and specific actions. First, a case for the seizure had to be presented to a judge of the appropriate jurisdiction. If the judge deemed the case valid, he would issue an order of condemnation. But he would also order the relevant government to pay “just compensation” for the property seized. In no case could a man’s property – real or movable – be taken from him without all those steps first being taken and approved.
It’s not that way today. Eminent-domain proceedings have become a farce. Worse, “emergency” and “proceeds of crime” rationales are rubber-stamped in nearly every case. Even when it’s paid, “just compensation” seldom bears any resemblance to actual justice.
Those who find the state of affairs acceptable strive to dismiss the many documented injustices as infrequent “excesses,” exceptions to an otherwise acceptably just system. Susette Kelo’s “little pink house” was merely an unfortunate casualty of one such “excess.”
The matter of money and currency is more difficult for the statists to defend. Money was not the invention of any government. It came into existence through spontaneous order. Persons who traded in barter markets sought a way to refine their commerce and preserve some portion of what they had gained. Over the centuries one form of money would last for a while, then give way to a superior form, until the practical optimum – the precious metals – came to hold sway. When governments got involved, they swiftly substituted currencies for money, and contrived to seize the money metals for themselves. As banking blossomed and extended its scope, governments seized upon it as well. Eventually they replaced even the greater part of their irredeemable paper currencies with virtual systems entirely under their control. Thus we arrived at the state of affairs we endure today.
As for other forms of “property” such as stocks and bonds, have they any greater reality – or reliability – than the speedily devaluing pieces of paper in your wallet? Be prepared to show your work.
Just now, the Freedom Convoy of Canadian truckers opposed to the Trudeau Regime’s imposition of vaccination mandates upon their industry is the biggest news on Earth. Needless to say, the Mainstream Media are determined to avert our eyes from it. Nevertheless, it is so – so much so that Trudeau has fled Ottawa out of fear. But while we can and should celebrate this stroke in the cause of freedom, there are a few “grace notes” along the edges that deserve a moment’s attention.
The provincial government of Nova Scotia has threatened the truckers and anyone who supports them with massive fines. Canadian federal politicians have threatened to imprison the truckers and seize their trucks. And of course today’s most prominent enemies of freedom, AntiFa, are doing their best to incite actual violence that the government can blame on the Convoy. That would create a rationale for treating the Convoy members as terrorists – and these days that means the sky’s the limit. The January 6 protestors can tell you all about it.
If a political protest – merely a dramatic expression of dissent from a dictatorial policy that threatens the livelihoods of the protestors in particular and the well-being of Canadians generally – can be shut down in this fashion, the system will have triumphed. At this point in events, the outcome cannot be known.
“A man with a briefcase can steal more money than any man with a gun.” – Don Henley
“Without private property there can be no private decisions.” — Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
The men with briefcases are many…but we are many more. Their predations are made possible by our compliance with the system they’ve erected. They think it’s inescapable. Ask any one of them! “Give up,” they say. “It’s a closed system,” they’ll tell you. “You’re in it from the day you’re issued your Social Security number right up to the day you die. There’s no escape.”
We could put an end to their hegemony simply by refusing to participate in it. The reason they’ve succeeded to date is by offering us convenience. And there’s no question that their system makes things convenient…especially for them.
The price for that convenience has been staggering…and it increases daily.
Private property is essential to freedom.
Freedom is not given.
It is not legislated.
It is not permitted, licensed, or approved.
It is taken.
It’s time to give some thought to withdrawing your consent.
Man, is that true. It’s time to consider withdrawing our consent on a who bunch of things in a whole bunch of areas. For example, if the DA’s and judges are not going to adequately prosecute criminals (especially violent criminals) or allow them to avoid justice by declaring themselves “female” or other such scientific monstrosities then we need to alleviate them from their jobs and separate them from their treasured black robes. Permanently. And with prejudice.
I am specifically referring to to the revolting POS George Gascon (DA of LA) who:
Two years in juvie is pretty mild for molesting a 10-year-old — especially when a guy gets to serve it in a female facility.
Francis, your frequent reference to Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand in particular is dear to me. I read this 20 years ago and have purchased the movies (first ok rest meh). As you have stated earlier, Rand’s ideas have not fared well through time. Objectivism just didn’t pass muster and has in general has gone passe. The belief however that a person’s ideas and work IS the possession of said person and may not be stolen by government without the permission and compensation to the owner has transcended the book and remains the best contribution Rand has made to mankind.
The “owning” of real property is nothing of the kind. It would seem that governments have merely “allowed” us the use of land and they can and will take it for whatever purpose they wish. It does not matter that you have improved the property or invested a huge amount of you hard earned money on it and perhaps paid their exhorbitant taxes for decades – no no no! They will confiscate it through imminent domain and pay you “fair market value” plus legal costs. Sure they do.
Here in Central Florida the “government” in the guise of FDOT is in planning phases of a new toll road called the Suncoast Connector. This has been in the works for decades. It has failed before and been resurrected. One proposed path will be rather close to our home and we are fighting it tooth and nail. The sad realization we are finding is that if the government wants it, they will ultimately get it.
I suppose the whole thing summed up for me is government is WAY too powerful for our good and that WE the people are the only ones who can change that. We must diligently work to elect people who care about rights of the people.
I don’t know the final solution (poor choice of words I admit) to this problem but, I am not one to lie down and play dead just so the fascists don’t shoot me in the back of the head. If we do, we deserve it.
History seems to indicate that simply trying to put in good people doesn’t work. At best, it delays the inevitable. The pressure will rise, and the chains will get tighter, until a revolution explodes (that either succeeds or fails).
The entire enterprise of trying to form a government that doesn’t turn into the Spanish Inquisition is one of the greatest challenges of humanity. The “American Experiment” was designed and tested on this battlefield. It is my opinion that, though it was a better idea than what had come before, it has in fact failed to achieve its goal.
In a few years, we’ll be in new territory again. And again. And again.
Indeed. When it comes to government, nothing is stable. But then, anarchy isn’t stable either.
That’s why we should strive to reopen the frontier. It provides a relief valve through which people who must have freedom can escape. Unfortunately, the only escape direction remaining is up.
I’m endlessly fascinated by the Federal Reserve’s objective — one of two — to strive for a 2% rate of inflation. As I’ve doubtless observed here that means that $10,000 you have in savings now will lose half its value in 36 years per the Rule of 72. The definition of money is “a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value and sometimes, a standard of deferred payment.” Wikipedia, Money.
It positively stuns me that the nation’s central bank has that kind of a loss baked into their day-to-day functioning. Who are these people and where did such a satanic policy come from. Since the Fed has engineered our impending collapse and groveled in front of the spenders in Congress — famous for their economic wisdom — just what, exactly, is so fisking magic about this 2% goal? Actual inflation is way more than this as we know, so the evaporation of our property is that much accelerated.
Property isn’t secure as you point out and no wonder we have a population that is on the edge of rationality. Ours is a nation built on shifting sands with an on-going employment, debt, spending, inflation, cronyism, and massive media dishonesty. Even people who may not concern themselves with abstract notions of conditional property know that, just where immigration is concerned, know that their idea of citizenship in a magnificent country is being trashed. Your chance of getting a decent job is fast diminishing. Hello mental illness and cultural collapse.
At the risk of expanding this idea too much farther, are we not seeing conditional rights of all kinds?
I’ve often thought that I grew up in a time and place where it was a safe assumption that if some act or some behavior wasn’t specifically outlawed it was legal. I would argue that we’re rapidly approaching, or have already passed, the nadir where we have to assume if that act or behavior isn’t specifically said to be legal it’s illegal.
Just think of the sheer number of things we need to get approval for or pay for a license for, or that gets regulated.
It’s true Florida has no state income tax and that property tax increases are capped, but government has to get funded somehow. What that means in practice is fees for anything you can imagine. A corollary of that is a permit for anything you can imagine. Some of those fees are less than completely honest.
It’s a common conversation in this area that people are waiting for a building inspector for some work they had done on the house, and somehow the inspectors never show up while the owner’s at home. It’s as if they watched to see when no one was home and used that time to hang a “we tried while you were out” note on the door. Oh, and that’s another fee on top of the original fee to come out the second time.
When I lived in Florida, I simply made certain to not go anywhere after requesting an inspection, and to watch for the inspector like a hawk. I only got second visits by getting red-flagged for some mundane incomprehensible unnecessary rule buried in the bottom of the UBC.