Saturday, March 03, 2007

Whose property is it now?

The mindset of most Americans regarding property is beset with confusion and contradiction. It could probably be reduced to the following proposition: property owners insist upon the inviolability of their interests while, at the same time, being ardent collectivists when it comes to the property of others. Most will strenuously object when the state interferes with what they own, but cheer when the interests of their neighbors are under attack.

Thus do most people accept the legitimacy of zoning ordinances, “master plans,” eminent domain, housing and building codes, and nuisance actions. Their anti-communist conditioning would likely percolate to the surface of their minds if a politician were to openly defend the purpose of his program in the same words used by Marx: “abolition of private property.” Such a phrase would be too blunt a statement as to the nature of all political policies; it would lack in the meter and syntax with which boobus Americanus has become accustomed to his own despoliation. But let this same politician dress his ambitions in the language of “land use planning,” and all right-thinking people – editorial writers included – will embrace him for his “vision.”
Full essay.