Property is peace

Here’s an interesting non-sequitur about the Ferguson riots and their ostensible justification:

Also, property damage is apparently more important than a kid getting killed. Reminds me of this tweet. https://t.co/Rc42BJi7KB

— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) November 25, 2014

Call it the redistribution of justice: how can anyone worry about mere property rights when a “kid” has been killed?

The moral logic of rioting and looting is built upon such assumptions. My cause is so righteous that your pitiful property rights are swept away, like so much chaff in the wind of my fury. Any complaint you might tender is selfish and petty. In fact, if you insist on keeping your store intact, shopping at a mall without facing an intimidating mob of protesters, or making lawful use of a public road at a time like this, you’re part of the problem, man.

Let me advance the contrary proposition: property is peace. A full measure of respect for property rights is indispensable for social harmony. Strife always results when the ownership of property is not respected. You might notice that decades of socialist wealth redistribution hasn’t created a more harmonious society. On the contrary, it has arguably made things worse. Thomas Sowell makes this argument frequently, citing historical evidence from around the globe that poverty does not automatically breed lawlessness and racial strife, until activist government is added to the mix. In fact, the sort of strife routinely associated with “racism” in the United States has been known to occur among racially homogeneous societies, with the introduction of welfare-state politics. All you really need to brew up decades of seemingly insoluble society-rending strife is a victim class, plus powerful politicians eager to pander to it. Racial politics are a helpful ingredient, but not strictly required.

“Powerful politicians” means Big Government, which means the atrophy of property rights. The State can only grow huge by claiming a big chunk of every dollar, becoming a partner in every business, and asserting primal rights over capital. The modern American Left transmits a very strong sense – stated explicitly with increasing frequency – that the government owns everything, acting as the collective agent of The People, and generously “allows” us to keep whatever it chooses not to tax and regulate away. All of the hot liberal social and economic theories presume an effectively unlimited …read more    

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