The following is a guest post by Dr. Robert Owens.
You Should Ask “Whose Property Is It?”
Even for someone who learned at their grandmother’s knee that what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable the knowledge that some things are mine and some things aren’t came early. The whole idea of freedom rests upon the idea that within the wider world which is society there is a smaller circle that outlines what is personal and what is communal. Even in monasteries where monks have taken vows of poverty they refer to my cell, my candle and my prayers.
Private property is an essential ingredient of a free society.
Two of the greatest rewards derived from the study of History are the ability to build upon the achievements of others and the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others. One of the greatest calamities caused by the failure to study History is a lack of context.
Most people live their lives as if History began the day they were born and they forever live in a constantly flowing and ever changing now. George Orwell said in his epic dystopian novel 1984 that, “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
The Progressives captured the majority of American education long ago and have taught generations of Americans that capitalism is bad and socialism is good. They have also taught children since at least the 1950s that America has been a grasping imperialistic power that has prospered by taking from others. We are seeing the fruits of this propaganda today.
Instead of memorizing the Declaration of Independence, our children have memorized the outlandish theories of Al Gore. Instead of learning the truth, they have been indoctrinated with an inconvenient truth that is inconvenient because it isn’t true. They have been taught from History books that have more about Nelson Mandela than they do about George Washington. And this is not a new thing. I am in my 60s and I was thrown out of public schools for standing up for capitalism by people who were pushing socialism.
If we want to recapture the future we have to recapture the present so we can recapture the past. Today those of us who believe in limited government, individual freedom and economic opportunity live as subjects in a land dominated and occupied by people who act as if America should pay a penalty or do penance for being the greatest country to have ever existed. We must regain and preserve our heritage of knowledge by regaining knowledge of our History or it will be erased from the consciousness of our children and replaced with the inconvenient lies of a shabby Progressive future. A future where the sun is setting for the West, rising in the East, and a paternal government seeks to take the place of God.
If we want to save America we must begin at the beginning. Most people think the Constitution is the beginning. Even though our Progressive masters seek to reinterpret it to bring about our end it wasn’t our beginning. Before the Constitution came The Declaration of Independence. This is the seminal document proclaiming to the world a new nation not ruled by kings had appeared upon the stage. This Declaration did not spring freshly from the imagination of Thomas Jefferson. It was not born in a vacuum. Jefferson was a student of Philosophy and History.
When Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence he built many of the ideas on the works of John Locke, one of the greatest influences on the Framers. Locke had written in The Second Treatise of Civil Government, “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions…”
This in turn inspired George Mason to write in The Virginia Declaration of Rights which was published just before the Declaration of Independence in 1776, “That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”
Today the concept of private property is out of fashion as our collectivist rulers try to build a classless society on such misunderstood and elastic phrases as the Pursuit of Happiness and the Necessary and Proper Clause.
Looking at the works and words of our founders and of those who framed the Constitution it is plain to see that the phrase “Pursuit of Happiness” was everywhere used as meaning the right to own, control and use private property, which brings us to economics.
In a capitalistic system people own, control and use their own private property for their own devices. The opposite of that is Communism, which advocates the state ownership of all property. Portraying itself as half way in between is Socialism, which seeks to extract a portion of the rewards of private property for the benefit of those who do not own it. A malignant form of socialism with a capitalist veneer, Fascism advocates private ownership and total state control of its use.
Looking at capitalism we see the miracle that was the United States. In just a little over 150 years we rose from being 13 impoverished, war ravaged states loosely bound together into a colossus that strode upon the world stage saving freedom first from fascism and then from communism.
One of the founders of the Soviet nightmare Leon Trotsky said of the communistic system he helped create, “In a country where the sole employer is the state. Opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle, he who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.”
And although Socialists try to play the part of sentimental reformers who are only out to help the children, their ultimate agenda shows that they are in reality merely a stalking horse for their communist big brother. One socialist site puts it this way, “In Socialism, the laborer is the direct manager of their means of production, and receives the whole of their production. In Capitalism, the laborer is dominated by a Capitalist, who directs production and sets wages.”
As for the Fascists their program may sound familiar, “We ask that government undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate opportunity for employment and earning a living. The activities of the individual must not be allowed to clash with the interests of the community, but must take place within the confines and be for the good of all. Therefore, we demand: … an end to the power of financial interest. We demand profit sharing in big business. We demand a broad extension of care for the aged. We demand … the greatest possible consideration of small business in the purchases of the national, state, and municipal governments. In order to make possible to every capable and industrious [citizen] the attainment of higher education and thus the achievement of a post of leadership, the government must provide an all-around enlargement of our system of public education…. We demand the education at government expense of gifted children of poor parents…. The government must undertake the improvement of public health — by protecting mother and child, by prohibiting child labor — by the greatest possible support for all groups concerned with the physical education of youth. [W]e combat the … materialistic spirit within and without us, and are convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only proceed from within on the foundation of The Common Good Before the Individual Good.”
Ask yourself where are we today? The government issues regulations at the mind numbing rate of 68 per day. According to a study by the American Action Forum, regulations that went into effect in 2013 cost Americans $112 billion – or $447 million for each of the 251 days the federal government was open. This study also predicts that the regulatory burden will increase to $143 billion in 2014. Who controls the property you own? Who reaps the benefit of your labor? Tax Freedom Day, the day after which you have worked enough to pay your taxes and can now start working for yourself gets later each year. In 2013 it was April 18th, five days later than it was in 2012.
F. A. Hayek tells us in The Constitution of Liberty, “True coercion occurs when armed bands of conquerors make the subject people toil for them, when organized gangsters extort a levy for ‘protection,’ when the knower of an evil secret blackmails his victim, and, of course, when the state threatens to inflict punishment and to employ physical force to make us obey its commands.”
John Locke told us, “Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.” He also said, “All wealth is the product of labor,” and “Government has no other end, but the preservation of property.” These are the bedrocks upon which our system was originally built. The next time you receive your pay look at the deductions. Ask yourself for whose benefit do you toil? Then look around you and think of the taxes you pay, the regulations you must follow, and the rules you must obey; then ask yourself, whose property is it?
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens email@example.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens