ABOUT PROPERTY RIGHTS

ABOUT PROPERTY RIGHTS

“When property is secure, and cannot be taken away by violence, lawlessness, or arbitrary government decree, there is an incentive to earn more, save more, and invest in more opportunities for the future — which encourage enterprise and further economic activity.  If you are guaranteed to reap what you sow, then there will be more people sowing and reaping, leading to economic growth.  This holds true not just for individual entrepreneurs but for small businesses, companies, and large corporations as well.”

— Matthew Spalding, We Still Hold These Truths  

Private property is something that an individual or a private company owns.  Property may be physical, as in land, water, or mineral; other tangible possessions, such as valuables, goods, housewares, hardware, or clothing; or intangible possessions, such as concepts or ideas committed to paper, for instance something that is copyrighted (a song, a movie or script, a book), patented (an invention, a discovery), trademarked (a company's brand logo), or preserved as a trade secret (the Coca-Cola recipe).

 

The Founders considered the right to own property privately to be unalienable.  This unalienable right is captured in the phrase in the Declaration of Independence “the pursuit of happiness.”  This right inheres in the founding principles of the laws of nature and individual rights.

 

Conservatives for Property Rights' views on property stem from the great English and Scottish Enlightenment and Reformation thinkers, such as John Locke and Samuel Rutherford, and are consistent with our leading Founding Fathers, such as James Madison.  “Property,” along with the God-given rights thereto, should be broadly understood.

 

Types of property — physical property, personal property, intellectual property — differ in form.  But each remains property, something an individual or a company or other organization may own and control.

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“Those who think of property as something external to man, consisting of only material possessions, have a very narrow view of property. . . .  Life itself constitutes property. . . . Free speech, free and peaceful assembly, religion and worship, as well as due process are property.  John Locke, for example, correctly proclaimed that people have property in their persons as well as in their possessions. . . .  [I]deas are property, too. . . .  Those of inventive mind have their ideas protected by patents.”

— Harold Lindsell, Free Enterprise: A Judeo-Christian Defense

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