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Leftist Threats to Property Rights

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

A free economy is a terrible thing to waste. That and the high standard of living, the time- and labor-saving advances, the dynamic competition, innovation and creation of new wealth it delivers, especially so in America.

Conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly observed, “The right to own property is the unique cornerstone of our American Constitution and free economic system.” Yet, the United States stands in danger of destroying the economy that’s the envy of the world by eroding private property rights and free enterprise.

Self-proclaimed socialists are riding a political wave — and their siren song of socialism appears to be catching hold even with those who should know better. The politics of envy, with its threats to the fruits of someone else’s labor. is gaining traction. Fear-mongering over climate change, the environment and using our own natural resources has the nation tied up in red tape and litigation. Even some claiming to believe in property rights are proposing expropriation of private property rights when it’s politically expedient.

Perhaps scariest of all is the degree of the extremism. It’s “rightly measured on a sliding scale from ‘lefty’ to ‘absolutely nuts,’” writes the Wall St. Journal’s Kimberley Strassel.

"The crazies want to tax everyone and everything—financial transactions, carbon, bank liabilities, sales, wealth, income, families. Mr. [Bernie] Sanders has outright said he will raise taxes on the middle class, while Ms. [Elizabeth] Warren has all but admitted as much. The ordinary lefties merely want to raise taxes on capital, estates, businesses, payrolls and higher incomes.

"The crazies would take over or kill entire sectors of the economy. Some Medicare for All proponents would immediately outlaw private insurance; others would do it over time. Fossil-fuel jobs would be abolished, while disfavored corporate executives would face 'jail.' The lefties would merely regulate the hell out of the economy, dictating what types of health plans, financial products, energy, and drugs we can have, and at what price."

Another concern is the left’s rejection of rationality and its extreme degree of dogmatism. Inside Sources notes how facts counter to the left’s dogmas are anathema. Presidential candidate Andrew Yang “pointed out, inarguably, that America isn’t the primary source of the carbon dioxide ‘emissions’ we’re told (constantly) are causing the climate to change catastrophically.” Mr. Yang can attest that the Jacobins are back, in force.

The ignorance, hypocrisy or truth suppression of those willing to sacrifice free enterprise and property rights is astounding. Our sacred fundamental principles are placed on the altar of politicized “science.” For example, extremists are forcing “renewable,” “natural” or “sustainable” energy and other things, the facts be damned. “Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic,” the Wall St. Journal says. “Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass—not to mention other metals.” The looney left doesn’t acknowledge such facts.

Another example: plastics. Looney leftists shame businesses and consumers (including our poorest fellow Americans) over the use of plastic goods like drinking straws. They ignore honest information such as National Geographic’s report that “half the world’s mismanaged plastic waste was generated by just five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.” And that even if every bit of North American and European disposable plastics was recycled, it “still would not make a dent on the plastics released into the oceans.”

Not that we shouldn’t take measures to reduce waste and pollution, to increase the wise use of our natural and manmade resources. But what we do should be based on sound science, market economics, respect for liberty and truth, should put the bulk of responsibility on irresponsible countries (not on America) and should preserve our foundational principles and our industrial base.

Ronald Reagan warned, “It doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people.” It merely takes allowing leftists to rebrand socialist politics and fantasies as “science” and to take over the levers of government and the regulatory state. That would put all Americans’ property rights in jeopardy — their land, possessions, persons, due process, ideas.

All this affirms the role into which the Conservatives for Property Rights coalition has stepped. Notice that the threats to property rights and free enterprise mentioned above aim at private property in all its forms: physical, personal and intellectual. And the threats involve much of CPR’s issue set: the death tax, eminent domain, patents, copyright, public lands, civil asset forfeiture, industrial competitiveness, private-sector medical care.

CPR, just two years old, is an umbrella coalition. Its member organizations focus their attention on one or more of these, as well as other, property rights issues. CPR focuses on the federal level, while many of our member groups are also active at the state and local levels. The gratifying thing is CPR members recognize the importance of stressing how inherent rights in private property apply to all forms of property. CPR was formed for this purpose. CPR reminds people that property rights are property rights, regardless of the form of the property or the nature of the threat to our God-given rights.

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