Saturday, December 03, 2005

Party of Me: Right of Property

The right of property is a contingent right. Of itself, property is irrelevant. Its import is that, without an independent means of support, the other rights can be threatened or taken away. Thus private, productive property is an essential right.

The state's role, consequently, should be one that reduces the threats to private property. These threats, which cannot be dealt with through the free market, fall into three broad categories:

The state should be involved in the creation of public goods, such as national defense, in which the cost born by one produces benefits for all.

The state should be involved in the limiting of externalities, such as pollution, in which the benefits accrued by one produces harms for all.

The state should be involved in stabilization, such as economic volatility, in which processes controlled by none produce harms for all.

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