Property Rights vs. “Human Rights”

On Pages 18 and 19 of the book Ideas On Liberty, Essays in Honor of Paul L. Poirot,  essayist Clarence B. Carson writes the following:

“Intellectuals-socialist casuists mainly-have made the argument in this
century that the right to property is, if it exists at all, an inferior right. It is
inferior, they say, to what they are pleased to call “human rights.” It is
inferior, they say more specifically, to freedom of speech, freedom of
religion, freedom of assembly, and the like. However valuable and important
these rights are-and they are important and valuable-those who
argue in this fashion have got the matter wrong end to. Far from being
inferior to them, the right to property is the most basic of all rights. Without
the individual’s right to property none of these other rights can subsist. The
right to property is foundational. It is the mother, so to speak, of all other
rights. The superiority of the right to property resides in the nature of

Look at it this way. Which right is essential to survival? To growth and
development? To the achievement of maturity? Is freedom of speech, for
example, essential to survival? Of course, it is not. On the contrary, it is
quite possible to survive, as many people have, without even encountering
the notion of free speech. The same is true for freedom of the press, the right
to peaceful assembly, and even the alleged “right” to vote. Nor are they
really essential to growth and development or the achieving of maturity,
though they would be quite helpful to some people, at least.

Property is in a category all by itself, in regard to these basics of life.
Survival is impossible without the use of property in land. Such property
provides us the very space for living on earth. Without it, we have no place
to walk, eat, sleep, stand, breathe, drink, work, or even to be. The plant life
so necessary to our survival in providing food, fiber, and wood is rooted in
the land. Nor, given some place to stand and be, could we survive without
property rights in the food, clothing, houses, and tools that we use. Nor
could we grow and develop without a property in the means for doing so.
As for maturity and fulfillment, these could not be unless we survived, grew,
and developed. Without some sort of property rights, if we were to survive at all,
it could only be as the slaves or servants of those who held the property.”

Adam’s Note: Taxation is a forcible taking of property.


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