By I.M. Justice- Many in our culture no longer consider the value of private property ownership. Communities all over America have embraced the concept of taking land out of the private individual’s hands and putting it into public domain or, to be specific, into the control of state and federal government. What appears to be a simple desire to set aside parks and recreational opportunity is quickly becoming an opportunity for the central governing authority to be in a position of strength over our lives. We may not initially fear such a thing when we enjoy the nice chat with the forest rangers during a ‘Smoky the Bear’ skit. However, these governing entities have the power and resources available to them so that they become too big for an individual to address grievances against. The very government charged with the protection from crimes and injustice is the same governing authority that holds the power.
The federal government now controls about 35% of the lands in the U.S. and continues to go after more. They control 84.5% of Nevada, 69.1% of Alaska, 57.4% of Utah, 53.1% of Oregon, 50.2% of Idaho, 48.1% of Arizona and even 45.3% of California. And they are willing to incarcerate people to keep complete control.
Americans are quickly running low on resources to defend themselves against a government that has the unlimited resources to confiscate tax money, use paramilitary force, take out loans, and in general use its power against its owns citizenry. In the meantime, communities all over are using the desire to do good works as a guideline for implementing strict zoning laws, putting huge tracts of land under the state parks system, declaring wilderness areas, creating national forests , or granting protected species status to all types of life.
I admire the heart and good intentions of these folks who care so much about the land, or their neighborhoods, or the plight of animals. But I think it is well past the time for Americans to analyze the unintended consequences of these good intentions.
Do Americans really want to centralize the most power into the hands of bureaucrats who are all elevated to their position under the assumption that a bureaucrat is the qualified expert?
I know we were all taught that under FDR Americans were encouraged to transfer responsibility from the individual to the government for the security of protecting themselves from disaster. And as a result we have allowed the experts to take over certain parts of our lives. However, I ask myself when I enter the airport and submit to a TSA official, am I really dealing with a national security expert? When I deliver myself into the hands of any government entity do I really feel confident that I am submitting to the direction of the most qualified expert?
Over and over in our everyday lives individuals and small businesses alike complain about nonsensical regulations that add costs and subtract value in every aspect of our lives. In fact, when you hear a complaint about the stupidity and lack of common sense of a regulation or, even worse, a bureaucrat, remember that that individual is inevitably enjoying the anonymity of a job that will shield the negative consequences of his or her actions.
At the heart of the meaning of property is the concept that what I do as a person is mine. I own it. I own the increased benefit. I own the deficit. Therefore I am responsible and pay the consequences for what I do. People often defend the right to own property as a God given right, that should be protected by the government. Or others say leave me alone with my property, I can manage better than the government. But behind all those reasons is a very important concept. Owning property immediately makes you personally responsible for what you do. Owning property is what makes a citizen accountable.
If I bring harm to my neighbor with my property, he or she has an equal chance before the law to address this grievance and has a reasonable expectation that the costs will be just as inconvenient for me as my neighbor. If an American is accused by or the victim of state or federal entities, how equal are our chances before law? How equal is the inconvenience and cost? The very government charged with protecting us from crimes and injustice is the same governing authority that has unlimited access to resources and holds governing prosecutorial power.
No matter what expertise a government official may have, at the heart of his or her power and status, they do not pay for the cost of their mandates and therefore never personally receive the input of the consequences to their true effect, no matter how misguided.