Why do Conservatives believe in “Private Property” Did you know that the famous declaration of inalienable rights, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”, was supposed to be, “Life, Liberty and Property”? They changed that last one because of slavery.They didn’t want to enshrine in founding documents, a word that would certainly be used by slaveholders to justify the institution. But here, now, since we have no such concerns, the original third word of the great triumvirate will be given its rightful place of prime importance.
The first argument is the Life Argument:
We have established that as humans, we have a right to the lives and bodies given to us by Providence. But of what does that life consist?
It consists of what we are, but it also consists of what we do. Action is the expenditure of our life’s time and our bodies’ energy – the very essence of ourselves.
Through action, a person transforms his time/energy into a new form, but it remains his time/energy, an extension of his being.
Our time/energy may be expended working in a cannery.
Time/energy = labor = money = a new car.
Though it goes through many transformations, our time & energy is a part of our being, even in the form of a new car.
Property is our life’s time/energy transformed into matter. Our property is ourselves!
Hence, the right to Property is absolute. It is the right to the time/energy of one’s own life and body.
MEANS OF PRODUCTION
The second argument the Liberty Argument:
Having established that Liberty is the natural state of all human beings, it is necessary to secure the right to private property to secure liberty.
People cannot live without shelter, food, water, medicine. If the State owns all the housing, food production & delivery systems, water supplies, doctors & hospitals, one is dependent on the State for life itself.
When the State owns production, the State owns the people. It becomes the Master, and men become its slaves.
Private Property keeps the means of production in as many individual hands as possible. Natural competition among the various producers provides variety, options—the freedom of many choices, which prevents the domination of the people by an authoritarian single Power like the State.
Private Property is REQUIRED for Liberty.