One of a handful issues I have with Donald Trump is his appetite for eminent domain. Whenever you watch a tear-jerking eminent-domain story on television, it serves as a grim reminder that we are not, by any stretch of the imagination, totally free. So now that an eminent domain practitioner is about to become president of the United States, it’s a good time for all of us to go back and review the fundamentals of liberty.
When it comes to the question of eminent domain, we must always remind ourselves that there are only three possible ways to view property:
- Anyone has a right to interfere with or take anyone else’s property whenever he pleases.
- Some people have a right to interfere with or take the property of other people whenever they please.
- No one has a right to interfere with or take anyone else’s property — at any time — without his permission.
In number one, I’m talking about lawlessness and the absence of a generally accepted code of conduct. In virtually all countries of the world, governments at least make a pretense of trying to prevent blatant lawlessness.
Obviously, some governments do a better job at this than others. Your property is a lot safer in, say, Australia than it is in Kenya. But regardless of the geographic location, it is the government’s primary job, at least in theory, to protect the lives and property of its citizens. In fact, many would argue that this is the government’s only legitimate function.
Number two is where eminent domain comes in. For example, politically well-connected real estate developers are often able to get the government to use force to take people’s property. The government then unilaterally decides how much to pay the owner of the property for the involuntary sale.
Likewise, all redistribution-of-the-wealth schemes are examples of taking one person’s property and giving it to another without the property owner’s permission. Given that this is, on its face, an uncivilized action, it would be fair to say that all countries today are, to one extent or another, uncivilized.
Finally, we get to number three: No one has a right to interfere with or take anyone else’s property — at any time — without his permission. While this is unlikely to become a reality anytime soon, anywhere on this planet, it is the standard that all civilized people of goodwill should use as a guide to their actions.
Put another way, the most fundamental rule of liberty is that no one has any right to interfere with or take anyone else’s property at any time — which includes his body and everything he owns — regardless of the rationale used. The usual excuse given for taking someone’s property by force is that it’s for “the overall good” of the community or society. The reality, however, is that it’s usually in the best interest of some real estate developer (who makes money by building on the poached property) and the government (which makes money from the property’s increased tax base).
People inflicted with that serious mental disorder known as “socialism” would have you believe that freedom and property rights are two different issues, but don’t allow yourself to buy into this warped argument. Property rights are just a subcategory of freedom.
It is morally self-evident that every person has a right to enjoy all of the fruits of his labor without interference from anyone else. When a person’s property rights are violated, his freedom is violated. Period. Compassion for one’s fellow man — which is a noble emotion — is a totally separate subject that should not be allowed to obscure the liberty axiom that property rights are sacred.
Plain and simple, Natural Law requires that liberty must be given a higher priority than all other objectives. Once we get that little issue squared away, we can do a much better job of helping those who are truly in need and truly unable to help themselves. First things first — and liberty always comes first. Eminent domain is tyranny, not liberty.
C’mon, Donald, if you’re smart enough to figure out that Barack Obama was born in the United States (cough, cough … no comment), you’re smart enough to figure out that eminent domain is anti-freedom.