Friday, August 26, 2005

"Unfettered Property Rights"

I've seen the phrase "unfettered property rights" used in the comments section of a few posts. Understandably, the phrase is used by those who disagree with me about the nature of property rights. I would imagine that the same people who use the term "unfettered property rights" advocate "fettered property rights." Fettered by whom? Government, undoubtedly. Might there be a contradiction between a government that is designed to protect rights and a government that believes its role is to restrict rights?

"Unfettered property rights" is redundant. A right, by definition, is absolute. To say that I have the right to property means that someone else is not allowed to take my property from me without my consent. To fetter this right is to make it no longer a right. If I advocate fettered property rights, I am saying that someone else is allowed to take my property from me without my consent. The two are mutually exclusive; my right to property and the right of another to take my property are in conflict and cannot simultaneously exist.

Rights are only 'limited' by the rights of others. In other words, you have rights only to what you own: your life and property, and by extension, liberty. You do not have rights to what anyone else owns. Should you choose to violate the rights of another by committing murder, theft, vandalism, assault, fraud, etc., you have automatically given up your rights. Your actions would demonstrate that you had no regard for rights and therefore rejected your own rights.

Property rights need no boundaries. Property rights themselves are absolute boundaries between one person and another. Property rights are essentially restrictions; to "restrict property rights" is absurd.

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