Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Property Rights = Civil Rights

Once again, Walter Williams nails it; and Human Events publishes it.

A couple of quotes:

Creating false distinctions between human rights and property rights plays into the hands of Democrat and Republican party socialists who seek to control our lives. If we buy into the notion that somehow property rights are less important, or are in conflict with, human or civil rights, we give the socialists a freer hand to attack our property.

As President John Adams (1797-1801) put it, "Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty." Adding, "The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence."

7 comments:

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

How does this square with Catholic social teaching about property rights being a means to an end, rather than an end in itself? According to CCC 2403, the right to own property is derivative of the need to promote the general welfare. When it fails in that regard (as when property becomes concentrated in the hands of a few wastrels through accidents of inherited privilege), corrections are required. I'll stop here rather than open a few cans of worms.

Father Martin Fox said...

Father Larry:

Thanks for visiting--and reading so far down my blog! I'm flattered.

My endorsement of Walter Williams' point, and my own point that property rights are a civil right, don't deny the truth of Catholic teaching as you cite it.

Catholic teaching treats the right to private property as a true right, a human right, but not an unqualified one.

For that matter, the Church would allow that other civil rights can be curtailed, in real necessity. That doesn't deny they are fundamental, human rights that normally should be untampered with.

While the Church would allow "correction" in extreme cases, I think the Church would likewise urge such correction be modest, and where possible, indirect: i.e., before government actually takes property from someone, what about more cautious measures to foster a resorting of property? If free enterprise fosters such things, the Church would say, I think, do that rather than confiscate property.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Larry said: How does this square with Catholic social teaching about property rights being a means to an end, rather than an end in itself? According to CCC 2403, the right to own property is derivative of the need to promote the general welfare. When it fails in that regard (as when property becomes concentrated in the hands of a few wastrels through accidents of inherited privilege), corrections are required. I'll stop here rather than open a few cans of worms.

This is the sort of Marxisant thinking which made me turn towards my mother's protestantism rather than my father's Catholicism.

It's also why I think it very difficult for Catholics to understand the American Revolution as the perfect outcome of reformed Christianity.

How can Catholics who adhere to the socialistic views expressed most notably by the late pope understand a Revolution which was based on John Locke's principle that the only reason for government is to protect private property?

PS Martin, I found your blog through this comment:

He (meaning Carter who was being discussedon that blog) really *hasn’t* gotten over it. And that is so sad! Gerald Ford got over it; Geo. Bush Sr. got over it. It’s got to be a tough experience, but really! I hate to quote him, but, President Clinton said, in his second inaugural: “no one ever did a great thing by being small.” - Comment by Septimus

I did not mention the name of the blog because I did not want to be indiscreet.

Father Martin Fox said...

Patrick:

No problem:

Dan at "Gaypatriot" is a friend of mine. I don't feel any need to agree with everything my friends believe in, but they remain my friends nonetheless. And I see no problem in going to visit his blog.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Thanks for saying that Martin.

I just read another comment of yours over there:

Septimus said: the books [Harry Potter] do promote virtue and decency; and — if you don’t mind me saying so — Judaeo-Christian values.

To which I replied: I sure don’t mind that they promote Christian values. Thank God they do. But it seems that the current pope thinks otherwise. No? What they do promote is reformed (almost secular humanist) Christian values.

Father Martin Fox said...

Patrick:

I haven't read the holy father's comments on Harry Potter, which I believe predate his election as successor to Peter and -- in any case -- are, I'm pretty sure, not offered as "teaching" or a prohibition, but as a concern.

As indicated, I have some a concern about Harry Potter, too. (I have to admit--I've only seen the movies.)

Basically, my concern is this: the world the books describe is essentially our world, but with the addition of magic and wizards, etc. My question: does Jesus Christ have a place in this world? Or is he marginalized, left out?

I think for those who impart a realistic faith* to their children, this is no problem.

But for that segment of our society that is increasingly removed from the actual roots of our culture, from the "mythos" of Western Civilization, Harry Potter gives a little reinforcement to a new, "Who is Jesus?" mythos.

Having said all that, I think the merits of Harry Potter are strong enough that I don't go on a crusade against the books, as some would like to do. Plus, the problem comes where there is only tenuous faith at best -- and THAT is the real problem, not entertaining books, for heaven's sake.

*I say "realistic faith" because that is what Christianity is: the Christian Faith is founded on Fact: God became man, lived, acted, died, and rose from the dead, in history. It may not have happened, but it is a FACT-claim.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Hi Martin,

You said: I think for those who impart a realistic faith* to their children, this is no problem.

That's a big IF and I tend to agree with Ratzinger on this. We were all raised on fairy stories and they were fun but, at least in my generation, we also had a good foundation in Chritianity.

I suppose it's good that the books are getting kids reading.