Independence Day Special 2005
Objectivism: The Means of Correcting America's Woes
by Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.
Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States of America has decided that
property rights are no longer inviolate, due to a misinterpretation of the
takings clause. The original intent of the takings clause was to insure that
when and if the government ever had a necessity to take private property as
a means of protecting individual rights, then it could due so only if it gives
the owner of that property just compensation. Specific details of when this
sort of action is legal and moral, for those of us benefiting from a government
upholding individual rights (at least for the most part), ought to be thought
through very carefully to insure that individual rights are not violated in
the process. However, the rather useless phrase "in the public interest" has
been used as an excuse for local governments to take private property for the
sake of increasing tax revenues, a clear violation of the intent of the clause.
A piece of real estate can be made more valuable by demolishing existing
property and erecting something even more valuable, but for the government or
anyone else to do this by the initiation of force is to behave like a barbarian.
Unfortunately, during the time period of the Founding Fathers, a fully integrated
and rational philosophy was simply not available; and therefore the issue of
property rights was left primarily implicit; as it is in the phrase "Life, Liberty,
and the Pursuit of Happiness." It is the purpose of this essay to outline a
justification for the inviolate nature of property rights.
Objectivism recognizes that a man's life is his own: that he is neither a slave
to anyone nor the master of anyone else. This comes about due to the fact that we
are all individuals, rather than being mere cells in some imaginary body collective.
And we are individuals on the metaphysical level. It's not as if we have a mind
that is capable of making independent judgments that is somehow connected to a body
that is an impedance to the achievement of happiness. One's mind and body are
integrated into one, and are inseparable, by the fundamental nature of each person's
existence. And property rights come about due to this fact.
When a man makes a decision to achieve his happiness according to his own values, he
must necessarily take some form of physical action, otherwise he is merely wishing.
The integration of one's mind is done "internally" one might say, and requires its
own form of maintenance, but the body needs sustenance and other values or the entire
being will wither and die. And this means that one must become integrated to reality,
to not only take in nutritional foodstuff, which any plant or animal can do, but to
use his mind to increase the effectiveness of the physical aspect of his being by
molding the physical world according to his capabilities and needs. If he doesn't do
this, then he consigns himself to living in a subhuman manner.
Since each man must do this qua individual, because that's what he is, such
activities and their products, to be consistent, ought to be protected, by man's life
as the standard -- or no one's achievements will remain intact. It is that particular
individual who created that value and therefore he is the owner of that property.
And for someone other than the owner to take it without permission is to deny the
integration of his own individual existence; because if others followed his actions,
he would perish in a maelstrom of inconsistency.
Just as many individuals can become organized to achieve values greater than what one
person can create on his own; so, too, can individuals become organized to better
protect themselves from those who do not recognize individual rights -- including
property rights. And this is why governments are necessary. For further clarification
of this principle, please read Ayn Rand's book, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
and other works.