Liberty and Our Property

Author: Paul Garner


By Paul Garner, author “Yearning to Breathe Free: Questing for Liberty in a World of Authoritarians”. 


Without the ownership of private property there can be no freedom. Our bodies, labor, earnings, and our property are private.


Everyone has property.  Bodies, labor, earnings and property.  The only question is whether we have sovereignty over that property. 

Without the ownership of private property, there can be no liberty.

John Locke, the greatest influence on the founders of America, wrote “Every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his.” He continues: “The great and chief end therefore, of Men’s uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property.”

He continued, “Government can never have a Power to take to themselves the whole or any part of the Subject’s Property, without their own consent. For this would be in effect to leave them no Property at all.”

And yet, in America,

The feds and states own our bodies as is demonstrated by the fact that they have final say about what you can put into your body and what you are allowed or not allowed to do with your body. 

The feds and states own your labor. They decide the minimum price that you can charge for your labor and they decide what activities you can and cannot labor at for money. 

The feds and states own your earnings. They take their cut of 30-50% off the top of every dollar you labor for. Like the mob who extorts protection money from businesses, the feds and states use the threat of force to gain compliance. 

The state and local governments own our homes and cars and boats charging us rent (taxes) to continue living there or operating vehicles. 

If the feds and states really have the final say over all of these things then you must admit that the people own nothing, not even their own bodies, and have zero sovereignty and therefore zero true liberty. Is that ok with you?

Worst of all the feds and states only have this ownership because most American people support it.  

Permits and Permission

Just yesterday as I was driving in our local community, I saw a sign posted about a community meeting to decide if permission would be given to a building owner to paint a mural on the side of his building near our downtown.  If you are not outraged by this, you are likely an authoritarian.  Permission and liberty are incompatible when it comes to someone’s property.  In a state of liberty, someone who buys property with their own money has the sovereign title to that property, whether it is a home or a business or a recreation property. That sovereignty allows the buyer to do with that property as they choose as long as they do not directly harm someone.  Authoritarians will differ.  Authoritarians will gather in their community and declare that they have the sovereignty to decide the limits and requirements for all property in their community.  They will contrive many hypothetical scenarios to manipulate and scare people. What if someone chooses to put a pig farm or slaughterhouse on their property?  Certainly, that is a possibility along with many other activities or aesthetics.  That is the nature of liberty and sovereignty.  If some people do not want such activities in their community, they are free to purchase the land themselves and use it for activities that they prefer. That is their liberty. However, they would not be allowed to confiscate funds from others to accomplish it.  Perhaps they can persuade some to voluntarily contribute their earnings to the effort. 

Several years ago, I lived in a neighborhood with a wooded area adjacent to it.  I was disappointed one day to see a sign that that land was for sale. After a time, someone purchased that land, cleared some beautiful trees, and built a large gym and a small retail strip alongside.  My neighbors and I knew that this would lead to increased traffic along the road between the developed property and our neighborhood.  I differed with my neighbors in what should be done.  I pointed out that we did not buy the land and therefore had no sovereignty or right to limit what anyone should be able to do with their property, duly purchased with their own money. Authoritarians in the neighborhood disagreed and used the local city government to force limits and requirements on the new owners.  This is a violation of liberty.  

Towns and cities across the nation are famous for building codes and zoning.  Authoritarians declare that they can decide the standards of building processes and limit what activities properties may be used for. The town authorities can’t be expected to understand all of the “right” techniques for building and so they often hire an individual, who claims to understand, to make those decisions. This always turns into a private tyranny and sometimes to corruption. Inspectors are nearly always authoritarians as few libertarians are likely to hold the position with the view that they will not interfere with what property owners choose to do with their own property.

In the town where I currently live, we must get “permission” from the town authorities to cut or remove any tree from our property with a trunk diameter greater than 2 inches.  Other town authoritarians will limit what color you are allowed to paint your house.  A city recently found itself in the news because they were fining the resident owners for having a vegetable garden in their front yard.  Their neighbors found it below their aesthetic comfort. 

A man in Miami not long ago found his house completely demolished by a bulldozer hired by the city.  He had lived in the house over 50 years.  The city had decided that he must upgrade his house to more current standards that they had set.  An elderly, retired man, he did not have the money for these repairs and ignored the many notices by the city. The picture highlighted in the report showed him sitting in a patio chair in the midst of the rubble that had been his sovereign house.  Did the city really have the sovereignty to demolish his house?  Authoritarians will say yes.  Are you an authoritarian?

Property is purchased from the earnings derived from the labor of our bodies.  No government of a free society has the right to limit or require what we do with our property.  If, like authoritarians often do, we disagree with this, we are admitting that no one owns their own property. In that case, there is no fundamental difference between renting a property or owning title to a property.  Authoritarians have seized all property.  Authoritarians declare that they are the final determinant of the purposes for property, the aesthetics of property, the value of property and the taxation that they will require to operate in their role as authoritarians. 

Folks in communities across the country are acting in everyway as though they have the right of sovereignty to limit and coerce what people do with their own property, for moral, aesthetic, or nostalgic reasons.  They use the cover of democracy to deprive property owners of their rights.  Democracy and liberty are not equal.  Liberty existed long before democracy.  Government was created in the US to protect the liberty of the individual from the tyranny of democracy and government.  

The liberty solution: If you object to how some property may be used, gather some like-minded folks and buy it. Then you have the sovereign right along with your partners to decide what to do with it, even if that is nothing. 

You are hostile to liberty if you seek to use force, like govt, to limit or coerce what someone else does on or with their property, their earnings, their labor, their body. This is immoral. 

There is no human right to the way that it used to be.  There is no human right to limit and force others to comply with your vision of your lifestyle. That is immoral, authoritarian and hostile to American values. 

Who told you that this was ok?  How can this be supported in the land of the free? 

Is America the land of the free?  If so, then each of us must stop seeking to control what others do with their bodies, labor, earnings and property as long as they don’t directly harm others.  Offending someone’s aesthetic or nostalgic sensitivities doesn’t count as harm.

Self-Evident Ministries