The Education of a Wondering Man Chapter 1: Property.
My educational experiences basically began in 1999. That's when I discovered that everything that I had been taught or thought I'd knew, turned out to be wrong.
When one is confronted with such a realization, you are forced to do one of two things: reject the new information because it goes against what you've been taught; or test everything for it's correctness, leaving no room for untruth. I chose to do the latter.
Now when I started on this journey, I was bombarded with a great many things from a variety of different sources, none of which were easily identified as the truth. So I plodded along, learning as I went and making plenty of mistakes along the way. Failure is often the best teacher, and so far none of my mistakes have been fatal, but not all of them have come to fruition either.
The biggest problem with my education is that it hasn't been linear. I didn't start at step 1 then move on to steps 2, 3, and 4. I probably started at step 9, then learned step 13, then 2, then...
not the best way to learn something, but that's the way the self educated quite often have to do things. As I pass what I've learned along to all of you, I'll attempt to start at what I see as the beginning and take you on a linear course toward an eventual realization of the concepts that I now grasp. That's why I'm beginning here, at the foundation of all that will come -- Property.
Property is the fundamental cornerstone of all liberties, so it becomes very important to understand exactly what property is. Ask ten people what property is and you'll likely get 10 different answers, none of which would be correct. So let's have a little quiz to test all of your knowledge on the subject of property.
If a coffee mug magically appeared in front of you out of nowhere, (one minute it wasn't there, then it just materialized) would it be property? Hmmm... nobody owns it, no one has used it, nobody has a claim to it... is it property? No. It isn't property.
Now let's say you pick the mug up and start to use it, and you've used it for 20 years, now is the mug property? Hmmm... you seem to own it, you use it, you seem to have the best claim to it... is it property? No. It still isn't property, and I'll tell you why...
When we're trying to understand these kinds of principles, we have to delve into the realm of the courts and legal definitions. That's where legal concepts have been fleshed out over the years and been defined. The next thing that we need to understand is that Webster's isn't a legal dictionary, and it's definitions aren't always accepted in the courts. If you're looking for the legal definition of something, you need to look in a legal dictionary such as Blacks Law Dictionary, or Bouvier. Another place you can look is in the actual court decisions themselves, but these are harder to find.
So what exactly is property then? Property is not a thing or some tangible object of ownership, rather, property is a set of legal relations or relationships among persons with respect to things. [Fallini v. Hodel 725 F.Supp. 1113, 1123 (1989) citing Kaiser Aetna v. United States, 444 U.S. 164, 179, 100 S.Ct. 383, 392, 62 L.Ed.2d 332 (1979), see also Henneford v. Silas Mason Co., 300 U.S. 577 (1937)] “These rights include, among others, the right to possess, use, and dispose of property, and to exclude others from using property.Id.” (Fallini v. Hodel, supra) The thing or tangible object is correctly referred to as the “subject of property”
Ok... What does that mean exactly? In the mug example I used earlier, the mug is the "subject of property", the actual property is not in the thing, but rather in your relationship to the thing. Your ablility to use the mug is the property. Your ability to sever your rights and sell them to others is also property. All of the relationships that you can think of in regard to that mug is the actual property. That is why they are called property "rights".
Why is this distinction important? Thomas Sowell said it as well as I could have, so let's see what he has to say on the subject.
"Neither 'property' nor the value of property is a physical thing. Property is a set of defined options...It is that set of options which has economic value...It is the options, and not the physical things, which are the 'property' -- economically as well as legally...But because the public tends to think of property as tangible, physical things, this opens the way politically for government confiscation of property by forcibly taking away options while leaving the physical objects untouched."
Once you understand what property is, then you can see that every statute, regulation, or local ordinance that takes away or limits your use of these options, is a taking of the property, and is compensible under the 5th Amendment.