Private Property: Necessary or Unnecessary?

Taylor Lanier
Period 2
Honorbound

Since the beginning of time, man has always been concerned with what they own, and how much they own. Private property is a common and moral right that all citizens of the United States are given the ability to exercise. Imagine waking up one morning and being stripped of all your private property that you have worked very hard for. Imagine finding out that it has been given to your neighbor, who has not put as much effort into their work as you have. Imagine it was all done in order to create equality among society by the government. How would you react to this? My guess is not very well. You, the hard worker, have earned your property, and your neighbor, who has not worked as hard as you have, receives part of your hard work by default. In this scenario, the hard working citizens might retaliate and result to violence in order to seize their property back that was unjustly taken from them. This is what a world without private property would resemble.

With that being said, would taking away private property from the United States be a bad economic decision? Would abolishing it bring sanity to the people constantly concerned with owning more property than their neighbor, or would it arouse violence and resentment between the citizens? Furthermore, would taking away private property take away people’s motivation to work hard in order to be rewarded? Many people do not understand how essential private property is in today’s society. Through the works of Ludwig von Mises, Karl Marx, and Pope Leo XIII, private property will be declared as a necessary or unnecessary element in today’s society, while also answering these questions.

Private property allows hard workers to receive the amount they earned, and not just receive the same amount as workers, who may not work as hard as them. Therefore, Pope Leo XIII and Edward Younkin state that it creates a fair workplace, while diminishing violence between workers. Private property also provides people with freedom from the government by sparking creativity and allowing citizens to make their own decisions, declared by Karl Marx, Ludwig von Mises, and James Gwartney.

Contrary to popular belief, private property has a much deeper meaning than just “land or belongings owned by a person or group and kept for their exclusive use”.[1] However, private property is the reward workers receive because of their hard work. Private property, as James Gwartney says, “provides for superior economic performance”.[2] It encourages workers to work hard, so that they can buy that new, expensive car they have been eyeing. The amount of private property one attains coincides with the amount of effort they put into their work. It is a large factor in the quality of work produced in today’s society. In Karl Marx’s opinion, “it has been objected that upon the abolition of private property, all work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us”.[3] Private property allows for the citizens’ freedom of creativity in their products without the fear of the government taking credit for their hard work and ideas. Since the beginning of the implement of private property, the United States has seen an increase in the creativity in products as well as the production of materials. Not only has it sparked creativity and production in workers, but it has also influenced consumption of the citizens. Private property gives citizens the capability to choose what they want produced in the market, how much they buy, and what they buy. It not only relinquishes the fear citizens have of the government intervening in their consumption and production process, but also gives way to yet two other pieces of freedom from the government: creativity and choice in the market place.

As well as encouraging workers to work harder, private property is the foundation of a person’s freedom. Ludwig von Mises declares, “Abolishing private property deprives the consumers of their autonomy and independence”.[4] Private property gives the citizens of the United States freedom to control something that is not dictated by their government. It is, in von Mises’ eyes, a way to acquire freedom from the government.[5] As a capitalist country, the United States’ government cannot intervene in a citizen’s private property, which means the citizens decide what they can and cannot do with their property. It also means that the government has no say in the way citizens use their private property. As a result, citizens, who attain private property, accrue a little more freedom from the government. Freedom from the government, aka private property, maintains sanity in society because it allows citizens to feel like they are making their own decisions and are not controlled by the government. One of the major functions of the government is to “protect the possessions of individuals and thereby provide for freedom and order”, which they do by allowing their citizens the right to private property.[6] Without providing the citizens with the ability to accumulate private property, the government is stripping the people of a chance to achieve some freedom from them. The government is also neglecting their most important duty: to protect their citizens’ property and administer freedom.

Edward Younkins explains that every citizen has “the right to claim ownership of the fruits of his labor”.[7] Therefore, abolishing private property would abolish this right of citizens. Taking away private property deprives workers of the ability to work harder in order to earn more, which will lead to a great decrease in their motivation to work. This decline will occur because no matter the quantity or quality of their work, all citizens will accumulate the same amount of property from the government due to no private property. Because of this, the economy will plummet due to the lack of producer’s effort and amount of creativity put into their work. Answer me this: why work so hard in order to collect the same amount of property as your neighbor, who works half as hard as you do? My guess is you answered my question with the question, why would you even consider working harder than your neighbor? Private property creates a drive in people to progress up the work totem pole, so that they can acquire a higher position with a larger pay; as a result, they will be able to accrue more private property. It gives producers the freedom to decide how much they work, how they work, and what they do with the earnings of their work. Private property not only creates fairness in the workplace, but also rewards those who work hard. Stripping citizens of the right to private property ultimately strips them of some of their freedom. Also, abolishing private property would have a negative impact on the economy because of the decrease in motivation and fairness in the workforce.

In conclusion, private property is a necessity in the United States not only to encourage economic performance, but also to provide the workers with the chance to earn freedom from the government. It rewards the hard workers of society with what they deserve, while in turn motivating them to work even harder. Private property is an essential building block in today’s capitalist society. It leads to a person’s individual freedom and creativity as well as creating a fair workplace. As Pope Leo XIII says, “Man flourishes with the right to own private property”.[8] Without this, a producer’s creativity would decrease as well as a consumer’s freedom to make his or her own decisions in the market place.

Private property is a beneficial factor in today’s society because it motivates the producer to be more imaginative in their work and increases the consumption of the consumer, which ultimately boosts the flow of the economy. Also, it allows hard workers to receive more than workers who do not work as hard, creating a just workplace. Private property is not only a necessity in the United States, but it is also a crucial aspect of today’s economy. Without it, the United State’s economy would not be where it is today.

[1] “Private Property.” Dictionary.com. Last Modified 2012. http://dictionary.reference.com/. (accessed December 8, 2015).

 

[2] Gwartney, James. “Private Property, Freedom, and the West.” Intercollegiate Review, June 1, 1985, 10-30. https://home.isi.org/private-property-freedom-and-west. (accessed December 6, 2015).

 

[3] Marx Karl and Engels Friedrich. The Manifesto of the Communist Party: Chapter I. Bourgeois and Proletarians.

[4] Liberty and Property. Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, Auburn University, 1988.

 

[5] Liberty and Property.

 

[6] Gwartney, James.

 

[7] Younkins, Edward. “Private Property Rights: The Moral and Economic Foundation of a Free Society.” Private Property Rights: The Moral and Economic Foundation of a Free Society. 2000. Accessed May 06, 2014. http://www.quebecoislibre.org/younkins5.html. (accessed December 2, 2015).

 

[8] Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum.

 

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