Kendall Brockett

Private property can be defined as “property is anything subject to ownership and private relates basically to an individual”[1].  However, to the average citizen, private property symbolizes independence from shared ownership and government intervention.  The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution declares that private property should not be taken for public use, without just compensation.[2]  This shows the importance of private property and if it were to be taken away, it would deny the liberty granted to all U.S. citizens.  Liberty is one of the most sought after ideals and we take it for granted, but many people travel to America and study for years in order to gain this right.  As studied through many readings, private property is needed in society in order to regulate the economy and entitle citizens to their liberty.

Private property allows the individual to flourish and be free of the government standards. It allows you to pursue your dreams and goals in life without listening to other’s opinions.  Because private property allows us all to be unique, society is diverse and allows for things like creativity.  Not only would we be like robots being controlled, our society would be lifeless.  I think it is unique that we can have so many differing personalities and all blend as one community.

Rerum Novarum, a popular encyclical written by Pope Leo XIII, supports the idea of private property and believes that it represents the hard work and wages earned from the working class. For working hard, it is nice to receive something in return and it feels like an accomplishment.  When one receives private property, they continue to work harder to take care of their possessions.  As stated, private property is the “key distinction between man and woman”[3] because animals don’t need to provide for a family.  However, the private property of man goes to providing for his family and is a symbol of his freedom.

Society cannot function without the basic unit of the family and that is why the family should be the first priority in society because it is what makes up a man and what a man works for. The man leads a private life with his family and needs to take care of them.  The biggest piece of private property for the family is a house.  It would be pretty much be impossible for a house to be communally owned because it would almost feel like an invasion of privacy. It is extremely important to realize that some things have to be private and it makes us as human beings relieved knowing we have a sense of seclusion.

In the second reading, Liberty and Property, Von Mises states that “in the intellectual field private property makes rebellion possible”[4] which shows that if the government were to have all control, we would all be forced into their ways of living.  Private property allows us to expand our liberties, taking control of our own lives. If we were all to live by the government standards, it would feel as if we were trapped in a strict world and we weren’t allowed to have opinions of our own.  However, we live in a world where we can control ourselves and make our own decisions.

Now, if our private property were to be taken away and put in the hands of the government, our society would suffer. The rich would remain rich, but the workers and poor would suffer.  In a sense, the government would be cheating citizens out of their liberty and taking away their hard work.  The reason the rich would remain rich is because they have had many years of working and possibly have had their wealth handed down to them.  The workers, however, are constantly trying to build up their property.  This creates a divide between the classes.  This is an example of the disadvantages of Socialism.

Socialism believes that everyone should equally share in resources. Private property tends to carry a different respect than common ownership.  There is little motivation to preserve the resources and little incentive to take care of things when they are shared by a majority of people.  You feel as if you have little entitlement or responsibility so you couldn’t care less about it, but if everyone has this attitude, the resource will be left to nothing.  We all depend on each other to carry their parts, but by being contradictory everyone will start to follow the lead.  Overall, shared resources tend not to be cared for, bringing down the economy.

People who strive for communal ownership are socialists. Socialism believes that the production, exchange, and distribution of all goods should be shared.  With Socialism, develops many problems including Tragedy of the Commons.  The Tragedy of Commons is when an individual tries to gain all the resources in the economy.  “As the demand for the resource overwhelms the supply, every individual who consumes an additional unit directly harms others who can no longer enjoy the benefits”[5].  So by the end of it, everyone is getting hurt in the process.  The rich are becoming even greedier and the workers can’t enjoy the simple resources. However, in a capitalistic society, it is still possible to get those resources just in a different way.

The main purpose of property rights is that they eliminate destructive competition; instead they replace violence with peace. Instead of brutally fighting, people see the goods of others and see that they can trade.  In order to trade, you must offer a good that someone else wants in order for them to give you the good you want.  Not only do you need to offer the good, but you need to offer the good at a reasonable price.  You can’t trade if your price is ridiculously high while everyone else offers lower prices.  Trading sparks supply and demand, further stimulating the economy and creating a variety of private property.  That is part of the reason why Capitalism is the most productive and efficient system of exchange.

One of the problems with a capitalistic society is that the citizens become greedy with what they want. They want to have everything they can possibly own and be wealthy, showing off to the rest of society thinking they are better than everyone else.  Even if they might have lots of goods, they constantly want more because they feel as if what they currently have is not enough.  This takes away from others obtaining property because those that are wealthy or greedy have already taken all the goods.  But, greed can be a positive thing. If you are always greedy and wanting more, you continue to trade, boosting the economy. The argument has gone both ways on to whether or not the aspect of greed is beneficial or a deterrent.

Overall, it is seen that private property works for the liberty of all individuals and helps regulate the economy for all people. The advantages of capitalism and freedom far outweigh Socialism and the beliefs of jointly owning things. Although some people disagree with the idea of private property, it has worked for a long time in the U.S. and it will probably stick as an ideal for forever.  Even though, there are some faults within it, the reality is that it works best for society and the economy.

[1] Bellerue, Al. “Private Property Ownership.” Foundation for Economic Education. January 1, 1995. Accessed May 4, 2016. https://fee.org/articles/private-property-ownership/.

[2] Bellerue, Al. “Private Property Ownership.” Foundation for Economic Education. January 1, 1995. Accessed May 4, 2016. https://fee.org/articles/private-property-ownership/.

[3] “Property As Natural Right In Rerum Novarum.” Inebriate Me. February 6, 2015. Accessed May 05, 2016. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/inebriateme/2015/02/property-as-natural-right-in-rerum-novarum/.

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

[5] “Tragedy Of The Commons Definition | Investopedia.” Investopedia. 2009. Accessed May 06, 2016. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/tragedy-of-the-commons.asp.

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