THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. Welcome to the Home of Hyperopia.: On Property Rights - Part 1

Friday, September 09, 2005

On Property Rights - Part 1

The personal suffering and loss resulting from Hurricane Katrina is tragic. It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of what has happened and what is happening.

One of the things that is happening that I find interesting from a political point of view is the question of the possible forcible evictions of residents of New Orleans from "their" homes by police. published this article yesterday. There are some very interesting quotes in there. My personal favorite follows (in context, it's towards the very bottom of the article):

  • "If they come to my property and they attempt to evict me from my independent state ... there will be gunfire," O'Dwyer said. "There will be gunfire, so let them be warned."

Mr. O'Dwyer does not understand the definition (or, more accurately, the derivation) of the word "real" estate. Mr. O'Dwyer thinks he owns his house. He refers to it as "my property" and his "independent state". The truth is quite a bit different (unfortunately). The truth is that Mr. O'Dwyer is renting his house and property from the government. To appreciate that this is true, consider what could happen to Mr. O'Dwyer if he didn't pay his property taxes. The taxing authority could file a lien against his property and sell it at public auction to the highest bidder to satisfy the unpaid tax obligation.

As Robert Kiyosaki (if I recall correctly), among others, points out in Rich Dad, Poor Dad, the word "real" in real estate comes from the Spanish "real" (can't figure out how to do the accent symbol over the "a" on this blogging software) meaning royal, or "of the crown." You own and occupy your house only so long as the government is willing to allow you to do so. You own and occupy your house at the pleasure "of the crown." That is the truth.

But there's quite a different dynamic in this Hurricane Katrina aftermath. Forced evacuations of human beings is the government asserting ownership over the persons being forced out. And although this article seems to say pretty clearly that the government has the power to take such a step and compel such action, I find that to be considerably more troubling. Here in the "Land of the Free", we don't even own ourselves.

My goodness but we're a long ways from freedom.


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