Property Rights vs. Theft

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

In other words: Property rights matter. They matter because they’re fair. Nobody has a right to use the force of government to say, in effect, “That’s not fair. You have too much. Someone else doesn’t have enough. I declare that part of your property to be someone else’s.” Who on earth has the right to make such determinations? What serious person can grant such a right to the group least qualified, both morally and practically: The typical politician?

All those years ago, Thomas Jefferson and many of his peers got it right. In America, our technological development has moved steadily forward while our ethical, philosophical and political standards have all regressed. We went from the eloquent truth of Jefferson to the moral and fiscal travesty of “Let’s spread the wealth around.”

Theft is neither admirable nor just. Disguising theft under the legalized plunder of government redistribution is even worse — both for its pretense and the helplessness imposed on its victims.