The Tragedy is “the Commons”

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Since Roman times, it has been held that certain resources, such as air and water, could not and should not be privately owned, but instead held “in common.” Today, “the commons” movement seeks to destroy private property rights by equating air and water with such man-made values as the Internet and the electrical grid. This booklet examines the ideas behind “the commons” and demonstrates how property rights can be applied to air and water.

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The Message the Republicans Don’t Get

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I happened to hear Rush Limbaugh on Friday. He sarcastically chastised the pundits and “really smart people” who argue that the Republican party must be more inclusive. We should reach out to women, he said, by being pro-abortion. We should reach out to gays, he said, by supporting same-sex marriages. We should reach out to Hispanics, he said, by favoring amnesty for illegals. We should reach out to the young, he said, by supporting the legalization of drugs.

What Rush, and Republicans in general, don’t understand, is the concept of individual rights. If they did, they would drop this whole notion of trying to appeal to certain groups and appeal to individuals.

The Declaration of Independence, which Rush is fond of citing, states that all men (read humans) possess certain inalienable rights, among these being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We, like Rush, have heard these words since childhood. But what do they mean?

The right to life means that you own your life. I own my life. Each individual owns his life. The right to liberty means the freedom to act as you judge best, for your life. The right to the pursuit of happiness means the freedom to pursue the values that you want.

These rights, like all rights, pertain to freedom of action—the freedom to act according to one’s own judgment.

This means that individuals—including women—have a right to do with their body as they choose. This means that individuals—including gays—have a right to marry the person of their choosing. This means that individuals—including Hispanics—have a right to live where they choose. This means that individuals—including the young—have a right to ingest the substances of their choosing.

Supporting individual rights does not mean being pro-abortion or pro-drugs. It means supporting the right of individuals to live as they choose.

If the Republicans hope to become relevant again, that is a lesson that they must learn. And that is the message that they must deliver.

The Birth of a Campaign Against Rights

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I am not a prophet, seer, or tarot card reader. I do not possess any kind of psychic ability. But I can predict the future, for I possess the power of principles. Principles allow us to project the consequences of our actions, and predict the actions of others.

About 10 days ago, police officers in Houston were called to a group home. They shot and killed a mentally ill man who threatened them with a pen. Community activists are up in arms over the incident, demanding an investigation and otherwise engaging in their normal publicity stunts. At the same time, the local media is starting, what I predict will be, a campaign to regulate the city’s group homes.

The campaign started over the weekend, with one newspaper columnist pointing out that these group homes are operating under the “government radar.” Without saying it, the columnist implies that individuals should not be allowed to do anything without government scrutiny.

Campaigns of this sort usually involve a number of reports regarding an alleged problem. In this case, we’ll likely hear many stories about violence at group homes. I suspect that the local paper will do an investigative report, dragging out stories of deviancy and abuse. We’ll be subjected to ambiguous and meaningless statistics. And through it all, we’ll be told that government must do something.

For the most part, the public won’t pay any attention to this. But the activists and the group home owners who think they can profit will push for government controls. The squeaky slime will get the government grease. And then, the problems will really begin, though few will trace it to this particular government intervention.

As is the case with all government regulations, the innocent will be punished. Operators who do not abuse or violate the rights of their clients will be forced to jump through hoops, and those hoops will grow smaller and smaller in time. Many will be forced out of business, and those that remain will have additional costs and paperwork. Those would have lived in group homes will find themselves on the streets, and a new group of activists will demand that  government do something.

Instead of imposing regulations on the entire industry, the city should prosecute those who actually violate the rights of other individuals. Until an individual violates the rights of another, their actions are not the government’s business.