Property, Property, Property

Junius offers a thoughtful critique of my views on property on his site. Expect a response from me this evening defending private property. Junius and others, notably philosophers such as Cass Sunstein and Stephen Holmes and Thomas Nagel and Liam Murphy, in their books (The Cost of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxes and The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice, respectively), rightly argue that the benefits of property are only available to us because of the existence of law, but then identify law exclusively with an organization, i.e., the American government (and apparently only the federal government, at that). Therefore, they argue, all the benefits of property really are the creation of government (understood as an organization) and it’s therefore government’s prerogative to distribute that property and those benefits however they wish. I’ll address that argument this evening. (For a foretaste, see my review of The Cost of Rights.)