Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When We Learn The Wrong Lessons

If we study history, but learn the wrong lessons – is there any value to learning history?

I have been pondering this question for quite some time now. It has many applications, but I want to look closely at one example. Decades ago here in the USA, it was legal and socially acceptable for members of the KKK, or local community, to forcibly remove a minority family or community from their property. If it was done to build a factory, housing district or other “community good,” much of the community either ignored this violation of property rights or felt it was justified by the greater good of the community.

Along came the “Civil Rights Movement” and finally someone effectively pointed out the truly unjust nature of this behavior. The majority was not “justified” in forcing the minority out of their homes. We in today’s America clearly see that a wrong was committed in those situations. Unfortunately, we as a society seem to think the only reason this behavior was “immoral” is because “white people were attacking black people.”

That is the wrong lesson to learn from our history. The truly immoral act was “violating the property rights” of individuals – regardless of color, sex, religion or other category into which people can be stuffed.
Today, the government (local, state, or federal) is forcibly taking the real estate of people. The reasons range from building a new Wal-Mart, Costco, or Walgreens to building a new sports arena for some professional, college or local school district team. For just a moment, take a walk with me into the world of “What IF…” What if the only land being taken was owned by minorities? What if the builder of the new factory or owner of the sports team was a member of the KKK, and the people being displaced were minorities? Would “the people” be angry? Would there be protests about the treatment of the home owners?
Why does it matter, you ask? The government is not targeting minorities to build a Wal-Mart or football stadium, so what difference does it make that the home owners are or are not minorities? Or maybe you are just mad at me for even asking the question….

Here is why it matters:
Property ownership is not dependent on color, sex, sexual preference, religion, height, weight, eye color, or any other category into which people can be stuffed. The right of people to own property – real estate, horses, factories, stores, etc. – has made the history of the United States of America unique. The further we as a society move away from this principle of private ownership of resources, the harder it is to find common ground upon which to build our communities.


The Aardvark said...

But common ground is what seizing property for a CostCo or industrial park is all about! We need to take YOUR property for the COMMON good, which is to say, increased tax revenue for the local givemint. C'mon, CD. It's easy enough that even a conservative can see it, not to mention a Bastiat reader....

No, no, I just can't pull this off.

Well put, all of it. Glad life has been good for you, and gladder to have you back.

I must go iron my sheets, now....

Cunning Dove said...

I recently had a discussion on facebook where the initial poster questioned a rural hunter's choice to shoot a cougar.

My argument was, "His property, his choice." I would not have shot the animal, unless it was close to my house personally. However, I don't have any assets that are threatened by a cougar - and I want them to kill the pesky DEER!!!

Someone else commented that "It's mah property and mah right" was a simplistic and petty ideology. I told them that I was sure John Locke appreciated their critique.

It didn't end well. I tried to use small words & other property as the basis for the conversation. But that just lead to a rude comment about me being very proud of my big screen TV & a clear inability to understand the "non-concrete" aspects of my philosophy.

I knew I had lost my temper when I responded at one point that they failed to understand the Subjective Theory of Value & the Theory of Comparitave Advantage.

Sadly, I don't think they knew I was calling them stupid - without using that word... hurmph...

The Aardvark said...

"However, I don't have any assets that are threatened by a cougar - and I want them to kill the pesky DEER!!!" want to kill..........

I know what you mean. Stupid eco-freaks. "Save the deer!"

They are over-populated here in North Alabama, and diseased. The Dread Dormomoo calls them weeds.

Cunning Dove said...

Speaking of eco-freaks, have you seen Avatar?

The Aardvark said...

Yes, yes I have. As a experience...I loved it. As a Message? Meh.

I see it as a the cry of our society for True Spirituality, for a connection with Life.

They need Jesus, but they're lookin' for glow-ey trees and naked blue chicks.

The world-building was just astounding!

The word verifier says "moksha" That was the name of one of the Ravers in the "Thomas Covenant" books.