In the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution (the fifth of the ten amendments that Americans know as the “Bill of rights”) Life, Liberty and Property are used together in the same sentence and stand together with the same importance. You might ask why the founding fathers would give property the same significance as life itself. After all, if a thug accosted you in a dark alley and said “Your money or your life”, you would certainly choose to give up your wallet and live another day.
The founding fathers saw it this way: Life is sacred. If a man has a right to his life, he also has the right to protect and sustain his life; otherwise life is meaningless. If you take from the farmer his tools, so that he cannot plant or reap, the farmer dies. Likewise, if you take away the tools of a craftsman he cannot practice his trade or charge for his labor; he will starve.
And what is property, anyway? Property is the fruit of one’s labor. In the workplace, men and women exchange their time for money. They exchange their money for property (food, clothing, tools, or a home). A man’s life consists of time and each of us has only a finite amount of time to be on this earth. If a man trades 8 hours of his wages to purchase a bicycle and a thug steals the bicycle from his garage, the thug hasn’t just stolen property from the man; he has stolen 8 hours of the man’s life. The concept of property wasn’t difficult for the founding fathers. It was this simple: Property = Time. Time = Life. Therefore, Property = Life.
Leonard Read, in an article written years ago, defined Statism as: “The use of government, the organized police force, to direct the creative activities of people.” But, as Read pointed out, “government is coercion, and coercion is evil in every instance of its application.” Of course, politicians always justify government force because the laws they pass are an alleged means of doing good. In fact, these laws often cause more harm than good, but this a matter for future blogs. The key point I wish to maker today is that when a law is passed and a tax is levied, life is usurped, plain and simple.
When your liberal acquaintances brag about the wonderous good that government does and demean you for worrying about your taxes, explain to them the ideas above. If they agree with the premise that Property = Life they will change their ways. If they disagree, they are, unfortunately, Thugs.