Tuesday, August 5, 2008

With "Friends" Like This...

There are many organizations that proclaim their support of freedom and property rights. But sometimes one doesn't need to dig far below the surface to discover that such proclamations are merely a fa├žade. Consider the Independence Institute (II) for example.

On their About Us page, they say:

Because the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of life and liberty are matters of individual choice, the Institute addresses a broad variety of public policy issues from a free-market, pro-freedom perspective.

This sounds pretty good. I’m certainly in favor of individual choice and the free market.

II runs the Property Rights Project (PRP), along with other projects aimed at specific policy issues. On the blog for the PRP and interesting post titled Aurora Seniors Victorious Against Developers appears.

The post consists of nothing more than a quote from a newspaper article:

The Aurora Planning Commission handed about 30 senior citizens a small victory Wednesday. They gathered at the Aurora Municipal Center to speak against a 13-acre building development close to their homes.

The panel voted 4-2 against a site plan extension that would have developed four-story apartment complexes at the Heritage-Eagle Bend housing complex.


The article goes on to quote 2 individuals involved in this:

"We don't think (the plan) is very suitable to seniors because all the walkways are exposed and none of the garages are attached to the building," said Toni Smythe, a neighborhood delegate who spoke at the commission meeting.

"You don't just stick a four-story next to two-story," said Michigan Hill, a commissioner who voted against the extension.
In other words, the senior citizens didn’t like this project, and convinced the city’s Planning Commission to squelch it. Which means, non-owners of the property were able to impose their values and ideas upon the owners of that property.

The right to property means the right of use and disposal. It means that the owner chooses the use, without requiring the permission or sanction of anyone else.

There is nothing in the PRP post to suggest that they disagree with this ruling. Indeed, their title (which is different from the newspaper’s title) states that the ruling was a victory for the seniors. Which means, PRP considers this a victory for those who seek to control the property owned by others.

An organization that purports to support property rights, while applauding the destruction of those rights is the most vile type of hypocrite. Such actions undermine the efforts of those who truly support property rights by misrepresenting those rights.

I submitted the following comment on the blog:

How can you consider this a victory? The right to property is the right of use and disposal. The rightful owners first had to beg for permission to use their property. Then they were denied the right to use their property.

When non-owners of a parcel of property have a voice in its use, property rights have been destroyed. This was might have been a "victory" for a gang of seniors who seek to impose their values upon others, but it certainly was not a victory for property rights or their advocates.
I have not previously heard of II. At first, I thought the organization might have merit. But it did not take much reading to discover that what looked like Jefferson was really just a mask.

© J. Brian Phillips 2008

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