Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Proposition 9 and the Alamo

Next week Texans will have an opportunity to defend property rights, and chances are quite high that they will refuse to do so. Proposition 9 will amend the state constitution to solidify the Texas Open Beaches Act (TOBA), which declares that all beach front property seaward of the vegetation line is "public property". TOBA has already robbed countless individuals of their property, and Proposition 9 will make it more difficult to rectify this gross injustice in the future.

Last Sunday the Chronicle reported on the proposition, stating:

[V]oters will decide whether the law's [TOBA] promise of beach access, which some folks already consider a Texan's birthright, should be part of the state's constitution. [emphasis added]
Rights sanction our freedom to act without interference from others; they do not grant us a claim to some object. To claim that open beaches are a "Texan's birthright" is to claim that some individuals--beach front property owners--must fulfill the desires of others. This is a negation of all rights.

Not content to merely pervert the meaning of "rights", for this is quite common, supporters of TOBA blame the victims for the state's seizure of private property. The comments left in response to the Chronicle article cited above illustrate this fact.

While the comments vary, they have a similar message: Beach front property owners know what the law is and have nobody to blame but themselves. If they are so foolish as to build on the beach, then they get exactly what they deserve when the state takes their property.

According to the Chronicle a number of law suits are pending against the state and its use of TOBA. The paper reports that Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who is responsible for regulating beach access, evades any responsibility in the matter:
Patterson has countered that Mother Nature, not the state, is taking their properties.
Apparently Patterson believes that Mother Nature passed TOBA. Apparently Patterson believes Mother Nature shows up at the property owner's door with a gun, demanding that the "offending" house be demolished. If Patterson is correct, why are state officials even involved? It is not Mother Nature who threatens property owners, but Patterson.

Government's sole legitimate purpose is the protection of individual rights, including property rights--the right to own, use, and dispose of material objects. Our rights are inviolable. They are not subject to the whims of state officials or a vote of the citizenry. That a majority of Texans support armed robbery doesn't turn the act into a charitable donation, nor does it turn the desire for open beaches into a right.

When Texans go to vote next week, I urge them to consider a cry long associated with this state: "Remember the Alamo!" The brave men who fought and died in that battle were fighting for freedom from Santa Anna--a dictator who believed that he could dispose of the lives of others. Today, advocates of liberty are fighting an equally tyrannical idea--that the rights of the individual may be voted away.

Davy Crockett, one of the hero's of the Alamo, once said, ""A government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have." Supporters of TOBA want government to give them a fictitious "right" to open beaches by taking property from others. Today, it is the rights of beach front property owners that are at risk. Tomorrow, it may be their rights.

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