Laws - Part II
January 10, 1994
Law is a set of rules that we have established to protect our property. To understand the intent of law we must first understand what it is meant to protect. So, what is property?
From the beginning of man's existence on earth he has striven to survive and add comfort to his life. Man's life, faculties and production, or the byproducts thereof, are the property a man possesses. This includes his life and his time as much, if not more, than any other aspect, for what is any other property except for a conversion of that life and time into a tangible product?
From his first step into the world of reality man has had to protect his property -- for this meant survival. As he grew into a communal living situation, the responsibilities of protection of property were joined together to afford a greater protection than one man alone could provide. The constant struggle to protect property was reduced because the common element of joint effort provided an obvious threat to those that would steal any property from another. The mere threat of communal retaliation was sufficient to preclude most previous forms of theft, and allowed man greater diversity in utilization of his time. He could rest more easily knowing that the community was protecting him in his absence or in his sleep.
The reason for the need for community laws was the result of the desire of some to acquire property without the exchange of effort that was the basic composition of ownership. Frederic Bastiat called this desire to take from the efforts of others "plunder", this being the understanding that it is easier me to take something from you than for me to work, make, build or create it for myself. So, the prevention of plunder was the purpose of laws.
The establishment of laws, although reducing the amount and frequency of plunder, did not cause this evil to disappear. The desire of one man to plunder another is, unfortunately, as much a part of life as breath itself.
The authority granted to government to protect property is a grant of the right (not privilege) that comes to all men at birth, to protect as each individual has the right to. When this authority is, by consent, granted to government it is granted only to the extent that each individual possess himself. He is not able to grant to government something that he does not have, himself, the power to apply.
This concept, then, allows for the punishment, at the hands of the community, transgressions of the rights of property of any individual within the authority of the community. If, however, this is the concept, instrumentality and justification of law then how have we come to accept that law has the right to take from us the very property it has been designated to protect?
The answers lies in the very fundamental cause for the need of law in the first place -- plunder. As we allow government a greater degree of control in our lives we also allow ourselves to submit to the common desire to plunder. We have allowed government to plunder us to sustain itself. The need for more property on the part of government -- the insatiable desire to expand it's empire - has manifested the desire of those who represent us to plunder as much as any evil monarch of the past. The law has become the means of accomplishing what the law was first imposed to prevent.
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