Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Property? Only if I can take it with me.

In a discussion about the difference between progressive and libertarians, I came up with the following paragraphs. I would be interested in your thoughts.

What progressives understand that conservatives and libertarians refuse to acknowledge is that we are all in this together, and that we have a responsibility to secure our mutual foundation as well as our personal foundation. The main difference is that libertarians seem to believe that anything that takes "private property" away from one person to give to another, whether we're talking about land or capital or physical property like cars, is theft. They consider property rights to be more important than anything else, because that's where everything flows from in their world-view.

I pay for the food that I eat, the water that I drink, the home that I live in and the methods of transportation that I use because those payments are my share of the burden to keep these things available to everyone. My priority is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not the pursuit of property. Because property is fluid. As far as I'm concerned, anything that I can take with me when I die is my property and nobody has any right to any of it. Throw all your money into the air, and anything that God wants, he keeps. Anything that will still be here when that happens is not "my" private property, but is something that should be managed by our social norms and laws to enable me to live my life in comfort and to encourage me to reach for my potential. It's my responsibility to pay my share to provide those opportunities to everyone else as well.

2 comments:

Rob J. said...

Chad,

This is the HEART of a GOOD STEWARDSHIP ETHIC as rooted in the Judeo-Christian understanding of Creation (from which environmentalism and communitarianism flows).

Yes, the "Libertarian" position, although theoretically appealing does create a "me-me" "my rights" type of society that does not recognize as the great Psalmist wrote once, "The earth is the LORD's and ALL that is in it."

No, contrary to a tight grip on property rights, communitarian views (which are also AMERICAN views such as the focus of natural preservation) ARE what it means to be an American!

Being an American at one time meant a greater sense of community from which great programs such as social security eventually arose. BUT, the breakdown of community in the U.S. (as recorded in sociological studies such as the book "Bowling Alone") is quite un-American.

So, yes, we need a greater Canadian-style form of communitarian ethos. Sadly, however, this will have to come through hard-fought legislation because generally we Americans can be quite greedy by Nature.

Blessings & love in Jesus Christ,
Rob J. King

technogramma said...

I like what both of you have said.

Today I read a couple of articles by a Christian Scientist who is applying for a position in my group. In one of the articles, she said that the Christian Scientist view is that everything around us is illusion and the only reality is our own spirit and the spiritual connection that we all have to one another. That's why Christian Scientists don't use medication--they believe that physical reality can be altered by refocusing your mind to create a better "illusion".

As I was reading her article, it renewed me in a belief that I've gone back to over and over again in my life that the material world can be a prison if we let it. This is true whether you interpret the material world as being your possessions, money, or even your body. Sometimes you have to let go of the physical "illusion" and remind yourself that what's important is the part of you that exists on the spiritual plain. The recognition of this elemental truth is my interpretation of the "scales falling from their eyes" referred to in the Bible.

When I apply this spiritual view to my civic life, it naturally fits in with the progressive view of the world because if material possessions ultimately have no meaning, then it doesn't make sense that a few people hoard more than they need while other people suffer because they don't have enough for a comfortable life. So, in my view, sharing my possessions with others is a spiritual obligation.

And it doesn't really matter to me if the institution that helps people is a charity or a church or a government, as long as the help is always available when it is needed. Conservatives seem to think that helping a person in need is only valuable if the person giving charity and the person receiving charity have a relationship with each other. But to me, the whole point of charity is that the giver must remain anonymous. This way, the receiver can view every person they meet as possibly being the person who helped them when they needed it and thus spread charity by treating people with kindness.

Thanks for inviting me to your blog! It's giving me a lot to think about.