Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America

Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America

Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America

Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America

Synopsis

The Supreme Court's decision in the Kelo case created a firestorm of interest in protecting property rights. Through real-life stories and solid legal analysis, this book shows why property rights are the cornerstone of liberty, how they are protected in the U.S. Constitution, and it critically examines how courts and legislatures have diminished property rights, and then lays out an agenda for protecting property rights in the future.

Excerpt

What is it about our homes that makes them more than just wood and bricks? When Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and Mississippi in 2005, leaving thousands homeless, the nation saw firsthand just how much our property really means to us. in a commentary on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, New Orleans schoolteacher Anne Rochell Konigsmark described how it felt to lose her home. She appreciated the hospitality of the Atlanta relatives who took her in, she said, and Atlanta was very pretty. But it wasn’t home, and she kept thinking about what she had left behind. “I imagine my house, which did not flood, sitting on our deserted street, hot and silent, rotten food in the fridge, toys and knickknacks gathering dust. I often dial my home phone number. the voice mail no longer picks up. It just rings and rings. I worry that someday, someone will answer.”

Private property is an essential part of the human experience. Its importance to us is embodied in silly, sentimental poems like Edgar Guest’s “Home” (“It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home”) and in our most eloquent literary expressions, such as The Odyssey, in which the Greek warrior Odysseus braves all the wild dangers of legend to reach his “grand and gracious house.” Not only are our homes important; business owners, too, find profound personal meaning in private property. They treasure the feeling of self-sufficiency and independence that comes from owning and operating their own shops or restaurants. As writer and businessman James Chan explains, entrepreneurs “are people who feel compelled to express our individuality through running our own businesses.” Personal possessions, too, are obvious examples of the importance of private property in our lives; anyone who owns a wedding ring, or a photo album, or a piece of heirloom furniture knows the immense personal meaning that owned objects can embody—a personal meaning we call “sentimental value.” People who have suffered a robbery or a burglary can attest to the terrible consequences of . . .

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