"Property is a central economic institution of any society,
and private property is the central institution of a free society."
David D. Friedman
(1945- ) American economist, physicist, legal scholar, and libertarian theorist
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Were the Native Americans free? I understand that generally they could not conceive of the idea of owning mother earth. So where is this guy coming from? I fully agree with the first phrase about economics, I am not sure about the second phrase. Hey how about someone handling the conflict between these three phrases: private property, free society, imminent domain.
     -- Bruce, Alabama     
    Bruce, no they were not free, they were tribal and subject to the whims of the tribe, and owed the tribe; they were subjects. If you cannot own yourself and the fruits of your labor, you are not free. There is no conflict between private property and free societies. Emminent domain, in the correct form, is a voluntary giving up of a very limited amount of private property rights which are NECESSARY for the the functioning of the government. Unfortunately our modern Supreme Court and the socialist dictators in black robes have heavily over stepped the authority given the government in this area. Should any level of government (or individual for that matter) attempt to take my private property by force, it will ultimately become a second amendment related issue.
     -- helorat, Milton     
    I respectfully disagree with your use of "voluntary giving up". Imminent (your spelling does not exist in my dictionary) domain is actually a natural law because as we know we actually own nothing we are just using it for a few years until we start pushing up daisies.
     -- Bruce, Alabama     
    "Thou shalt not steal." Either you believe in that or not. You cannot steal if it isn't private property. Without this basic tenet, all property will eventually be seized by the King who does nothing but say, "Mine." Without getting into too much history of the Native Americans of which there were thousands of tribes making up hundreds of nations, they were a lot freer than most think. Much was drawn from the League of Iroqouis by the Founders in adopting the Constitution. While typically natives did not 'own' land, they certainly defended 'territory.' And the American military waged war for nearly 200 years on these people all of whom had different customs and laws. For sure, the European colonists in general simply laid claim to Indian territory and were morally content with wiping them out as was the custom of their Kings and their Church. Indeed American hypocrisy has a long history. It doesn't change the fact that without territory to call your own, to live on, to build on, etc., there is no chance of freedom.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Eminent domain (everyone makes spelling mistakes Bruce) has it's place but as you have stated Bruce it is in abuse mode today. No longer used to secure land for the purpose of serving the greater needs of communities or even nationally. There have been cases where local governing bodies have abducted land (although it is always paid for) in the name of "upgrading" the site for the good of the community. This is not a case of bad laws but bad leadership. My father said years ago "you cannot judicat morality" (his word) nor can you legislate it. So what do we do? We do what we are doing here we discuss it we try to inform others and we vote. To the issue you raise of domain you do have a valid point from a certain angle but in our social system we are able to pass these possessions (land, goods, money) down to our children and so on. While the Native Americans (what we have named them) may have been great stewards of the land I wouldn't consider them a model of a free society. I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination on Indian social practices but a little research will show that many of the freedoms this nation enjoys today would not be possible in that social system.
     -- Sam, Frisco City Alabama     
    The lack of concept of property must have been what drove the Indian tribes to kill each other over territory. They practiced that for their entire existence before we got here. As for sternwards of the land, they did not hesitate to set fire to prairie grass to stampede bison into pits or over cliffs. They sometimes killed an entire herd while only needing a small fraction of the herd. They often slaughter other tribes for territory or just because they felt like it. There were tribes that were very peaceful but many were not. Owner ship was a tribal thing not a private thing. Therefore Indians were not free in an individual sense.
     -- warren, olathe     
    Excuse LS out of me Bruce, I typoed an extra M, but it is not imminent. The Constitution is the contract the people made with or laid on the government giving the government it's powers. The 5th Amendment allows the government to take private property for public use with just compensation. It is in the contract, hence it is valid and voluntary. In civilized free societies you do own property with the right to pass it to whom ever you like. The indians we treated better then any other conquered group in history. The usual choice is assimilate, be assimilated or die.
     -- helorat, Milton     
    Has it ever occurred to y'all that we called the "Indians" filthy savages until we finally defeated them. Now we build statues to them and call them noble warriors. And the more noble we make them to be the greater we come off to be because we defeated them. Hmm ain't human nature interesting. I believe that it is an economic fact (but I to am no expert) that a hunter/gatherer society cannot exist with a farming society. Otherwise you got folks chasing buffalo across your corn fields. Something had to give here. I live near where the trail of tears started near Columbus, Georgia. The Cherokees were pretty much assimilated. They dressed Euro lived in log cabins etcetera but that was not good enough for white man. They marched them off to Oklahoma to a concentration camp and put them on the first federal welfare program. All the booze and blankets they wanted, "just stay the hell out of our life" was the message.
     -- Bruce, Alabama     
    If you don't think the Indians owned property, just try to steal one's horse.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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