Private Ownership Of Land Almost as Important And Unique In the US Constitution.

by Dr. Tim Ball on June 15, 2015

in History,Politics,Water

This article of mine originally appeared on The Patriot Post website.

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”
John Adams, 1787

How much of your land do you own? What depth of the soil is yours? Do you own the water or the air? All these questions speak to political issues that transcend private, regional and national boundaries. Nationally and internationally, those who seek control, as John Adams warned, exploit lack of this knowledge.

Global warming transcends boundaries and is used to justify bigger government and more control. They say only a world government with total bureaucratic control can resolve global problems like climate.

Others claim water and land is indivisible as far as governments are concerned, so control of one is effectively control of the other. Winston Churchill said a war is never over until the land disagreements are settled. His refers to traditional wars, but another land war is going on.

Central to the US Constitution was taking control of the land from an elite few and assuring private ownership for the individual. Now a new elite few in government are taking control of the land under the guise of democracy. If they win, the social and democratic advances of the last two hundred years and unique to the US, become meaningless. One totalitarian government replaces another with the illusion that it’s different this time because the people are in control. I heard a joke as a teenager the full meaning of which only resonates now. A man on a soapbox at Hyde Park Corner, the only place in England that allows freedom of speech, proclaimed, “Come the Revolution we’ll all wear shirts and ties.” A voice said, “But I don’t want to wear a shirt and tie.” The reply, “Come the Revolution you will do what you are bloody well told.” We can add, a bureaucrat will enforce the dress code. Mary McCarthy said, “Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.”

Private ownership of land was central to the US Revolution. It was historically and globally unique, like most of the Founding Fathers actions. European aristocrats owned land, but were subservient to the Monarch. The truth is exposed by the adage that an Englishman’s home is his castle. Only a very few had castles the rest lived in rented hovels on the castle owner’s land. The people paid rent by working on the Lord of the Manor’s land.

People moving to the US had the chance of owning property. This gave them individual freedom, and promoted improvement of the land through good stewardship. Private ownership is a strong incentive to better care.

Importance of private ownership was demonstrated following the biggest land grab in history, ostensibly in the name of freedom. Lenin seized all the land in 1917 and created massive collectives, vast farms run by the peasants under state management. The people had no more control than under the Tsars. The system collapsed quickly as food production dropped catastrophically. Lenin was forced to act and in 1921 resorted to private ownership. The New Economic Policy (NEP) allowed peasants small plots that were the major source of food supply right up to the collapse of communism.

H L Mencken explained the philosophy of control decades ago:

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.

All could embrace environmentalism because it’s logical not to soil your nest. A few hijacked the idea, claimed only they cared, took the moral high ground and dictated to everyone. Eco-bullying was underway. Anyone who questioned was accused of not caring about the planet or the children’s future. Politicians saw opportunities to appear green and exploit tax opportunities. They created bureaucracies with dictatorial powers to impose ‘green’ policies.

Global warming is failing as a vehicle to impose government control. Obama’s administration pursues a green agenda and alternate energies even as they fail for other nations. The US Executive branch is using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to bypass casino online Congressional control.

Water is replacing climate as the vehicle for government control using water shortage claims. Peak oil was created to argue we’re running out of oil so we should switch to alternate energies. We know the fallacy of that argument, but eco-bullies are undeterred. They are already talking about peak water, but there is no shortage. It is unevenly distributed and periods of drought can reduce supply temporarily, but total volume of fresh and salt water is virtually unlimited.

Water is more contentious than CO2 with a profound moral component. The battle over water as a private commodity or a public good will grow, not because it is in short supply, but because of it’s value for a political agenda. For that purpose, it has another attraction. The water is on, or in, the land so controlling the water effectively gives control of the land.

Exploiters know water shortage is not the real issue, so narrow it to water quality. The US Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 was reasonable management policy, but like all government regulations, interpretation and application change with time. This is usually for a political agenda and not the original intent. The PPJ Gazette reports:

A full-scale attack by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to take control of all water from any source whatsoever is under way.  What these agencies are attempting is an end run around water and land rights.  These agencies are constructing regulations and fictional jurisdictional control.

The Boyd family in Chesapeake is a classic example. Damien Schiff lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) now representing the family wrote:

James Boyd and his family have owned the Smith Family Farm in Chesapeake for more than two decades, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is trying to claim that it, not the Boyd’s, has effective control over their private property.

EPA claims that it can dictate what kind of land use and farming practices the Boyd’s engage in, because the property is supposedly ‘wetlands’ subject to federal jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court ruled the CWA only applies to property with a “significant connection between water on the property and some ‘navigable’ water, such as a river, lake, or ocean.” EPA used the term “wetland”, which they define and can be as small as a puddle. It is typical of bureaucracies like EPA.

The Founding Fathers provided a system to ensure individual liberty. They knew it would be a constant struggle and warned of attempts to bypass the Constitution and remove freedoms. Alexander Hamilton wrote:

If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify

Private ownership of land is essential to freedom. Now, as Mary McCarthy warned, a new bureaucratic despotism threatens.