Property Rights Discussed at October Lunch

At the October lunch, Daniel Peterson, Director of the Center for Property Rights at the James Madison Institute in Orlando gave us his view of the legacy of property rights in the US, and the forces that threaten them today.

Contrasting the situation that existed in the Soviet Union, where all property was owned by the state and most people lived in apartments, he described our system dating back to the Puritan colony in New England were they considered individuals as “stewards of the land”.

Our system provides 5 rights associated with property: the freedom to possess property, to enjoy it without interference, to use it for our own purposes, to exclude others from it, and to dispose of it as we see fit.

Threatening these rights are three forces:

First is the “Government Estate” – ownership of land by governments that crowd out private uses. As example, 50% of all the land west of the Mississippi is owned by the federal government, including 83% of the state of Utah. This not only takes the land out of public use, but it starves state and local government of property tax revenue (sometimes offset by PILT – payment in lieu of taxes, where the locals are partially compensated by the federal landowner.)

In Florida, about a third of the state is government owned with 30% in conservation (37% in PBC). The cost of acquisition of these 2.5 million acres was about $2500 per acre under the P2000 and Florida Forever programs. Added is the cost of maintenance ($173M per year) and the cost of bonding ($145M / year).

Another threat is over reaching regulations, particularly things like the EPA’s “Waters of the US”, which attempted to restrict usage of most of the surface water in the country, (including presumably rain puddles in your backyard) and the “Clean Power Plan” which the Obama administration was using to destroy the coal industry and hamstring energy use and production.

The third threat is the Bureaucratic maze with its sometimes conflicting permitting requirements from all manner of jurisdictions that makes business creation or even enjoying your own property difficult.

Please join us next month as we salute veterans with Congressman Brian Mast on Saturday, November 18th. The usual lunch meeting will be free to all veterans – bring your friends!

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