Freeman

ARTICLE

A Page on Freedom: Number 7

JUNE 01, 1984 by ROBERT G. ANDERSON

Private Ownership

The attributes of individual responsibility, initiative and respect for others are not basic conditions of our nature but, instead, are characteristics which will evolve wherever private property concepts have been established.

When a legal system is structured to safeguard the private ownership of property and there prevails a set of values based on the sovereign rights of individuals, a market economy inevitably results.

This market process reflects both voluntarism and social cooperation in human affairs. It is the course of conduct followed by individuals with a right to possess property and the confidence that their transactions will be respected.

Choice in the use of one’s labor and the products of such labor is not an end in itself. Nor is such freedom of choice an ideological issue to be accepted or rejected by mere whim or fancy. Private property rights are a fundamental and necessary condition if people are to be prosperous and free.

Private ownership induces an attitude of stewardship. Responsibility for self, as well as respect for property, caring for property, and the further creation of property, are all vital aspects of private ownership.

Most important of all, however, is the proprietary characteristic which follows from control over property. For without private ownership of property, individual freedom of choice can have no meaning. Ownership establishes control, and it is from the power of such self-control that comes the sovereignty and dignity of the individual.

Without private ownership, freedom is hollow and meaningless. []

Robert G. Anderson

THE FOUNDATION FOR ECONOMIC EDUCATION, INC.
IRVINGTON-ON-HUDSON, NEW YORK 10533

ASSOCIATED ISSUE

June 1984

comments powered by Disqus

EMAIL UPDATES

* indicates required

CURRENT ISSUE

December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
Download Free PDF

PAST ISSUES

SUBSCRIBE

RENEW YOUR SUBSCRIPTION

Essential Works from FEE

Economics in One Lesson (full text)

By HENRY HAZLITT

The full text of Hazlitt's famed primer on economic principles: read this first!


By FREDERIC BASTIAT

Frederic Bastiat's timeless defense of liberty for all. Once read and understood, nothing ever looks the same.


By F. A. HAYEK

There can be little doubt that man owes some of his greatest suc­cesses in the past to the fact that he has not been able to control so­cial life.


By JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Leonard Read took the lessons of entrepreneurship with him when he started his ideological venture.


By LEONARD E. READ

No one knows how to make a pencil: Leonard Read's classic (Audio, HTML, and PDF)