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Libertarian lessons in eminent domain

RobertRinger.com


When it comes to the question of eminent domain, we must always remind ourselves that there are only three possible ways to view property:

  1. Anyone has a right to interfere with or take anyone else’s property whenever he pleases.
  2. Some people have a right to interfere with or take the property of other people whenever they please.
  3. No one has a right to interfere with or take anyone else’s property — at any time — without his permission.

In number one, I’m talking about lawlessness and the absence of a generally accepted code of conduct. In virtually all countries of the world, governments at least make a pretense of trying to prevent blatant lawlessness.

Obviously, some governments do a better job at this than others. Your property is a lot safer in, say, Australia than it is in Kenya. But regardless of the geographic location, it is the government’s primary job, at least in theory, to protect the lives and property of its citizens. In fact, many would argue that this is the government’s only legitimate function.



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