15 May 2011

Defining private property

The matter of property affects not only the question of mishpat, of how much of something each one gets; it also affects questions of choq, of whether people can reasonably expect to be secure in their possessions. 
Errors in defining private property or collective property impair legitimate security in two ways: 
  1. If people cannot expect to get enough to care for the basic needs of life, they will resort to plunder and pillage because the imperatives of subsistence will eventually overwhelm the basic respect decent people have for the long-term domestic tranquility of society. Their acute needs will override in their minds the justice of the chronic needs of the collective. 
  2. If the well-to-do have too much alienable wealth, the mean forces in society will organize to relieve them of the excess and to transfer it to the more cunning, and, to their minds, the more deserving. Property claims therefore have to operate within the constraints of the security considerations they engender. Property rights that lead to insecure affluence should be deemed per se as suspect, and likely unjust. 

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