The recent movement to remove or destroy historical monuments on government-owned property underscores a vital service that private property plays in creating a more peaceful and harmonious society.
Because the monuments and the grounds which they stand are ‘public’ property, there is no peaceful way to settle the dispute over what to do with them. Political force wins, whoever opposes, loses. Compare these battles to a system in which property is held privately and those rights are consistently preserved.
I wrote in June about the benefits to society of private property, some parts are worth recalling here:
A system based on private property rights and free exchange provides a multitude of benefits for society and the economy. Foremost among them are:
Peacefully settling conflicting claims on goods and resources. In a world of scarcity and multiple acting individuals, it is inevitable that disputes over the use of goods will arise….What happens when two or more people have conflicting desires to use a plot of land, or a computer, a car or a pound of sugar? Short of private property rules, competition over scarce resources could devolve into who can use the most force to exert their claim over goods to the exclusion of everyone else, arbitrary rules determined by a powerful authority, or games of chance
Moreover, in this guest post to NC Capitol Connection, Wilson Times editor Corey Friedman warns against the state choosing for us who we should honor with taxpayer-funded monuments: “When cities and states commission public monuments, they’re essentially endorsing the statues’ subjects in our name. Elected officials are telling us, literally and figuratively, who to look up to….Why should government presume to tell us who’s worthy of a bronze bust?”
Friedman offers his take on how private property in the realm of statues/monuments can resolve the discord and violence: “Honor whoever you like, whether or not your neighbor approves. Just don’t force your neighbor to help pay for your tribute or house the towering statue in a public space that belongs to him as much as it does to you.”