Tuesday, September 28

African elephants and tire fires: How property rights affect everyday decisions

The following video reminds me of when Walter E. Williams was in Wichita. He told this story: “I was listening to NPR, a number of years ago, and people were picketing the UN because they were concerned about the extinction of the giraffe, the gorilla, and the lion. So I wrote down a list of animals that people were in a tizzy over the possibility of their becoming extinct.

“Then I wrote down another list of animals, very valuable to us, but people are not worried about them. I said ‘How come people are not marching for the chicken? Why are people not forming save the pig clubs?’

“What’s the difference between these two lists of animals? The essential difference is that with this list of animals — cows, chickens, and pigs — they belong to somebody. Somebody’s personal private interest is at stake. But this other list of animals — they don’t belong to anybody. Nobody’s personal private wealth is at stake. If you’re concerned about the extinction of various animals, I would recommend trying to privatize them.”

From EconomicFreedom.org.

What is a key pillar of economic freedom? Secure property rights.

Derek Yonai, Professor of Business at Campbell University, explains how economic freedom can only exist in a society where property rights are secure. By protecting individuals’ ownership of their personal belongings and property, those belongings are then able to be exchanged, creating the foundation of a free-market system.

But on the other hand, if property rights are not protected, economic freedom collapses.