Monday, September 26, 2011


"We have allowed our systems to blur the distinction--now to the point that even judges see men ONLY as artificial, legal entities."

Last week I wrote about private ownership and what is happening to the concept of a right to property in America. Over the weekend, I read a report on a recent judge's ruling which helps illustrate the problem.

Wisconsin Judge Patrick J. Fiedler made a legal clarification recently in response to the Food to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. FTCLDF is an organization that promotes causes such as raw milk and other direct farm-to-consumer sales rights and privileges. FTCLDF made an argument that people have a right to drink unpasteurized milk based on Roe v Wade, claiming that if women have a right to do whatever they wish with their bodies to such an extent that they can kill their unborn child, then certainly we have a right to drink whatever milk we want. The judge said this in response:
This court is unwilling to declare that there is a fundamental right to consume the food of one's choice without first being presented with significantly more developed arguments on both sides of the issue.

no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;

no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;

no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice…
Now, in a certain way I agree with the judge. The Roe v Wade argument is weak, largely because Roe v Wade is such a spurious argument and awful legal decision to begin with. Taken on its face, Roe v Wade allows anyone to do anything with their bodies no matter what that they choose to, and no one can legally object. Drugs, prostitution, etc all should be legal based on this decision because they do not negatively impact another person.

Now no court in the nation (at this point at least) will go along with that train of argument, as obvious and inevitable as it may be, based on Roe v Wade. So I have a problem with trying that as your basis for the "right" to drink unpasteurized milk.

And I would also agree that there is no fundamental right to the specific things the judge lists. But here's the problem with his statement: there's no fundamental right to sing "Hello Dolly" in public, either. That's not how rights work. We have a fundamental right to free speech, and as an extension, any speech which does not violate other's rights must be allowed free expression.

So the judge's problem is that he's too specific - a problem that often comes up in law, by its very nature. Humans have a fundamental right to property, and that presumes any use of that property which does not violate another's rights. No, you don't have a fundamental right to own a cow, you have a fundamental right to property of any kind.

Since drinking unpasteurized milk does not violate another's rights, then by definition, it is protected under the right to property. Farms should be able to sell unpasteurized milk to people who want to buy it. We used to do that when I was young, and it was great stuff.

The judge here is seeing only trees instead of the forest, and making his decision based on specific trees. The truth is, property rights protect our ability to act freely in an economy, choose our own destiny as far as we are able, and act autonomously from government interference.

All of the erosions on property rights we've experienced in America (and around the world) come from well-meaning people who are trying to protect us, for our own good. None of them come from a desire for liberty, because these regulations, laws, ordinances, and rules all come from people are are convinced that we're all idiots and they are wise and enlightened and must protect us from ourselves.

Every time some government official comes up with a rule that limits your free expression of the right to property, they do so out of a desire to make you safer, to help you, and to save you from your own self-destructive, unenlightened stupidity. Incrementally, step by step, each rule might seem reasonable to some degree, but build up until the chains start to bind you too tightly to ignore.

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