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STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Are We Still in a Feudal System of Property?
By Joe Jarvis - March 04, 2017

Do you own property? How does it feel to have a piece of land that is yours, that no one can take from you?

Unless of course, you don’t pay your yearly rent, or rather property tax, to the town.

And then of course the government could always just take your land for “public use” providing “just compensation,” a price which will be decided by the government.

Oh and the government could also steal your land for private use, because they decided “public use” can include tax revenue gained from the land.

And if you are suspected, not convicted, of a crime, governments in many states can take your land through civil asset forfeiture.

Do you have water on your land? Even a drainage ditch means the EPA really owns it.

Private property means sovereignty for the individual; something the power elites cannot stomach.

Government Can Take Your Land

You are probably familiar with Kelo v. New London, the 2005 Supreme Court case in which a woman’s dream home was stolen from her using eminent domain, authorized by the Fifth Amendment. Her property was handed over to the private corporation Pfizer. Since the corporation pays higher taxes, that was considered public “use” of the land.

Basically the bigger the business, the more land they can steal, authorized by the federal government.

Some states, like Indiana, strengthened laws to prevent this from happening.

But if there is one thing government is good at, it is being creative in their oppression.

Charlestown Indiana is trying a new tactic: fine private property until the owners can hardly afford to live there. Then, waive those fines if they sell their property to a developer.

The fines are issued for things like tall weeds in the yard, torn window screens, and chipping paint. The fines are usually $50 per day after assessment, and the residents usually won’t receive them immediately. So when the city issues three fines, and notifies the homeowners five days later, the homeowner owes $750 in fines immediately, increasing by $150 per day, unless they sell their home to the developer.

Did I mention this is a low income neighborhood filled with retirees?

Feudalism Reorganized

Bottom up approaches mean freedom; individuals control their property, which they organize into larger voluntary groups controlled by those individuals. But feudalism was the opposite. The King owned all the land, and awarded some to the Lords, who likewise reigned over the serfs.

Originally America was supposed to resemble the former, where individuals had the most power over town governments. Local officials then controlled state government, which controlled federal government. Now it is the opposite, where the feds issue orders to the states, and the states control the towns.

And each government really controls all the land in their territory, and graciously allows us peasants to rent it from them, unless and until they decide to take it back.

The big question many have is, if the government cannot steal private property for actual public use, then how would we get projects like roads done? This is just like the Kings used to provide roads, and the Lords protection. We need them, right?

But in a non-feudal system, our “superiors” would have to offer actual just compensation. How can the government consider something just compensation if the owner of the property gets no say in that? The government somehow comes up with a market value, but that is not necessarily the same as the value to the homeowner.

Real just compensation is whatever the homeowner will accept. At some point, Kelo would have sold her property, she just hadn’t been offered enough money yet. If Pfizer really wanted it that bad, they could have offered her $1 million for a $300,000 house. If she still said no, up the price until she says yes! How bad does Pfizer want her land?

Would highways have been way more expensive to initially build? Probably. But why are highways immune from economics? Maybe they weren’t worth the price, which includes the oppression and precedent of kicking people out of their homes for the greater good!

Maybe some better form of transportation would have been born out of free market economics. Instead it is taken for granted that highways and roads are a good thing. Yet we are still burning fossil fuels to get places, and allowing the economic waste of individual car ownership.

We are now stuck in an outdated transportation system; just one of many bad result from not having ownership over “our own” land.

Marx Would Be Proud

Private property doesn’t really exist in America, seeing as local, state, and federal authorities can tell you what you can and cannot do with it, as well as charge you money for occupying it.

These authorities can also use various methods to take the land from you altogether. Even if they give you what they decide is “just compensation” it still means the land is not owned by you, because you have no say in whether or not to sell the land, nor in the price.

Hopefully we can work towards a private property system where individuals actually own their land. And then, they would have actual control, like sovereign nations, over their land, and over how they interact with their neighbors.

Do you think we can (or should) get their in our lifetimes? Comment what you think.

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  • Doc

    The issue about who is to build roads if not the government is a really ignorant one.

    In Sweden, a very leftist place, the majority of the kilometers of roads in the country are privately built and run by the local community. Every year even more kilometers of roads and bridges are built privately for snowmobiles. No tax, no force, just people getting together.

    People used to work where they lived, even in the same house. So why do most of us have to travel and commute every day?

    Politically motivated zoning laws? Taxes making smaller scale production unaffordable? Centralization of political power to certain places? Corporations growing large due to their legal status?

    I’d say it’s mostly due to politics. I believe the best way to get rid of the problems on the roads is to stop forcing people onto them.

    Why debate who is to provide for roads, tunnels and bridges nobody really would want under normal circumstances? That is just playing into the hands of our overlords.

  • georgesilver

    “Hopefully we can work towards a private property system where individuals actually own their land.”
    Not a chance. Might always wins. When you buy property you are only purchasing the sole right to use it.
    The “right” to own property is a double edged sword. You could have a situation where one person owns every piece of land or property. With this thinking and the Mises Institute that would seem to be fine.

    • Doc

      I’m with you. There are other ways to deal with land property, but some people seem to be very closed minded.

      For example, in the Nordic countries there is the old everyman’s right and freedom to roam etc, but it comes with responsibilities as well. These aren’t desktop fantasies, but ancient ways of handling land property in a civilized and inclusive way.

    • Col. Edward H. R. Green

      “You could have a situation where one person owns every piece of land or property.”

      Absent any cronyism, i.e. those in government coercively protecting a politically-favored person or persons from competitive bids for land; and absent other coercive government restrictions that artificially increase or decrease the price of land (e.g. zoning laws), this situation would be extremely unlikely.

  • ED.F

    Totally agree,WE Americans own no land!
    The idea of land ownership is just another confidence farce to keep the masses happy and brainwashed so we do not start revolt,,,as is money!!
    The Bundy story in the western U.S. is a perfect example in which the people’s took up arms to fight the Fed.,that was a very interesting event of which the MSM totally misreported as usual.
    In my neck of the land,(Long Island) if I want to cut down a dying tree I need to file for a permit,even though this tree is becoming hazardous.Then the town wants me to get an inspector who wants to charge me $100 to tell me my tree is dying after I already told them that in the first place.its pathetic.
    But when the town wants to cut trees ,which they do(30-40) trees at a clip, on town roads which have been deemed new commercial routes of which have public homes bordering these roads, where the trees provide much shade and noise buffering,also astetic beauty,to people’s properties, these trees are hacked down without A peep of information from the OFFICIALS..I can say the people’s including me were infuriated over this event.
    Of course we had no say in the matter,tough crap!!
    So my question is, who in the town office has FRIENDS who work in the tree dept.
    This is just one simple explanation of GOVT. OLIGARCHY which will most likely stay the same.They know the public is too busy working,trying to live comfortably due to some of the HIGHEST TAXES in the country,too put up a battle.
    And believe me,I do not live in a mansion,but I do love my country and will live the rest of my life here,but Our govt. is out of control.This is why Trump won!
    Can he change things?,,I think, not much.Time will tell ,,if I ever vote again..

    • john cummins

      FakeOwnership

  • ICFubar

    No one today ‘owns’ their land upon which their house sits. The land under your name, when all claims such as mortgages and liens etcetera are extinguished, is registered as ‘in fee simple’, which means it can be expropriated or seized for non payment of taxes. To actually own the land your property would have to registered as ‘in fee simple absolute’ which is no longer extended to the common person. All this formalizing of title comes down to us from feudal times when the ruling monarch would give land to nobles for services rendered. often in the ‘absolute’ form.

  • LawrenceNeal

    Are We Still in a Feudal System of Property? We are still in a feudal system of rule, by the .001% Elite, the 400 families that own almost everything in the US, including the Wall Street scam, the Federal Reserve Counterfeiting scam, the Too-Big-To-Fail Bankster scam, and the so-called ‘government’ scam. Democracy is an illusion used to mollify the masses. Parties, candidates, campaigns, and elections are an illusion used to distract and divide the masses. Regardless of who ‘wins’, the true power rests with the Elite, who proceed, above and beyond elections. Politicians are owned and are merely front men. The Elite are our defacto feudal Lords.

    • Landhoa

      Hasn’t anyone ever heard of Allodial title? Everyone needs to know what it is. It is still on the books. check it out. http://www.teamlaw.org

    • john cummins

      Thanks for getting the percentage right, for once. I get so sick of hearing about the 1%, thanks for correcting things.

  • You’re right, of course. And besides that simply “owning” a home is not that, it is even more of an insult when one has a home with an “association” to whom one pays a membership fee. That amounts to a rental payment, in my view, and not much better than buying a mobile home and paying space rent. Things don’t work in the interest of a free people when they are sold on such ideas as the American Dream (corrupted), as well as the idea that our very lives and maintenance of same come from the medical system. Those things are connected inasmuch as those who have health insurance can lose their homes to the medical system that they are pretend-insured against. The truth about these things is apparent, but clouded by marketing done by those who reap the fruits of the system.

  • Kim Chul Soo

    This article is right on the mark and one of my pet peeves. Of course you are right concerning America but is this nightmare true for the entire rest of the world?

  • thefinancedude

    the external worlds are a mirrored product of the collective internal States of its participants…

    until “Man” achieves mastery over the individual, internal State – we are bound to the collective, external State of confusion…

  • James Richard

    The property taxes also benefit developers by dumping the burden of infrastructure on property owners. They do not have to bear the burden of new schools, roads, services,etc. The already existing property owners are left holding the bag.

  • LawrenceNeal
  • Djangosdad

    In today’s world, with the level of infrastructure, schools, police and firefighting that people have decided they want in their towns and cities (most of that is approved by levies), property taxes are the way our society has decided to pay for it. It could be done through an income tax, sales tax, poll tax or any number of other taxes but property taxes are the way it is done. Sure, you can lose your property if you don’t pay taxes for three years but you can also lose your property if you don’t pay income taxes, get divorced, lose a lawsuit, fail to pay the mortgage, etc. Simply not carrying enough liability insurance could lead to losing your property in the event of a serious accident occurring on the property that is your fault. If not foreclosing on one’s property for lack of paying taxes, what other method would be more fair? Do we just let certain people not pay their property taxes, with no consequences? Does the very fact that we can lose our property through any number of faults of our own mean that we don’t really own the property?
    Eminent domain is usually very fair to property owners in that they most always get paid more than the property is worth. Everyone has observed situations where large blocks of usually decrepit old houses sit undeveloped and unchanged for decades. That is because it takes tremendous effort for a developer or city to purchase all of these lots in order to redevelop them into a higher and better use. All it takes is one or two homeowners to hold out and nothing gets done. Or worse, you end up with developments surrounding and engulfing a few small homes that would not sell. This is in no ones best interests. Kelo was not a bad decision because it allows economic development, even when done by private developers, to be considered in the public interest and therefore subject to possible eminent domain. I would rather have eminent domain for private economic development than for bike lanes, parks, that always cost more than the benefit received. Far worse than ED are all of the regulatory takings (wetlands, setbacks, critical areas, etc.) for which usually there is NO compensation from the government.
    England, I am told, places a much higher property tax on buildings that are in bad repair. This encourages upgrades and conversions to higher and better uses.

    • Col. Edward H. R. Green

      Your entire statist argument in defense of government control and consequent factual ownership of all land and its improvements (houses, etc.) and the reduction of all people to the status of slaves to those in government and their beneficiaries fails because, as is typical with such arguments, it is based upon collectivistic premises, i.e. it treats groups qua groups, e.g “society”, “the public interest” as if they were metaphysically real entities with “rights” and “interests” of their own, independent of and superior to individual human beings and their personal interests.

      Only individuals exist, only individuals have legitimate rights–including private property rights–and only individuals can benefit in ways that they personally (subjectively) value.

      This being reality, there is nothing whatever “fair” about eminent domain because it forces a person to surrender his property to the government and its beneficiaries. Any “compensation” that government offers him is not “fair” either because he isn’t free to refuse it and keep his property because he values it more highly than any amount of money offered for it. Moreover, due to the fact that the government obtained the money that funds the “compensation” via coercive taxation, whoever agrees to receive it is the recipient of stolen property. In the case of eminent domain, this makes its target both the victim and the beneficiary of theft, a profoundly morally hazardous situation.

      “Does the very fact that we can lose our property through any number of faults of our own mean that we don’t really own the property?”

      No, it does not mean that.

      Absent all of the coercive devices by which government controls the land and its improvements and natural resources and thereby can take it away from us, one would be its factual owner enjoying unconditional, unrestricted allodial property rights.

      In the context of these rights, if we harm anyone, we might have to sell our property to make restitution to our victims.

      “Everyone has observed situations where large blocks of usually decrepit old houses sit undeveloped and unchanged for decades. That is because it takes tremendous effort for a developer or city to purchase all of these lots in order to redevelop them into a higher and better use.”

      For a government to purchase them is detrimental to everyone within that government’s jurisdiction because it obtains the money with which to purchase them by robbing everyone in it via coercive taxation.

      A private party often will not buy them either because the price of the land is artificially high due to the back property taxes added to the market value of the land, or there is insufficient market demand for what the developer has in mind to do with them, or the land they stand on.

      ” All it takes is one or two homeowners to hold out and nothing gets done. Or worse, you end up with developments surrounding and engulfing a few small homes that would not sell. This is in no ones best interests.”

      False.

      In the context of allodial property rights, this would not be a problematic situation. Plenty would “get done”, for those who freely consent to sell would do so; those who value keeping their property no matter what the are offered for it would be free to continue enjoying their ownership of it, even if surrounded by other developments, a situation that they find satisfactory–i.e. in THEIR best interest–for if they didn’t they would have sold their property (remember, value is subjective). They or their heirs would sell it to someone who considered it in HIS best interest to live in a house surrounded by developments.

      “I would rather have eminent domain for private economic development than for bike lanes, parks, that always cost more than the benefit received.”

      Again, in the context of allodial property rights, your subjective preference for private development would be satisfied as would the preferences of others for bike lanes and parks. Both, and much more, including wetlands, setbacks, etc., would exist in harmony with everyone’s rational best interest, i.e. their legitimate individual rights (self-ownership; self-governance; peacefully, freely, and consensually-acquired private property regardless of the amount; privacy; self-defense; freedom of speech and conscience; freedom of association and contract).

      Eminent domain and coercive taxation are acts of theft. They are legalized theft, but theft nonetheless. They are not legitimized or transformed into something that is not theft by means of laws, or propaganda, or arguments fallaciously appealing to alleged “authority”, or fictive collectives (“society”) and their associated floating abstractions (“public interest”).

      • Djangosdad

        My dear Colonel, eminent domain is enshrined in the constitution and came to America via common law. The question then is not whether eminent domain is constitutional when used for public purposes (e.g. roads, bridges, etc.) but rather whether the Kelo decision allowing ED for private, third party, purposes was appropriate. You rarely hear of anyone getting stiffed on their ED payout, at least in recent history. Payouts are typically very generous and the pressure for them to be generous is even greater when the purpose is for private uses.
        I’m not in complete agreement with Kelo but clearly, in some cases, it can be argued that it is in the public interest to use ED even if for private interests. It should be a local decision and should probably have to go through a public vote in order to proceed, certainly for large scale projects. I voted against a proposal in Seattle in the 90’s that was going to create a huge public park in south Lake Union. It was a huge overreach and a good thing that it failed. It is now headquarters for Amazon and many other companies and it was done privately (OK, a billionaire named Paul Allen bought up all the property and made it happen but that worked out great for all the property owners in that area).
        ED should be very selectively and rarely used if at all possible, on that we can surely agree. My larger concerns are the regulatory takings that depreciate property values on truly impinge on our property rights, and unlike in ED, the government pays you nothing for those continual “partial” takings.

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