-"Property rights are central to freedom and prosperity," write Hoover fellows Terry L. Anderson and Laura E. Huggins in Property Rights: A Practical Guide to Freedom and Prosperity (Hoover Institution Press, 2003).
"Be it property rights to one's self (human capital), one's investments (physical capital), or one's ideas (intellectual capital), secure claims to assets give people the ability to make their own decisions, reaping the benefits of good choices and bearing the costs of bad ones."
The idea that property rights provide the foundation for a free society has long been understood. To those who penned the Magna Carta in England, as well as to the American Founding Fathers who drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, protecting private property was of utmost importance.
"Since the American Revolution, the United States has experienced economic growth and individual freedoms unsurpassed in world history," write Anderson and Huggins. "Despite living in an era of triumphant capitalism, however, property rights are still threatened by a variety of state, national, and international forces."
The U.S. Supreme Court, for example, recently dealt property rights protection a significant setback in a case concerning property near Lake Tahoe, ruling against landowners and holding that they were not entitled to compensation for losses caused by regulatory restrictions.
Although the Tahoe case pales in comparison to some of the takings by tyrannical governments in other parts of the world, it illustrates the necessity of vigilance and of understanding the relationship between secure property rights and a free society. This book seeks to explain the crucial connection between secure property rights, freedom, and prosperity. Drawing on the thoughts of various philosophers, political thinkers, economists, and lawyers, the authors present a blueprint for the nonexpert on how societies can encourage or discourage freedom and prosperity through their property rights institutions. They detail step by step what property rights are, what they do, how they evolve, how they can be protected, and how they promote freedom and prosperity.
About the Authors
Terry L. Anderson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. The author or editor of twenty-four books, Anderson also serves as executive director of the Political Economy Research Center in Bozeman, Montana.
Laura E. Huggins is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
The Hoover Institution, founded at Stanford University in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the 31st president of the United States, is an interdisciplinary research center for advanced study on domestic public policy and international affairs, with an internationally renowned archives.