Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Ownership Society

There are many, many things that I like about living in Kentucky.  The people are friendly, the landscape is beautiful, and the bourbon flows like water.  There are, however, some things that I could do without; the regular appearance of the Confederate Battle Flag, for example.  Proving that things could always be worse, The N.Y. Times reports that in Charleston, the the Sons of Confederate Veterans are planning to throw a "Secession Ball" in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War,.  The organizer of the ball, Jeff Antley, says:

“We’re celebrating that those 170 people risked their lives and fortunes to stand for what they believed in, which is self-government,” Mr. Antley said. “Many people in the South still believe that is a just and honorable cause. Do I believe they were right in what they did? Absolutely,” he said, noting that he spoke for himself and not any organization. “There’s no shame or regret over the action those men took.”

I think that we, as property professors have a special duty to stand up to this rubbish.  When folks honor the Confederacy, they are not honoring something fundamentally decent but tragically flawed.  They are not honoring some lost "history" or the bravery of Southern soldiers. They are celebrating an ideology founded, almost solely, on the ownership of other people.  In pure property terms (setting aside the moral arguments), there is no greater crime than robbing someone of the ownership of their labor - it's what gives us our incentive to work hard and improve our human capital.  Those who wear Confederage flags and dance at Seccession Balls deserve our scorn and scholarly outrage.

Steve Clowney

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Amen, Steve.

Though I might quibble about whether there is a greater property crime than robbing someone of their labor, there is no doubt that slavery is the greatest property-related crime (I just suspect something that is deeply proprietary but even more fundamental than labor is stolen through slavery).

Regardless, these celebrations deserve disgust, and I think we as property professors have a special obligation to express it.

Posted by: Mark A. Edwards | Dec 1, 2010 2:40:29 PM

Thanks, Steve. I also agree. My only quibble (or gloss) on your statement is that the pro-Confederacy activities may also have a more contemporary political purpose: to keep alive and press the "states' rights" anti-federal government agenda.

Posted by: Tim Iglesias | Dec 2, 2010 9:51:10 AM

A comment to all of ya'll that agree with this "clown"-ey.
9/11- A Good Start.

Val Green
Blair, SC

Posted by: Val Green | Dec 5, 2010 6:46:21 PM

'Val Green' is showing her true colors. Mostly orange, apparently.

Posted by: Mark A. Edwards | Dec 5, 2010 10:49:31 PM

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