Private property

Good fences make good neighbours. — Robert Lee Frost.

The recognition property solves the conflict that arises over the control of any good that may have alternative uses.

Private property goes hand in hand with the concepts of rights, freedom and peace:

Rights are abilities that must be respected. They are natural in a civilized society, conscience senses them.

Property is the right of exclusion over a scarce resource. It is the standard from which all other rights are derived; if not, rights would become fuzzy and contradictory.  

Everyone has the right to preserve and enjoy his property, which is his own life and those belongings acquired peacefully.

Respect for life begins with the recognition that each person owns his body. Self-achievements are also an essential part of life; so when people is able to keep and use the fruits of their labor (i.e. anything acquired through voluntary exchange, production or homesteading), then life is considered more just. Justice is that condition in which rights are being respected.

Freedom is the free disposal and use of private property.

One person's rights imply negative obligations for other people: “live and let live”. 

Rights don’t imply positive obligations, i.e. rights don’t imply the duty to act, because if they did they would violate freedom. “Laissez faire, laissez passer”.

Nothing that requires the labor of others is a human right; for example, there is a moral obligation to help the needy, but the needy has no right to force others to help him.

The recognition of private property leads to the non-aggression principle and the self-defence right, which establish that violence is only justifiable as a defense against aggression.


Both claim that violence is never justifiable, except in defence against an aggression. “Don’t tread on me”.

Trade thrives on respect for private property and induces social cohesion through spontaneous cooperation.

Free trade is God's diplomacy and there is no other certain way of uniting people in the bonds of peace. — Richard  Cobden.

Trade turns strangers familiar with each other, while creating benefits for honest participants and disincentivizing hostiles attitudes.

It is almost a general rule that where there are mild customs, there is trade and that where there is trade, customs are mild. — Montesquieu noticed in 1748. 

A man without a smiling face must not open a shop— Chinese Proverb.

Frederich Bastiat warned that “when goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will”. Denying the possibility of voluntary exchange is banning the only possible way to acquire other people's goods peacefully.


Beyond ethics, private property’s recognition facilitates economic development by enabling economic calculation and by incentivizing the creation of value.

Economic calculation:


Economic freedom and sound money are essential conditions for the existence of a reliable price system. Prices enable the quantification of value by comparing the scarcity of any good with the scarcity of monetary units, so the price system works as a mechanism for communicating dispersed information about economic goods.

The accounting of revenue and cost makes possible to estimate profits and losses, which informs the providers of goods whether they are creating more economic value than they are destroying.

Profit compared to the total value of the used tools, is called interest or profitability.

Profitability guides the assignation of resources and activities, attracting entrepreneurs to expand those sectors with higher interests; therefore in the long run, and in the absence of coercion, no economic sector tends to earn more per unit of value.

Incentives for the creation of value:

Private property incentivizes a culture of long-term orientation. The search for a higher interests lead entrepreneurs to accumulate capital, experiment and cooperate to better compete in the task of satisfying consumers' desires. Economic development is then a natural consequence of private property. 

Virtually all economic growth comes from innovation. New technologies, new habits, new ideas are what drive up living standards. Innovation is the parent of prosperity but it is the child of freedom.  Matt Ridley.


Economic growth is a scarcity liberating mechanism, as it makes abundant what was considered scarce before. It implies that the availability and quality of goods are increasing, i.e. the standard of living is improving, so real incomes rise. 

Private property also implies responsibility, which promotes self-monitoring and the maintenance of resources.


Dignity: quality of that which deserves respect, i.e. of who has rights.

Conscience: inner voice or intuitive feeling about what is right.

Aggression, violence: the use of physical force.

Coercion, domination: intimidation. The use of violence or the explicit threat of it to obtain compliance.

Trade: set of voluntary exchanges.

Market: an area where trade takes place.

Price: an exchange rate denominated in monetary units.

Income: amount of goods obtained per unit of time.

Savings: non-yet spent income. 

Capital good: a tool. Anything that satisfies a different end than the leisure of its consumption.

Investing: the exchange of savings for capital goods.

Entrepreneur: person who manages and combines capital goods.

Businesses, companies: association of people to impulse a common economic goal. 

Wealth: availability of economic goods.