Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It’s About Time; It’s About Space

The mayor of Baltimore has been criticized for suggesting that the rioters be given “space to destroy”.  The idea is that human life is more valuable than property, and that looting and burning should not be crimes punishable by death. 

To me this illustrates one of the fundamental economic errors of the left whether socialist, fascist or crony capitalist.  Property, private property is an essential.  Humans need food, tools, shelter, clothing, and energy in order to survive.  I own a house and a few acres of land, vehicles, equipment and tools.  I traded something for all those things.  It is the one thing of value with which I was born.  It is my time.  I have an expectation of roughly 70 or 80 years on earth.  I’ve been working for wages for forty years, but I’ve been working since I was a little kid, big enough to carry a bucket of feed down on the farm.  I earn money based in part on my education, an education I acquired by trading my time.     

It’s true that sometimes we inherit money or property, but there is still no such thing as a free lunch.  That property was acquired – generally, by someone who sacrificed his or her time in order to have something to pass on to their descendants.  Non-productive citizens, e.g., welfare queens and politicians, live on someone else’s time.  The state takes a portion of what I acquire by the sacrifice of my time, i.e., my life, and uses it for various purposes as it sees fit.  Some of those purposes are necessary and broadly beneficial.  Some are wasteful and directly detrimental. 

One of the things the state is supposed to do – I would say, is obligated to do as part of the social contract, is protect me and my property by enforcing laws against violence, theft, and destruction.  It appears to me, more and more, that the state is failing rather miserably to meet its contractual obligations.  If I cannot have a reasonable expectation of security for my property then we have a problem. 

“Reasonable expectation” is key.  It would be unreasonable for me to expect the police to prevent every potential crime.  However, when crowds are turned loose to steal and to commit arson, that, too, is unreasonable.

It is certainly true that a human life is to be given priority over property.  If a house catches on fire, the first thing, before worrying about possessions, is to get all the people out.  Even the lives of my pets are of greater worth to me than a lot of my possessions.   

But if someone decides to set my house or my business on fire, even if I'm not there, they are destroying a part of my life that I cannot get back.  Someone might say that is silly because your property is insured, and you will receive compensation and be able to restore what has been lost.  That may help, but it is hardly a solution.  Everyone who is a client of that insurance company loses because of my property being destroyed.  Pieces of their lives disappear and cannot be regained.  I also lose time in rebuilding and restoring.  If it is a business, I have also lost potential revenue, which, again, is a loss of my time to try and regain.  I may have to work longer and retire later to make up the difference, giving me fewer years to enjoy in leisure with my family.   

Money lost and property lost -- whether is it my directly owned property or my money or it tax money or insurance -- it's all time lost.  Time lost is life lost.  That is taken from the time I or someone has here on earth to do what we want to do.   

It's easy to say we should all share and that there is plenty for everyone so long as we keep the debate on dollars and cents and resources.  When we start talking about it in terms of the time it takes to build, to rebuild, to clean up, to earn, it's different.  


  1. It's always good to remind ourselves of the bigger picture.

    You'd think they would teach this stuff in school wouldn't you, but that presupposes educators consider this to be important.

  2. It does seem like something people ought to know. I'm baffled sometimes.

  3. After denying thatshe said that, the mayor of Baltimore thentried to blame the media for twisting her words.
    After that failed, she claimed that what she said is not what she meant.

    However, based on her orders to the cops to "stand down" last Monday, it's clear that she meant precisely what she said about giving the rioters space to destroy (and police bones to break).