Absolute Property Rights

I often talk about the idea of absolute, or inviolable, property rights. Theft is wrong, whether it is a pickpocket on the street taking your wallet or the state taking your home under the guise of eminent domain. Funny enough many people will criticize the idea of absolute property rights because they lead to cases like this:

A property owner has ended living in the middle of a new main road after she refused to move out when developers started construction.

Hong Chunqin, 75, and her husband Kung, who live in the two dilapidated buildings with their two sons, had initially agreed to sell the property in Taizhou, in east China’s Zhejiang province and accepted £8,000 in compensation.

But then she changed her mind and refunded the money once work on the road had started.

She and her family are insisting they be allowed to choose where they are relocated to and have installed CCTV cameras to stop the developers from trying to demolish the building illegally.

In the People’s Republic of China, during most of the Communist era, private ownership of property was abolished, making it easy for residents to be moved on – but now the laws have been tightened up and it is illegal to demolish property by force without an agreement.

Property owners in China that refuse to move to make way for development are known as ‘Nail Householders’ referring to a stubborn nail that is not easy to remove from a piece of old wood and cannot be pulled out with a hammer.

What critics of absolute property rights see as wrong I see as a beautiful thing. Is it ironic that such a thing is now occurring in a communist country while property is often scarfed up by the state in the United States under eminent domain? Regardless, not only is this happening but it’s happening frequently enough that there’s a term for it. Some may think of these “nail householders” as annoying individuals who stand in the way of “progress” but I see them as heros who are refusing to bow down to the will of large development firms.

If you want my property you can have it, for a price. That price is my choosing and if you don’t believe it is worth the price then you can go without. Likewise, minus any contractual agreement, if I change my mind before we trade the goods I am well within my rights. It’s great to see some kind of acknowledgement of such rights in the world and it’s funny that those rights aren’t being recognized in a “free” name such as the United States but in a “communist” nation like China.