The slow death of private property

The part-nationalisation of Britain’s banks represents a further extension of state power and the erosion of private property rights. There is a huge danger that under political influence the banking sector will be compelled to pursue socialist objectives rather than maximise returns for shareholders. 

This development would be less worrying had it been an isolated example. However, the erosion of private property rights has been a long, gradual process. World War I played a key role, leading to a step-change in the role of the state and a huge expansion of its powers.

Taxation has been gradually extended ever since, particularly through the expansion of the welfare state, and now takes about 45p of every £1 earned (including indirect taxes). This in itself undermines private property, since the state takes a large share of any income earned from it and will confiscate property if tax is not paid.
 
The de-facto nationalisation of land, or at least development rights, with the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act was another important step. Owners were no longer permitted to use their land as they wished (subject to common law restraints on nuisance and voluntary restrictive covenants etc.). Instead government technocrats would direct land use centrally in a communist-style system.
 
Equality laws, whether based on gender, race or disability, have also undermined private property or, at the very least, freedom of contract. They have given government the power to enforce access by various groups. Yet it is impossible to impose equality laws without engaging in unfair discrimination. For example, disability rules have discriminated against certain businesses, forcing them to pay out for wider doorways, lifts and ramps. For the first time, the Disability Discrimination Act had retrospective effect in this respect.
 
However, there has been something more pernicious about recent acts by this government to undermine private property. The nationalisation of both Railtrack and the banks seemed to come about after government incompetence (or deliberate policy) undermined their values so that they could be bought on the cheap. And regulation has increasingly been used to move control of private property from the private sector to the government without any compensation. One of many examples is the ban on smoking in private pubs and clubs - a policy which has already led to the closure of many businesses.

I’m Portuguese, so that, I don’t know all about all British equaly laws, but there is something I know: stop discrimination is not a threat to private property. Stop discrimination is a way to improve a country’s freedom. If you are talking about those laws that force an employer to pay the same salary to an Indian that he pays to an English worker, I agree with you. But if you are talking about laws that improve the same rights in society, I’m sorry, but you are wrong. Maybe I missunderstood, that’s a possibility.Beside this, I subscribe the whole text, congratulations.By the way, forgive me if my English is not so good, I’m not used to…Best Regards

I agree that anti-discrimination laws (relating to building regulations etc) do not necessarily undermine property rights in a significant way if they relate to future building (and I can understand why somebody would support them – though I remain a sceptic). But forcing people to adapt existing builidngs, at great expense, even if they never have disabled visitors is a different matter. In the UK many public toilets have been demolished because it is too expensive to adapt them. Thus older people with weak bladders (which is a disability of sorts) but who are otherwise not disabled have lost a facility. It is a wierd logic that says if it cannot be used by all then it cannot be used by any.

Hi all,It gets rather disturbing at times. But, you should have been more concerned with the attacks like in the USofA with emminent domain breaches, rather than a little bit of nationalization, here and there. If any thing, the tax payers will get the short end of this, as nationalization–state control– in the western models “both Anglo-Saxon and Western EU variants”, will be short term at best. Also, with the current waves of immigrants, state control, is not likely to be beneficial to any government in the long run. At least, not beneficial to folks who know their history and dare not to repeat it. Best,Yourihttp://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com/

I’m Portuguese, so that, I don’t know all about all British equaly laws, but there is something I know: stop discrimination is not a threat to private property. Stop discrimination is a way to improve a country’s freedom. If you are talking about those laws that force an employer to pay the same salary to an Indian that he pays to an English worker, I agree with you. But if you are talking about laws that improve the same rights in society, I’m sorry, but you are wrong. Maybe I missunderstood, that’s a possibility.Beside this, I subscribe the whole text, congratulations.By the way, forgive me if my English is not so good, I’m not used to…Best Regards

I agree that anti-discrimination laws (relating to building regulations etc) do not necessarily undermine property rights in a significant way if they relate to future building (and I can understand why somebody would support them – though I remain a sceptic). But forcing people to adapt existing builidngs, at great expense, even if they never have disabled visitors is a different matter. In the UK many public toilets have been demolished because it is too expensive to adapt them. Thus older people with weak bladders (which is a disability of sorts) but who are otherwise not disabled have lost a facility. It is a wierd logic that says if it cannot be used by all then it cannot be used by any.

Hi all,It gets rather disturbing at times. But, you should have been more concerned with the attacks like in the USofA with emminent domain breaches, rather than a little bit of nationalization, here and there. If any thing, the tax payers will get the short end of this, as nationalization–state control– in the western models “both Anglo-Saxon and Western EU variants”, will be short term at best. Also, with the current waves of immigrants, state control, is not likely to be beneficial to any government in the long run. At least, not beneficial to folks who know their history and dare not to repeat it. Best,Yourihttp://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com/

I am blind and a guide dog owner. The Disability Discrimination Act (now the Equalities Act) made it an offence for a service provider, such as a restaurant owner/manager to refuse to admit a blind person accompanied by his/her working guide dog. This enhanced the freedom of disabled people such as myself and is wholly justifed in that those who provide goods and services to the public give up some of their liberty by virtue of the fact that their premises are availible to members of the public. A civilised society should do all it can to limit discrimination.

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