In Butler Shaffer’s 2009 book, “Boundaries of Order: Private Property as a Social System,” he very interestingly analyzes the essence of private property, challenging the reader to consider the boundaries of property, and whether without control of your property you can properly claim it as yours. He rightly declares all political systems as violators of private property, differing only in whether claim or control violations predominate.  

In chapter 5 of Shaffer’s book, he begins to relate the concepts of claim and control over property to political systems.  He writes: “To comprehend the meaning and importance of these concepts (property claim and control) is to understand how respect for the inviolability of our lives and other property interests is what human liberty and social order are all about, and why all political systems are at war with individuals concerning these factors.”

Continuing:  ”Political and other social systems are defined by how property is owned within them.  Every political system owes its existence to some degree of collective claim over property, for each form of government is only a variation on the theme of how authority over property is to be exercised by the state.  The claim element is murky for one major reason:  the state could not exist in an environment that recognized an unrestrained right of private ownership.  Politics is unthinkable without property trespasses and takings.  For the sake of their very survival, political systems must convince us that ‘property rights are not absolute.’  On the other hand, the authority of the state to define the limits of our ownership interests is regarded as absolute!”

Here then is one of Shaffer’s finest moments: “Because every political system is grounded in certain assumptions about how property is to be owned and controlled, how we resolve the claim question tells us whether our lives are to be individually or collectively directed.”  ”Liberty, then, is defined not in terms of how much property you own, but how much authority you exercise over what you do own.”

Shaffer provides us a context for an accurate examination of scams the “state” inflicts on us.  Let’s begin with the taxpayer-funded outfit called “i2E,” here in Oklahoma, one which gives stolen taxpayer money to selected cronies then teaches them how to steal more taxpayer money at the federal level.  Many of the start up companies i2E funds are bioscience firms whose principles risk taxpayer money (with i2E’s help) for their private benefit.  I would think any legitimate entrepreneur who has risked their own money/livelihood would find this arrangement obscene.  David Thomison, vice president of i2E investments was quoted in a recent article in “The Oklahoman:”  ”We liked the concept (….he is talking about a venture by Moleculera Labs…) but the original business plan, which called for $2 million to build a lab when the bench lab test hadn’t yet been proven to scale, was too risky to interest investors.”  In other words, there was no market for what they were doing.

I think that Shaffer helps us see that having lost control of their property, the “investors” who found this too risky wound up funding it anyway!  Unable to find investors, Moleculera turned to the “state” to abscond with the hard-earned wages of all taxpayers, including those who originally thought it was too risky.  This is simply the robbery of crony capitalism, no matter what they are doing in their lab.  I’ve often said, I really don’t care what a mugger does with my money.  I just care that I’ve been robbed…of property and control.   

Jonathan Small of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs has sarcastically remarked that somehow the economy can’t be stimulated by people spending their own money, that the government must rob us first, then their spending, only theirs, seems to always be viewed as an economic stimulus. Shaffer’s writing has allowed me to better recognize the significance of this shift in control of our property.  How many times have we recently heard how the Obamacare Medicaid expansion will stimulate the economy and create jobs?  Sheri Stickley, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Bioscience Association, has written that the National Institute of Health research funding stimulates the Oklahoma economy with $82.5 million in grants to Oklahoma cronies in 2011 alone.  Neglecting to address this “loss of property control” concept renders the amount stolen from the taxpayers by the National Institute of Health to “stimulate the economy,” a mere detail.  

Using Shaffer’s analysis, we can also easily see that just as tragic as the taxes imposed by Obamacare, particularly the taxes imposed if one doesn’t buy insurance, is the loss of control over how your property will be used.  This loss of control is usually accompanied by some government apparatchik saying in some veiled way that the government knows best how to allocate your property (money) and they should be trusted to do that and without question.  Once we cede the control of our property to the “state,” how much the government absconds with is a calculation made entirely on their end.  Shaffer’s book has made this much more clear to me.

G. Keith Smith, M.D.