Monday, November 28, 2005

This Land Is Your Land

It has recently occured to me that the notion of "owning property" in America is now largely an illusion.

I have to replace a fence in my backyard that was blown down by Hurricane Wilma last month. But in order to put a new fence up in my own backyard, I have to first submit a building plan to the city, aquire a set of instructions and codes to which my fence must conform, possibly get another survey done on my property, have the fence inspected, and if the inspector doesn't like it, he can make me tear the whole thing out and start over. This applies to anything I want to build on my "own" property--a shed, a doghouse, whatever.

Also, if the government decides that my trees are a threat (or are near trees that are a threat) to the local citrus business, they can come on my property over my objections and cut them down.

And, if the government decides that it would be better to have a Wal-Mart, or a gas station, or a Sears, or a parking lot on my property, it can force me to sell it to them even if I don't want to.

Somewhere along the line, Americans ceded control of their property over to the government (whether local, state, or federal). It happened easily enough that most people didn't even notice. The result was that you no longer own your own property. You simply posess it at the government's pleasure (though you still have to buy it and pay taxes on it, of course), and when the government's pleasure changes, your title won't be worth the paper it's written on.

It seems to me that the founders of this country really cared about two things: religious freedom and property rights. But it's 2005, so make sure you have your government permit before you display your Diversity Tree in the front window this Celebration Season.

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