It is sometimes suggested that the Founders did not consider property rights important because the term “property” was mentioned only once in the Constitution.
The truth is that the Founders were concerned about a range of human values, but property rights were high on their list. Their Constitution and Bill of Rights protected property in many ways:
* The Founders were worried that Congress might use the tax system to loot property owners in some states for the advantage of other states. Accordingly, they required that direct taxes (mostly importantly property and income taxes) be apportioned among the states (Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 and Article I, Section 9, Clause 4). They also required that indirect taxes, such as import duties, be levied uniformly (I-8-1 and I-9-6). They flatly denied Congress power to tax exports (I-9-5).
The Constitution and Property Rights – Tenth Amendment Center.
January 2010 saw my first attendance at the annual event in Washington DC promoted by American Land Rights Network. This year’s event(s) was entitled The Clean Water Restoration Act Briefings and Reception. I found the trip to be more than worthwhile for a number of reasons. I am really grateful for those who made the trip possible. The group is by invitation only. I already received my invitation for next year.
Background: For those who do not know the Clean Water Restoration Act is an attempt to federalize all water by taking out the word “navigable” from the previous provisions. If CWRA passes in its current form even the puddle or wetland in your backyard becomes a matter for the Corps of Engineers to regulate. Current regulations restrict enforcement to point-sources (sewage treatment plants, discharges, e.g.). The CWRA would strip that restriction and bring federal control to ANYTHING that might pollute a watershed directly or indirectly. Since everything affects a watershed directly or indirectly this is an enormous reach for power.
Briefings: I have been asked to protect the names of those staffers who came to brief us on what was happening with the Clean Water Restoration Act. We were given information on who was making good or bad things happen as well as who was preventing good or bad things from happening. This information really helps to know where the levers are when it comes to trying to accomplish something or block what is undesirable. At the moment the bill has not been reintroduced. This may be due to the fact that educational efforts on what is in the bill are eroding support even among those 158 who originally signed on as co-sponsors.
Networking: Probably as important as any information given or received at the event(s) was the networking with other property-rights minded people from around the country. These included veterans who have been in the battle for many years as well as relative newcomers to the fight.
I met folks from Virginia, New Mexico, Rhode Island, New York, Colorado, Vermont, Minnesota as well as staffers from both the Senate and House who are allies in the battle. Most of the folks from around the country are just like me. Most of them have seen too many freedoms erode. Some can point to ways they have preserved some of our freedom by their enjoining the property-rights battle.
Strategy: Our strategy on the CWRA is simple enough. We are to make sure that everyone knows this bill is not about restoring clean water. The more we show members of Congress and Senator the true language and nature of the bill the better chance we have of keeping this deceptively named bill from becoming law.