785. (4-25-2010) The historical evidence indicates that property can coexist with arbitrary and even oppressive political power, whereas democracy cannot do without it. The symbiotic relationship between property and freedom does not preclude the state from imposing reasonable restraints on the uses made of objects owned, or ensuring the basic living standards of the neediest strata of the population. Clearly, one cannot allow property rights to serve as a license for ravaging the environment or ignoring the fundamental needs of the unemployed, sick, and aged. Hardly anyone contests this proposition today: even Frederick Hayek, an implacable foe of state intervention in the economy, agreed that the state has the duty to ensure for all citizens “a minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work.” (- Frederick A. Hayek – The Road to Serfdom, 1944) But to say this is not to grant the state the authority to use the power at its disposal to interfere with the freedom of contract, to redistribute wealth, or to compel one part of the population to bear the costs of the self-defined “rights” of special constituencies. Limitations on the use of property imposed for public good should surely be interpreted as “takings” and adequately compensated.
- Richard Pipes – Property and Freedom, 2000
787. (4-25-2010) Observe, in this context, the intellectual precision of the Founding Fathers: they spoke of the right to the pursuit of happiness – not of the right to happiness. It means that a man has the right to take the actions he deems necessary to achieve his happiness: it does not mean that others must make him happy.
- Ayn Rand – Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 1966