Sunday, October 3, 2010

Private Property Means Exclusive Use

In my Principles of Microeconomics class, I explained last week that all economic policy has an ethical component, so to get policy right it behooves us to understand the ethics of property. While explaining my take on the Christian view of property as it applies to economic policy, one point I like to stress is that private property means exclusive use. The property owner is able to use his property as he sees fit (as long has he does not try to use it to agress against someone's property).

As I explain on page 82 of my Foundations of Economics, this principle of exclusive use is taught in the Bible in the account of Peter's rebuke of Ananias and Sapphira found in Acts 5:1-11. As I explain
In Acts 5, Luke documents the demise of Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit. and his wife sold a piece of property and asserted they were giving all of the proceeds to the Church in Jerusalem, all the while holding back some of the revenue for themselves. The Apostle Peter confronted saying, “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:4). Peter expressly says that their property was theirs to do with as they saw fit.

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