Understanding The Myth of Private Property Ownership

HouseinHand-largeWhy are we so driven to own stuff?   Stuff which just accumulates and fills up our lives with worry and regret?  Well you see, the desire to consume things has been programmed into us from the womb, and this is unfortunately how we measure success.  We are conditioned to measure the worth of people in society by what and how much they own.  Case in point, what do you think of when you hear that someone died penniless?  Were they lazy, were they on welfare, were they an addict, did they go to Vegas two days before they died and blow it all?  Maybe, maybe not.  What I have come to realize is that the less you own, the more free you are.  Now I am not advocating that I want to be completely free, by not owning anything, because I admit, I am interested in building wealth.  However, I am interested in building wealth, not out of a desire to accumulate stuff, but to obtain the freedom to choose how I want to spend my time on earth.  Having wealth and multiple income streams allows you the freedom to choose if you want to spend your days working or say, volunteering.

So, that brings me to home ownership…

Owning a home is perceived as one of the hallmarks of a free society.  Being able to buy a piece of land, control it, rent it, produce income from it, is a pillar of freedom.   But do you really own it when you are taxed for inhabiting it, or are you simply a tenant on your own land?  Well, as homeowners, we do have property rights, we can improve it, rent it, transfer the rights to our heirs, all of which gives us the feeling of ownership, or the illusion of ownership. But in reality, we don’t  own the property we make those mortgage payment for.

I say this, because if your having to pay taxes on your land then you really are just renting it from the government.

Back in the day when kings ruled, the king lived in a castle, and he would allow surfs or peasants to live on his property, while they farmed it.   For them to be able to live there, they had to pay remuneration in the form of taxation.  Today, the king doesn’t live in a castle, but they do live in Washington DC.   Modern day kings don’t  physically come take your property, if you have forgotten to pay your taxes, they outsource this duty to the DEA, The ATF, or your local sheriff. They use the collection company called the Internal Revenue Service, to determine your tax liability, and assess you accordingly.  So, you tell me, If you are required by the force of law to pay taxes, do you really ever own your property?  In my humble opinion, I say no.

To Add Insult to Injury….Eminent-Domain

The US Constitution grants Congress the right of eminent domain. This means that the government owns all property and you only possess it until the government “needs” it. The government is obligated to make “just compensation” for property it takes, but is itself the final judge of what ‘just compensation’ means.  What it boils down to though, is we have to live somewhere.  Maybe the key is to not get too attached to our homes and other stuff, which complicate our lives and ultimately limit our freedoms.


What are your thoughts on Home Ownership?


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  1. I am getting mixed feelings about home ownership these days. I love being able to change anything I want, but with the powers of HOA’s these days, those freedoms are being taken away. I am not allowed to rent my house because too many already rent theirs. I can only build a certain fence type because they want to keep the neighborhood a certain look. It irritates me and when we purchase our next home, we will have to consider these issues.

    • Jim says:

      Great points Grayson, yea unfortunately these boards are a microcosm of what goes on in DC. It is almost like they have to justify their positions by making regulations and curbing our freedoms. What happened to the days when you could have your car on blocks in the front yard if you wanted to, I miss em!

  2. You forgot to mention that the “needs” part of eminent domain is also vague. And has at times included things like needing the land for a business under the guise of economic development. See Kelo vs New London, then get very mad.

  3. Sadly, I agree with you. It is especially maddening because property taxes are often so high.

  4. You bring up good points. It is very similar to serfs being allowed to inhabit the kings land for a tax of what they grow. Plus, even if you’re mortgage free that doesn’t mean you can’t lose your house because of back taxes or other issues.
    I suppose it’s really all in how you view the world.

    • Jim says:

      Well said, unless they make owning a home tax free, we will never really own it, because it can always be taken from us!

  5. I couldn’t live in an area or community that belonged to an HOA. After investing all my money they want to tell me where I can park, what I can and can’t do with my house, sod that! I do like home ownership and yes it’s like renting your own house so the faster we own it outright the better for us. Less interest to the banks and that keeps us happy. Taxes are taxes…. we all hate them but we do we do about it… if you want to live in your own home it’s part of the deal I guess.

  6. Jim says:

    Yea unfortunately we need to afford certain things like a police force, fire department, dog catcher. But do we really need to have our tax dollars go to a new stained glass window in the courthouse, cant we just board it up? Its easy to spend someone else’s money and that’s the issue I have!

  7. Interesting analogy. However, we get services in exchange for taxes. Policing, enforcement of property rights via the judicial system, usually roads, sewers and the like. You could consider it rent (economic rent) on the other services or treat land as a perfect complementary good.

    • Jim says:

      Well land is a complementary good or a tradeoff, but inevitably if you avoid paying taxes it becomes property of the municipality.

  8. Great post, Jim, and you are right on. In our old suburbia neighborhood, there were rules about where you could store your garbage can, for pete’s sake. Yes, ownership of a home here in the U.S. doesn’t really exist anymore, sad to say.

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