The policy chapters have long been my favorites to discuss in class. I’ve never really probed why, but I suspect it’s because they animate additional personality traits within me.
I have to restrain the cynicism and sarcasm since government policy, by definition, means politicians messing with the topic of the happiest chapter we cover: growth.
There is nary a downside to economic expansion. It means prosperity. Rising incomes. Technological advance. More leisure. More arts. It’s a virtuous cycle.
There are a few basic things though, that government can, and should do to foster growth. Enforcing private property rights is one of them
That’s why it’s been disheartening to discover the rampant tendency of some elected officials, and candidates for office, to prop up their campaign signs without seeking permission from property owners.
There are fundamental constitutional and human rights issues involved.
Property rights are a key underpinning of the “right … to be secure in (our) houses … against unreasonable search and seizure.” There are also first amendment concerns.
Imagine you’re not engaged in the political process.
When you work, have kids to raise, are active in your church, or maybe have a side-gig, the last thing many of us want to do in our free time is tune in to a bunch of smooth-talking, fake-grinning politicians trying to sell us a load of doo-doo, arguing with each other all the way.
Reading a book, playing music, gardening, running, poking yourself in the eyes … almost anything is more preferable.
We call it rational ignorance in class.
How would you react if one morning you awoke to find a campaign sign in your yard? Worse yet, what if you ARE engaged, and it’s for a candidate you do not support?
Not only has your property been trespassed upon, and arguably defaced, but the expression of your values has been hijacked and misrepresented.
The cynic might say these candidates have actually displayed how well-qualified they are to carry out elected office in the manner to which we’ve regrettably become accustomed.
To add insult to injury, property owners spend a couple hundred dollars to have the signs removed. That’s time and money that could have been spent bolstering the community.
Having your own property, or even a domicile you rent, is the key to security. From that derives stability, and a greater ease to go about making a meaningful contribution to society by maximizing your talents and ambitions.
Sometimes that means developing your property to meet the demands of those who want to trade with you the product of their own toil.
A candidate for public office wantonly driving a stake into the land of another, or affixing their sign to their fence, may not seem like a big deal. In fact, it betrays a disrespect for our fellow citizens.
Long ago a buddy joked that it’s better to do and ask forgiveness, than ask permission and risk being turned down. Politicians very rarely ask forgiveness because, in their world, when their heart is in the right place, they think they did no wrong.
Look where that’s gotten us.
Christopher E. Baecker manages fixed assets at Pioneer Energy Services, teaches economics at Northwest Vista College, is a board member of the Institute of Objective Policy Assessment, a member of the San Antonio Business & Economics Society, and a candidate for San Antonio City Council District 6. He can be reached via his website or Facebook