Aren’t There “Public Goods”?
At For the New Christian Intellectual, we believe there should be no such thing as “public property.” There should only be private property.
Public property causes many problems, because it is arbitrary and cannot be objectively defined, nor objectively enforced.
For a hint on why this is true, consider the abuse of so-called public property over the past several years in American cities and schools. So-called public property tends to be taken over by those who know the least about what is good for “the public.”
We could argue this position in more detail, but we’d like to handle an objection. Many in the National Conservative movement respond to the our pro-individual-rights position by asking: But aren’t there any “public goods”?
Our answer: Yes.
We do not believe property should be public. But not everything in a society is reducible to property. We are not materialists.
With our position on private property we are defining the government’s role in society. The government’s role is, in a sense, reducible to private property.
We still can, and do, acknowledge that there are common goods (such as the preaching of the gospel) that are objectively and commonly good for all. But we do not see that as a role for the government.
We are not ruling out the idea of “common goods.” We are calling for people to make a decision about what the government’s role should be.
We agree with Paul and Peter that the government exists to praise the good and punish certain kinds of evil (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2).
As a point of additional clarification: We do not believe the government should “promote the good” in any sense broader than the above limited role. The government should not be building dams, moon rockets, or libraries. The government should not be “rewarding” people for good behavior, as if they are children.
In fact, it is exactly for the sake of the “public good” that government needs to get out of the business of “helping.”
Do you agree with our position? Or where do you draw the line?
As you’re thinking this through, make sure to ask:
- What’s the principle?
- What’s the standard?
For our short excerpt video on the topic, click here:
The above video is an excerpt from our full episode. You can find the full episode here: