Talk:Private property

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I've added a definition section, and a significant section on the purpose of private property. This is my first attempt at creating what is substantially an entire article from whole cloth, and so I expect it can benefit from a great deal of constructive criticism. In particular, I'm working to develop citations, which are skeletal at best, at present. (Most of this is material I learned during the course of my own education in economics and the law--it's pretty fundamental stuff, and so not the kind you'd generally attribute to any particular source.)

I also deleted a couple of sentences that erroneously suggested that private property cannot be held by more than one person. In fact, there are several kinds of joint property recognized in Anglo-American law. I suspect the author meant to distinguish private ownership from, for example, nationalized property, which, in theory, is owned by the public at large, which, of course, is a valid distinction, but the statement as written was inaccurate. User:QBeam 3:45 EST, Nov. 19, 2007

Oops, I just realized that my cut-and-pasting didn't copy in the footnotes. I'm out of time at this minute, but I'll add them shortly...bear with me. User:QBeam 3:50 EST, Nov. 19, 2007

Private property = single owner

The definition for private property and ownership type, in American law, DOES state that only one person can absolutely own private property. Any other interpretation is not supported by the authorities.

If you wish to use another law system, please specify it.

--Jetgraphics 16:20, 19 November 2007 (EST)

Joint ownership is a well established aspect of American property law. It is generally divided into two categories: "joint tenancy" and "tenancy-in-common." The principle distinction between the two relates to the rights of the cotenants as against one another. It may be that you're use of the term "absolutely" is calculated to advert to that fact, since, in either case, the cotenants do have at least some duty to one another. That, however, does not render joint ownership something less than (or other than) private property. See, e.g., Joint Ownership and Alienability, International Review of Law and Economics, Vol. 23, No. 1 (March 2003), pp. 75-100. Uswer:QBeam 4:58 (EST) Nov. 27, 2007

You are in error with respect to American law. "Joint ownership" never refers to private property. If I may direct your attention to the LEGAL DEFINITION, estate (real and personal property) is held with qualified ownership by two or more persons OR when the ownership is limited in any fashion. In contrast PRIVATE PROPERTY is absolutely owned by an individual. The U.S. constitution specifically protects private property ownership, while not extending any protection to estate. Similarly, state constitutions delegate taxing power over estate but do not refer to private property. (see Ad Valorem Taxation) As long as you fail to comprehend the distinction, you will mix apples and oranges.

Your comments are sufficiently alien to what I was taught in law school that I don't believe unsourced assertions can advance the discussion any further. If you wish to persist in your contentions, please provide citations to whatever authority you believe support them. Please don't construe this as a personal attack; I'm simply pointing out that it is obvious that we are each opperating from a number of assumptions (or, at least using definitions)that the other does not accept. Rational debate can't procede to conclusions until we are agreed on our premises. User:QBeam 6:35PM (EST) Nov. 27, 2007.
What you were taught in law school and what the law states may well be in conflict. However, if Black's Law dictionary (Westlaw publishing) is not a reputable source, then please present ONE CITATION that refutes it.
You claim private property is NOT absolutely owned by an individual. Westlaw disagrees. You claim "all land" is real estate. Westlaw disagrees. --Jetgraphics 18:58, 27 November 2007 (EST)
--Jetgraphics 18:00, 27 November 2007 (EST)

Socialist entitlements

According to the Congressional Research Service, all entitlements are "gifts" from Congress. There are no property rights (absolute or qualified) in charity from the public treasury. It would be misleading to state otherwise.

--Jetgraphics 16:34, 19 November 2007 (EST)

Biblical source for absolute ownership

I've added this section to augment the importance of absolute ownership. Without a doubt, the average American is kept ignorant of the distinctions of absolute ownership. Substituting joint ownership into the definition for private property is not supported by secular nor sacred authorities.

In Genesis 26-28, man is given dominion over the earth, and all that is upon it. In law, dominion means absolute ownership or sovereignty. Since there can be no collective absolute ownership, the only valid conclusion is that individual men are endowed with the birthright to absolutely own themselves, the fruits of their labor, and that which they harmlessly acquire, including land.

DOMINION - Generally accepted definition of "dominion" is perfect control in right of ownership. The word implies both title and possession and appears to require a complete retention of control over disposition. -Sovereignty; as the dominion of the seas or over a territory. - - - Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Ed., p.486

In other nations, where the people are subject citizens, they may be denied the right to absolutely own. For example, in the British Commonwealth, the monarch is the sovereign, and all property in private hands is held with qualified ownership. Failure to comply will result in loss of property.

--Jetgraphics 16:43, 19 November 2007 (EST)

As I noted above, you're simply mistaken to contend that joint ownership is not a well recognized principle in the American legal system. There was something of a controversy over the concept in the 19th Century, though mostly in Europe, which I believe was largely driven by the role of property ownership in maintaining social class distinctions. See, e.g., Private Common Property Rights, Elinor Ostram, Indiana University, 2000. There is also some academic criticism of joint ownership, because it reduces alienability (thereby increasing transaction costs, and impeding reallocation of property to it's most efficient use). Even at the height of the controversy, though, there has never been any legal bar against joint ownership.
The argument about "absolute ownership" is circular, and, in any event, contrary to the reality of property law. No ownership is "absolute." Much as it galls me, one's right to own property (in both Britain and the U.S.) is contingent upon the continued payment of property tax (in the case of real estate, anyway), avoiding illegal use of the property (in the case of personalty), and so forth. In short, you're venting about how you'd like things to be, rather than accurately describing how they really are. User:QBeam 5:32PM (EST) Nov. 27, 2007
You are mistaken. Joint ownership may be legally recognized. But it is not recognized as ownership of private property. Private property IS a recognized legal principle in American law. Therefore, your conclusions are not supported by the authorities cited herein.
PRIVATE PROPERTY - As protected from being taken for public uses, is such property as belongs absolutely to an individual, and of which he has the exclusive right of disposition. Property of a specific, fixed and tangible nature, capable of being in possession and transmitted to another, such as houses, lands, and chattels. - - - Black's Law dictionary, sixth ed., p.1217
First, do not assume European definitions of land ownership are in force and effect. European nations never recognized absolute ownership of property by commoners. Second, at the founding of the nation, the sovereignty of the people was recognized by the government. Third, sovereignty and property are inseparable. A sovereign without land has nothing to be sovereign over. Fourth, there are NO tax levies on private property. All ad valorem taxes are levied on estate - which is not private property. I challenge you to produce ONE constitutional clause that delegates the power to tax private property in the U.S.A. Fifth, no state requires the recording of private property transactions. Only "real estate" transactions are recorded.
Assuming that "all land" is real estate is not supported by the legal definitions.
LAND. ... The land is one thing, and the estate in land is another thing, for an estate in land is a time in land or land for a time. - - -Black's Law dictionary, sixth ed., p.877
Land can be absolutely owned as private property.
Land can be held with qualified ownership as estate (real estate a.k.a. real property).
Failure to recognize the difference may lead one to make erroneous conclusions.
--Jetgraphics 18:06, 27 November 2007 (EST)


DOMINION - Generally accepted definition of "dominion" is perfect control in right of ownership. The word implies both title and possession and appears to require a complete retention of control over disposition. -Sovereignty; as the dominion of the seas or over a territory. - - - Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Ed., p.486

SOVEREIGN - "...Having undisputed right to make decisions and act accordingly". New Webster's Dictionary And Thesaurus, p. 950.

SOVEREIGN - A person, body or state in which independent and supreme authority is vested... Black's Law Dictionary Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1395.

SOVEREIGNTY - ...By "Sovereignty", in its largest sense is meant supreme, absolute, uncontrollable power, the absolute right to govern. Black's Law Dictionary Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1396.


"Government is not Sovereignty. Government is the machinery or expedient for expressing the will of the sovereign power." City of Bisbee v. Cochise County, 78 P. 2d 982, 986, 52 Ariz. 1

"People are supreme, not the state." Waring v. the Mayor of Savanah, 60 GA at 93.

"The people of the state, as the successors of its former sovereign, are entitled to all the rights which formerly belonged to the king by his own prerogative." Lansing v. Smith, (1829) 4 Wendell 9, (NY)

"At the Revolution, the sovereignty devolved on the people and they are truly the sovereigns of the country." Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 440, 463

These citations show that the servant government recognizes that American people are sovereign over government. And sovereignty and property are inseparable. A king without land is merely a traveling prince.

We can infer that for an individual to exercise his sovereign prerogatives, he must absolutely own his domain. That is why it is a common error to presume that joint ownership or any other form of collective ownership fits with "private property". In fact, any other form of ownership that is NOT absolute nor by an individual is NOT private property. --Jetgraphics 17:33, 19 November 2007 (EST)

Known sources of confusion

To the majority of Americans, the notion that their real estate is NOT private property is immediately dismissed out of hand. However, if one takes the time to investigate further, by directly reading constitutional delegations of authority to tax, and other references to property, one will find that only estate (real estate / real property) is subject to "property taxes".


Georgia Constitution, Art. 7, Sec. 1, Taxing Authority

Paragraph II. Taxing power limited.

(a) The annual levy of state ad valorem taxes on tangible property for all purposes, except for defending the state in an emergency, shall not exceed one-fourth mill on each dollar of the assessed value of the property.

Paragraph III. Uniformity; classification of property; assessment of agricultural land; utilities.

(c) Tangible real property, but no more than 2,000 acres of any single property owner, which is devoted to bona fide agricultural purposes shall be assessed for ad valorem taxation purposes at 75 percent of the value which other tangible real property is assessed.

NOTE: The Georgia constitution only mentions real property as subject to taxation.

In contrast, when referring to private property:

SECTION III. GENERAL PROVISIONS Paragraph I. Eminent domain. (a) Except as otherwise provided in this Paragraph, private property shall not be taken or damaged for public purposes without just and adequate compensation being first paid.

(b) When private property is taken or damaged by the state or the counties or municipalities of the state for public road or street purposes, or for public transportation purposes, or for any other public purposes as determined by the General Assembly, just and adequate compensation therefor need not be paid until the same has been finally fixed and determined as provided by law; but such just and adequate compensation shall then be paid in preference to all other obligations except bonded indebtedness.

NOTE: Private property cannot be taken without just compensation. However, real property may be taken for failure to pay taxes, and no compensation is due.


(a) Taxation shall be equal and uniform.

(b) All real property and tangible personal property in this State, unless exempt as required or permitted by this Constitution, whether owned by natural persons or corporations, other than municipal, shall be taxed in proportion to its value, which shall be ascertained as may be provided by law.

NOTE: The Texas constitution states that all real and personal property is subject to their taxing power.

Interestingly, there IS one brief mention of "private property" in the Texas Constitution:

In Article 11- Sec.12, Texas Constitution


The legislature by general law may authorize a city or town to expend public funds for the relocation or replacement of sanitation sewer laterals or water laterals on PRIVATE PROPERTY if the relocation or replacement is done in conjunction with or immediately following the replacement or relocation of sanitation sewer mains or water mains serving the property. The law must authorize the city or town to affix, with the CONSENT OF THE OWNER of the PRIVATE PROPERTY, a lien on the property for the cost of relocating or replacing the laterals on the property and must provide that the cost shall be assessed against the property with repayment by the property owner to be amortized over a period not to exceed five years at a rate of interest to be set as provided by the law. The lien may not be enforced until after five years have expired since the date the lien was affixed.

Without consent of the owner, the State or local government cannot affix a lien, nor assess against the private property, nor compel repayment. In short, private property and its owner is NOT subject to their authority. However, you may correctly assume that REAL ESTATE owners would not be asked for consent before a lien would be placed against their property for assessments. --Jetgraphics 18:39, 27 November 2007 (EST)

Clarification, please

Can you clarify what this says, and what this means, please:

  • Since absolute ownership is a right, not a privilege, no American government has the delegated power to tax private property.

Rob Smith 16:54, 9 December 2007 (EST)

Based on the Declaration of Independence, governments (in America) are instituted to secure rights (life, liberty, private property).
(Pursuing happiness on someone else's property requires their permission, therefore to fully exercise freedom one must be upon one's own private property.)
Private property is defined as absolute ownership. Ergo, it is not a privilege granted by government, but a preexisting right SECURED by government. From the religious viewpoint, Genesis asserts that God gave man "dominion" (absolute ownership) over the earth. Since it is impossible for a group to absolutely own, it implies individual ownership of the earth - that which each individual acquires by his harmless activities in support of his life, etc. Though "Eminent Domain" is put forth as proof that the collective State has absolute ownership, the caveat is that the government has to pay just compensation. Ergo, the government has a limited claim, under the excuse that such taking is for the collective good, and must provide the owner with compensation. (Estate taken under eminent domain need not be compensated with just compensation, as can easily be attested to by the thousands who have been so dispossessed.)
Coincidentally, if you carefully examine State constitutions regarding their delegation of authority to tax, you will only find reference to "real and personal property" (a.k.a. estate). There is no delegation of authority to tax private property. In fact, if there WAS a tax on private property, and the taxing authority took the property for non-payment of taxes, it would then be liable to pay just compensation to the owner (See Fifth Amendment).
The next question is - Why are people registering their private property as taxable estate? Ask your friendly officer of the court (real estate lawyer) who writes up your title deed, "for $1 in hand..." Then examine the 7th amendment about the requirement that the value in question exceed 20 dollars U.S. before your RIGHT to a trial by jury under the rules of the COMMON LAW are secured. Perhaps "someone" doesn't wish Americans to have any public evidence that they can seek recourse under the rules of the common law.
--Jetgraphics 19:43, 9 December 2007 (EST)

Problems with definitions

I've just read this article for the first time, and find myself disagreeing with key points. How much this is because Jetgraphics (the source of the points I dispute, it seems) is simply wrong, and how much is due to my perspective not being an American one I don't know.

My understanding of "private property" is property owned by persons, whether actual (human beings) or legal (companies), as distinct from property owned by governments. Now that's not necessarily a legal definition, but this article should not be limited to legal definitions. And in this country, what I know as private property is definitely taxed. And in this country, there is no such thing as property that is beyond government reach. Governments cannot resume property without fair compensation, but they can resume property. And control what happens on it.

In American law, non public property can be owned with qualified or absolute ownership. Property held with qualified ownership is estate (real and personal property). Estate is subject to taxation. Absolute ownership by an individual is what the law (American) defines "private property" to mean. There are no taxes levied on private property.
In one sense, that Americans had the right to absolutely own, made America the "Promised Land" to many immigrants. In other nations, they had no absolute ownership (especially Socialist nations). The great tragedy is that since 1935, the U.S.A. has been a socialist nation, and her people unwittingly gave away their precious birthright.--Jetgraphics 10:46, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
Even assuming all that's correct, my point is that this is an American legal definition, which doesn't take into account other countries and popular usage. Philip J. Rayment 05:54, 12 June 2008 (EDT)
I assumed that the use of the American flag on the logo implied "American" focus, ergo, the use of American legal definitions. Other countries do not recognize that their people have the absolute right to own private property. They may defined qualified ownership as "private property", but that's like defining "artificial vanilla flavoring" as equivalent to "real vanilla". Frankly, popular use of a term does not change its legal meaning, notwithstanding what Michael Jackson says. (bad=good) --Jetgraphics 15:40, 12 June 2008 (EDT)
The American flag is supposed to be temporary (although it's been "temporary" for a year), but no, this encyclopedia does not treat the rest of the world as though it does not exist.
Your comment about the "right" that other countries don't recognise is begging the question. As is your example of vanilla. And no, popular use does not change a legal meaning, but there being a legal meaning does not mean that a different popular meaning is invalid. Many words have more than one meaning.
Philip J. Rayment 06:59, 13 June 2008 (EDT)

Also, the bit about what the Bible means has an unstated assumption that, if wrong (as I believe it to be) destroys the argument. The sentence is "Since there can be no collective absolute ownership, the only valid conclusion is that individual men are endowed with the birthright to absolutely own themselves, the fruits of their labor, and that which they harmlessly acquire, including land." (my emphasis). The emphasised phrase is unsupported, unintuitive, and as far as I'm concerned, plain wrong. And if anything, this biblical point says the exact opposite. Because "man" (i.e. mankind or humanity) is given ownership of the Earth, that in itself suggests collective ownership. The disputed phrase is what manages to turn this suggestion 180 degrees to mean the opposite.

When two or more "own" something, there is always a potential for conflict. Therefore it is impossible for ALL parties to exercise ABSOLUTE ownership over property held in common. When two or more have ownership, it devolves into qualified ownership.--Jetgraphics 10:46, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
I guess it depends on what you mean by "absolute" ownership. What you are really saying is that if two people jointly own something neither of those two can claim "absolute" ownership (obviously, because it is joint ownership). But if "absolute ownership" means that nobody outside those joint owners has any say or control over that land, it can surely still be described as "absolute" ownership. Philip J. Rayment 05:54, 12 June 2008 (EDT)
You may as well defined slavery as "qualified freedom" by your skewed logic. --Jetgraphics 15:40, 12 June 2008 (EDT)
Skewed logic? We are free because we are slaves to Christ: Romans 6:22 Philip J. Rayment 06:59, 13 June 2008 (EDT)

Further, whilst I definitely agree that the Bible recognises private property (else laws against theft are pointless), I would also say that the Bible recognises no such thing as absolute right or ownership. Although man has been given the Earth, everything belongs to God, so our "right" to property is actually a right to make use of His property.

Either God gave dominion to man, or He didn't. If God kept ownership then He did not give dominion to man. It may be a popular theme that mankind is merely a steward of "God's Earth", but if you rely upon scripture, God gave it to man, period. Those who wish property owners to meekly surrender their private property may encourage ignorance of absolute ownership, but the law has always recognized that securing property rights is job #1. --Jetgraphics 10:46, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
Yes, God gave dominion to man, but what does that mean? More specifically, what does the Bible mean by "dominion"? Looking up four versions, the AV and Amplified use the word "dominion", whilst the NIV and NASB say "rule over". And one can rule under authority of another. I don't know the precise meaning of the Hebrew word, but so far I see no evidence that the rule over Earth was absolute in the sense that you seem to be claiming. Philip J. Rayment 05:54, 12 June 2008 (EDT)
If you can direct me to the leasing agent for God, I will be glad to sign a lease with Him. --Jetgraphics 15:40, 12 June 2008 (EDT)
That doesn't answer the questions. But try 1_Corinthians 3:23 (NASB). Philip J. Rayment 06:59, 13 June 2008 (EDT)

I would also ask, what if a husband and wife jointly own property? Is it therefore not "private property" because it's not owned by an individual? The distinction is arbitrary and without apparent foundation.

If you examine "coverture", the legal transfer of the wife's property to her husband, you'll recognize the preservation of private property status. Since marriage was the legal joining of two families and their property for the benefit of progeny, coverture (ownership of the family property by the husband) preserved absolute ownership by an individual of the family property. --Jetgraphics 10:46, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
I asked about joint ownership by a husband and wife, and your reply was about ownership by a husband only. However, I guess that the joint ownership question is covered above anyway, and doesn't need to be repeated here. Philip J. Rayment 05:54, 12 June 2008 (EDT)
Finally! You get it. Private property, as defined, is absolute ownership by ONE individual. Joint ownership is NOT private property ownership. To preserve private property status, coverture was practiced. Only private property is explicitly protected in American law. Any other form of ownership is a privilege, subject to the government's authority. --Jetgraphics 15:40, 12 June 2008 (EDT)
Defined by whom? (Other than American law.) Philip J. Rayment 06:59, 13 June 2008 (EDT)

Philip J. Rayment 05:58, 10 June 2008 (EDT)