The Rights of Property


Lewis Lapham sums up the Bush administration in the March issue of Harper's:

In every instance, and no matter what the issue immediately at hand, the bias is the same–more laws limiting the rights of individuals, fewer laws restraining the rights of property.

Lapham is right about the need for laws restraining the rights of property. Just the other day, my coffee table tried to change the channel on my TV set, and my desk chair seems to think it can roll wherever it wants. Next thing you know, the kitchen appliances will be getting uppity.

Seriously, does anyone really still talk this way? How does Lapham imagine that the right to free speech, say, could be exercised without property? By reciting articles from memory while standing on the street? And does Lapham imagine that "the rights of individuals" protected by the Fourth Amendment have nothing to do with property? How would he describe "houses, papers, and effects"? What does he make of the word property in the Fifth Amendment?