THE INTERIM IRAQI CONSTITUTION & PRIVATE PROPERTY:
CAN IRAQ SUCCEED WITHOUT PRIVATE PROPERTY PROTECTIONS?
By Cheryl K. Chumley
How then, does Iraq, based in part on months of influence from America’s best and brightest, choose to advance this fundamental human right of property ownership in its interim Constitution? It currently is the Law of the Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period. It does so by asserting in Article 16, Sections A, B and C: “Public property is sacrosanct and its protection is the duty of every citizen.” That’s public, not private property.
Is this what we’re patting ourselves on the back for helping develop? That first and foremost, a citizens’ duty is to protect public land? This is what Secretary of State Colin Powell called “a day reflecting a bright future for the Iraqi people.” Have we forgotten that without private property protections, no other civil rights can exist?
Without the protection of private property, freedom to practice one’s religion, speak without fear, live where desired, maintain personal privacy, and operate a business in a profitable manner are all jeopardized. That’s because all these activities take place on land and once government owns land, it has control of what can and cannot occur on the property.
This is not an insignificant issue. Consider the western portion of the United States of America and the very large proportion property that is already under government ownership and control. Consider the estimated 75% of Utah property that is owned and/or controlled by state and federal government entities. Look at the 95% of Alaska land that is deemed off-limits to private ownership and development. Look at the recent successes of radical environmentalist organizations like the Sierra Club and Audubon Society, which work to advance the United Nations goals of “sustainable development.” "Sustainable development" means controlled “Smart Growth” and Wildlands Project agendas that unequivocally state that humans are destructive to nature and need to be corralled into small, government-managed areas so that the salamander and bear can roam freely.
This is how we as a nation are relinquishing our private property rights and continuing the betrayal of Founding Fathers, who knew the importance of land rights and stated so inarguably in the Fifth Amendment: that “no person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”
As Adams warned, failure to protect private property rights results in tyranny. As a nation, we are forgetting this warning, and are allowing our God-given rights to be transferred to government hands, controlled and doled as a favor or reward for "political correctness." We are forgetting to such a degree that we not only seek to undo the hard-earned protections of our nation’s founders, but now are also spreading this watered-down interpretation of basic human right to other countries. And congratulating ourselves in the process.
It is true that Sections B and C of Iraq’s interim Constitution do guarantee that “the right to private property shall be protected,” that “no one may be prevented from disposing of his property except within the limits of the law,” and that owners will retain control of their lands, except in cases of “eminent domain, in circumstances and in the manner set forth in law, and on condition that he is paid just and timely compensation.”
However, as Patrick Basham, senior fellow for the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute, suggests: “The headline rhetoric looks good, but the devil’s in the details.”
How, for example, can this private property safeguard be taken seriously with so many references and promises of laws-to-come that will ultimately clarify the manner in which property can be disposed and grabbed? It’s these references, along with the curious inclusion of unnecessary gender-specific pronouns that should strike ominously at the hearts of private property protectionists.
It’s the Iraqi document’s lack of mention of free market principles, the cousin of private land rights protections, that should also come as a warning of our nation’s changing belief system -- from constitutional republicanism characterized by majority rule with protection of minority rights, including private property rights, to majoritarian tyranny, statism, and socialism -- as we not only dismiss the decimation of our own capitalistic roots, but also applaud the spread of a fated “equality for all” economic system elsewhere -- an economic system that destroys incentives and has ultimately failed wherever it has been tried.
This new Iraqi constitution, in Article 25, gives the Iraqi government “exclusive competence” to “formulate a general policy on wages.” Article 14 advances this tenet of socialism further by recognizing the right of the individual to government-provided economic security, government-controlled education, socialized medical and health care, and the benefits provided by a comprehensive and all-encompassing social welfare state. The Constitution goes on to say the government “shall strive to provide prosperity and employment opportunities to the people.”
What all this means is government imposition of wage controls, an expansive social welfare system, government-controlled education, and a government that professes its duty to deliver this quality of life and equality of prosperity to all its citizens. This is not hopeful for private property advocates living in Iraq -- those who dreamed of the wealth that could be generated with property and business ownership, but who will soon find their newly elected government officials struggling to realize the promises of this very expensive socialist or statist economic and social system. They will, of course, turn to thoroughgoing governmental regulation and confiscatory taxation as the answer.
To honor the commitments promised in this interim Constitution, desperate politicians will have little recourse but to enact eminent domain provisions in the futile belief that controlling land and therefore business will somehow provide the money for the guaranteed benefits. Reversion to dictatorship – tyranny, as Adams put it – seems imminent.
Official US support of such a system of governance reflects how far we have strayed from our Founding Father’s principle -- the absolute protection of private property.
Perhaps we should not be surprised then if history remembers March 8, 2004 not as Powell depicted, the beginning of Iraq’s “bright future,” but rather as a day of infamy, marking the start of a failed Bush administration nation-building policy that was sadly based on our own deviated, hypocritical interpretations of freedom -- a policy that resulted in a slow return to oppression of the Iraqi people.
The Problem of Rogue States:
Iraq as a Case History
The Middle East & the Arabs
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three Page Two Page One
War & Peace in the Real World
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
U.S. National Security Strategy
Cheryl K. Chumley is the Associate Editor of the American Policy Center’s News Wire. The American Policy Center is a grassroots, activist think tank headquartered in Warrenton, VA. It maintains an Internet site at www.americanpolicy.org.
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