Property Matters: How Property Rights are Under Assault--and why You Should Care
What matters more, spotted owls or the right to cut timber on your own land? Who has a greater right to use the water of the Colorado River - California farmers, Denver housewives, or white water rafters? How do we protect computer software copyrights from piracy by hackers in Beijing? James DeLong argues that the nature of property has evolved far past the ability of our legal and political systems to cope. Using case studies and anecdotes drawn from all areas of everyday life - from copyright and trademark protection to the fights over water rights in New York, California, and elsewhere - DeLong recounts numerous horror stories about government abuses of property owners and their rights. These conflicts, he argues, are the result of the woefully inadequate structure of our laws, as well as a lack of respect for the private ownership of property. What is true for land can become true for intellectual property. Can makers of computer software be forced to donate their product to "worthy" (as defined by the government) causes? Can the courts mandate that attorneys donate a percentage of their time to representing indigent clients? These scenarios may seem far-fetched, but they are grounded in the same logic as the laws protecting endangered species and wetlands: that collective welfare often requires government to regulate, allocate, or confiscate resources. It is only a small step, DeLong argues, from applying this standard to physical property to extending it to intellectual property. Broad application of this anti-property ideology is giving birth to a diverse and powerful populist political movement, one that unites small landowners, knowledge workers, conservationists, andlibertarians with a common interest in protecting their property rights from arbitrary takings - whether the adversary is the federal government, the judiciary, or big business. DeLong shows how this burgeoning movement, a key component of the coalition that elected a Republican Congress, will redefine political alliances over the next decade.
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