Property Rights are Positive Rights
I have seen many libertarians argue that needs like food, healthcare, and shelter aren’t rights because they require something from someone else. According to these people, these are “positive rights” and don’t (or shouldn’t) exist. Only “negative rights” where people don’t interfere with you, truly exist.
I most often see this argument made by anarchists and minarchists, when arguing why redistribution of resources through taxation (ex. through welfare or social spending) is wrong.
Here’s the major problem that I see with this argument. Property rights are positive rights themselves. Property rights, especially as they relate to land and natural resources, require that everyone who isn’t the owner give up their rights to hunt / gather / otherwise extract resources from the land.
During hunter / gatherer times, humans had the right to use whatever land they wanted to feed and provide for themselves. If an individual in today’s world owns no property, they have lost that right to hunter and gather using the land entirely. Property rights require individuals and society to agree to give up that right. In the same way, a right to food that is provided by way of taxes on property requires that individuals give up some of their money.
It’s clear that property rights have a huge benefit for society, and that they should exist. That much is obvious to me. But property rights are not negative rights.
Curious to get thoughts on this….
Article from r/Libertarian: For a Free Society