Friday, July 23, 2010 12:00 pm | By Anthony Lizan
President Obama recently launched the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, asking for comments on what the administration can do to promote outdoor conservation. From what we’ve seen in the past, whenever the Democrats talk about “conservation,” they’re really asking, “how can we take more land for the federal government?”
If President Obama really wants to promote outdoor conservation, he should create more opportunities for private ownership and respect individual property rights. People who have a vested interest in something, whether it’s land or an iPod, are more likely to take care of it. Land ownership naturally creates incentives to protect the property.
We see examples of this all over the world. Niger for instance, is much greener now because the government allowed citizens to own trees. According to the New York Times,
"From colonial times, all trees in Niger had been regarded as the property of the state, which gave farmers little incentive to protect them…But over time, farmers began to regard the trees in their fields as their property, and in recent years the government has recognized the benefits of that outlook by allowing individuals to own trees. Farmers make money from the trees by selling branches, pods, fruit and bark. Because those sales are more lucrative over time than simply chopping down the tree for firewood, the farmers preserve them."
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Landmark Property Rights Case Comes to an End
Monday, July 19, 2010 3:32 pm | By Anthony Lizan
In what he termed a “bittersweet” victory, the grandson of late property rights advocate, Dorothy English, received a $1.15 million settlement from Multnomah County in Oregon. Mrs. English, the PR icon who bravely fought against government land abuses died at the age of 95, several years before her case could be settled.
The right to use ones property—both physical and intellectual—is a natural right which the Framers gave special protection to in the Constitution. This respect for property has lead America to be the richest and most prosperous country in history. The Framers understood that freedom means nothing if the fruits of ones labor could be expropriated at the whim of a powerful politician or bureaucrat.
Dorothy English understood this too. When she tried multiple times to develop her land, she was denied permits because the government rezoned her property into a protected commercial forest. As PRA noted earlier, the government has a long history of using environmental regulations to effectively seize private property for “public use.” As Mrs. English put it, "My lawyer researched it and found there were 61 regulations against my property—61!" Yet, instead of just lying down, she took action.
English became the face of a popular voter initiative, Measure 37. The Measure forced the government to either waive regulations, or provide compensation to land owners whose property values have decreased because of said regulation. It passed 61% to 39%. English became the first person to file a claim under the new law.
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BREIN: Digital Piracy's Worst Nightmare
Friday, July 16, 2010 12:48 pm | By Anthony Lizan
The BREIN vs. Bit Torrent battle can rightfully take its place in the hall of fame of epic smack downs. BREIN—a Dutch anti-piracy organization—managed to take down 422 illegal websites over the past six months. In comparison, the U.S. has taken down nine since the announcement of Operation in Our Sites. The news has left many in the torrent world crying like babies.
Yet this isn’t BREIN’s, which is Dutch for Protection Rights Entertainment Industry of the Netherlands, first major victory. According to TorrentFreak, BREIN shut down 393 illegal torrent sites in 2009. This is an impressive record and should be a model for those who combat piracy for a living.
BREIN’S success isn’t surprising when one takes into account the country that it operates from. According to the 2010 International Property Rights Index, the Netherlands ranks 4th out of 125, a clear indication of the strength of its intellectual property rights protection. The country is a haven for the most creative and innovative as a result.
What’s fantastic about BREIN’S strategy is that it is expert at keeping its efforts from the news and other media. This has prevented criminals and their allies from warning illegal sites that they are being monitored. The U.S. should follow suit.