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America’s Founding Fathers understood “property rights” were essential to creating a nation which valued personal freedom and individual economic independence.
The reason we have a representative democracy – was the fear that in a true direct democracy, you have majority or mob rule – in which self-interested majority groups seek to oppress less powerful minority groups.
Representative democracy and our system of checks and balances between branches of government was specifically chosen to protect individual rights.
Property rights protections were placed into not one, but 3 Amendments in the Bill of Rights.(III,IV,V)
Philosophical Foundation of Property Rights JOHN LOCKE – Two Treatises of Govt. Property enables humans to store the value of their labor – as much right to own, use, control these assets – as they do their own person. Natural Rights Theory – our American mantra of Life, Liberty, Happiness is based on the theory that every human being has a natural, God-given right to “life, liberty and property.” ADAM SMITH - Wealth of Nations In general, nations where every individual has the right and opportunity to own private property are much wealthier collectively than nations which do not. Not only is the general economic output great, but social and human welfare is also greater.
The Importance of Property Rights Property Rights provide the foundation for individual economic opportunity and drives our local, state and national economies.
Property Rights Built Florida Property rights provided Florida’s pioneers, from our early cattleman to our citrus growers, from visionaries like Henry Flagler and Walt Disney, to today’s entrepreneurs re-developing our major city skylines – with the opportunity to build their individual dreams.
Disturbing political shift in economy – directly relates to private property ownership America public policy is taking a dangerous tilt toward policies more in line with socialist or “common ownership” political models… All political systems being discussed at the national level (i.e…capitalism, socialism, communism) relate to who controls private property assets. Regulations and “permitting” convert private property to public/collectively owned property – if political elites or the public controls the use of the property. Regulations are a strategy supported by environmental leaders who know they cannot currently afford to purchase all of the land they desire to place into conservation. Regulations which diminish usage rights, devalue the property, making it more affordable for government or green-movement purchases.
Encroachment by Government During the past two decades we have seen an unprecedented erosion of Property Rights at the Federal, State and Local Levels.
Serve as a resource for property owners and the media
Coordinate with like-minded trade groups and professional associations
Current Threats External Threats: Increasing Regulation at the Local, State & Federal Level No Regulatory Relief in sight - despite Recession &Declining Revenues Legislative Efforts to Provide Relief – SB 360 – Blocked by Executive Branch - DCA Chief Tom Pelham Lack of cultural education of the importance of property rights and the economic value of specific industries Amendment 4 – the “Hometown Democracy” amendment could be the nail in Florida’s economic coffin.
Current Threats Internal: Lack of unity among property owners and a lack of political organization (offense/defense strategies) Failure to recognize the dangerous “dampening effect” on our local, state, economy – if economic trends continue, there will be a point at which land owners cannot afford to the defend their rights. Failure to recognize that liberal activists and well-funded environmental groups are “making the time” and using the power/funds of government to advance their cause. Failure to understand that policy decisions are strongly influenced by the numbers of grassroots activists willing to communicate – ask/encourage/protest/place pressure on elected officials/hold them accountable. In 2009, polling and grassroots communications are critical influences on public policy.
Florida Hometown Democracy Current Status: Approved for the 2010 General Election Ballot Proposes all comprehensive land use change requests be put to a public vote or referendum. Dubbed the “vote on everything” amendment. Proponents of this referendum have initiated this bill under the guise of “Hometown Democracy” and say they are simply allowing the people a greater voice on the issue of growth management This measure will greatly discourage investment in Florida and have a horrific impact on Florida’s economy. Could very well represent the nail in Florida’s economic coffin. Thousands of comp plan amendment changes are filed every year, because people either have future land use labels which don’t match their zoning – or are seeking to change the label assigned by government to match market demand. It would turn all land use decisions into political popularity contests – owners would have to run costly campaigns if they wanted to use their land. We might see large homes on large lots approved, but many of the practical uses we need in our communities – gas stations, apartments, land fills, aggregate mines, and even churches - would have a very slim chance of approval.
Reasons to Oppose Hometown Democracy It is an anti-property rights amendment. Its aim is to strip private land owners of the ability to use their land in the manner of their preference. It will cost Florida jobs - Many of your jobs or the jobs of your friends and neighbors are dependent on growth projections relative to Florida’s Economy. It will trigger a hyper-devaluation and hyper-inflation among existing land uses. Florida’s depressed real estate market needs no further instability. Rural landowners could see hyper-devaluation. Hyper-inflation might sound good if you have a land use designation in high-demand, but only if you intend to sell, otherwise, you may be stuck with higher valuation and higher tax assessments – which is what has occurred in some areas of California’s real estate market. Taxes – If new growth and Florida’s economy slows to a halt – the taxes of existing residents will be expected to rise. It is a deceptive SCAM –aimed at convincing Florida voters to vote away their individual private property rights – so that the special interests who proposed it can have their personal vision for Florida’s future imposed statewide.
Opportunities Florida business and property owners can influence regulation IF they will get engaged and participate in larger numbers (i.e…Lake County, New Smyrna Beach). The political process is a “tug-of-war” – side with the greatest number/greatest political strength generally wins! It is very rare that any local or state government body ever votes against a packed house. Hometown Democracy referendum must garner 61% of the popular vote. Opposition through early education and communication – as well as significant investment should it earn a place on the 2008 ballot – may keep their vote margin under 61%.(History of referendum in Florida shows when there is a strong opposing force, referendum rarely surpass 60% approval - example the 61% requirement was opposed and only passed by 58%.)
Opportunities There is a current vacuum in the public debate – on property rights – and the general “growth” issue Current national and state economic downturn – and pain - may provide a unique opportunity to reframe and recapture the debate if citizens and business leaders get fully engaged in the political debate and to help educate policy makers on truly meaningful ways to encourage economic growth – if citizens will “take ownership” of our nation’s future. Ample opportunity for individual and industry participation in the public debate. Join CPR – and add volume to our collective voice!
Coalition for Property Rights www.proprights.com