Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and most other Democratic presidential candidates proclaim support for either outright socialism or policies that are very much like socialism in nature. At the very heart of all of these policies is a diminishment of private property rights.
The founding fathers of the United States understood that the right to acquire property and the right to use that property as wished where two of the most important God-given natural rights, rights that were essential for this nation to be both prosperous and free. That was a frequent topic found in their writing.
John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and the rest of the founding fathers of the United States received a great deal of their education about the essential nature of private property rights from John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government. Here is a quote from Ch. V, sec. 27. As you can see from this quote, money earned in the form of wages is one of the most crucial forms of private property. It was written in 1689 and it is also the work that influenced the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution the most.
Every individual man has a property in his own person. this is something that nobody else has any right to. The labour of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are strictly his. So when he takes something from the state that nature has provided and left it in, he mixes his labour with it, thus joining to it something that is his own; and in that way he makes it his property. He has removed the item from the common state that nature has placed it in, and through this labour the item has had annexed to it something that excludes the common right of other men: for this labour is unquestionably the property of the labourer, so no other man can have a right to anything the labour is joined to—at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others
This quote from chapter 5 of Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith makes it absolutely clear that the money paid to an individual to perform work is the same as the labor itself and both are the property solely of the individual. Progressives do not understand that at all.
Labour was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all the wealth of the world was originally purchased; and its value, to those who possess it, and who want to exchange it for some new productions, is precisely equal to the quantity of labour which it can enable them to purchase or command.
John Adams had this to say about the importance of private property when he wrote The Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States in1787.
Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty. Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present possessors. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted. What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them. The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet,” and “Thou shalt not steal,” were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.
Thomas Jefferson wrote this about property in a letter to Samuel Kercheval
The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management.
In this quote from a letter to Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours, Thomas Jefferson echoes John Locke.
A right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means with which we are endowed to satisfy these wants, and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the similar rights of other sensible beings.
Milton Friedman had this to say about private property in the interview “Free to Choose”: A Conversation with Milton Friedman
I think that nothing is so important for freedom as recognizing in the law each individual’s natural right to property, and giving individuals a sense that they own something that they’re responsible for, that they have control over, and that they can dispose of
Here is one last quote on this subject, this one from the essay Will Property Rights Return? written by my favorite author Thomas Sowell
Both free speech rights and property rights belong legally to individuals, but their real function is social, to benefit vast numbers of people who do not themselves exercise these rights.