"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God ... anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist."
-- John Adams
Found in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the guiding principle of the authors of that document was that people should come together to form governments in order to secure their rights to property -- not to create an entity which would take from its own citizens that which they had worked so hard to acquire.
What was wrong for individual citizens to do to one another, they believed, was equally wrong for government to do to them. The right to own property and to keep the rewards of individual labor is the basis of civil rights and natural law.
In Article I, Section 1 of the Utah Constitution it states that "All men have the inherent and inalienable right to enjoy and defend their lives and liberties; to acquire, possess and protect property."
The property I purchased to build my first home was surrounded by beautiful open space and enhanced by a pasture directly behind. To my delight, stunning Arabian horses grazed on the adjacent land and I was pleased to witness the training of these graceful animals. I was living the dream.
But over time, reality set in when my neighbor grew old and could no longer pursue his passion of schooling these award-winning horses to his satisfaction. His children didn't want to follow in his footsteps and the land was sold to a developer whose intent was to build housing on the property.
Although time had brought change, an adjustment I hadn't anticipated, I recognized and respected my fellow citizen's right to sell, and the right of the purchaser to develop within the guidelines of the city's master plan.
I chose to sell my home and pursue the option of finding another area to build where open space abutted my back yard. Time will tell what may happen to that land.
The fundamental premise of our country's founding fathers was to balance individual property rights, the rights of other property owners and the authority of government to regulate.
Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org