Private Property in the 21st Century: The Future of an American Ideal (In
Association With the
) edited by
Harvey M. Jacobs (Edward Elgar Publishing) Private property is
central to American character, culture and democracy. The founding fathers
understood it as key to the liberties
was designed to foster. However, over the last 200 years
what one owns has evolved; ownership is different now than for an owner 200,
100, even 50 years ago. In
Private Property in the 21st Century Harvey Jacobs
has brought together an interdisciplinary, politically divergent group of
contributors to speculate on private property’s future.
Private property’s form is crucial to
contemporary debates in land use and environmental policy and management. For
some, restrictions on private property are so severe as to threaten the very
freedoms property is designed to protect. For others, the realities of life in
the 21st century require property’s reshaping. A number of questions frame the
Given that rights are evolving over time, how will they change during the
What social, technological and legal forces might structure that change?
Is there a logical conclusion to this 'restructuring/erosion' of property
Is there any point at which society's assertions of its legitimacy goes too
Are the ideals and principles of the Madison-Adams wing of the Founding
Fathers about the relationship of land ownership to liberty and democracy
still relevant in a world of urban wage earners, in contrast to the world of
farmers, foresters and ranchers for which they were formulated?
Does land-use and environmental planning policy undermine the
American-democratic social contract?
These questions are central to land-use and
environmental planning, law and economics and their answers are
interdisciplinary, intersecting the intellectual and academic fields of
economics, geography, history, law, political science, public policy, and urban
and regional planning.
The answers matter because of the political
power of the property rights movement in the past, its continued push to further
and deepen its agenda under the Presidency of George W. Bush, the real
consequences for the management of landscapes, ecosystems and ecological
resources, and the fact that they are key to understanding the nature of
American society and governance. In addition, to the extent advocates of
land-use and environmental planning want or need to refute the arguments of the
private property rights movement, and/or others whom the environmental community
groups together as 'anti-environmentalists,' it is the issue of private
property which is most difficult and troubling.
These questions are addressed in different
ways by the contributors to
Private Property in the 21st Century. Contributors agreed to a set of
preconditions: preparation of a paper outlining their thoughts on the key
questions and a willingness to engage one another openly in dialogue. Under
direction from the Lincoln Institute, the participants, as much as possible,
represent a political spread, simplistically speaking, from liberal, moderate
and conservative camps. Chapters and their authors include:
Daniel W. Bromley, an economist, opens the volume with a philosophical
exploration of the meaning of property in the American experience. He seeks
to challenge some common understandings about the fixedness of property, and
instead offers his assertion that property rights are a function of what he
terms ‘volitional pragmatism.’
Jerold S. Kayden, a lawyer and city planner, is the first of three authors
to explore specifically legal issues in property rights. He takes his task
to be to speculate on the twenty-first century direction that the US Supreme
Court might take with regard to property rights cases, by asking what
lessons can be learned from the history of the court's jurisprudence in the
William A. Fischel, an economist, asks why judges seem so wary of regulatory
takings. In top-ten style, he offers a set of possible reasons (from number
ten to number one) to explain a situation that to him seems paradoxical and
Gregory S. Alexander, a lawyer, builds on the work of his 1997 awardwinning
book by taking note of a movement in legal thought and policy practice that
he did not anticipate – that environmentally oriented legal scholars and
activists seem to have embraced market-based solutions as the best strategy
to achieve environmental goals. He sets out to understand this shift, and
speculate on its durability.
Robert H. Nelson, an economist and public policy analyst, shifts the focus
of the volume – his issue is the twenty-first century future of local
government in America. Swimming against the tide, he suggests the future for
a governmental form many wish to pronounce as outdated can be robust,
especially if it begins to act more like a form of private property.
Donald A. Krueckeberg, an urban planner, asks some questions about the
property tax system and its relation to notions of property and entitlement.
For him, the challenge is about the right of non-profit organizations to be
tax-exempt, and thus treated as in
possession of special, non-taxable forms of property.
Ann Louise Strong, a lawyer and city planner, brings an international
perspective to the topic. Drawing on her 1990s research in Australia, New
Zealand, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, she asks some questions
about the future of property for those who have not had access to it. One
suggestion is that the interest and desire for property is more universal,
and less country-specific, than it is sometimes understood to be.
In the final chapter, the editor,
Harvey M. Jacobs, Professor,
, Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the Gaylord
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, an urban planner, pulls
Private Property in the 21st Century. Drawing from the contributions of
the chapters and the spirited debate that occurred when the contributors came
together, Jacobs speculates on the future of private property – legally,
politically and socially.
The re-emergence of private property as a
critical issue of social conflict within
policy and politics is explored in this comprehensive volume. Scholars,
students, and professionals of urban and regional planning, geography, law,
natural resources, environment, real estate, and landscape architecture will all
Private Property in the 21st Century of interest.