Property Rights

September 4, 2001

September 4, 2001

Last week I was riding horses on a ranch in Wyoming. This week I'm back in Washington, but I'm still hung up on family farms and a way of life that is part of our heritage. My family farm in Illinois has been in the family for more than 100 years, and I must admit that we are lucky to live here in the U. S.

I'm afraid we take for granted property rights and the rule of law that protect the individual citizen.

Imagine yourself -- a farmer in Zimbabwe in southern Africa. Black landless squatters are stealing your neighbor's farms and threatening yours. President Robert Mugabe refuses to protect the property rights of the nation's family farms -- farms that are modern, highly mechanized and productive -- and have been in families for more than 100 years. White farmers and black laborers have been attacked with axes and machetes, livestock killed, crops destroyed, houses burned. What's more, the Mugabe government plans to seize 95% of all white-owned farms. That's 20 million acres -- with little in the way of compensation for the owners.

Those farm families, that have spent decades raising their young and building a productive industry, stand to lose everything. The country will lose its most productive industry -- agriculture, and then they will expect the rest of the world to ship them food to feed their starving population. Just wait and see. That will be the consequence of Mugabe's land redistribution.

God bless America. Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.