Roper: Amendment would eliminate private ownership of real estate

By Rob Roper

PR.9 is a proposed amendment to the Vermont Constitution that would essentially, and in effect, ban the private ownership of real estate in Vermont. It’s short. You can read it all (except for Section 3, the effective date, which I cut for some brevity) here:

PROPOSAL 9. Sec. 1. PURPOSE This proposal would amend the Constitution of the State of Vermont in order to provide that the citizens of the State have a right to a clean environment. Sec. 2. Article 23 of Chapter I of the Vermont Constitution is added to read: Article 23. [Right to a clean environment] That the people have a right to clean air and water and the preservation of the natural, scenic, and cultural values of the environment. The State of Vermont’s natural resources are the common property of all the people. The State shall conserve and maintain the natural resources of Vermont for the benefit of all people. (Bold/underline added).

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

The first part is scary vague. What is a “right to a clean environment”? Does that mean I am entitled to taxpayer funded trash pick up? A court will decide, I guess, cuz I’ll bring that suit myself. Does it mean I can sue my neighbor for grilling out on his back yard barbecue? Or my neighbor can sue me for driving a low mpg truck? Who knows? But you can bet there will be a whole lot of suing going on if this were to pass.

The last part is even more frightening. “Vermont’s natural resources are the common property of all the people.” That means the trees on my yard, the water in my rain barrel, the soil my grass grows on as well as the grass, my pond (if I had one), if I strike gold, or want to quarry granite or slate — all of a sudden none of this is mine anymore, but the property of “all the people,” and what do with it is not my prerogative anymore, as these things “shall be” conserved and maintained by the state, not for my benefit, but for the benefit of all people. Farmers, you might want to pay attention to this.

It could end all new housing development because the state’s constitutional obligation would be to preserve the “natural and scenic” resources of the state. So, somebody wants to build a not-natural house in the empty lot next door that would mess up my (Cough, cough. I mean “the people’s) scenic view, 1-800-LAWSUIT!

PR.9 is straight out communist. The only thing missing is a section mandating that we all call each other comrade. And perhaps the most alarming part of this whole thing is that 15 senators — enough to pass it through that body with the lieutenant governor breaking the tie (and you know he would) — actually sponsored this insanity! Didn’t see a problem with it at all.

I had an exchange with the lead sponsor of PR.9, Sen. Chris Bray (D-Addison) on Facebook over this.

Sen. Chris Bray, D-Addison

ME: Chris, the amendment you are pushing appears to ban private property. Are you out of your freakin’ mind?

Christopher Bray: Rob — I’m a little surprised at your response, given how well you know me. The provision in no way bans private property. Let’s talk in person about how similar constitutional provisions work (and have worked for decades) in other states. And consider as well — we have a federal clean air act and clean water act; did they ban private property? The simple truth is that air, water, and wildlife are not private because they are held in trust by all of us — because they are a shared natural resource base upon which all life depends. I look forward to a longer conversation — and perhaps you can help us improve the proposal.

ME: The trees on my property are a natural resource, as is my well, as is my lawn. This amendment would declare all this the common property of all the people, under the control of the state. If it says or implies something different than that, explain how.

That was two days ago. Still no response on line or in person.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Public domain and TMR

29 thoughts on “Roper: Amendment would eliminate private ownership of real estate

    • What is with that man?? Our individual rights as Vermonters can’t believe he would have the nerve to propose such an idiotic idea! We will not elect him or others who think he has a good idea!!!

  1. This is already the status. With property taxes, the town and state owns all (so-called) private property. Don’t have a sickness, accident or financial disaster you’ll find out within a year or two who owns it. They falsify property assessments to raise bogs taxes, not based on Fair Market Value or any fairness. Town Listers and the VT Tax Dept are not your friends.

  2. He advocates “clean air” – tell me this: Does Mr. Bray also advocate for industrial scale wind power within our communities? If so the hypocrisy he exhibits makes any proposal suspect imho.

    Love the earth hate the men who inhabit it… that is the mantra of these faux environmentalists.

  3. Does that mean that I can sue for public funds to pay my property tax seeing that it is public domain. Does that also mean that I can no longer post my property in order to disallow hunters from taking public owned wildlife. Progressive are continuing to bring in the policies that drove them out of their own “choke hold” states. If you miss your progressive living, go back to where you came from.

    • Al,
      You’re absolutely right. They’re human milfoil. Too bad they’re not subject to Vermont’s milfoil containment laws…

  4. This is nothing more than pure socialism hidden behind the term progressive. Apparently there are a lot of ignorant people in Vermont. They think that calling it progressive makes it something different from socialism in Russia. They should go visit Russia and see just what they are promoting. The real problem isn’t what’s going on now but what will be going on in the future if the progs are successful in passing GWSA, TCI, and the new act 250. They think people are leaving Vermont in droves now, wait till these things occur and see how fast people leave.

  5. “The State of Vermont’s natural resources are the common property of all the people. The State shall
    conserve and maintain the natural resources of Vermont for the benefit of all people.” I’m horrified that this idea of our state is to be our future. The ever expanding vision of “the common good” continues to erode the individual liberty heralded by our constitution…and we don’t even sense the tsunami coming? Will the state again crush the individual?

  6. Mr. Bray is either ignorant of the truth of this matter, coerced by tyrants, or himself a tyrant. The “…simple truth …that air, water, and wildlife are not private because they are held in trust by all of us — because they are a shared natural resource base upon which all life depends” is pure sophistry – an obfuscation first described in 1623 by William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Plantation as “…the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.”

    After all, who is to say that ‘all of us’, acting as a commonwealth, will be more successful at protecting our environment than will individuals acting in their own self-interest? History shows us, over and again, that a commonwealth inevitably breeds ignorance, envy and the equal sharing of misery.

    “Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.”
    Winston Churchill

  7. Private Property in Vermont has been an illusion since the advent of the education property tax and court rulings on various lawsuits against Act 46. Local school districts no longer own the assets for which they paid, and local school boards have no legal standing in Vermont Superior Court to redress their grievances.

    Most importantly, individuals no longer ‘own’ their property. They ‘lease’ it from the State in lieu of perpetual property taxes. You may pay off your mortgage. But you can never pay off your perpetual lease.

    Arguably, this is a breach of the U.S. Constitution’s 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments, not to mention Chapter 1, Article 9 of the Vermont Constitution, declaring the State owes a reciprocal provision of services for those property tax payments. This Vermont constitutional provision, the so-called Proportional Contribution Clause, creating ‘The foundation of legal authority for taxation in Vermont’ says:

    “every member of society hath a right to be protected in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and therefore is bound to contribute the member’s proportion towards the expense of that protection, … but no part of any person’s property can be justly taken, or applied to public uses, without the person’s own consent,… and previous to any law being made to raise a tax, the purpose for which it is to be raised ought to appear evident to the Legislature to be of more service to community than the money would be if not collected.”

    In fact, while the ‘protection’ provided by the State continues to decline by virtually every measure, the contribution required from the property owner continues to increase. Majority (mob) rule is breaching Vermont’s constitutional contract.

    As Benjamin Franklin warned in his September 17, 1787 address to the U. S. Constitutional Convention “…this [Constitution] is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other”.

    Unfortunately, this tyranny has come to fruition. And while God may help us, remember the axiom, ‘God helps those who help themselves’. Strength and Honor to you all.

  8. The power to regulate property is essentially the power to own it. The more the regulation the less freedom to control your own property.

  9. Its no stretch a well know Libertarian Podcaster in California has told the story repeatedly of how he could not cut down some tress in his yard when he was remodeling, and how he had to fence them off with chain link fence during construction to protect them. You give the government especially a Socialist Government like Vermont’s an inch and they will take a mile and anything else that is not bolted down.

  10. Between state and federal legislators, bureaucracy, and Bernie Sanders croaking away, with his crocked finger wagging…………. demanding total control……..

    I think it is high time to require every home to have a Picture of “BIG BROTHER” on the living room wall. The thought police are watching – ready to shame, fine, and imprison the un-indoctrinated.

    Shades of our “Brave New World !!” and “ANIMAL FARM”

    • “1984” foretold the basics of this. Vermont is on a steady path to total socialism. Seems all the nuts from california, newjersey, new york, connecticut, delaware, and every other liberal left socialist run state have ended up in the Vermont legislature. What few actual natives in the legislature are either infected with the socialist bug or are too few to make a difference!

  11. Just more Liberal nonsense, where do we get these fools, these pious POS, we give them a little authority, and they think they know all.

    Well we can have a state with Socialist “Agenda” like these fools following VT’s very own socialist Senator Sanders, or a state with conservative values for “We The People”

    Wake up people before it’s too late, vote these fools out!

  12. Rob, you haven’t heard back from Mr. Bray? Not surprising given that Bray is prone to quite a few off the wall proposals that don’t make any sense at all if you actually can think.
    I wonder what role he played in the destruction of the Lowell mountain ridges for GMP’s benefit. He was one of Shumlin’s team players, after all. One of those who like to tuck these little projects away in the NEK where he doesn’t have to look at them. Coventry? Good place for a landfill you know. Sort of “out of the way”.

  13. Typical Fascist leftocrat, let’s talk privately… so no one else can see what I said so I can
    deny when pressed on it.. Can I send my tax bill to Natural Resources board in November???

    ijits,,, we’re surrounded by ’em….

  14. Just another hairbrained stunt by these cartoon clowns. If the voters don’t vote them out of office we can expect more of these lunatic ideas.

  15. They’re going to start small – think putting meters on private wells and charging for using ‘the state’s’ water resources. When they discover they can get away with that, they’ll move on to firewood harvested from your land.

    The progressive ‘domestic enemy’ won’t be content until they effectively control every aspect of our lives. The longer we dally, the more difficult it will be to put the genie back in the bottle.

  16. Bernie’s two Vermont properties and all the land of legislators voting for this farce should be the first confiscated for the common good. Leading by example…

  17. So my comrades in Montpelier will share our property tax bills, too? If they have a “right” to my home, they can pay the bills, too. Lunatics.

  18. With this, and the plans of many to appropriate land and return it to Indian tribes, it may soon become impossible to buy or sell property within the state. What bank will finance, and what title company will insure property that suddenly is at risk of appropriation by the state? Vermont seems to be in a race to the bottom and is starting to make even California look sane. I can easily envision the state taking control of and dictating the use of every tree on my land and every drop of water in our ponds and streams. Where will this end?

  19. OMG!! I have been back here on my family farm in Calais for almost 13 years, and it has been a fight to keep my property with one thing and another, starting with “ancient roads”!! They sure have their hand out for my tax $$. Yes-this is one more Communist ploy.

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