Property Rights Foundation of America®
Founded 1994

Welcome: A Charge to Keep

By Carol W. LaGrasse
President, Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc.
Stony Creek, N.Y.

Sixteenth Annual National Conference on
Private Property Rights
October 20, 2012
The Century House, Latham, N.Y.

Welcome to our Sixteenth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights. It’s a wonderful occasion to see you all here and I’d like to welcome everyone. Thank you for the people who walked in. We usually don’t have so many people come at the last minute but I’m very pleased to see a lot of faces that we didn’t even expect. The title of our meeting today is “Reaching for Private Property Rights.” We’re seeing the common denial of fundamental private property rights so much, that across our nation that the courage and intelligence and fortitude of the people in urban and rural New York State and America in the quest to regain their rights to attain justice has really become quite intense. And so, we have a tremendous vision ahead of us to regain our rights. I also would like to thank a few specific people who have come every year for years and years. Bob Young, who couldn’t quite make it last year on account of a blizzard for some reason in Connecticut. And Roland Vosburgh, and John Salvadore, the Porliers, and also people who have traveled a long distance from out of state. Barbara Patrick is to still arrive and she’s coming with Nick Salka from Representative Gibson’s office. We’re especially happy to welcome some people from the central Adirondacks and other New Yorkers who have met on issues of land acquisition and people that we’ve met from the NEACA arms and militaria exhibits. It’s really gratifying that so many people have come out. And I’d like to thank the speakers. Our speakers have come from New York City, from my old borough of Queens, from Manhattan, from upstate northern New York, and from as far as Washington, D.C., Utah and California.

Also, like to thank co-sponsors: the Building and Realty Institute of Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Region, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Gardiner Residents for Individual Property Rights, the National Center for Public Policy Research — and thank you Teresa for coming from the National Center for Public Policy Research, the New York Farm Bureau, and last but not least, publicly thank The JM Foundation, which is not the organization some people mistake it for. It’s an organization that was founded for the purpose of disability assistance, long before the disabled were a popular cause. And the Great Circle Foundation which is a new organization based on Long Island.

The Heritage Foundation has helped us by donating copies of their new book Environmental Conservation Eight Principles of the American Conservation Ethic. We know Becky Norton Dunlop, their vice president, who has spoken at our conference. The book starts opens with the theme of claims on private property rights. Next follows a chapter on regulatory takings which has been a cause that the entire property rights movement has championed for so many years, written by the Honorable Edwin Meese and Robert Gordon. A friend of the Property Rights Foundation of America for many years, Mr. Gordon has an adult lifetime of working for private property rights and changing the Endangered Species Law.

And inside your conference folder you will find a little Constitution book that was donated by The Heritage Foundation, also. You’ll find some samples of our publications with a focus on the wolf reintroduction issue. There’s a little reprint in there on the wolf issue of an article that I wrote for the New York Property Rights Clearinghouse.

Now, I promised that I would speak on “a charge to keep.” It’s going to be a very short statement. It’s almost a religious statement.

Justice based on private property rights and the respect for contracts. For me the quest began in earnest when a new onslaught of state land acquisition and state regulation of private property was being rammed through the legislature in 1990. Our complete success in entirely defeating these plans led to the commitment that still brings us here. Still resisting. Still positive. In the constant throes of the ancient defense of the ordinary people from the avariciousness of those who would corruptly use their wealth and power against them. Now, I’m not a person who speaks about classism, so don’t take that in that context. This charge we keep is based on principle and loyalty. The principle is the God-given right to our own selves as individuals. In some societies that right has not historically existed. The right to our own labor and to the fruits of our labor, our businesses, our homes, the protection of our contracts, there we believe should be the basis of government protecting our rights. So the charge we keep is our quest to defeat government that does not derive its power form the consent of the governed, but uses its power against their consent depriving their property rights, obviating the right of contract among the governed.

Have we taken a vow? We know the marriage vow. Some have taken religious vows, others fraternal vows. A soldier in arms has a solemn duty to defend the nation and the Constitution. In reality, it’s a vow to stand by his buddies in the face of any threat. Vows may be unstated . Loyalty is like a vow. Now, I’ve experienced a lot of disloyalty in my many years in private property rights, so the people here are precious allies. And I think it is loyalty that brings us here. We may be a small group. The cost of travel, the loss of jobs, ill health and other different reasons cut back into the ranks of these annual gatherings. A number of people have written and called to say how sad they are that it is impossible for them to be here. You may remember the Wassenhoves, Joan and Albert Wassenhove. He took the trouble to send a letter. In his letter he wrote, among other things, “Joan and I look forward to being with you once again and to renew these inspiring acquaintances we’ve made at these national gatherings.”

So, I’m confident, today, that our gathering is a gathering of soldiers in arms, of loyal friends, of principled believers in freedom and private property rights. May God be with you today and give us knowledge, give us strength. May we carry on, confident that we’ve already accomplished many times more than our numbers or our finances could possibly explain. Confident of the loyalty, of the friendships of those here and our good friends throughout New York State and the nation.

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