Owning property means more than having your name on a deed.

Lawyers and judges often refer to property ownership as a “bundle of rights,” because with ownership comes more than just the mere right of possession. You also have the right to use, modify, dispose of, and exclude others from your property.

You don’t need a law degree to appreciate any of that. Every child with a favorite toy understands the idea, and any grade school student who’s had a civics class knows why property rights are so important.

As Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story once put it: “In a free government, almost all other rights would become worthless if the government possessed power over the private fortune of every citizen.”

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