The problem with people here who fear economic change is not that they take property rights too seriously. It is that they do not take them seriously enough. Concern for property rights is at the centre of the debate about government plans to expropriate land without compensation. It would be odd if it were not. Rights to property are central to a market economy. Without a secure property right, investment is impossible. But those who stress this are selective. They care deeply about the property rights of some but show no interest in those of others. In this country’s debate, property rights mean only those people or companies who own property. But individual ownership is not the only way people can establish the right to use property: small farmers in former Bantustan areas can form communal property associations, which give them a right to the land they farm.Nor are owners the only people with the right to use land or the buildings built on it. Paying rent or working for the owne...

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