Your very own piece of dirt

Tim Jones quotes Chesterton this afternoon with respect to America’s economic problems:

    Our society is so abnormal that the normal man never dreams of having the normal occupation of looking after his own property. When he chooses a trade, he chooses one of the ten thousand trades that involve looking after other people’s property.

I remember, from a year or two back, a story I found online talking about how a Latin American country (Peru, as I recall) was in such dire straights in part because people couldn’t own their own property. Yes, a lot of people had houses — or scrapped together shacks — on a piece of land, but there is no such thing as ownership of that property or of the “improvements” resting upon it. The article (which I’d love to find again but just don’t have the time to search for this week) explained how this simple fact kept so many in poverty. It also, if I’m recalling it correctly, pointed to the Biblical precedent for land ownership with the Jewish tribes each being given a certain piece of land to further subdivide among themselves.

The idea of owning a plot of dirt has come home to me in the past few years, probably since purchasing the mortgage on my little bungalow. Prior to this, I took it for granted. I like gardening. I like building. I like tending my own land, much as I might bemoan how much time it takes. And I really like the idea that, were the economy to become completely deficient, I might be able to subsist on my very own piece of dirt. Small as it may be.

I don’t really understand the financial or economic implications of land ownership and titles, but I’m starting to see the connection. This ties into thoughts I’ve had with respect to property owned in the context of a family, but I think I’ll try and work that out tomorrow.

Photo from Wikipedia.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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