Stewardship Rights vs Property Rights
My friend Sheila Kappeler-Finn recently introduced me to the concept of “stewardship rights” as an alternative way of thinking about our relationship to the things we “own”. For me the concept was an eye-opener and highly relevant to a lot of questions I’ve always had about what “property rights” really are (or should be). In particular, I’ve always wondered how such an apparently reasonable idea as “property rights” can lead to so much economic inequity, manifest suffering, and downright destruction – of our environment, of people’s lives and even of the fabric of society. Reframing “property rights” as “stewardship rights” may (in my opinion) be a step towards a better world. As time goes by, in this section you will find some essays (like this one), some links, and some information on a new book project Sheila and I are working on that focuses on this very important subject.
At this point, you may be wondering how “stewardship rights” relates to the rest of this website. The answer is straightforward. This site is concerned with the places where time, risk and money all meet. Land, as well as all the other things we own has both inherent monetary value and uses (as well as “rights”) that also have economic value. More importantly, those values are dynamic; fluctuating and changing in both predictable and unpredictable ways over time. Thus property rights cannot simply be measured and ascribed at one point in time, but need to be looked at from both an historical AND a future value perspective. And of course, once the future is involved, the notion of risk becomes an essential component of the discussion.
To the extent you find our treatment of this subject interesting, Sheila and I would love to get your feedback on what we will be saying. So please feel free to comment as often and as extensively as you’d like. We don’t have all the answers, but we would like to get the conversation started.