"We share a common health....
....If we have the "right to
life" as we have always supposed, then that right must
stand upon the further right to air, water, food,
clothing, and shelter.
It follows that every person exercising the right to
hold private property has an obligation to secure to the
rest of us the right to live from that property...an
obligation to use it in such a way as to not impair or
diminish our rightful interest in it.
But --and here is the catch-- that obligation on the part
of the landowner implies a concurrent obligation on the
part of society as a whole. If we give our proxy to the
landowner to use-- and as is always implied, to take
care of -- the land on our behalf, then we are obliged
to make the landowner able to afford not only to use
the land but also to care properly for it.
This is where the grossest error of our civilization
shows itself. In giving a few farmers our proxies to
produce food in the public behalf for very little
economic return we have also given them our proxies to
care for the land in the public behalf for no economic
return at all. This is our so-called cheap-food policy,
which is in fact an antifarming policy, an antifarmer
policy, and an antiland policy.
We hold the land under a doctrine of private property
that in practice acknowledges no common health."
---from Another Turn of the Crank. Essays by Wendell Berry.