Blood, Sweat, and Octane (Or should I Say, Locke-tane)

Way back in the year 2011, on my birthday, exactly a year before receiving my driver’s license, my generous mother presented me with the carcass of a 1998 Ford Mustang GT and three words, “Fix it up!” The purpose of having me fix up my own car was to instill in me some pride of ownership.

Oscar, before and after receiving his new matte white paint job

Oscar, before and after receiving his new matte white paint job

Oscar, as the car became known, is my pride and joy. I spent the year between getting the car and getting my license fixing Oscar up on my own. I spent thousands of hard earned dollars in parts and thousands of hours of my own labor putting my beautiful Oscar together. This means buying everything from the engine and transmission, down to the little things like a gear shift knob and window buttons, and installing every single part.

I’ve been a licensed driver for 2 years, 5 months, and 20 days now…or 903 days if thats how you want to measure it. This means that I have had Oscar completed from my own blood, sweat, and tears for roughly the same amount of time, give or take a week or two. I’ve already said that Oscar is my pride and joy, but I was also unknowingly emulating John Locke’s ideas about property and ownership found in Social Contracts: Excerpts from Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract. 

According to Locke, private property is created when a person mixes his labor with the raw materials of nature, and everyone is entitled to own all they create or gain through gift or trade so long as it doesn’t conflict with the rights of life and liberty. I found my pride in Oscar because I had a huge part in building him, and i have driven him every day for the past 2 years, 5 months, and 20 days. If anything were to happen to Oscar, I would be absolutely heartbroken.

 John Locke then considers property in the State of Nature as insecure because of three conditions:

– Absence of established law.

– Absence of impartial judge.

– Absence of natural power to execute natural laws.

However, Locke states that, by creating social contracts as well as government, men gained three things which they lacked in the State of Nature:

– Laws.

– Judges to adjudicate laws.

– The executive power necessary to enforce these laws.

The All Mighty Gavel

The All Mighty Gavel

Each man, therefore, gives over the power to protect himself and punish transgressors of the Law of Nature to the government that he has created through the compact. Because we are living out of the State of Nature and have all three of these conditions put in place for us, I can sleep safely at night knowing that the theft of my property is:

– Against established civil law, which, according to Locke, is in line with natural law.

– The potential thief of my car would be tried in front of an impartial judge.

– The natural power of each man collectively has been given up into the hands of a designated body that can execute the civil law protecting my property, which is in line with my natural right to my own property.

However, It is sad to me that every time i turn on the TV, there seems to be a story or live breaking news about auto theft. This story from, for example, highlights two women who were arrested after a car chase and booked for grand theft auto, possession of stolen property, and many other crimes. These women are going to be tried and charged with several crimes, but it doesn’t help me sleep at night knowing that bad people still disobey the laws put in place.

The Police

The Police

Being the proud owner, and builder, of a vehicle, I would be furious if this happened to me. It doesn’t have to be a stolen car, it could be a stolen anything. And by putting my own blood, sweat and tears into my own property, the pain, sadness, and anger felt after the theft of that property would be magnified tenfold. I would be furious yet thankful that social contracts and laws exist to protect my right to my own property. I’m sure the owner of this car is too.