The libertarian justification for the acquisition of property is that someone becomes the original owner of something when he mixes his labour with it. Subsequently, he can transfer what he owns by sale, inter vivos gift, or testamentary gift.
The libertarian justification of property rights can justify only the ownership of the products of someone’s labour. It cannot justify ownership of the sources of the resources used to make the products. Picking berries gives you the right to the berries and not to the bush. Catching a fish gives you the right to own the fish but not the lake. Growing a crop gives you ownership of the grain and not the land on which the grain was grown. Of course, if someone were take a field that had been prepared for seeding, then it would be like taking the grain. But it does not follow that the original farmer has any claim on the land once he stops working the field.
A modern market economy could not function with nothing but the property rights that libertarianism can justify. To justify the property regime required by a modern market economy, the libertarian substructure must be supplemented and complemented by property rights that are not natural but are outright creations of the law. While the justification for the property rights created by the law must respect libertarian property rights, it must be primarily utilitarian. The law may create property rights in sources of resources when and only when doing so improves welfare of people within the jurisdiction. The law may and sometimes must alter property rights in order to maintain the focus on the same objective when conditions change.
It follows that the libertarian objection that taxation is equivalent to forced labour is nonsense. If the law creates the conditions for the creation of wealth, it may exact a fee for doing so.
It follows that the libertarian objections to labour unions and regulations in the workplace are nonsense as well. The law may and must offset the power that is the by-product of the wealth whose creation it facilitates by creating property rights in sources of resources.
It follows that libertarian objections to welfare are nonsense. When everyone becomes enmeshed within the economic system within a jurisdiction in that a large number of people effectively have no option but to work within the system – when neither homesteading nor emigration is a realistic alternative for many – the law may and must create welfare measures to ensure the well-being of everyone thus enmeshed.
Furthermore, the law must remain independent of the wealth whose creation it facilitates so that it may judge as objectively as possible the utility of the property rights it creates. All millionaires and billionaires are prospective subversives.
Since the justification for property rights in anything beyond the very products of an individual’s labour can only be utilitarian, those who argue against taxation and expropriation on any other grounds are using the wrong kind of argument. They are treating legal rights as though they were moral rights.