One of the important things to get right in economics and politics is authority. I think that Zippy gets political authority correct. I am interested in authority as such and then to work my way down to species of authority.
It seems that authority as such is the power to order things to certain ends. The Eternal Authority would involve the procession of the Son from the Father, who is wholly ordered to the Father and the procession of the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father and Son wholly ordered to the Father and Son. This would need a better theologians touch, but an outline of the highest authority is worthy of some thought.
God further has authority over all creation and this is Providence. He orders all things to their ends and imbues all things with their natures. These natures have an intrinsic finality which draws them to some end that God has determined in his supreme authority. An electron tends to a positive charge because of its nature that has been ordered by God’s authoritative act of creation. He is the author which has ordered all things.
Now, we ought to consider the authority over ownership along this line of thought. In ownership there are two sorts or dimensions of our authority over something. In an attempt to follow Aquinas, we have authority over its use and its being.
In our authority over its use, we may direct it to certain ends. We have the authority, that is the power, to order some to achieve our ends. We use wood to burn and make heat for us for cook or any other such purpose. This authority is intrinsically limited as we are bound by finality of the thing itself. If the wood were not capable of being burnt or say we tried to burn water for cooking, then it would not be possible. In this way God’s supreme authority is respected as he ordered things first and our authority is only secondary.
In the second dimension, we have a certain authority over the being of the thing. This involves at times a moral power over other people, as Zippy has said. Other people may not transgress our authority over the being of the thing and take it without our consent. However, this too has its limits, which as above around bound by the natural law. Our authority over the being of some property is not so great that we can violate the natural law by which some one in extreme need may otherwise die. For a man to take in extreme need is not theft as it does not involve a transgression of authority over the being of a thing.
As I work to the end of this. The distinction between the being and use was perhaps ill conceived or not well thought. I will need to think about it more.