Property Rights and Eminent Domain

by Don Boudreaux on July 4, 2009

in Film, Property Rights

Those persons benighted by the myth that only the rich have an interest in the strong, principled protection of private property rights should watch the movie Begging for Billionaires (from which this clip is extracted).

(HT Paul Jacob)

On a very similar theme is the great 1997 Australian movie The Castle.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

comments

50 comments    Share Share    Print    Email

{ 50 comments }

Martin Brock July 4, 2009 at 10:49 am

The "rich" have a greater interest in the strong, principled protection of private property rights, because they have a greater volume of rights to protect, by definition. That's why the rich typically dominate politics.

In fact, the rich are politicians themselves, de facto, even if they never seek elective office in one of the majoritarian plebiscites that we've confused with "democracy" and "statecraft" for the last few centuries.

What principles? That's the question. No fundamental or "natural" right precludes statutory rights that are more limited as an individual's entitlement to the protection increases, as in a progressive consumption tax or title expiration for example.

A King has far more authority than one of his common subjects; therefore, he requires far more limitations of his authority to avoid despotism.

vidyohs July 4, 2009 at 11:09 am

"The "rich" have a greater interest in the strong, principled protection of private property rights,"

Greater than who, Martin? Greater than what other group, Martin? Isn't that quite an arrogant statement from you?

How do you have such insight and wisdom that you can tell us that "the rich" have a greater interest in their property than we middleclass do in ours?

What is the standards that you measured to come to this startling and unusaul judgment? Did you do a survey of middleclass or poor and find them disinterested in retaining their property against all outside attempts to seize it?

Clearly the people shown in the video clip were not what we would call "the rich" and they seemed to have great interest in keeping their property and resenting its seizure. Were you able to go to those seizing the land, "the rich", and after surveying them found they had a "greater interest" in the land?

How did you quantify that interest into greater and lesser, richer and poorer?

I think what you do is called baseless pontification, in the military we said, "if you can't blind 'em with brilliance, baffle them with bullsh.t"

I got news for ya kid, you, Martin Brock, and I vidyohs, are politicians whether we like it or not; just as we are salesmen whether we like it or not.

You still hung up on your idea that there are no natural rights and all rights come from the state, and only then after the state has codified custom and practice into statutes?

I have natural rights, you have them as well even though you deny them. My natural rights naturally (naturally!) depend on my ability to defend them/enforce them, but that makes them no less natural rights than they are if protected by a state.

The right of men to hold property predate any association with, or formation of, a state.

Martin Brock July 4, 2009 at 11:42 am

Greater than who, Martin?

Greater than someone with a smaller dollar volume of property rights to protect, i.e. greater than someone who is not "rich".

Greater than what other group, Martin?

I'm not the group thinker here.

Isn't that quite an arrogant statement from you?

No. It's just a statement of fact.

How do you have such insight and wisdom that you can tell us that "the rich" have a greater interest in their property than we middleclass do in ours?

I don't need any special insight or wisdom. I only need to know what these words mean.

What is the standards that you measured to come to this startling and unusaul judgment?

See above. My conclusions are neither startling nor unusual. They only reflect common parlance that you, unusually, seem to reject.

Did you do a survey of middleclass or poor and find them disinterested in retaining their property against all outside attempts to seize it?

This survey is irrelevant to my statements. I nowhere ever assert that middle income and poor people are disinterested in their property rights; however, if you have some evidence that middle income and poor people, as a class, oppose all statutory restrictions on their employment of their property, I'd like to see it.

How did you quantify that interest into greater and lesser, richer and poorer?

Just as I describe above. It's very easily quantified, because property has a market value; otherwise, we couldn't distinguish "the rich" from other people in the first place.

I think what you do is called baseless pontification, in the military we said, "if you can't blind 'em with brilliance, baffle them with bullsh.t"

Obviously, you're free to think whatever you like. You may think I'm bound for eternal torment after death if you want. I can't do a thing about it and wouldn't.

Regardless of what you think, "the rich" by definition are people entitled to govern assets with a market value above some threshold distinguishing this class of persons from other persons. It's not rocket science, even if the notion baffles you and certain comrades of yours in the military.

… [all of us] are politicians whether we like it or not; just as we are salesmen whether we like it or not.

Of course. The rich are more political, because they are entitled to govern more resources, where the market value of resources is the measure of "more" vs. "less". It's not like politicians and statecraft only appeared on the Earth in 1776 when we started holding these biannual plebiscites in North America.

You still hung up on your idea that there are no natural rights and all rights come from the state, and only then after the state has codified custom and practice into statutes?

We can discuss "natural rights" (or emergent order) if you like, but you don't seem to have pondered the question much. I don't reject emergent order at all. I nowhere state that I reject emergent order. I state above that property rights that make no distinction between "rich" and "poor", in modern terms, are not "natural" in this sense. If you want to debate this statement, we can debate it.

The right of men to hold property predate any association with, or formation of, a state.

No. You're discussing natural territoriality here. "Property" describes something else. "Property" adheres to some standard of propriety, not simply a claim that an individual will defend by his own force for his own reasons or even a tribal convention unenforced by any central authority.

If your use of the word "property" were common, then all sorts of "property" would be illegal, according to the state in my neck of the woods, but hardly anyone around here uses the word so.

Martin Brock July 4, 2009 at 11:52 am

… in 1776 when we started holding these biannual plebiscites …

1787 is more appropriate here.

Kevin July 4, 2009 at 12:28 pm

There is no question that the population currently sustains the position the state has adopted – that it can take anything politicians want it to take. The only question WRT property rights is to what extent the compensation is (or can be) proper. Begging for Billionaires, at least in its marketing, does not advertise this. Rather, it goes for the cheap gag about the state coming in and taking land that's been in the family for generations. Maybe there's more to it than that, but the narrative is a red herring.

Kevin July 4, 2009 at 12:37 pm

[Better judgment off]

The "rich" have a greater interest in the strong, principled protection of private property rights, because they have a greater volume of rights to protect, by definition.

I don't think we can say this definitively. Weak, conditional property rights could damage opportunity and innovation so badly that "the poor" would suffer more than "the rich". A direct tax, while more costly to "the rich" in monetary terms, could wipe out a leveraged middle class for generations. I know you, Martin, have your own ideas about what you think are superior alternatives to strong, principled protection of property rights, but this statement is too strong.

That's why the rich typically dominate politics.

No way. They dominate politics because there are barriers to entry to politics that wealth clears better than anything else.

Sam Grove July 4, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Martin, do are you using "property" in the sense of a defined territory?

Do nomads have this sense of property, or do they have a sense of boundary (in the sense of defensible area)?

Cheers July 4, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Martin Brock,

Are you saying that a rich person has more need or incentive to protect their fourth home than a poor person does their first?

The notion that a person with 10 million spread across 3 countries is more worried about property rights than a person living payday to payday with their family in their house is simply absurd.

vidyohs July 4, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Martin for King!

Martin has no opinions or thoughts, only certainties, therefore no need to qualify his expressions. Statements of fact only, eh Martin?

We need a man with that kind of wisdom and certainty for king.

Outside of muirduck, I (vidyohs) may well be the dumbest and least educated of all the posters that comment here, and even I saw through your arrogant baffling BS, Martin, in about two encounters long ago. Those encounters were the stimulus for creating the "mulberry bush" analogy to aspply to debating you.

If the day comes that the sky darkens, and I see a huge split tearing the Earth asunder, I'll know that Martin experienced a moment of doubt.

Run for King, Martin, you're a natural.

vidyohs July 4, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Webster’s New Collegiate

Property: 2 a. something owned or possessed: specif a piece of real estate b: the exclusive right to possess, enjoy, and dispose of a thing: ownership c. something to which a person has legal title

Black’s Law 7th Edition

Property 1. The right to possess, use, and enjoy a determinate thing : the right of ownership . 2 Any external thing over which the rights of possession, use, and enjoyment are exercised

One trip to the mulberry bush and no more.

I see no reference to rich or poor, modern or past times in those definitions.

Those defintions include my shoelace to my vehicle, and everything in between.

The definitions are acknowledgement of what is, and not statutes dictating what is.

From 2.5 million years ago and Lucy saying, "These are my figs", to vidyohs today saying, "This is my Honda", individual natural right to property has existed.

Perhaps you consider the concept to intellectually esoteric, and it may make your head hurt; but, if the government comes and confiscates my property for whatever trumped up reason, they have only taken the property, they have not taken my right to that property. They can't take my rights.

With perhaps rare exception, no one has a greater right to property than anyone else, no one has a greater interest in property rights than another.

Government did not create our natural right to property and legally can not deny them.

That the government does function in an illegal manner in many things, says more about us as sheep than about individual natural property rights.

K.D. July 4, 2009 at 1:53 pm

The Castle really is a wonderful movie. A lot of touching and hilarious moments.

James July 4, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Martin, you may want to reexamine your stance on this one. Your first sentence alone is obviously contradictory. Anybody with less of something is less willing to give it up. On the converse, the more of something you have, the more willing you are to give some of it up.

The wealthy generally have more time and/or money (in gross) to throw at things, but that doesn't mean they care more about it.

Tom July 4, 2009 at 6:41 pm

"The "rich" have a greater interest in the strong, principled protection of private property rights, because they have a greater volume of rights to protect, by definition."

Being rich, they also have more ability to protect their property, whether it be from thieves (private security), or from gov't (pay for political influence).

It is the little guy whom property rights really protects.

SaulOhio July 4, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Martin: It is a mistake to measure people's values and interests based only on money. For someone who has little, a $50,000 house is worth everything in the world they have. To a rick man who owns ten million dollar mansions, losing one of them doesn't mean as much. Which is harmed more by eminent domain abuse?

Gil July 4, 2009 at 10:22 pm

I remember a scene from the The Castle where the father (played by Michael Caton) feels sympathy for the plight of the Australian Aborigine. However, it has traditionally viewed that nomadic people fail to qualify for 'homesteading' the land hence it's free to be settled by sedentary people. It's interesting to wonder whether 'emiment domain' can be used in certain cases where certain sedentary folk are merely occupying the land and haven't homesteaded it in any fashion.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 6:29 am

A direct tax, while more costly to "the rich" in monetary terms, could wipe out a leveraged middle class for generations.

Taxes often have this effect, because the statesmen engineering them often are not of the middle class, but the same can be said of "property rights" in general.

Even when statesmen are of the middle class, a few years of officiating in the state changes their attitude, as they perceive avenues up and out of the middle class through via their office.

I know you, Martin, have your own ideas about what you think are superior alternatives to strong, principled protection of property rights, but this statement is too strong.

You know less than you imagine. I don't have any alternatives to strong, principled property rights. I rather favor different property rights than the ones you presumably favor. There is nothing fundamentally "improper" about a progressive consumption tax. In fact, the formulation I favor limits the state far more than a formulation of forcible propriety without the tax.

No way. They dominate politics because there are barriers to entry to politics that wealth clears better than anything else.

You write "no way" and then simply repeat my point with different words.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 6:36 am

Martin, do are you using "property" in the sense of a defined territory?

In the broadest sense, a "property" is anything to which a person is entitled, but I would limit the usage further to entitlements which the title holder my exchange for other entitlements.

Do nomads have this sense of property, or do they have a sense of boundary (in the sense of defensible area)?

Property is not a sense. It is a standard enacted by a state. Natural creatures have a sense of territoriality, but that's something else.

People may have both a proper (or "lawful") and an improper sense of territoriality. One's personal sense of "mine" has little to do with his "property". If you think it does, try the logic out on any judge the next time you find yourself in a "property" dispute.

Wishful thinking is not the law.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 6:43 am

Martin: It is a mistake to measure people's values and interests based only on money.

I don't measure people's "values and interests" generally in terms of money. I measure the value of their property, specifically, in terms of money, and this measurement is entirely conventional.

For someone who has little, a $50,000 house is worth everything in the world they have. To a rick man who owns ten million dollar mansions, losing one of them doesn't mean as much. Which is harmed more by eminent domain abuse?

So what? I've never suggested any enactment of eminent domain that makes no distinction between rich and poor. On the contrary, this sort of distinction is precisely what I advocate. A progressive consumption tax does not limit the consumption of the poor. It only limits the consumption (vs. investment) of the rich.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 6:50 am

Being rich, they also have more ability to protect their property, whether it be from thieves (private security), or from gov't (pay for political influence).

The rich do not protect property from the government. They engineer property rights through the government so as to maximize their property.

Property is not "outside of the government". The whole idea is nonsense. You have no property at all outside of a government. You have only your personal sense of "mine".

Most children learn at an early age not to confuse their personal sense of "mine" with their "property". We're born with a sense of "mine". We must learn "property", because it is an artifact.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 7:03 am

Martin, you may want to reexamine your stance on this one. Your first sentence alone is obviously contradictory.

My first sentence is not contradictory. Only your interpretation of the words is confused. You're the one with an oddly idiosyncratic idea of "wealth", not me.

Anybody with less of something is less willing to give it up. On the converse, the more of something you have, the more willing you are to give some of it up.

So what? I claim that the rich exercise greater authority to exchange goods, as measured by the dollar volume of goods they may exchange. It's not rocket science. What the rich are "willing to give up" is a separate question that I haven't addressed at all. I'm not discussing anyone's "willingness". I'm discussing people's entitlements.

The wealthy generally have more time and/or money (in gross) to throw at things, but that doesn't mean they care more about it.

As Michael Jackson recently demonstrated, the "wealth" we discuss here buys little time. The wealthy are not entitled to more time than others in my neck of the woods.

What people "care about" is your obsession, not mine. It's just a fact that "the rich" exercise greater authority over resources (or exercise authority over more resources) than "the poor", because that's what the word "rich" commonly means.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 7:13 am

"One trip to the mulberry bush and no more," you write in your second post.

You pretend that particular standards of propriety you advocate are "natural" or handed down by God or something. I observe them handed down only by kings.

So do I play "king" here as I discuss standards I prefer? Of course, I do. I'm only more honest about it than you.

Randy July 5, 2009 at 7:15 am

I like Locke's concept of "property".

Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a "property" in his own "person". This nobody has any right to but himself. The "labour" of his body and "work" of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that Nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with it, and joined it to something that is his own, and thereby makes his property."

That is, while a proper goverment, that is, a government in accord with the will of the property owners, may distribute property, it does not create property.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 7:22 am

Are you saying that a rich person has more need or incentive to protect their fourth home than a poor person does their first?

No. I'm saying that a "rich" person may own four homes while a "poor" person typically owns none.

The notion that a person with 10 million spread across 3 countries is more worried about property rights than a person living payday to payday with their family in their house is simply absurd.

I haven't said a word about what anyone "worries about". This construction is yours, not mine.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 7:31 am

I like Locke's concept of "property".

I like it too, but the statesmen in my neck of the words like it less, so Locke's usage of the word is not so common here.

Locke also used "property" as follows, only a few words after your quote in fact.

"And thus, I think, it is very easy to conceive, without any difficulty, how labour could at first begin a title of property in the common things of nature, and how the spending it upon our uses bounded it. So that there could then be no reason of quarrelling about title, nor any doubt about the largeness of possession it gave. Right and conveniency went together; for as a man had a right to all he could employ his labour upon, so he had no temptation to labour for more than he could make use of. This left no room for controversy about the title, nor for encroachment on the right of others; what portion a man carved to himself, was easily seen; and it was useless, as well as dishonest, to carve himself too much, or take more than he needed." [my emphasis]

The progressive consumption tax that I favor is more Lockean than thou, not less so. I may play "king", but I'm not the royalist here.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 7:37 am

That is, while a proper goverment, that is, a government in accord with the will of the property owners, may distribute property, it does not create property.

This construction "property" is meaningful only if Lockean propriety is actually operative, commonly accepted and enforced, but it isn't. If it were, "the rich" wouldn't exist at all, because governing far more resources than one directly labors upon is practically the definition of "rich". One who owns only the parcel he farms himself is not "rich". He's a "peasant".

Randy July 5, 2009 at 9:12 am

Martin,

I think Locke's idea of property bounded by personal use makes no sense. I think its just his Puritan streak shining through. And most of the writers of that age found it necessary to bow now and again to religion. The natural bound to property is not need but ability.

And certainly the politicians of Locke's day and our own find little use for such a definition of property. They survive by exploitation, and the last thing they want is for it to be understood.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 10:03 am

Locke's idea of possession bound by personal use is not supposed to be "sensible". It's supposed to be what preceded large scale, artificial organization by states. He doesn't say that possession on a larger scale was "nonsensical" in the past he imagines. He says that it was "impractical" (as well as "dishonest").

Faith traditions are the historical context for many standards of propriety, but religion informs Locke's sense of propriety no more than yours. The standards you like are not the "natural" ones while others are the "religious" ones.

We don't know any natural bound to property, because property fundamentally is not natural. It is an artifact of statecraft. Individual "ability" is not the limit of modern property at all. This practical limitation is more nearly what Locke discussed.

Bill Gates isn't the wealthiest man on Earth by virtue of his individual ability. His ability is consequential, but his wealth is a matter of countless statutory standards, governing intellectual property and incorporation for example.

I don't want property limited as the most primitive Lockean conception is limited either. A progressive consumption tax does not prevent an individual governing vast resources. It only limits his entitlement to consume their value personally.

vidyohs July 5, 2009 at 11:15 am

Martin,

You seem to be so self absorbed and self centered that you simply can not see that while others, such as myself, may be interested in your opinion, it obvious that many of us share the idea that your picayunish pompous pontificating pronouncing of ultimate truths, truths seemingly created by Martin Brock, does not sit well with people equally as intellectually capable and as well educated as yourself.

However, if you run for King and are successful, you can just ignore all of that and continue enlightening the rest of us forever.

Randy July 5, 2009 at 11:37 am

Martin,

"We don't know any natural bound to property, because property fundamentally is not natural. It is an artifact of statecraft."

Property is natural. You and I are our own property. What we create is our property. That we trade our property for our advantage is natural.

But then, conquest, exploitation, and manipulation, that is, the political behaviors, are also natural.

Its a choice. An ethical choice. A choice related to class and culture. We choose Property or Politics. If we try to do both, Politics wins.

Sam Grove July 5, 2009 at 12:38 pm

It is easy to miss Martin's point(s), for he speaks in a fundamentally proprietarian manner. That is, one way of speaking of government is that agency assigned the task of defining property boundaries between agencies (and individuals as agencies).

Another way of speaking of government is that organization called the state.

The two are conflated, but need they be?

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Property is natural. You and I are our own property. What we create is our property. That we trade our property for our advantage is natural.

You may use the word this way if you want, but don't waste these words in court in a "property" dispute, especially on appeal.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 1:05 pm

The two are conflated, but need they be?

I only know that statesmen with "property" on their lips have guns and are completely willing to use them. Even if you have guns, I doubt that you would use them in opposition to the statesmen. That's all I need to know. Empty words don't stop bullets.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 1:06 pm

I'm sparing Vid the dance around the mulberry bush that he pretends to dislike.

Sam Grove July 5, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I only know that statesmen with "property" on their lips have guns and are completely willing to use them.

It really doesn't matter what they have on their lips, does it?

vidyohs July 5, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Sam G.,

And this is exactly the reason Martin misses not just the bullseye, but the entire target.

"That is, one way of speaking of government is that agency assigned the task of defining property boundaries between agencies (and individuals as agencies)."
Posted by: Sam Grove | Jul 5, 2009 12:38:43 PM"

Property and ownership existed long (hundreds of thousands of years, perhaps millions) before there was even a glimmer of the concept of government.

Martin fails on a number of fronts. The first front is the refusal to recognize that if he is talking about real estate, land, he needs to say so; and, that real estate, land, is only one form of property.

The second front is that humans made claim and enforced claim to land for habitation and cultivation long before there was government, and this was a natural evolutionary act.

The third front is that Martin fails to recognize that he can have his theories, but proving them, making them even plausible in light of history, is entirely another.

The fourth front is that Martin is convinced that only Martin has the definitive answer for everything, therefore there is no need to temper statements as expression of opinion or theory.

The fifth front is that the first four fronts all leave him the wiggle room he needs to take any discussion into the chase around the mulberry bush.

Martin may have something of actual value to say, but his unrelenting egotistical and arrogant way of saying things dampen any enthusiasim I might have to dig through his voluminous writings to find.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 3:51 pm

It really doesn't matter what they have on their lips, does it?

No. But statesmen do have "property" on their lips as a matter of fact. Possession is nine-tenths of the law.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 3:54 pm

It should be clear enough by now that Vid is the man here traipsing around the mulberry bush trying to entice someone into playing with him. I don't mind playing with him, but let's not pretend that up is down and black is white.

Randy July 5, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Martin,

"…but don't waste these words in court…"

We already know that "the rule of law" is just shorthand for "the rule of those who make the laws". The only question is whether or not we should respect them for it. Locke gives the best reason I've heard yet for choosing not. Per Locke, the primary reason that men choose to join governments is to preserve their property. A government that fails to do so is not a proper government and is therefore, at the very least, not worthy of respect.

Martin Brock July 5, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Per Locke, the primary reason that men choose to join governments is to preserve their property.

Men join governments to conserve (thus "conservative") and to expand their property, but "property" need not mean to them what it meant to John Locke or means to you.

A government that fails to do so is not a proper government and is therefore, at the very least, not worthy of respect.

In your way of thinking, "proper" describes what you want the state to enforce. You want the state to enforce some standard of propriety that you say you share with John Locke … except when you disagree with Locke. How do I know where you agree and where you don't?

Your "property" is simply a subjective claim that personally make. I have no way of knowing what's "proper", and thus "property", by your definition, without asking you. I can't consult a legal text. I can't consult a judge or an attorney. I can't even consult John Locke, because you don't always agree with him. I can only consult you.

That's fine, but your definition is not very useful to me, because you aren't always available to settle every "property" dispute I encounter, and I'm not sure I want you settling every dispute anyway.

By contrast, "property" in my way of thinking describes what the statesmen say it describes, for better or for worse, often for worse in my opinion. I mostly respect established propriety, but I don't revere property, because it is an artifact of statesmen and can never be anything else.

The standard of forcible propriety decreed by statesmen in my neck of the woods is not the worst I can imagine, but it's not the best either. I just live with that.

Randy July 5, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Martin,

"Your "property" is simply a subjective claim…"

Its all subjective. My claim, similar to Locke's, is that my property is my person and what I create.

"By contrast, "property" in my way of thinking describes what the statesmen say it describes, for better or for worse, often for worse in my opinion."

I'm in it only for the better. If I remember right, Locke uses the term "absurd" to describe being in it for the worse.

"I just live with that."

I live with it, and I disrespect them. It was disrespect that brought down the Catholics and the Kings. In time, it will bring down the Progressives.

Kevin July 5, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Yeah that's what I whought.

[/Better judgment off]

vikingvista July 5, 2009 at 5:54 pm

The enlightenment emphasis on property rights was a reflection of their recognition that one's property is an extension of oneself. There are no rights without property rights. It is unfortunate that "property" was replaced by "happiness" in the DoI, but I suppose Jefferson never imagined the widespread confusion that Marx would engender a century later.

Still, the Locke quote is deficient in providing a rational defense of property rights. Ultimately it comes down to what you want. If you want a consistent principle of human interactions that is most consistent with an individual's natural means of satisfying his desires, then you will be an advocate of rights–rights in the sense of the primacy of agreement over aggression in the satisfaction of wants.

Clearly many people do not want that. It can be argued that those who do not want it bear a greater risk of disastrous failure at the hands of the violated, but risky is not necessarily irrational. Mao controlled the wealth of a nation to the satisfaction of his desires until his natural death. Madoff lived the high life to age 72. Not everyone who violates people's rights does so without great success.

But, enlightenment liberals have done a marvelous job of showing how whole societies based upon individual rights will be the most prosperous–and to those not interested in the forced exploitation of others, the most desirable.

Gil July 6, 2009 at 2:48 am

I thought vidyohs might find some middle ground with Martin. After all M. Brock is rightly saying "without a formal government to define with precision a common definition of property rights then you're left with mere territorality". In anarcho-Libertopia (no governments) all you are left with is territorality – you make claim to patch of land and do your best to stop marauders with any and every means you see fit. Talk of natural rights and laws would be guff in such a society (if it could called one) rather you have your natural abilities to overpower your invaders but if can't then you have nothing to fall back on.

lotro gold July 6, 2009 at 3:48 am

Do you want to play WoW game?Welcome to our website for lotro gold
and lotro powerleveling
service.You can come and have a look!

Randy July 6, 2009 at 5:56 am

vikingvista,

"Ultimately it comes down to what you want."

It comes down to what each of us wants, yes. Is there any reason to assume that a political class is better suited to determine this than I can determine it for myself? Are you saying that an organization that specializes in manipulation and exploitation is better suited to the task than those who specialize in creation, production, and trade?

"If you want a consistent principle of human interactions that is most consistent with an individual's natural means of satisfying his desires, then you will be an advocate of rights–rights in the sense of the primacy of agreement over aggression in the satisfaction of wants."

Why should I give up my natural rights to the determinations of a political class? I might pay someone, or voluntarily cooperate with some group, in order to preserve my life, liberty, and property, but I see no reason to assume that the objective of the political class is to preserve my rights. Political classes throughout history have exploited people like me. That's what they do. Leviathan is not the source of all that is good and orderly. It is a confederation of exploitation.

I'm with you on the importance of enforcing rights, but it seems to me that the key to rights is property, and that the Locke quote is on the mark.

Martin Brock July 6, 2009 at 9:53 am

Its all subjective. My claim, similar to Locke's, is that my property is my person and what I create.

Locke's claim is different. He claims that his notion of "property" is historical and evolutionary. He claims that property rights evolved from claims of territory by individual laborers for their own use. He injects some personal judgments about the ethics of it all ("as well as dishonest"), but his claim is not primarily ethical.

Locke says that men governed small parcels for personal use (essentially peasantry) in the more natural state, because this limitation was "practical". Before men organized systematically to employ artificial weapons, a few men simply could not forcibly dominate many others on a large territory, not to mention the ethics ("dishonesty") of this domination.

This claim about the past might be true or false and can be subjected to historical scrutiny. It's an empirical claim about objective reality, not simply Locke's personal opinion of how things ought to be.

I'm not sure Locke is right historically. Natural territoriality is about reproduction as well as, and more than, agriculture. Natural creatures compete for territory to increase their procreativity, not their agricultural productivity. Agricultural productivity could be a means to procreative ends, but reproduction is the end.

Male creatures particularly may enhance their procreativity simply by dominating more territory, by keeping other males off of it. The dominant males in this scenario don't need to farm all of this land or to even hunt and gather on it. They only need to mate more exclusively with the females sharing it. Competing only for his own food requires much less energy.

This conquest of territory for reproductive dominance is the genesis of modern property as much as, if not more than, Locke's agrarian formulation.

Randy July 6, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Martin,

Okay, I think you're interpreting to suit your needs, but then, so am I. Fair enough.

So…

My property is my person. Proof, I can quit.

My property is what I create. Proof, my employer compensates me for what I create. If he stops compensating, I stop creating. That is, no statesmen are required to declare my creation to be my property. All that is needed is another who is willing to trade for it.

Reality, of course, requires the inclusion of the political behaviors (exploitation and rationalization), but Property does not.

vidyohs July 6, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Excellent last post, Randy. Good point.

vikingvista July 6, 2009 at 6:53 pm

"Is there any reason to assume that a political class is better suited to determine this than I can determine it for myself?"

None that I can think of. Can you paraphrase in your own words what you think I'm saying? I'm not sure how your question relates to my post.

"Are you saying that an organization that specializes in manipulation and exploitation is better suited to the task than those who specialize in creation, production, and trade?"

It is not what I intended to say. Can you tell me how you derive that from my words?

"Why should I give up my natural rights to the determinations of a political class?"

I guess that is up to you. If you think it is to your benefit, go ahead. I'm not making the connection between my post and your response.

By "agreement over aggression" I merely am referring to the fact that with almost everything in the world, your only method of changing your environment to satisfy your desires is through force. It is only with humans that you have an alternative–agreement. That is the essence of rights. That is why humans, and only humans so far as we know, can have rights. It doesn't mean that you still don't have the force option with humans just as you do with animals, wind, fire, earth, rain, microbes, cancer, and everything else you encounter.

"I might pay someone, or voluntarily cooperate with some group, in order to preserve my life, liberty, and property, but I see no reason to assume that the objective of the political class is to preserve my rights. Political classes throughout history have exploited people like me. That's what they do. Leviathan is not the source of all that is good and orderly. It is a confederation of exploitation."

I don't think I disagree with anything there. Nor do I see the connection with my post.

"I'm with you on the importance of enforcing rights, but it seems to me that the key to rights is property, and that the Locke quote is on the mark."

I wasn't commenting on the enforcement of rights. And I did write that there are no rights without property rights.

The Locke quote doesn't explain property, or any other, rights. It is, as I wrote, "deficient", but not necessarily incorrect.

Randy July 6, 2009 at 8:36 pm

vikingvista,

I was thinking I might have gone overboard in my response to you. What can I say… I was on a roll.

Re; "It is only with humans that you have an alternative–agreement."

That's good.

"That is the essence of rights."

And the essence of property. Interesting.

Previous post:

Next post: