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Post 40

Friday, October 19, 2007 - 9:49amSanction this postReply
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Moving, not Evading

FYI I am in the middle of moving, Bill, and only have internet access on break time at work.  I assume my admitting that I haven't had time to read all the posts since my previous posting is a sign of intellectual honesty, not moral evasion?

Ted





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Post 41

Monday, December 10, 2007 - 6:58pmSanction this postReply
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Still No Right-of-Way?

Bill, if you wish to maintain the definition of property as developed land, then I do agree that all property should be privately owned - or better stated from my viewpoint, that developing land is not a purpose of government.

But you still have not addressed the idea of the right-of-way. How does a person travel from his land to another's without the permission of a potentially unlimited number of intermediaries? How does law enforcement enforce the law if private landowners gerrymander to prevent them entering a crime area?

The Interstate Highway System was developed largely under a military pretext, that the defense of the nation required suitably free zones of motion around and between major population centers. Some of the Interstate Highways were built on inappropriately appropriated land. They are not directly supported by their users - certain rural areas benefit inordinately by their presence and certain areas have been inordinately disrupted by them. But the nation as a whole has benefited by their presence. One can imagine them being built only where they could be constructed without coercive eminent domain and one can imagine them being maintained by private contractors working for a profit just as easily as Sam can imagine building new capitalist utopias in currently empty lands.

But what can one imagine without a public right-of-way where all men are free to pass as they wish without the permission of private third parties who, if they truly own the land, cannot logically be denied the right to deny passage across that land to whom they wish?

I don't have my copy of The God of the Machine on me, but I think Paterson supports my argument that a right-of-way is a necessity for a free society. She also describes the feudal society in some detail - and it is one that lacks a right-of-way.

Ted Keer



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Post 42

Thursday, December 13, 2007 - 3:03pmSanction this postReply
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Hey Ronald,
This is a fun question!

Let's pretend all property is private property. You like hiking in the mountains. I like hiking in the mountains. Let's pitch in and buy a mountain. We could get everybody we know who likes hiking to pay $5 and use that pool of money to buy it. Once we own it, we can charge $5 to everyone who wants to hike on our mountain. (Come to think of it, this is how the federal government does it today -- except they use our tax money.)
Additionally, Bill Gates would do a much better job of operating Yosemite than the federal government does.
He'd do a better job of running the transportation department too.
OK, now let's pretend all roads are private. You own Interstate 1 and I own Interstate 2. You make yours zig-zag with lots of stops. I make mine connect major destinations with a slow local lane and a fast through lane. Which of us will make more money? Competition would solve the problems you're envisioning.

Cheers,
Becky



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Post 43

Thursday, December 13, 2007 - 6:52pmSanction this postReply
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Tresspassers Will be Starved to Death

Becky, what if I buy all the land surrounding your mountain, and forbid anyone to cross my land? What if I do it overnight and through proxies, so you can't prepare? Can I charge starving mountain climbers as much as I like to leave? How high do you have to fly before I have no right to shoot you down if you try to fly over my land? Or what if I buy all the land around your house, and you happen to have forgotten to have a helicopter or a Saturn Rocket on hand?

There has to be a public right of way. Certain rights of way may be simple easements on small plots of private property. But I see no way to have a state without also having larger rights of way which would constitute a form of "public property," even if it were privately administered.

In the real world, property law is not a game. There is no bigger business than real estate, and no civil law less vital than property law. Mr. Hayashi has recently addressed the Argument from Arbitrary Metaphysics. Bull sessions are fun, but I'm not ready to throw out 1,000 years of precedent in order to try to live according to untested ideas. Maybe someone here can point to a jurisdiction which embodies their ideas on a large scale. Gated communities can keep out whom they like. But cities, states or counties?

Ted Keer



Post 44

Friday, December 14, 2007 - 2:53pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,
 
I think that your criticisms would be answered by the over-arching importance of reputation (and consequent profit) in truly free markets. For instance, you query:
 
===============
"How does a person travel from his land to another's without the permission of a potentially unlimited number of intermediaries? How does law enforcement enforce the law if private landowners gerrymander to prevent them entering a crime area?"
===============

In a truly free market, these extreme/borderline examples would be dealt with via public boycott (alternative travel). For instance, imagine the lowered reputation (and profit) that a landowner would get having effectively obstructed justice by preventing law enforcement to enter a crime area. Imagine the consequent public outrage at such a thing. There are few circumstances which would make oneself more publically disapproved of than that would (only outright crime would be considered worse than such obstruction of justice).

So, "private third parties who, if they truly own the land, cannot logically be denied the right to deny passage across that land to whom they wish" would be subject to societal or public reputation -- and would, if they were to thrive and profit, would not continually make such socially-disruptive choices regarding their sovereignty over their owned property or capital.
 
Ed




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Post 45

Saturday, December 15, 2007 - 1:13pmSanction this postReply
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Ed, thanks for at least addressing the issue.

The problem I have with your response is that no person's rights should depend upon public opinion. If I'm a miserable son of a bitch with an independent income in your system I am free to buy up the land around someone and deny him his rights to the equal protection of the law or even the ability to leave his land. Again, this is (let me qualify it) neo-feudalism. People's rights of association and so forth are subordinated to the wishes of any landowner they come across.

Also, let's imagine that an unpopular or controversial person finds that someone has bought up the land surrounding him. Say some Democrat activist group or George Soros buys the land surrounding Rush Limabaugh's home. Or a church in a predominantly fundamentalist area buys the land surrounding a house belonging to a gay couple. You are saying that the government does not protect Limbaugh or the homosexuals, but that public sentiment, does. And if public sentiment is against you, even though you are not a criminal?

=====

This debate suffers from too much amateur armchair philosophizing uninformed by such concepts as easements and right-of-way which laymen rarely consider. Most people just take it for granted that they have absolute rights over their own property and that they can also walk down any street or sidewalk as a matter of right. But anyone who has dealt in real estate or subdivided a property, or been fined or sued for not maintaining their sidewalk has learned that there is a large body of technical law of which the general public is happily ignorant. A discussion on this level is of little value, comparable to objecting to the big-bang because it seems to imply a creation ex-nihilo without understanding such vital concepts as relativity and higher dimensional geometry. I am not a lawyer. I do think that the government should not own businesses or housing. I have no problem with private roads or privately managed public roads. But I am not going to engage in a debate which ignores essential concepts developed over millennia and accept the assertion that the entire surface of the planet Earth must be privately owned because Rand casually expressed support for such ideas as private roads. She never addressed this matter in any depth, or in essay form, or endorsed any specific work outlining how one can do away with rights-of-way and so forth. I am sympathetic to privatizing as much land as possible But I am not sympathetic to contextless arguments begun in midstream with dogmatic zeal lacking even an cursory knowledge of the enormous body of already extant thought.

Ted Keer




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Post 46

Saturday, December 15, 2007 - 8:54pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,

I'm aware that you do not approve of my "tennis-ball" (point-by-point) method of rational argument, but that's my style and I won't apologize for it. Here comes the tennis ball ...

The problem I have with your response is that no person's rights should depend upon public opinion.
I didn't say that they do. I said that folks would be rational enough to recognize a harmony of interests -- and to socially and economically ostracize someone disruptive to that. That's not taking away their rights, only their social acceptance and economic power.

... I am free to buy up the land around someone and deny him his rights to the equal protection of the law or even the ability to leave his land. ...

... Say some Democrat activist group or George Soros buys the land surrounding Rush Limabaugh's home. Or a church in a predominantly fundamentalist area buys the land surrounding a house belonging to a gay couple. You are saying that the government does not protect Limbaugh or the homosexuals, but that public sentiment, does.
You seem to have me in somewhat of a pickle here -- with these extreme cases of disharmony of interests among men. There may be some initially rich folks with so much hate in their hearts as to be willing to sacrifice some of their social acceptance -- and economic power -- in order to simply be malicious to their fellow man.

One rebuttal which I can make, at least against the first statement in the quote above, is that police can -- and often do -- enter into private property in order to stop/prevent crime. And when the nature of the crime endangers life, they can -- and often do -- break down your door, without a search warrant. So that seems to minimize the weight of your "argument of justice obstruction." As to preventing individuals from any travel, I do not have the strong rebuttal that I do in the case of law enforcement. In this case, I am forced to retreat to a mere retort -- the one mentioned above (where societal and economic harm comes to those who practice malice).

This debate suffers from too much amateur armchair philosophizing uninformed by such concepts as easements and right-of-way which laymen rarely consider.
Perhaps you're right about that but, if so, you are just as guilty as I am -- by forwarding such extreme, hypothetical cases to be answered by others. That method is akin to evaluating a moral code of behavior by basing it solely on a lifeboat scenario. In the long-term and large-scale view, malicious behavior would not go unpunished in a truly free society. Societal toleration of outright malice requires the use of government force.

... I am not sympathetic to contextless arguments begun in midstream with dogmatic zeal lacking even an cursory knowledge of the enormous body of already extant thought.
It seems to me that it is perhaps best for us to end this discussion now -- though I would welcome a final response from you (if you were so inclined as to give one).

Ed




Post 47

Sunday, December 16, 2007 - 10:03amSanction this postReply
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Common (or Customary) law has dealt with the landlocked parcel problem for a long time. Check out the Wikipedia article Easement, particularly the section Easement by necessity.

Neither the interests nor the rights of men conflict. If you think they do, then I suggest you check your premises.



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Post 48

Sunday, December 16, 2007 - 12:19pmSanction this postReply
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Both Earlier and Closer than We Think?

Not to be vindictive, but a certain senior poster here didn't know what an easement was. I fully understand the concept of easements and their necessity, (I think I may have been the first to use the word on this forum) but is the concept not an affront to property rights absolutists? This is the impression I get, but I would have to let them speak for themselves.

And the concept of an easement still doesn't deal with waterways, major roadways, and established land, or courthouses and the like.

For example, would the state have to regulate easements? Would this regulation require that people pave their easements? Would they have to have a minimal width, so as to allow police cars or tanks to pass?

At this point we get to a state of affairs where private land owners are required to maintain the roadways, with the issues of a patchwork of quality, standards, and upkeep, and the necessity to take landowners to court to maintain their roads, as well, perhaps, to stop malicious landowners from cutting their neighbour's water, sewer, phone, electric and cable lines. From building large structures that block out sunlight or totally surround a small household with a skyscraper. The answer might be a licensed agency which would collect fees to maintain common rights of way such as street lined by attached apartment buildings which predominate in cities like New York.

What we come to is simply the status quo, but with a reregulation of the law transferring title but not ultimate control of the roads to private owners. I wonder how many people living in suburban towns will want to be granted title to the street in front of their houses, and find themselves responsible, potentially, for their upkeep and lawsuits by people who trip and fall or are injured on the street before their homes. Would we establish a body of civil law granting private road owners immunity from lawsuits?

And finally, is there a real market of investors for what are now public roads? Are there capitalists now agitating for road privatization so that they can get in on such a profitable affair?

This topic is interesting, but to be addressed it truly needs the attention of scholars motivated by principles but not blinded by absolutist ideologies - by which I mean scholars who are versed in the history of the subject, who are not depending on the spontaneous appearance of enlightened land-owners and toll-road investors who may not exist, and who are willing to proceed with small local experiments to see how they best work, and to allow jurisdictions to move on their own toward more capitalists systems. The issues involved are not limited to roads, but also to air rights, water and sewer systems, and all the essentially two-dimensional conduits which currently use the existing rights-of-way.

====

Ed, your candystriping approached, but did not exceed my limit of tolerance.

"The problem I have with your response is that no person's rights should depend upon public opinion. -TK

I didn't say that they do. I said that folks would be rational enough to recognize a harmony of interests -- and to socially and economically ostracize someone disruptive to that. That's not taking away their rights, only their social acceptance and economic power." -ET

Your saying that folks would be rational enough to recognize a harmony of interests begs the entire question. First, if people do have absolute rights to exclude outsiders and they do exercise their right to prevent access of law enforcers, what do we do. Exert the government power of hot pursuit or commandeering? Then property rights are not absolute.

"if so, you are just as guilty as I am -- by forwarding such extreme, hypothetical cases to be answered by others." -ET

I deny this, my examples are eminently possible. It would be a simple matter to buy up land, and to do so through proxies and so forth. This has been done in the past. The range-wars of the US Post Civil-War West exist as case studies. I am not talking about Arbitrary Metaphysics such as the case of waking up one day and finding aliens surrounding your homestead. Rather, such matters are everyday matters in the courts and the papers. Such issues arose in Atlantic City when Casino Gambling was legalized. They are occurring now in Harlem where Columbia University is attempting a land-grab in a residential area which the University says will not be done against the public interest - while it keeps the eminent domain card and its pull with the city up its sleeve. Likewise, we have had people attempt to corner markets before. This is a case where one need not corner an entire market, but rather "corner" one plot of land. People have free will, so malicious actors cannot be imagined away, and allowances must be made to protect against them. The "mind" of the general public is not educated in a non-entitlement mentality. There is much education to be done.

Ted Keer

(Edited by Ted Keer on 12/16, 1:11pm)




Post 49

Sunday, December 16, 2007 - 12:37pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,

I sanctioned your post because of your explicative reply to me. To be clear, I am not in any kind of over-arching agreement with the first part of your post -- though I will not "put you through" another candy-striped retort (in fear of exceeding your limit of tolerance on the matter).

;-)

Ed




Post 50

Monday, December 17, 2007 - 5:27pmSanction this postReply
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Ed, I appreciate that, and I advocate sanctioning posts which are good efforts, even when I do disagree with them.

Ted



Post 51

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 - 1:41pmSanction this postReply
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     'Hanging from ledges' is not an acceptable hypothetical scenario to consider/imagine, but, buying up property surrounding a locale in a 'no public thru-way' scenario is.

     I'm perplexed as to the criteria ref acceptability for discussions.

LLAP
J:D

PS: I find 'candy-striping' responses the best in discussions because...quoting avoids getting the response "I never said that" to a mis-interpreted paraphrasing counter-argument.




Post 52

Thursday, December 27, 2007 - 7:29pmSanction this postReply
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Finding oneself hanging from a ledge with no moral responsibility or explanation of how one has gotten there is the objectionable assumption. Read Hayashi's article. People do buy land. They don't find that they have done so without realizing how they got in that position.

(Edited by Ted Keer on 12/27, 7:30pm)




Post 53

Saturday, December 29, 2007 - 12:36pmSanction this postReply
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"Hanging from ledges' is not an acceptable hypothetical scenario to consider/imagine, but, buying up property surrounding a locale in a 'no public thru-way' scenario is."

I hate to be the harbinger here, but a few "lifeboats" here and a couple "hanging edges" there, and next thing you know, you have serious problems.



Post 54

Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 2:50amSanction this postReply
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     Why am I feeling like I'm hanging from a ledge of a sinking cruise-ship over a clearly-filled lifeboat in this thread?

     Ahh-hh, such scenarios are totally dismissable as 'arbitrary' in ethical-problem concerns, of course.

LLAP
J:D




Post 55

Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 6:28amSanction this postReply
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Lifeboat scenarios are when men's rights conflict.

The scenario Ted is giving does not equal a lifeboat scenario, it's helping to parse an important issue.

Go get 'em Ted.



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Post 56

Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 7:02pmSanction this postReply
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Re: Parks -- Let's approach this by asking how can we carry your argument for preserving natural beauty further, and does this lead to a desirable result?

Yes, Yosemite is beautiful, but it is marred by accomodations for others that mar my experience of the place.  So, let's dynamite the hotel and remove all the roads, and require everyone who wants to go inside to walk in from the park boundaries, with no tent or other gear that might mar the scenary for others.  Result: a more scenic visit, for about 0.1% of the people who currently visit.

Better for a tiny few, worse for everyone else.

Now, let's sell it off to the highest bidder.  To pay for the exorbitantly high price and maximize income, most likely the valley floor will be filled with high-rise condos, painted in natural greens and brown hues.

Result?  A densely populated eco-urban valley, with perhaps 10-100 times as many people enjoying a somewhat diminished experience.

The "perfect" public choice results in less happiness overall versus privatization, since the vastly increased number of people enjoying the valley, multiplied by a less enjoyable experience per person, still results in an overwhelming net improvement in value aggregated over all the users.

But, let's say your value system says we must preserve maximum natural beauty for an elite few, rather than maximizing total beauty experienced by large numbers of people.  OK, then we must use eminent domain to condemn all beachfront, all mountain views, dynamite Hetch Hetchy dam, and bulldoze all dwellings, businesses, and signs of human habitation so a few backpackers can have a peak moment.

That is the Sierra Club's secret wet dream, but not something any of the multitudes of non-elites being ruthlessly evicted from their private property would accept.




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Post 57

Sunday, January 27, 2008 - 5:17pmSanction this postReply
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I've tried to imagine what driving would be like if all roads were privately owned, and all I envision is chaos and zig-zag-like interstate highways. Owners could shut down their private roads at any time for any reason, and there would be endless stops and tolls as one small section of private road ran into another.

Oh my God! You've just suggested something to me: what if ALL THE BAKERIES AND SUPERMARKETS WERE PRIVATELY OWNED??!! Think of the chaos! The disaster waiting to happen! At any moment -- for the slightest whim -- the owners of all the bakeries and all the supermarkets could snap their haughty manicured fingers and shut down...we would all starve!! Much better to have a system like Venezuela, or the former Soviet Union, where the government, in its beneficent wisdom, owns all food production and all food distribution, and "the people" get what they want (as well as what they so richly deserve).

(Now, tell me again, why the former Soviet Union had food shortages of everything, but especially of wheat and bread; and why it was the greedy, capitalist United States -- with its shameful privately-owned farms, bakeries, and supermarkets, that had to prop up the The Great Social Experiment in the former Workers' Paradise by exporting millions of tons of wheat and wheat products to them? Do tell me. I thought I knew once; but your argument has gotten me so excited about the wonderful possibilities of government ownership and government management, that I've quite simply forgotten.)

If all property were privately owned, I think it would pretty much mean an end to America's great parks.

Without doubt. Look at all the beautiful parks in Communist China, Communist Russia, and Communist Cuba. Such happy countries.

I mean, why would a super-rich land owner want to compromise his private shangri-la by making it available to others for a relative pittance? If, say, Billy Gates owned Yosemite,what incentive would he have to make it available to anyone else?

That's a great argument. That has suggested to me something else that's almost as horrible as private ownership of parks by a capitalist pig like Bill Gates: what if...just "if" ... a lot of computer software were owned by Bill Gates??!! I'm not saying that's actually the case; I'm just presenting you with what lawyers call a "hypothetical." Imagine if Gates owned and controlled much of the software that people use on a daily basis: would he have any incentive to share it with the "proles" like us? I doubt it. He'd horde it for himself. And even if he did, grudgingly, let others make use of it, he would charge outrageous, exorbitant prices for it. Obviously, if Gates owned and controlled software, ONLY THE RICH WOULD BE ABLE TO AFFORD IT. That follows as night from day.

The free-market economists are always fond of pointing out that prices are lowest, quality highest, and consumer contentment greatest, in precisely those industries that have the LEAST government interference -- the clearest example being the computer industry (including both hardware and software). These economists are obviously in the pay of that industry -- probably also in the pay of the oil industry (because all people who doubt government beneficence are, by definition, in the pay of the oil industry). So we don't have to read their statements or study their arguments. They can all be confidently ignored.

I think our national parks are true national treasures,

So I'm told.

and I certainly would not like to see them turned into strip malls and condo complexes by entrepeneurs. The same holds true for me on a city level. I'm from beautiful San Diego--and if the city were minus Balboa Park and Mission Bay Park, it would lose much of its appeal.

Apparently, it only appeals to the sort of people who disapprove of strip malls and condo complexes. Most people -- as investors might tell you -- actually like strip malls and condo complexes, which is the reason such investors can profit by them. But who cares what most people want. We need to serve the elite, because...well, because... ah, because, well, they're better than others. (I knew there was a reason.)

And let us never forget that ALL PRIVATE INVESTMENT in ALL SECTORS OF A CAPITALIST ECONOMY are low-brow and meant to appeal to only the lowest common denominator. For example, there are zero investors and entrepreneurs in the elite, high-end alcoholic beverage sector: Moet-Hennessy? A shabby little company with no clientèle for its hoity-toity product line -- only beer companies make money. I'm sure this is true of real estate investors.

Apparently, what you really enjoy about your city-owned parks, is the fact that even people who have no means or time to enjoy the park are forced to pay for it so that you can enjoy and tell everyone else how wonderful it is ("You really ought to get away from that drudge job you have and take a walk in Balboa park.")

What most people like about national parks is the fact they don't have to pay a fair price for what they enjoy...other people, living, let us say, in Trenton, New Jersey, are also paying for it, and are working too hard and too long to take time off, fly to one of our glorious national treasures, and smell the flowers (or smell the geysers).

Same for public transportation. What fair-minded person could possibly complain about a system -- such as the NY City subway and bus system -- in which everyone pays one price, and where those traveling short distances are subsidizing those traveling long distances. I appreciate the Rule of Socialism that you have brought to my attention:

IT IS INHERENTLY UNFAIR FOR ANYONE -- BUT ESPECIALLY SOMEONE WHO IS CULTURED AND SENSITIVE -- TO HAVE TO PAY A PRICE FOR SOMETHING THAT REFLECTS WHAT THAT SOMETHING IS ACTUALLY WORTH.

You should always have to pay less than what it's worth by means of a subsidy from someone, somewhere.

I'm glad we've had this chat. You've set me straight on a number of things.



Post 58

Monday, January 28, 2008 - 7:15pmSanction this postReply
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LOL!



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