What is this thing called property?

By Lorenzo

My nomination for the most misleading metaphor in modern philosophy is John Locke’s notion that, in a state of nature, one mixes one’s labour with something to rreate property. In John Locke’s words:

The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature has provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined it to something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.

This is nonsense. Animals engage in “mixing their labour” with things all the time, they do not thereby create property. In fact, one of the distinctive things about homo sapiens is our sense of property. Not a sense of “territoriality” (“this is mine”); plenty of species have that. But the sense of “yes, that is yours and I will deal with it and you on that basis“. Property, at its most basic, is acknowledged control, a game of reciprocal constraint. I acknowledge your property in the expectation you will acknowledge mine. If that happens, social possibilities massively expand.

[ADDENDA Hopefully the following clarifies and extends my argument in ways which are more persuasive: but that is a virtue of blogging; offering ideas for comment and testing. Locke’s approach has plausibility because of belief that labour is worthy of his hire, so property as “reward for effort” has resonance. But that is not Locke’s argument.

Locke’s argument starts with the notion that we own ourselves. It does not rest on us being the creation of our own labour, but a notion of self-ownership. By “mixing our labour” with things acquired from nature we “create” property by a process of extension of our self-ownership.

There is a series of problems with this argument. First, if we own ourselves, do we really think that we can therefore sell ourselves, either entire or by amputation and alienation of bits? And, if not, in what sense is this ownership? Is there not something perverse about a concept which implies an acceptable separation of our physical self (in whole or in part) from ourself. To be property is to be owned by something that is not itself and which can be passed on to others. So, to be property, even of ourself, is to be lessened from what we feel is the proper status of being a moral agent.

A notion of self-dominion makes more sense; we control ourselves and property extends from that control. By taking some unowned thing from nature, we assert control over it; it is the assertion and acceptance of control which creates property.

As ever, slavery provides a limiting case. The institution of slavery contradicts Locke’s notion that we own ourselves. Slavery is morally obnoxious (a violation of self-dominion, and so human autonomy, in the most profound sense) but it does not make slaves any less property. It is the acknowledged assertion of control over the slave that creates slavery, not the labour of the slaveowner (even if it is directed to that end) extending the slaver’s self-ownership to cover the slave. Do we really think that the process of enslaving is a process of the slaver “mixing their labour” with the slave? Surely not; neither as a description nor as some act of legitimation. No amount of applied labour by the slaver makes slavery legitimate nor is it what makes slaves property.

The process of enslaving is a process of getting acknowledged control over the slave. The more difficulty involved, the more the slaver has to act to do so, but the effort required does not affect any “level” of being property, merely whether it is worth the bother. Locke’s use of the term ‘labour’ directs attention to the effort and not to what is being effected. (Hence the connection to the labour theory of value, which makes the same error.)

Moreover, by starting with self-dominion, we can see how slaves can buy their freedom. Although their legal status as property formally precludes them from having any property, the degree to which they can control their own actions can give effective (i.e. economic) property rights.

Nor do we do think the recipient of property gained via exchange is somehow less legitimately the owner because none of her labour has been applied to the thing exchanged (though she has [trans]acted). Her ownership is hers, it has no connection to the labour of any previous owner, merely that it has been acquired by some legitimate process (which, for day-to-day transactions, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we presume to be the case for any current possessor).

Property exists in acknowledged control; it rests on acknowledgement of a domain of authority by a person over an attribute which is accepted as constraining others (and so is quite dependent on a moral sense, upon which property law can be built) regardless of whether it was acquired from nature or by transaction with another.]

Property is fundamental
For once you have a concept of mutually acknowledged control of things, then you can engage in exchange. For exchange is a transfer of control. And with exchange comes vastly increased social possibilities. One can access resources that do not originate in one’s own area. People can specialise, so produce more, and swap what they have a surplus of for what they have a deficit of. (Or, more precisely, swap what they value less for what they value more.)

The gender-exchange of hunter-gathering (women mind children and gather; men go out singly or in groups and hunt) was likely what gave our foraging ancestors a crucial advantage over Neanderthals, by increasing both our foraging and our child-rearing success (a primordial application of comparative advantage).

Locke’s disastrous metaphor led to the, quite false, labour theory of value, which has things so the wrong way around. Things do not have value due to labour, we direct our labour to acquiring things we value. Our sense of value directs our labour (not always successfully). So Marxian studies which connect movements in use of labour to shifts in price (“exchange-value”) tell us nothing other than labour is more flexible than capital and that we direct resources we control to creating (or otherwise acquiring) according to our expectations of value. As such efforts are rewarded (or not) in commercial exchanges, the selection processes of markets operate.

Karl Marx famously made the labour theory of value his analytical centrepiece. But he did so on the basis of poor reasoning and created a self-contradictory theory of exploitation.

Effective control
According to a definition developed by economist John R. Commons:

A property right is an enforceable authority to undertake particular actions in specific domains.

As Elinor Ostrom says in her Nobel prize lecture, out in the world, five types of property right can be identified. She defines these as (pdf):

Access: The right to enter a defined physical area and enjoy nonsubtractive benefits (for example, hike, canoe, sit in the sun).
Withdrawal: The right to obtain resource units or products of a resource system (for example, catch fish, divert water).
Management: The right to regulate internal use patterns and transform the resource by making improvements.
Exclusion: The right to determine who will have access rights and withdrawal rights, and how those rights may be transferred.
Alienation: The right to sell or lease management and exclusion rights.

If one includes the internet, then seven types of property rights can be identified:

Access: The right to enter a defined physical area and enjoy nonsubtractive benefits.
Contribution: The right to contribute to the content.
Extraction: The right to obtain resource units or products of a resource system.
Removal: The right to remove one’s artifacts from the resource.
Management/Participation: The right to regulate internal use patterns and transform the resource by making improvements.
Exclusion: The right to determine who will have access, contribution, extraction, and removal rights and how those rights may be transferred.
Alienation: The right to sell or lease management and exclusion rights.

Property law is concerned with rightful control: who has it, how far it extends. In day-to-day interactions, what matters is effective control. But that has a notion of acknowledgement built into it. It is effective in part because other people acknowledge it. But we do not have complete information about past interactions, hence the possession-presumption. If you have current possession of something, we presume it is rightfully yours, so it becomes effectively yours (in the absence of any specific information to the contrary).

Which leads to the definition of an economic property right as effective control. A classic example of the difference is that slaves cannot own property, they are property. Yet slaves did, on occasion, buy their own freedom. How can someone not legally entitled to own anything assemble enough wealth to buy their own freedom?

Because there is a difference between property rights recognised by law and property rights in the sense of the ability to use or control something. If this was not so, there would be no point to theft.

An economic property right is effective control over something. What do I mean by ‘something’? I mean some identifiable attribute of something. These can have positive or negative value. Warranties take on (usually conditional) obligation to restore attributes that have been damaged or lost. Insurance consists of paying someone to take on negative attributes (e.g. risk of breaking).

Property is based on implicit or explicit rules. Rules that set limits to action, whether by the holder of the property right or by non-holders. A rule constrains actions (which can create, expand, reduce or eliminate property rights and create, increase, decrease or eliminate their their value). But, without rules (implicit or explicit), property does not exist.

About official discretions
An official discretion over use of another’s property creates a zone of power for designated official(s). In doing so, it shares control of attributes between official(s) and owner. It creates rights vested in officials over property otherwise owned by someone else. Typically, a right of veto over its use. Such a regime we can call a permit raj.

If we use John Commons’s definition of a property right as being an enforceable authority to undertake particular actions in specific domains, then the official with discretionary authority has a property right or rights; their approval is required, a form of property right. Specifically, using Ostrom’s language, management and exclusion rights.

Shared control is diluted control. That raises transaction costs, discouraging use of the property in any way which activates the discretionary power and so the delay, negotiating costs and uncertainty involved therefrom.

The official granted the management and exclusion right has quite different incentives than a full owner. They get no return directly from the property, so have no direct incentive in its productive use. They do have an incentive to find ways of benefiting from their veto rights. This is an open invitation for corruption–corruption being the market for official discretions; the wider the range of official discretions, the wider the potential market for corruption. (Ironically, ordinary corruption can reduce economic inefficiency, by giving officials benefit from expanded use of property.)

But there are other ways of benefiting than overt corruption. Generating political donations to gain access to officials, for example. Or restricting supply, thereby benefiting incumbents who may vote or donate accordingly, and raising property values (and so revenue), or otherwise imposing one’s social preferences without having to bear the cost thereof.

But we can also expect that use of such discretions will be biased against change in the use of property within its ambit, since the official generally does not gain from expanded or new use, but does run the risk of reputational or career damage if anything goes wrong, and new or expanded use has more unknowns than continuation of the familiar. This “comfort zone” effect can be expected to extend to innovative, and thus unfamiliar, uses.

There can also expected to be a social bias in the application of official discretions, as people with access to officials, and who share a common set of preferences and “social language”, can be expected to be more able to get official discretions exercised in their favour. So, we can expect well-connected folk with minority preferences to generally like official discretions being granted over use of property. (In Australia, that means we can expect inner city folk to like official discretions; in Australia, the name for well-connected inner city rich folk is ‘progressive’ aka Greens, the Party with by far the richest voter base on Australia and whose electoral support is concentrated in the inner city.)

All these effects–retarding of economic activity, corruption, the generation of other returns to officials, blocking innovation and insider bias–can be observed in discretionary regimes. Such as in India (pdf) or in the Middle East.

It is very different if there are clear rules, no matter how restrictive. People have clear (i.e. not shared) zones of authority over attributes and can act and transact on that basis. In terms of efficient use of, and equitable decision-making over, property, a rule-based system is highly preferable to a discretionary one.

Making common property work
One of Ostrom’s research findings is that government action has frequently enforced open access to resources by blocking attempts to develop common property regimes. In the case of resources such as fisheries, this has been less than optimal.

The issue of which property rights regime suits given circumstances is quite complex. Formal titling, for example, is not a panacea. As Ostrom notes:

In societies that do not yet have high population densities and where customary rights are still commonly understood and accepted, formal titling may be an expensive method of increasing the security of a title that is not associated with a sufficiently higher return to be worth the economic investment.

Moreover:

substantial evidence exists that many communal proprietorships effectively solve a wide diversity of local problems with relatively low transaction costs … Performance of communal property-rights systems varies substantially, however, as do the performance of all property-rights systems.

A (housing) corporate body is a common-property regime. Like many such regimes, it operates in conjunction with full private property. While a corporation attempts to manage a common pool resource—its income. And there are notorious difficulties with corporate governance.

Ostrom identifies the following variables as important for the effectiveness of common property regimes:

1. Accurate information about the condition of the resource and expected flow of benefits and costs is available at low cost to the participants.
2. Participants share a common understanding about the potential benefits and risks associated with the continuance of the status quo as contrasted with changes in norms and rules that they could feasibly adopt.
3. Participants share generalized norms of reciprocity and trust that can be used as initial social capital.
4. The group using the resource is relatively stable.
5. Participants plan to live and work in the same area for a long time (and in some cases, expect their offspring to live there as well) and, thus, do not heavily discount the future.
6. Participants use collective-choice rules that fall between the extremes of unanimity or control by a few (or even bare majority) and, thus, avoid high transaction or high deprivation costs.
7. Participants can develop relatively accurate and low-cost monitoring and sanctioning arrangements.

The wider system of governance can affect deeply the operation of these variables.

Discretionary power to officials creates a form of common property. If we apply Ostrom’s checklist, discretionary regimes do not come off well.

As Ostrom points out, a property rights regime is itself a form of common property. We have a general interest in living under an effective property regime, and creating a permit raj degrades any even mildly functional property rights regime. Say no to permit raj’s!

24 Comments

  1. Posted May 23, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Of course we all want and need security over our rights, but the reduction of rights to that which is written down in law is typically lawyerly.

    While the author mentions customary rights in passing, he does not allow that in any civilised society all people should have a natural right to live – to erect shelter & grow food for themselves.

    Presumably, those who can’t enforce their rights have none in his world. Neither does he value (indeed he condemns as inefficient) non trade benefits. Still, I found this article very informative.

  2. Posted May 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] You don’t seem to have read the post all that closely. “Implicit rules”, for example, mean they are not written down (and I am not a lawyer).

    Yes, rights have to be enforceable to be effective, though what counts as “enforceable” can be a complex matter.

    “Natural rights” are not property rights as such. Especially if they wander into claims on other people’s labour or forced use of other people’s property.

  3. Julie Thomas
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Lorenzo Looks like an interesting post; lots of ideas. I got to the first 2 lines about Locke; looked up the wiki link and read “ the philosopher John Locke asked by what right an individual can claim to own one part of the world, when, according to the Bible, God gave the world to all humanity in common. He answered that persons own themselves and therefore their own labor. When a person works, that labor enters into the object. Thus, the object becomes the property of that person.”

    But doesn’t the person owe ‘God’ for the use of the world to make something for himself? Maybe we should pay rent to God if we use his land.

  4. kvd
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Good for you LE. Lorenzo needs to do far more work to prove his case; or at least a little more than saying Locke’s thoughts are ‘a nonsense’ 😉

    Locke was correct from the point of view of the ‘labourer’: value was added by means of his effort, and he thereby gained some sort of right to to some sort of recognition for that effort. Lorenzo is correct that that ‘value’ – which he terms property – only has such if it is recognized by others; a recognition enforced by society through laws.

    Surely two different segments of the whole pie? I don’t see the need to deride Locke for his views.

  5. Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] & [email protected] I am not a fan of the “homeopathic” theory of beliefs; just because Locke was off the mark on one point does not mean that other things he had to say were not worthy.

    That the labourer is worthy of his hire does not constitute a good theory of property. You may acquire something from unowned nature to create value with it, but it is the acknowledged control which makes it property, not the application of labour. Part of my point is that our views of property in practice do not involve actually knowing how you acquired it. This may be important in property law, but not for day-to-day transactions.

    I perhaps also needed to be clearer that reciprocal constraint is an ethical constraint. Property, quite fundamentally, relies on a moral sense.

  6. Posted May 24, 2012 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    Lorenzo,

    Lots to consider here. I thought things got a bit florid with your parenthesis about “well-connected folk with minority preferences.” What about well-connected folk simpliciter?

  7. Julie Thomas
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    LE I’m not criticising Locke at all. Have been reading a bit lately about him lately and I think he was a great thinker; wonderful insights into his fellow man.
    I’;m thinking though that he could never have imagined mining companies.

    If we own the land in common, and I like that bit, it means that God was the original altruist in giving us a planet – no fair exchange – just a straight out gift. Wonderful metaphor.

    But then, my suggestion was wrong, we don’t have to pay rent to God lol, but maybe we should think about compensating those people who come later and find somebody else has used all the land to make stuff that we don’t really need and that is actually bad for us – that makes us fat and stupid even.

    You know that bloke who makes wealth from using land that is owned by everyone? He was lucky to get there first wasn’t he? If he got there first and has taken the land how can I make any wealth/property?

  8. Posted May 24, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    In order to make my points clearer I would like to expand on them.

    In saying “the reduction of rights to that which is written down” is not a criticism of writing down, but of the lawyerly inclination to rely, in the end, entirely on the letter of law and little if at all on the spirit or on reasonableness. (Whether you are a lawyer or not is irrelevant to this point.)

    Your reference to customary rights and to implicit rules does not address the point that the right to life, and so to erect shelter & grow food for ourselves, is currently neither written down nor even implied now – it is a right which has been swamped by the assumption that the economy is the foundation for life. You either have a job and pay for your land access or if you don’t have a job, the economy might pay an allowance – not on the basis of any right, but as “welfare” or “charity”.

    While it is true to say that “rights have to be enforceable to be effective”, my point was not about that but about whether a right exists regardless of a person’s ability to enforce it or not – hence, regardless of whether others acknowledge your control or not. This is to do with the dignity of the human spirit, not custom or law which may or may not acknowledge this dignity.

    I think other comments touch on this too – Julie for example – & Legal Eagle also pointed to her struggle on this matter.

  9. Posted May 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] I have added an addenda to clarify my argument.

    That “grabbing land” issue arose with squatting, of course. Which led to arguments about use and acceptance.

    [email protected] It is hard to see how such putative rights, in a “crowded” society (i.e. one that no longer has, in some sense, an open frontier), can exist without trashing other people’s rights if they are asserted as a right to claim resources as asserted to be needed. Moreover, life, shelter etc are effectively dealt with via welfare provisions. Which is product of a highly productive society precisely because of effective property rights.

  10. kvd
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    First, if we own ourselves, do we really think that we can therefore sell ourselves, either entire or by amputation and alienation of bits? And, if not, in what sense is this ownership? Is there not something perverse about a concept which implies an acceptable separation of our physical self (in whole or in part) from ourself.

    Lorenzo I think your addendum confuses rather than clarifies? My own answer to your first question is ‘Yes’ – bearing in mind kidney transplants, surrogacy, paid blood donations etc… And then I don’t see how your second question follows on? “If not”???

    In another place I’ve been reading about the ultimate ‘ownership’ question: the right to make arrangements for the dignified ending of one’s life. It seems to me there is no recognition under law at present for this most basic of rights: the absolute control of one’s body.

    It is all confusing, and possibly not to the point you wish to pursue, and certainly one I do not wish to pursue with you today – but that is something I feel very strongly about.

  11. Julie Thomas
    Posted May 25, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    LE My brain just doesn’t do the sort of thinking that legal eagles like to do lol. I’m a different sort of intelligence so I’ll leave the specifics of how to conceptualise property up to you.

    I do think it’s asking to much to expect the thinkers of the past to be applicable to our times.

  12. Julie Thomas
    Posted May 25, 2012 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Thanks LE, I’m quite good at those throwaway lines but unable to follow them up with any further useful or practical suggestions. I think my brain does symbolism well but we really need people who can take simple but big ideas and make them practical and applicable.

    I think lawyers are the type of people who do that well.

    I really like the idea of seeing ‘us’ humans as a species, as one tribe – all of us Lucy’s children; not God’s. Although that one ‘god’ notion was very useful in some ways but the hunter-gatherer way of understanding property and ‘country’ is so very different to our ideas.

    I like to fantasise that we will find a way to incorporate what they did successfully with what we do successfully – and I think it is so important that we do respect that type of worldview but not want to go back to it.

  13. Posted May 25, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorenzo –
    We are discussing “property” & I pointed to a clash of that ideology with the human right of access to nature’s gifts to all. I know you have reservations about Locke as do I, so you might not respect his “enough as good left over” limitation on ownership.

    Your dismissal of my argument as “effectively dealt with via welfare provisions” makes me think you don’t seem to have thought about my posts all that closely – perhaps because you cannot imagine any workable alternative to your own world view.

    The Dole Is Not Your Birthright … to live in peace, justice and security is!

    There is no automatic right to any of society’s benefits to which we did not fairly contribute (although even as children we may already have paid a hefty price through the absence of working parents. There is also a case for humaneness regarding the strong and the weak, but that consideration is unnecessary to the point to be made here.)

    So what other possibility is there without paid work and with no birthright to the dole?

    Rights always involve responsibilities, and they are always limited by the equality of rights of all others, and by the rights of future generations. A lifestyle that respects rights and responsibilities is a just lifestyle.

    Access to such a lifestyle is the right and responsibility of all.

    We have the right to choose to live with others, in a group or a family, or we may choose to live alone.
    We also have the right to enjoy the fruits of our chosen lifestyle, provided that lifestyle is balanced and its fruits are just and equitable, depriving nobody of anything they have a right to expect.

    So how does one gain access to such rights, and what responsibilities must be met? These are human rights, and to gain them one simply has to be born. They can be lost by being irresponsible.

    To live at all, we must have food, shelter and clothing. We may get these things by any just means. We may choose to work for someone doing just, equitable and balanced work. For this we are paid and can thereby buy what we need to live. Alternatively we may even decide barter our product or service.

    But, we have no obligation to take either of these choices. We do not have any obligation to work for anyone to acquire our right to live. To live is a right, and there is no responsibility to provide for our needs by working for any other person for payment or exchange.

    However, neither do we have any right to have others provide anything for us … unless we are working for them, or except if we are their dependent.

    To provide for our own needs by working directly with the gifts of nature is the only other possibility, and, while few may choose it, it must remain a right to have this option.

    Since food, shelter and clothing all come directly from the land, then access to land where the individual can provide for themselves must be a right, limited of course by the equal rights of all others, as expressed for example in just and equitable building regulations, etc. (This right of access to land for survival must also necessarily limit the right any other person may have to hold title over land for any other purpose).

    Society seems to have forgotten about this right, except in an around-about and rather weak way through our public housing system. Unfortunately, public housing is now seen as a charity by many who are independent through wages or business – it certainly has a ‘non-birthright’ even ‘welfare’ component to it. The labour and building materials paid for by the taxpayer may be the reason for this, but land itself is another element to public housing and it is fundamental. It is this element which I say is an inalienable human right. So I see the Dept of Housing as the best potential for a national reform which would restore the opportunity for people to choose to provide for themselves.

    Unfortunately not only have we forgotten that it is our right to choose how we will provide for ourselves, we have also forgotten how we could manage to provide for ourselves from the land, even if appropriate access was restored. Others now build our homes, grow our lettuces, and still others grow our tomatoes. We did not give up our right of access to land, or the skills that would make this right useful. They were accidentally eroded by a system of specialisation and industrialisation beginning at school and before. If we should choose to reclaim our right or those skills, the system which deprived us of them would have a moral duty to help us to regain them, to establish ourselves, and to rightfully live on the land.

    Compare this to the situation today where an unemployed person must either manage to find a job they want, or, if they cannot find one that is suitable, they must be willing to work in any job which the system dictates that they work in. If not, they will be deprived of the financial support they need for food, shelter and clothing, and will have no human right to live by. Does this seem right to you?

    In these circumstances where there is the denial of a birthright by which a person can live, that person would seem to acquire a different type of right to the basics from that system – the dole.

    There is one way by which rights and responsibilities could be assured.

    With appropriate education support through TAFE to learn practical skills, and by applying them in a co-operative model lifestyle, a group of around 10 unemployed people could demonstrate the benefits for the entire community that would flow from a restoration of natural rights and responsibilities.

    NEIGHBOURHOODS THAT WORK
    Through access to land and the development of skills for sustainable development, participants could provide for their basic needs, and in fair exchange for the advantages received as part of the larger society, could make a meaningful contribution out of their activities and experience. This would be a project for Neighbourhoods That Work.

  14. Mel
    Posted May 25, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Wow. In pro-capitalist developing countries with limited Government, rapacious land (property) grabbing capitalists are actively slaughtering environmentalists in goodly numbers.

    This Dateline story on Chut Wutty’s murder certainly does not support the Great Lie of the Right that poor folk in developing countries are willing to trade off environment protection for economic growth.

  15. Posted May 26, 2012 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    [email protected] The donation of blood and organs is a fascinating issue. Voluntary blood donor systems work better than sale systems, which suggests the conventional property paradigm is problematic when applied to the body.

    But we obviously think it OK to donate a kidney or other bits if it is not life-threatening. But this does not look like an absolute right; suicidal donation is not permitted.

    I want our dominion over our body to be “more” than property; to not threaten our autonomy either by suicidal or seriously self-damaging donation nor to allow slavery. (If we grant self-ownership, why not other-ownership?) Property over other things then flows from dominion over self.

  16. Posted May 26, 2012 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    [email protected] A right is a claim (I would say a claim acknowledged by others in some way). I have no problem with land being owned and not everyone being a landowner. In particular, limiting the opportunities for exchange massively limit human possibilities, they do not expand them. You seem to be fixated on access to land in a way which has become very archaic.

  17. Posted May 26, 2012 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    [email protected] I agree, the rule of law is a good thing. And trade-off choices operate in context; we really can’t tell what people’s full preferences are if various preferences cannot be expressed. Which is back to the rule of law being a good thing,

  18. Davoh
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Property? I control my property with fists, dogs, swords… fences .. barbed wire ..guns .. bigger guns – familiar?

    Escalation. Why?

    ‘Tis a long story. yes, i read you people on the intricacies of the “law” .. – whatever happened to the “lore””
    (and yes, Helen, self has no ‘specific’ answers to anything much..been thrown (briefly) in the “lockup” several times for no real reason.

    “Property” is for those who think they “own” it..

  19. Davoh
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Yep, ya can waffle on as much as ya like – in a civil society … but when it comes to the crunch … best wishes.

  20. Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I also have no prob with land being owned – so long as there is as much AND AS GOOD left over for each of those who don’t/can’t own land, but want land access to grow their own food and erect their own shelter.

    I see this flexibility as a very new idea, being neither exclusively ownership, nor commonwealth, and I see it as not only workable but enhancing for both owners and for those who would claim such a right of access.

    It is also new because I see it as applying to city livers needing no more land than living space, not just to small farmers and remote aboriginal communities claiming larger pieces of land.

    Another new feature is that in recognition that rights and responsibilities go hand in hand, both the right to own land and the birthright to have access to land carry a duty to treat land sustainably. In the case of those who claim their birthright, that would naturally mean they would have to use it only for the purposes they claim – to grow as much food as they can and to house themselves. If/when they wanted more than this from the earth (ie to have a bigger footprint, as modern people usually do) they would lose their entitlement to land.

    I think that is all new, and I think the evolution of neighbourhood developments that included community gardens and public housing tenants whose job it would be to learn to live more sustainably and to show the benefits and attractions of this could slowly lead society into healthier ways.

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