RE: Property Rights

Billy Brown (
Tue, 11 May 1999 14:28:29 -0500

david_musick wrote:
> Mark, I don't think you realize how easily others can lead you around by
> your desires (like dangling a carrot in front of a donkey). You are
> quite helpless to resist those who offer you what you want.

Do you realize how condescending this statement is? In one breathless wave of an arm you relegate all the thoughts, skills and feelings of another mind to the category of "mindless idiots that I can easily manipulate". And you wonder why others react to you with hostility??

> My utopia is all about helping everyone achieve what they really want.

No, it is about helping everyone achieve what *you* think they ought to want. You don't know what *I* want, and you aren't going to - which is the key to understanding why freedom works, and other systems don't.

You seem, however, to have some serious misconceptions about the basic terms of this discussion:

> We can choose to live in the world we want. By being kind, we choose to
live in a world where people are kind.

One of the most fundamental issues you need to face is that different people will make different choices about what kind of world they want to live in. If you want a society that actually works, you need to allow for that.

One of the most pernicious implications of this fact is the inevitability of violence. The more kind, loving and peaceful your society becomes, the more tempting a target it will be for those who care only about themselves. Any society must therefore choose between being helpless in the face of aggression, being armed and encouraging self-defense, or completely destroying individuality in an attempt to eradicate potential criminals.

The same dynamic also operates on the scale of nations, which is why the only countries that don't have armies are the ones that are so weak they have no possible hope of defending themselves.

> There is a finite amount of accessible natural resources on
> Earth, but there is plenty to provide all humans with a very comfortable
> living situation, with current technology.

Yes, it can. But a "comfortable living situation" means different things to different people. There is an infinite variety of ways in which we could spend our finite resources - on food, clothing, education, art, transportation, tools, toys, and on and on. The key question in any society is: Who decides which of these things we actually get?

The beauty of a pure free market is that the answer will always be "you do". If you want lots of material goods, you can work long hours and accumulate the money to buy them. If you are more interested in leisure, you can adopt a low-income lifestyle and work part time. You can spend money on whatever happens to interest you, and ignore everything else.

In every other system man has devised, there is some other person who makes these decisions for you. The government (or the collective, or the town council, or whatever) decides for you - and they will almost never decide the way you wanted them to.

Now, it is entirely possible that a society of SIs will come up with some arcane social organization that makes this whole debate irrelevant. But for any society inhabited by minds that we can understand, the fundamental issues remain the same.

BTW - This seems like a good place to point out that, by any objective measure, there are no free-market societies on Earth. The entire Western world is properly described as socialist, and the rest of the planet ranges from socialism to a whole gamut of autocratic systems. Even the least socialist of these countries have licensing and zoning laws, selective tariffs, employer-employee relations laws, and all manner of other infringements on the market.

Many of the things you bemoan in your initial post - "those who demand obedience and conformity", "those who demand that I sacrifice my own happiness to
accomplish their goals", "traditions of dominance and violence" - are actually antithetical to pure capitalism. This is because a truly free market can only exist in a context of individual freedom, where everyone is allowed to make their own decisions and run their own lives as they see fit. It is the quest for a socialist utopia that leads to conformity, violence, and the sacrifice of the individual.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I