RE: Property Rights
Wed, 12 May 1999 07:19:59 -0700 (PDT)

O'Regan, Emlyn [] wrote:
>This depends on your definition of something working. If you mean by
>"worked well" that a system of fundamental competition has *existed*
>since time immemorial, then fair enough.

I mean it's got us from microscopic organisms to smart apes who can get off the planet, without stagnating or wiping ourselves out. In that sense it's worked well; there may be better approaches, but so far we haven't seen one.

>But does the existence of a
>phenomenon, and its stability in self continuation, necessarily mean it
>is the right approach?

No, you just need to demonstrate something better. So far every attempt has been a dismal failure and wasted billions of lives.

>Do you steal books from your local library?

No, but a lot of people do, particularly CDs and videos (my girlfriend works in a library, so I get to hear the complaints). Libraries are fine for people who respect property rights, but as soon as someone comes along who doesn't respect property rights all that 'free' stuff starts to vanish.

>The difference is that there are more possibilities now.

Such as? You have a free market or you have central planning or you have some bastardized system in between. What other possibilities are there?

>although that being said, there are some
>relatively large (high-taxing) governments in some western countries
>which appear to work quite well.

This depends on your definition of something working. I'd like to see some examples of how these governments work well.

>With the excellent global communication systems which we are just coming
>to have now, I think that we could manage a highly decentralised form of
>"government", very much more like an anarchy arrangement.

Yes. Now explain how you can have an anarchy which restricts property rights and free market transactions?

>If a cooperative group cannot provide a Jupiter-sized brain to some
>subset of its members, why could an equivalent capitalist group do any

If I remember correctly, the original comment was something about how the world at its current state could give everyone everything they wanted. Clearly it can't. Of course a capitalist group would try hard to provide a Jupiter-sized brain because they could make a profit at it.

>Only because someone takes more than his/her fair share, and damn
>everyone else.

Ah, and so we have to go to the Glorious Socialist Fair Share Determination Committee so we can determine what my fair share is, I suppose? And if, oddly, the GSFSD committee members decide that their fair share is ten times as large as mine, that'll be OK, right?

>And under capitalism, that person usually gets to keep
>what he/she has taken, meaning that shafting the others becomes

I work for a living, providing services which help many others improve their lives. How exactly am I "shafting" them?

>Who's going to do the shitwork? Well, yes capitalism has an answer to
>this too, as you say. The answer is that some poor bugger (or most of
>the poor buggers) is going to be given no other option than to do the
>crap work.

No, that's communism and socialism, or at least communism and socialism as practiced in the real world; every person an obedient little cog in the social machine, with their life pretty much determined from birth. In capitalism we say "ok, someone has to clean the sewers, who's willing to do it for $1 an hour? $5? $10?" and eventually someone stands up and offers to do it for a mutually acceptable price. Cleaning the sewers still isn't nice, but either we come to an agreement somewhere or it doesn't get done. No-one is forced to do it.

>So capitalism does indeed have the answers to these problems - they are
>solved by somebody forcing their will upon somebody else, someone taking
>something and someone else going without.

Sorry, but this is utter crap. In authoritarian societies (e.g. all those high-taxing socialist societies you like), someone takes something and someone else goes without. In capitalism both parties get something they want (e.g. I get my sewers cleaned and the cleaners get money to do what they want to do).

>When we live in groups for our (invidual) greater good, as we do,
>sometimes we're going to have to make concessions. Get over it. If
>everyone tries to look at everything from an entirely individualistic
>viewpoint (I want what I want and that's tough), we have to compete
>(fight), and we get winners and losers.

Again, nonsense. The free market (everyone wins) is far less hostile than authoritarian societies (the government wins, everyone else loses). I win every day by making money to spend on my desires, the company wins by making profits, the customers win by getting something which is useful to them, our competitors win because our competition forces them to release better products which take some of our market share until we next pass them. Who loses? Whereas the government wins by stealing 50% of my income, and I lose by having the government (or the Glorious Central Social Planning Committee or whatever you want to call it) steal 50% of my income.

>The idea of civilisation
>arose to guard against this I think.

No, it arose to allow the rich to steal from the poor and justify it, just as socialism allows the politicians to steal from the poor and justify it.

>We have a world where entire nations (nations!) are at the mercy of the
>ebb and flow of the world market,

As they should be. The freer the market, the better nations do, it's those who try to prop up their economies artificially until their denial of reality reaches catastrophic proportions who have problems.

>The world market has become
>an economic environment which is uncontrollable by any single group on
>the planet.

Yes. Great, isn't it? I just wish that Soros had been able to kick the UK out of the ERM back in the early nineties before I lost my job due to the vastly overpriced currency, rather than after. The government were destroying the British economy trying to sustain their stupid policies, and the market saved the economy by destroying their fantasies.

>You could have been competing as
>successfully as you liked in South East Asia before their recent
>economic crisis hit, and it wouldn't have helped you survive.

Yep. And most of that was due to corrupt governments attempting to artificially prop up their economies, not due to the EVIL WORLD MARKET. You can prop up any system of government you like for a while, but eventually reality catches up with you. Governments really hate that, but that's tough luck to them.

>It's interesting to see people arguing on one hand that we should shape
>our destinies as we see fit, control the universe, relegate nature to
>the status of interested observer, then on the other hand argue for an
>economic system whose only defense is that it is "human nature", that it
>is "natural".

No, the defence is:

  1. it's what people do when they're free
  2. you can't be free if you don't have a free market
  3. it works better than anything else that's ever been tried

A desire for a free market is a natural consequence of a desire for freedom; it's that simple. If you're not free to do what you want with your life and your possessions, then you're not free.