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MisterSwig

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  1. In the April 1964 edition of The Objectivist Newsletter, Ayn Rand published an article called "The Property Status of Airwaves." In it she argues against the idea that radio waves should be public property, and I tend to agree with that basic conclusion. As far as I can tell, the radio waves themselves rightfully belong to the owner of the station broadcasting those waves. Rand, however, makes an important mistake in her argument for that conclusion. She doesn't acknowledge how radio broadcasters infringe on the rights of other property owners. Rand writes: Rand does appear to recognize an important objection to her position: that radio broadcasts use the spaces owned by others. But she doesn't admit that it's a possible violation of rights. Consider that the broadcast station sends out radio waves in all directions. Those waves then travel through the private spaces of every landowner within the range of the broadcast. (A property owner owns the space above his land, sometimes hundreds of feet above it, in the case of skyscrapers.) So Rand is perhaps pre-empting this "unpermitted use" rebuttal by claiming that the medium, or ether, being used on other people's property is "of no practical use or value" to them without the radio station. She therefore denies the property owner's full right to this unidentified medium in his space--on the grounds that he isn't using it. But of course he is using it. He's living in it. The owner should therefore have the right to live in his unidentified medium without being subjected to a constant invasion of radio waves. The broadcast is a potential infringement not only of his land-space rights, but also of his rights as an individual person being constantly penetrated by another's radio waves. Even if such radiation exposure is ultimately proven to be harmless, doesn't the owner of the space have the right to control its use? Rand's error can be seen even more clearly in the example she gives comparing a radio broadcast to a piano concert. She says: First of all, Rand already told us the essential difference between a broadcast and a concert: the type of waves are different. Radio waves don't use the air, sound waves do. But notice the other obvious problem with her analogy: a radio station's broadcast is not contained within the walls of a rented hall or building. To be more accurate, Rand should have considered an open-air venue surrounded by residences, in which case she might have seen the comparable problem of a performer's sound waves intruding on the neighbors' private spaces. In such instances, like with the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, this problem is addressed by local government setting noise curfews and sometimes even regulating objectionable content. (The neighbors of the Greek, for example, once made quite a stink over Snoop Dogg's vulgar rap vocals reaching their children's eardrums.) Failing to appreciate this potential rights violation of sending waves into someone else's private space, Rand instead focuses on attacking the government's position that radio frequencies should be public property; and, in doing so, she unfortunately resorts to denying the existence of public property altogether. She doesn't see how socialists have stolen the concept and repurposed it for violating private property rights. So instead of reclaiming the idea and stripping it of the rights-violating conflation, she entirely forfeits the concept to her enemies. She misidentifies it as a "collectivist fiction," when in reality it's a collectivist conceptual theft. The idea of "public property" depends on the concept of "private property," since the "public" simply refers to private individuals in a social-political group context. Therefore, property claimed by a public group, such as the residents of a city, should not include a violation of private property rights, such as the use of government force to acquire land or property through eminent domain or nationalization. If such rights-violating force is used, then the acquisition is in fact stolen property. Often times a battle will then ensue between the rightful owner and the thief, i.e., the government. And to disguise the theft, the government will slap the "public property" label on whatever they stole. I believe Rand sensed a problem with her argument in this particular article on radio waves. Before republishing it three years later in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, she deleted the section about the "ether/medium" and how it's of no use to anyone but broadcasters. Also, in a couple different lines, she replaced the words "medium" and "ether" with the words "space" and "air" respectively. I think this is strange, given her recognition that radio waves don't use the air, but some "unidentified element in space." Contrary to her "public property is fiction" view, it seems like she actually relies upon the concept to justify a broadcaster's right to use other people's spaces. Unless the medium/space used by radio waves is considered public property, why shouldn't the broadcast be a violation of other people's right to their own spaces? Yet, having explicitly abandoned the concept "public property," Rand has little choice but to utilize fallacious rhetoric to defend her position, in this case colorful ad hominems. I suppose an illiterate share-cropper and a whiskey-brewing hillbilly were the best examples of the public that Rand could imagine. In any case, do their rights depend on their particular abilities to understand radio waves? Would Rand have reversed her position if every member of the public perfectly understood broadcasting? The fact is that when people form a community or society (in our case a city like Los Angeles), these people must agree to share some things which come along with the nature of a properly functioning city. And we have learned, through trial and error, that these things can include publicly claimed lands and spaces. We agree, for example, to use certain lands for public roads. And we accept that certain spaces should be used for public airways. We don't claim that the cars on the roadways are also public property, and we don't claim that the broadcasts on the airways are public property. But we do claim that, since these things use shared lands and spaces, then we the public, the individual residents of the city, have the jointly held right to regulate that usage in a reasonable and democratic fashion. There really is no better way to do it, if we want to have efficient access to physical places across the land, and easy access to information sent through the spaces.
  2. That's basically god-like power, and I have my doubts that it's even possible, given how many atoms are in a human and the unknown factors. But I would still call such a thing a human. Though I'd want to broaden the concept of "human" to include man-made (versus metaphysically given) humans. Sort of like how we can think of the mythical god-made humans (Adam and Eve) versus nature-made ones (who evolved from chimps).
  3. No, but if you grow a human from it, then it'll be part of a human, and hence human DNA. This is an issue of causality. You can't have human DNA without a human to which it belongs. It's not the DNA itself that makes it human DNA. If that were the case, then human DNA existed before humans, which is non-sensical.
  4. No. If you begin with human DNA and grow a human from it, then it's a human, because you began with a part of a human. You now have a clone-or some altered clone. If you don't begin with a human part, then you are making something else, a faux "human."
  5. Were those select channels claimed illegitimately? If not, what do you call those properties? If so, why would you support them? Even if property was seized by eminent domain, I'm thinking it should still be a type of public property. It's stolen property, but our only choices are to give it back to the rightful owner, let the political elites own it, or attempt to make it public property and insist that we (or our elected representatives in government) vote on its use. If it's not going back to the rightful owner, then making it public property seems like the better option. Unfortunately we are in a mixed political situation where some property rights are respected and some are violated. This makes dealing with concepts like "public property" difficult.
  6. SL had switched the context from a human being to human DNA. A human is an organism. Human DNA is part of an organism. The essentials of a human are his animalness (genus) and his rational faculty (differentia). The essentials of human DNA are its DNAness (genus) and that it's a part of a human (differentia). The differentia can't be that it has a particular atomic structure. Everything has a particular atomic structure.
  7. You already reconstructed it. You even quoted her argument, and I responded. We disagree. That's fine. Didn't say it was. The sections seized by eminent domain clearly weren't donated. That's true. Do you think all the government-controlled land along the border was taken forcefully? I'm not sure what you're getting at. Border patrol isn't trying to protect a non-existent thing. They're protecting people and their property inside the border. That's not really my focus here though.
  8. No Objectivist that I know is arguing that the government owns the land--as in all the land in the country. This is part of Binswanger's straw man, and it's not serving him or his followers well. I really have nothing more to add on that topic. If you think I'm confused about whether the government owns all the land, I don't know what else to tell you. Though, in my view, you might be confused about the purpose of government. Regarding property, and anything else of concern, the government is allowed to protect individual rights. I'm not sure why you worded the purpose negatively or focused on prevention.
  9. You should first show how my idea violates rights. I don't have to prove a negative. I'm not talking about forcible confiscation of private property, such as what the socialists do. I'm talking about property owners who voluntarily donate or sell their land to cities or states for the purpose of public use, like with parks and roads, etc.
  10. Why does the political elites group exist, but not the political non-elites?
  11. They bought it, worked it, lived on it, used it, etc. Have you heard of private landowners donating or selling property to cities and states for public use? If it violates rights, like taking property through eminent domain, then that would be an abuse of power, and the public should replace their representatives with better ones. Hopefully the victim will also sue and be awarded damages. If the people and laws are good that won't happen. If society is evil, then you should get out of there if you can--or fight to change it.
  12. I'm not talking about the public in general. I mean specific groups of individuals based on residential identity. This might be the residents of a city, state or nation. The residents of Los Angeles own their public city roads. The residents of California own their public state roads. And the residents of America own their public national roads. How would you classify Interstate 40? What kind of property is that freeway? Public property names actual things in reality. You might not like the name. But you still need to deal with the thing in reality and tell me what it is. Is Interstate 40 a kind of property? If so, what kind is it? Unicorns are make-believe. (Besides, they aren't a species of horse, but of rhinoceros. See how easy it is when there's nothing real to contradict me?) The freeway, however, is real. The people who pay for it, use it, and manage it are real. So we need to properly classify this thing. It's not enough to shut our eyes and say public property is a "collectivist fiction." Okay, then, what is that freeway? Is it the elites' property? Aren't these "elites" basically our elected representatives?
  13. Your right cannot impede on the rights of others. So you'd have to get permission to use other people's properties to access your own. By the way, this is partly why public groups, like the citizens of a town, agree to create public roads in the first place: to ensure that property owners and the general public have "free" access to various residences and businesses in the town limits. It's not really free, though. The public pays to create and maintain the public access roads. By "free," I mean that the user generally doesn't pay a road toll. Sometimes the public does charge a toll to recover costs, such as with some expensive projects like bridges, tunnels and highways.
  14. Public property is a species of group ownership of property, as I indicated in the OP. A private group (family, partners, corporation) hires a manager for their private land. And a public group (a city, a state, a nation) elects a government to manage the public land. Individuals or groups of individuals. Not "the public". Who paid those individuals and groups? Who authorized them to work on the land?
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