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Private property rights in natural resources

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In response to 2046, please remember that this is a form of libertarianism and the individual has the right to do what he wants without initiation of force.

So my question really comes down to, how does one (if they can at all) claim (come to possess) natural resources (such as land or air) according to Objectivism? Because if one defends land that they don't own, they are actually initiating the force.

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In response to 2046, please remember that this is a form of libertarianism and the individual has the right to do what he wants without initiation of force.

So my question really comes down to, how does one (if they can at all) claim (come to possess) natural resources (such as land or air) according to Objectivism? Because if one defends land that they don't own, they are actually initiating the force.

So the question is how is it morally justifiable to claim ownership over a natural resource?

1) Remember that under some sort of "Geolibertarianism" someone is already claiming it, whoever happens to be the representative or advocate of the "people" who can't claim ownership on their individual terms. So here we have the same interesting dillema - but it ceases to be a problem of Geolibertarianism.

The only exception to the problem would be uninhabited land which for the past 1000 years has been increasingly rare and now negligible. Territories like the Açores, parts of Greenland and the Falklands come to mind as the last examples of settling without force - as there was no native population to speak of.

So the problem arises as to how to justify Homesteading in America as a good example?

The first thing to correct is that it is not a dillema to defend settled land, it is a dillema to attack others to acquire that land.

Is it this what you are trying to to address? If so, I've have a problem with it too as the only justification I can find for a higher civilization expansion over a thousend lower ones through initiation of force is the Machiavellan imperative.

However you might also be asking how to claim uninhabited resources and territories, not exclusively land. In this case we have a problem with the ocean, which is now a huge communal pool (with forseeable results), but wouldn't outside Earth.

Your idea of Mars colonization would present little or no moral dillema: By the nature of the endeavour only the ablest most integrated individuals will do it and it will be theirs (or mine!) on their own right - to the extent that they can develop it or defend it.

There have been many outrageous claims in history such as the Tordesillas Treaty in the 16c when the Pope divided 90% of the Earth into two crowns sitting in the same peninsula. Or America's claim to the moon. These have been by the highest authorities at the time but to no avail nor consequence.

Edited by volco

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In response to 2046, please remember that this is a form of libertarianism and the individual has the right to do what he wants without initiation of force.

So my question really comes down to, how does one (if they can at all) claim (come to possess) natural resources (such as land or air) according to Objectivism? Because if one defends land that they don't own, they are actually initiating the force.

But that's exactly the point of my “thought experiment.” It's not exactly clear that these “libertarians” would “allow” me to act according to any sort of rational standard. In order to act on the basis of my own judgment, I require independence. If all land is owned by “all of society” in equal quotal shares, then no independent action is possible, where I require the use of the land if only as standing room. It's also not clear how this is economically laissez-faire because if no land, air, water, and raw natural resources can be originally appropriated by any individual, then the logical culmination of such a system is communism in all branches of production, as the production of anything requires not only the use of land for standing room, room for machines and tools to work, that is, basically room to exist and engage in production, but also all commodities and goods being produced themselves come from original appropriated land, air, water, and raw natural resources.

But to answer your second question of how then, according to Objectivism, is any resource originally appropriated, I'll post later if no one else comes along and gives a better answer first. Edit: though you should follow the link Bluecherry posted for some good material on this.

Edited by 2046

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By the nature of the endeavor only the ablest most integrated individuals will do it and it will be theirs (or mine!) on their own right - to the extent that they can develop it or defend it.

So in an Objectivist system, correct me if I'm wrong, could someone put up a giant fence all around a previously unclaimed area and have the right to control whether anyone can come in or not? It doesn't seem just to allot land to the first person there to defend it. They own the fence, but do they necessarily own the land contained within?

The Geolibertarian stance fixes this by saying that the government within a large region has sole authority to allot land and has the right to charge a single tax for police protection. The free market is unhindered as people could build whatever they wanted and do whatever (not force) on the land without government regulation. If I were to adopt this stance, could I still call myself an Objectivist?

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If all land is owned by “all of society” in equal quotal shares, then no independent action is possible, where I require the use of the land if only as standing room. It's also not clear how this is economically laissez-faire because if no land, air, water, and raw natural resources can be originally appropriated by any individual, then the logical culmination of such a system is communism in all branches of production, as the production of anything requires not only the use of land for standing room, room for machines and tools to work, that is, basically room to exist and engage in production, but also all commodities and goods being produced themselves come from original appropriated land, air, water, and raw natural resources.

I apologize, I did not explain enough. If an individual uses work on natural resources, then he owns the product of that work. It is solely his and no one else has a right to it. It is only the unworked, metaphysically given Nature that would be unownable according to Geolibertarianism.

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So in an Objectivist system, correct me if I'm wrong, could someone put up a giant fence all around a previously unclaimed area and have the right to control whether anyone can come in or not? It doesn't seem just to allot land to the first person there to defend it. They own the fence, but do they necessarily own the land contained within?

The Geolibertarian stance fixes this by saying that the government within a large region has sole authority to allot land and has the right to charge a single tax for police protection. The free market is unhindered as people could build whatever they wanted and do whatever (not force) on the land without government regulation. If I were to adopt this stance, could I still call myself an Objectivist?

How would the free market be unhindered if a "government within a large region" (which?) has the monopoly on land? How is it different from monopoly on sugar production or software?

When you fence land you are improving it. If you don't pay for the fence's upkeep, it will be violated and rendered obsolete if not by man, by nature. I am no expert, but I believe that the Objectivist stand would be that if you settle or otherwise render productive, or add value, to a piece of unclaimed land you have the right to own it. Luckily for us we have natural resources to spare - our problem us humans is that we don't let each other use them.

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I apologize, I did not explain enough. If an individual uses work on natural resources, then he owns the product of that work. It is solely his and no one else has a right to it. It is only the unworked, metaphysically given Nature that would be unownable according to Geolibertarianism.

But that fails to satisfy the entire criticism. If I am unable to own unworked resources, then I cannot be said to own them when I work them, and thus the worked goods logically cannot be owned either. The entire point is that: If I cannot own land, then I cannot own what comes from it when I work on it. I cannot even work it, as not only does it belong to "all of society" (that which is being worked upon) but also because I need land for standing room that belongs to "all of society." If observed, the entire human race would die out. This is world communism. No thanks, Henry George, I don't have a death wish.

Edited by 2046

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If I am unable to own unworked resources, then I cannot be said to own them when I work them, and thus the worked goods logically cannot be owned either. The entire point is that: If I cannot own land, then I cannot own what comes from it when I work on it. I cannot even work it, as not only does it belong to "all of society" (that which is being worked upon) but also because I need land for standing room that belongs to "all of society." If observed, the entire human race would die out. This is world communism. No thanks, Henry George, I don't have a death wish.

As a rule, "each individual has an exclusive right to the fruits of his or her labor as their private property, as opposed to this product being owned collectively by society or the community." So once you add your work, you own that resource. Also, collectives do not have rights, and therefore a community cannot own anything. Nature is simply unowned, until you add work.

How would the free market be unhindered if a "government within a large region" (which?) has the monopoly on land? How is it different from monopoly on sugar production or software?

I wouldn't say there's a monopoly because no one owns it.

To shed more light on the position, here's a quote from Wikipedia: "if individuals claim land as their property they must pay rent to the government for doing so. Rent need not be paid for the mere use of land, but only for the right to exclude others from that land, and for the protection of one's title by government."

When you fence land you are improving it. If you don't pay for the fence's upkeep, it will be violated and rendered obsolete if not by man, by nature. I am no expert, but I believe that the Objectivist stand would be that if you settle or otherwise render productive, or add value, to a piece of unclaimed land you have the right to own it.

This makes sense. You can own land if you add value to it. I'll have to think more on this, but this seems more reasonable right now. For this area, would you pay a single tax for police protection from force?

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As a rule, "each individual has an exclusive right to the fruits of his or her labor as their private property, as opposed to this product being owned collectively by society or the community." So once you add your work, you own that resource. Also, collectives do not have rights, and therefore a community cannot own anything. Nature is simply unowned, until you add work.

You don't have your ideas straight. You are copying and pasting from Wikipedia and not thinking about what you are saying or what “geolibertarians” or Georgists are saying and thus not paying attention to the argument I presented to you.

You're claiming in your last two sentences that “once you add your work, you own that resource,” but this is incompatible with Georgism. Land is unowned until brought into productive use by an individual (the homesteading principle.) Georgism claims that land still cannot be owned by an individual even if he works on it. It is owned collectively by society, which means the State has nationalized it and places upon individuals a land tax. Do you not see how these two ideas are incompatible for the reasons I named? Or are you going to copy and paste some more without thinking about it? Read the Wikipedia page, think, read it some more, think, read my argument, and think, and you will see the contradiction contained within saying that "that all land is a common asset to which all individuals have an equal right to access" and that "each individual has an exclusive right to the fruits of his or her labor as their private property" and that land is "the common property of all mankind" and that "collectives do not have rights, and therefore a community cannot own anything."

Edited by 2046

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Evidently I have strayed from Georgism. In my previous post I was defending my own views and not those put forth by Geolibertarianism. You and volco have helped me come to a conclusion compatible with Objectivism; it helps to have people to talk to.

Edit: took out unnecessary reply quoting 2046.

Edited by CoolBlueReason

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As a rule, "each individual has an exclusive right to the fruits of his or her labor as their private property, as opposed to this product being owned collectively by society or the community." So once you add your work, you own that resource. Also, collectives do not have rights, and therefore a community cannot own anything. Nature is simply unowned, until you add work.

That is exactly what happens in the universe as I'm writing this, no one owns any resource that doesn't require upkeep or effort to merely own it. There are many eye popping claims but for sovereignty to happen, de facto and de jure, what is writen in the law and what actually happen must be close to coincide (see value of the rule of law).

As I keep raising the point, the depths of the ocean and Antarctica are the only territories with a frozen, but claimed legal status in this planet. I can claim Venus, both the planet and the godess as my own but that doesn't make them so. How is the system you describe solely in the above paragraph different from laissez faire Capitalism?

I wouldn't say there's a monopoly because no one owns it.

To shed more light on the position, here's a quote from Wikipedia: "if individuals claim land as their property they must pay rent to the government for doing so. Rent need not be paid for the mere use of land, but only for the right to exclude others from that land, and for the protection of one's title by government."

If there's not a monopoly, then there's a prohibition of ownership. I don't think I understand GLibs position. I thought it could be related to privatization of state-owned resources and land and equal distribution for citizens as a kick-start for a wholy private economy.

This makes sense. You can own land if you add value to it. I'll have to think more on this, but this seems more reasonable right now. For this area, would you pay a single tax for police protection from force?

When you own land, it costs you money, and I can assure you taxes are not always the highest cost. There's no such thing as ownership of "100% nature excluding man because somehow man is not part of nature" by man. There are claims for it, but not factual cases.

Say, Belize has a law that prevents foreigners, or everyone, to purchase huge tracts of land because it's a very new country with invaluable natural resources and beauty, a tiny but fast growing population, and a bright future. They (enlighted créoles in Belmopan, the capital hamlet) want to prevent land "speculation". If that law was revoked and someone could just buy large tracts of truly uninhabited inland yucatan rainforest and hills; it would still cost the owner money to mantain it. If Belize were a 100% Tax Free country, the owner would still have to pay for private security, and for some sort of upkeep for a legal system. So I don't believe the situation you, or Geolibertarians, are imagining can actually happen.

If some huge corporation built two gargantuan space mirrors and terraformed Mars into Eden, why on Earth would they not have a right to own the planet in question?

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Ownership is not the same as Sovereignty. Owners pay taxes to Sovereigns. Objectivism points out a World of Sovereigns?!

Considering most of our civilized history, most humans have been slaves, bein sovereigns doesn't sound that bad. But we must study the implications.

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The first flaw I see ideology is that the "the state has the right to tax you for your rent on the land."

The state does not have rights.

Man has rights, as endowed by our creator.

What the state can and cannot do is determined by we who consent to be governed.

This sounds like a novel idea akin to New Coke or the Pet Rock.

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