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When discussing money, isn't it correct to say, "Money is (or should be) a form of property obtained by an individual for the purpose of exchange and as a store of value."? Isn't money private property and once in possession of this kind of property, anyone can buy anything, anywhere as long as there is someone on the other side of the exchange who is willing to accept the buyer's property, the buyer's money? And like any property, shouldn't the individual protect it from being taken? Within the context of the proper function of government, shouldn't government enforce this protection? I am asking these questions because I've been sketching out the fundamental characteristics of inflation with an eye toward defining the concept. I am thinking that instances of violation of property rights serves as the CCD. As to isolating the units of the concept, I am thinking that what distinguishes these from other types of violations of property rights is that these are forcible ways to increase the supply of money by means of counterfeiting the supply of money, whether through criminal or legalized activities. From that, I wrote the following definition of the concept. Definition: Inflation is a violation of property rights by forcing increases to the supply of money by private or legalized counterfeiting. With that, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
My grand plans for a series of posts died from lack of time. My last post was more than 6 months ago. I'm going to take a more bite-size approach now. So, the topic asks my basic question: Should there be limits on ownership rights related to natural resources, including land, forests, oil, etc.? To focus the topic, let's think about "Wyatt's torch" from Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Wyatt was an oilman who developed highly effective technology for getting oil from difficult places. He owned land and drilled for oil on it. Time and again, he suffered when the "looter" government made unreasonable demands on him, compromising his property rights. Wyatt decided to "disappear". But before he did, he set fire to his oil wells, creating "Wyatt's torch" which the government was unable to ever put out. So, the concrete question is: Did Wyatt have a right to torch the oil on his land? Do ownership rights go so far that the owner of natural resources is able to prevent others from using them forever? Last, a few related issues I don't intend to raise here: First, I am assuming that Wyatt got his property rightfully in the first place. (Perhaps, I will delve into this topic later - how does one rightfully get ownership in land in the first place?) Second, I am assuming that Wyatt has every right to destroy the technology he developed (e.g., all technical documents, all equipment he built, etc.). Third, I don't want to discuss whether Wyatt's actions were legitimate as an "act of war" in the battle between John Galt and the outside world. That is, let's discuss whether people would have a right to destroy natural resources in a Objectively perfect world. I am eager to hear what you all think!
Having <a href="http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=22911">introduced myself</a> already, I am now making my first substantive post. This is the first of an intended series of interrelated posts. While it might change based on the flow of discussion, I expect to advance the following argument: because property rights are subjective by nature and must be defined by government, democracy must therefore be a more fundamental principle than property rights. I question whether there are any fundamental property rights or whether all property rights flow from the social contract, i.e., are necessarily defined, and therefore created, by government. The most difficult case, to which I plan to devote my next post, is the question of ownership of natural resources, including land. This post explores what seems to be a far simpler case, a case closer to being fundamental: ownership of inventions of the mind. To put it in terms of Atlas Shrugged, I will save the case of d’Anconia copper for my next post and take on Rearden metal here. The principle that one should own the product of one’s own invention seems, at a minimum, to be reasonable: among other things, it encourages progress and productivity. But I wonder whether it is truly a fundamental and inviolable principle. The case becomes more difficult when we think of the most common type of invention in this era: inventions for hire. If one man (or corporation) hires another (or an entire workforce) to develop an invention, should the invention belong to the one who puts up the money or the one(s) whose mind and work actually creates the invention? But, let’s leave that aside and take the easier case: Rearden metal, which was created almost entirely by Henry Rearden’s tireless individual efforts of sweat and mind over many years. Unless Rearden keeps the metal entirely to himself, property rights in even this most personal of inventions must be defined by government. Under current U.S. law (and that of most other nations), Rearden has essentially two options for maintaining his property rights: trade secret protection and patent filing protection. If he chooses the first option, trade secret protection, Rearden’s rights are perpetual … at least until somebody else duplicates his invention, either by independent research or by reverse engineering. As long as Rearden puts contracts and other confidentiality procedures in place, the law protects him from others wrongfully appropriating his trade secrets, principally by giving him the right to monetary compensation (i.e., transferring the thief’s profits to Rearden). Rearden’s other option is to file for a patent on his invention, which requires him to publicly disclose all of the invention details, but provides him with a monopoly on it over a fixed number of years, even against those who might independently develop the same invention. Patent law is clearly a creation of government, designed to balance the rights of the individual inventor against the collective benefit to the public of disclosure of the details of the invention. It would be difficult to argue that the exact contours of this legal regime can be objectively determined. At a minimum, the government must make a subjective decision as to the number of years that the patent monopoly is afforded. Until reading The Virtue of Selfishness, I thought that this fact was an indictment of Objectivism itself. However, I now see that Ayn Rand recognized the need for government to set out the details and that there could be well-intentioned disputes among the law makers: Objectivism, it seems, only requires that government set out its standards in an objective way (“the rule of law”) rather than through arbitrary and subjective guidelines that must be interpreted by an outside arbiter (“the rule of man”). The question I have for this forum is whether there is a central kernel to property rights in inventions that objective reason requires. That is to say, is there some fundamental property right that no legitimate government can modify or impinge?