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One must do something to improve the land to claim ownership.

So if I buy a lot and decide not to do anything with it for a couple of years, I don't own it?

IIRC the argument against "Native Americans" owning the land before Europeans came onto the scene was that they didn't recognize the right of property except sometimes as a collective "right".

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito
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I know I am preaching to the choir on this one, but I want to get this out: Traffic laws are a travesty of the justice system, punishing people for violating nobody's rights. Everyone breaks traf

Common sense, as far as I'm concerned. Slow drivers are surprises, and surprises are my main concern on the road. Add to going against the natural flow of traffic speed: worrying about cops and speed

While I do think a case can be made that in some cases land was stolen from aboriginal tribes that were farmers and had cultivated the land in question, I don't see where any case can be made that the groups in the plains region had put the land to any use. Thus there were no "owners" in that area.

One must do something to improve the land to claim ownership.

The Cherokee Nation (in what is now Georgia and Tennessee) became good farmers and built houses. They were still marched off their land at gunpoint and half the Nation died being forced march to Oklahoma. The so called "Trail of Tears". It was America's version of the Bataan Death March.

The Lakohta were ceded land in the Black Hills by treaty ( a legal instrument ). Legally, the reservation land belonged to the Lakohta Nation (by an act of Congress) When gold was discovered in "them thar hills" the Lakohta were forced out.

Before the Anglo's came the plains nations made customary use of the land to hunt buffalo. When the land was needed by the Agnlos, the buffalo were slaughtered forcing the Nations to take whatever handouts they could get from Washington. The Nations were forced into Reservations, and these ceded land rights were in jeopardy whenever it was to the advantage of the White-Eyes to take the land for profitable use.

It was a very sad business and I don't see how it could have been avoided. What happens when a stone-age preindustrial culture collides with a technologically advanced industrial culture. The only chance the Nations had was to learn the ways of the White Man. The Cherokee did -exactly this-. They realized that they would have to adapt or perish. Well they adapted, but half perished at the hands of troops sent by that stone-killer, Andrew Jackson. And there you have it. Applied Racism 101.

Bob Kolker

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So if I buy a lot and decide not to do anything with it for a couple of years, I don't own it?

IIRC the argument against "Native Americans" owning the land before Europeans came onto the scene was that they didn't recognize the right of property except sometimes as a collective "right".

So you are saying that even if a well-defined group of people use a well-defined section of land for farming they don't have any ownership of it unless they also have a certain notion of property. So you can just move in and take it from them?

The point was the old uninhabited region scenario:

Suppose a group of people come across such a region. Does the first person who says "Hey its all mine!" now own it? No, they claim ownership by putting work into it.

If someone improved the land and then sold it to you and then you neglected it, that is one thing. If no one ever used the land for anything, I have trouble seeing how anyone could have claimed ownership in the first place.

If a person can claim ownership simply by saying "this belongs to me", then certainly North America belonged to the indigenous peoples, and it was stolen. If one must put work into the land to claim ownership, then, for the most part, it was perfectly reasonable for Europeans to stake claims to lands in North America by putting the land to cultivation, or by building train tracks on it.

Edited by punk
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If a person can claim ownership simply by saying "this belongs to me", then certainly North America belonged to the indigenous peoples, and it was stolen. If one must put work into the land to claim ownership, then, for the most part, it was perfectly reasonable for Europeans to stake claims to lands in North America by putting the land to cultivation, or by building train tracks on it.

A wonderful sentiment which did not help the Cherokee Nation one bit. The Cherokee folks farmed their land, built houses and even learned some of the legal usages from the White-Eyes. They were still frog-marched off their land under the Removal Act.

Bob Kolker

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As a fast driver and a lover of the road (I dream of 7-lane highways), perhaps I am extra sensitive to traffic laws, cracked roads and congestion. Is there anyone else who shares my sentiment? What about the circumstances necessary for privatizing our roads?

I think its called nascar :smartass:

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  • 4 weeks later...
The railroads in the 19th century in the great plains region was built on land stolen from the aboriginal tribes by the U.S. Army.

No army, no Union Pacific, no Central Pacific. The Great Northern, however, was built without wide spread and egregious land theft. The land used was unoccupied for generations.

That is how part of the West Was Won.

Then there is the matter of the hold out. After 2/3 of the right of way is purchased a strategically placed land owner jacks his price up way out of sight. How is this managed without the creative use of force. If the price is paid, then it will a long time to recoup it from operations. What about a perverse holdout who just won't sell because he is an ornery cuss. What then? Have you worked out a Game Theoretic strategy for peaceful acquisition of the right of way (other than paying what the holder asks)?

Why do you think Eminent Domain was wired directly into our Constitution?

Bob Kolker

I think Bob makes an excellent point. The objectivist would hold that property rights are absolute and your land is yours to do with as you please even if you are not acting rationally. However it is not uncommon to see some Ornery Cuss put the breaks on some massive developments (see Donald Trump and his new Scottish golf course development). Another situation where property is forcibly sold routinly is when it comes to hostile or non hostile take overs of public companies. If a company or individual submits a bid to shareholders subject to it receiving the required percentage of market cap (90-95% I think) to delist the company and say 5% of the shareholders or rather the shareholder(s) holding the remaining 5% would be forced to sell to that company or individual at the price that was offered to the other shareholders. This is not considered a breach of that shareholders property rights as he accepted that term as it would have been a condition of sale when he bought the stock. However selling land on these terms is far more complicated as their is no incentive for the original owner to include such a term as a condition of sale. How would the principles of objectivism be applied to this scenario to reach an acceptable solution to all parties involved? Is it acceptable for government to impose a similar condition of sale to all land as is the case with purchasing equity?

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If roads were privatized, I think what we'd get would be a lot more railways and subways. Cars are grossly, horribly inefficient. Public roads, and the cars that drive on them, have given us bedroom communities and suburban shopping centers. The last hundred years would have been very different if public roads weren't paved everywhere and "a car in every driveway" considered the heart of the American dream. I'd much rather take a train ride across the nation than drive it (as much as I like to drive). It'd be cheaper, to boot.

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If roads were privatized, I think what we'd get would be a lot more railways and subways. Cars are grossly, horribly inefficient. Public roads, and the cars that drive on them, have given us bedroom communities and suburban shopping centers. The last hundred years would have been very different if public roads weren't paved everywhere and "a car in every driveway" considered the heart of the American dream. I'd much rather take a train ride across the nation than drive it (as much as I like to drive). It'd be cheaper, to boot.

I disagree with you on every point, just about.

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I'd much rather take a train ride across the nation than drive it (as much as I like to drive). It'd be cheaper, to boot.

I'd much rather ride my motorcycle across the nation. I don't know, or care, if it would be cheaper, but the experience would be far more rich for me. It would be horrid and ghastly if almost all transportation switched to mass transportation. Yuck!

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One way to predict what might happen in a free society is to look at whether the taxes collected from drivers (via fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees) meet the cost of road maintenance. If the cost of maintaining roads is not currently externalized to non-drivers, there's no reason to believe that we'd have less roads in a capitalist society.

In fact, the U.S. transportation system is roughly set up so that road users pay for about 90% of roads, with the shortfall coming from local roads. It's reasonable to expect local roads to be paid for by local businesses and home owners, so there's no reason to expect people to drive less on private roads.

Furthermore, a large portion of the cost of driving comes from unnecessary environmental and safety regulations, so we can expect cars and fuel to be much cheaper in a free market.

Edited by GreedyCapitalist
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Cars are grossly, horribly inefficient.
Outside of cities, even in fairly dense forms of suburbia, any type of shared transport (even something small like a van-pool) is less flexible than single-driver transport. The latter might be more expensive in money, but it is cheaper if one measures in time. If one measures in terms of one's life as the standard, then private transport is cheaper in that type of human currency.
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Outside of cities, even in fairly dense forms of suburbia, any type of shared transport (even something small like a van-pool) is less flexible than single-driver transport. The latter might be more expensive in money, but it is cheaper if one measures in time. If one measures in terms of one's life as the standard, then private transport is cheaper in that type of human currency.

I occasionally travel to large cities to attend conventions and end up staying far away (much cheaper hotels) and either driving and parking or taking public transportation.

Public transportation is almost always much slower than driving because of the number of stops they make. And that is assuming it goes from your particular Point A to your particular Point B. In this particular situation Point B is generally covered but point A isn't, or if it is you might have to make a lot of transfers that eat up time.

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  • 3 months later...

*** Mod's note: Merged with an earlier thread - sN ***

I'm curious if Objectivists ever drive over the speed limit or violate other minor traffic laws. Based on a fundamental principle of Objectivism that a person should not violate other people's rights, you should try to be perfect at never violating traffic laws. I admit, however, that I constantly commit minor traffic infractions- a comfertable speed over the speed limit, rolling through a stop sign, etc, but it's still a violation of property rights. It just seems so insignificant to me to strictly abide by these laws when I've learned from experience and observation that doing these things doesn't put one in more risk of physical danger or of getting a ticket from the police. But like I said, it's still a violation of property rights and by definition contradicts being an Objectivist.

The same type of reason why I have a hard time resisting the temptation to watch possible copyright-infringed videos on the internet. Watch video, gain pleasure/knowledge. No negative consequences for me. If strict, enforceable laws were created against the act then I would consider stopping because of the harm that I know it could cause me.

Should people act strictly on principle just for the sake of acting on principle?

Edited by softwareNerd
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Should people act strictly on principle just for the sake of acting on principle?
No, that would be unprincipled.

Rational men act on principle because of what it means to be rational. A principle is a conceptual statement of fact expressed as a "should", for example "you should not eat arsenic". The principle states a fact ("arsenic is bad for the body") and relates it to a prescription for action. Here's another principle: "You shouldn't eat red meat". That principle is grounded in the same reasoning, that red meat is bad for you, and therefore you shouldn't do it. The problem is that the premise is false -- red meat is not automatically / acontextually bad for you. Following that principle just because it's a principle would not be rational. Now substitute an alternative: "Eating more than 2 lbs of red meat in a day is bad for you". That's sometimes true. Maybe always, I dunno. Following principle is good, if and only if the principle is objectively justified with reference to fact.

Traffic rules are generally stated so as to be simple (and that is a virtue) and objective (an obvious virtue); their purpose is to assure that no person or property is harmed. Many such rules are apparently arbitrary conventions, for example our practice of driving on the right side of the road. Given the consequences of violating the principle, yo should not violate it, except in very rare circumstances -- basically saying, when you can be completely certain that you will not cause harm by violating the principle. Remember that other people count on you to act in a principled way, and thus when I make a right turn, I count on there not being some lunatic Brit who forgets what country he is in and creams me as I turn the corner in the dark.

Hypothetically speaking, I would have no problem with running a red light when I can clearly see that there is no approaching traffic (but there is the fear of ticket which slows me up); hypothetically speaking, I might consistently drive about 10 mph over the limit if the conditions allow it and I can get away with it. Being a fanatical property-respecter, though, I do obey posted speed limits in malls, because I'm a guest on private property.

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Where did you come to the idea that traffic laws represented property rights? Whose property?

Other drivers potentially? This is an exaggeration, but if you were to consider that everytime you get in a car and drive recklessly you are doing the equivalent of waving a gun around, the extension to application of force is not hard to see.

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Other drivers potentially? This is an exaggeration, but if you were to consider that everytime you get in a car and drive recklessly you are doing the equivalent of waving a gun around, the extension to application of force is not hard to see.

Watch the emphasis I added - property rights. He didn't say the rights of others, he said property rights. I'd like to know what he meant by that and where he got that conclusion from.

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Where did you come to the idea that traffic laws represented property rights? Whose property?

It's made a bit more complicated by the fact that the roads are not privately owned, but I assume he means the "owner" of the road. (i.e. If the road was a private road the owner would be able to set whatever rules for usage that he wishes.)

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Watch the emphasis I added - property rights. He didn't say the rights of others, he said property rights. I'd like to know what he meant by that and where he got that conclusion from.

Oh I'm sorry, are the other people on the highway floating around on indestructible magic carpets? What about the safety of other drivers' vehicles(on top of their rights)? Perhaps in a new thread I should ask when can you really separate your rights from your property rights in the real world.

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Inspector: What I meant by "property rights" is what Adrock clarified in post #48. If the roads were owned by private parties. Even though most aren't nowadays, people who commit minor traffic offenses on these gov't roads would probably drive the same if the roads were privately owned. I think this because their current actions explain what they think the consequenes are, and if they see no harm by breaking minor traffic laws(no matter if they are public or private property) then they will probably drive the same way on both. If the roads became privatized and the driver stopped committing the traffic offenses solely because of that change, then that person is just acting on principle for the sake of acting on principle, not out of practical necessity.

I think I understand what you mean when asking, "whose property"? Not that you said anything, but are probably implying that the gov't doesn't have any property rights concerning the roads because of the way it obtained the money: they stole it from us.

DavidOdden: Are you implying that you don't mind committing minor traffic offenses because the roads are publicly owned and thus wouldn't be violating property rights? I take it you mean this because you say you strictly obey mall roads because it's private property, but don't strictly obey...public roads, I assume?

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