Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Some regulations ok under capitalism?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

(Re) reading through the Virtue Selfishness (Rand's essay on compromise), she clearly stated that "to accept just a 'few controls' is to surrender the principle of inalienable individual rights and to substitute for it the principle of the government's unlimited arbitrary power..."

I'm curious as to other Objectivists' interpretation of this statement. Obviously, even in a capitalistic political system, some taxes (or tariffs, etc.) would be necessary to fund a constitutional government.

What about on the local level? Take zoning, for instance. What if a slaughterhouse wanted to open up shop next to my house? Would not the noise, smell and activity be an infringement on my property rights and my right to pursue happiness? Or individuals and corporations that pollute the environment to the detriment of peoples' health. Would not some reasonable level of regulation be acceptable if it could be scientifically proven that x level of a chemical is damaging to a person's health, and thereby violating a person's individual rights?

And I've heard the legal argument about taking polluters to court many times, but it doesn't make practical sense. If there were no regulations, think of the massive amount of litigation that would arise from multiple landowners suing other landowners, and appeal after appeal that would delay any kind of legal decision for potentially years, all whilst the polluter continued to pollute.

Thoughts??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 61
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I'm curious as to other Objectivists' interpretation of this statement. Obviously, even in a capitalistic political system, some taxes (or tariffs, etc.) would be necessary to fund a constitutional government.

No, check that assumption at the door. I think Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal has a chapter on the voluntary funding of government.

Oh, and a government that doesn't have welfare needs a lot less money than you might think...

Would not the noise, smell and activity be an infringement on my property rights and my right to pursue happiness?

That is enforcement of property rights, which is most emphatically not the same thing as "regulation."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Obviously, even in a capitalistic political system, some taxes (or tariffs, etc.) would be necessary to fund a constitutional government.

Others have already pointed out that Rand explicitly advocated voluntary, non-coercive funding methods for government. I can't help but note that, as is so often the case, sentences that start out "Obviously, X" should be taken as evidence that "X is not the case."

What about on the local level? Take zoning, for instance. What if a slaughterhouse wanted to open up shop next to my house? Would not the noise, smell and activity be an infringement on my property rights and my right to pursue happiness?
The basic question here is whether the activity of the slaughterhouse objectively interferes with your own ability to use and enjoy your own property. If it does, then you have a basis for charging them with a rights violation. If it doesn't, then what's the problem?

Current zoning laws arbitrarily impose prior restraints on the uses to which property may be placed, without reference to whether those uses violate anybody's individual rights. That's what makes them problematic.

Or individuals and corporations that pollute the environment to the detriment of peoples' health. Would not some reasonable level of regulation be acceptable if it could be scientifically proven that x level of a chemical is damaging to a person's health, and thereby violating a person's individual rights?

If you can trace specific harm back to a specific source, then that source is a rights violator and subject to prosecution. Also, some categories of activity may be so risky that engaging in them could be considered a rights violation even without actual harm, analogous to the way that waving a loaded gun around can be a rights violation even if nobody actually gets shot.

And I've heard the legal argument about taking polluters to court many times, but it doesn't make practical sense. If there were no regulations, think of the massive amount of litigation that would arise from multiple landowners suing other landowners, and appeal after appeal that would delay any kind of legal decision for potentially years, all whilst the polluter continued to pollute.

Thoughts??

I think you need to take a step back and think about what "controls" actually are. In Rand's view, the purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of its citizens from violation by physical force. All activities of the government must be directed towards that purpose. A "control" is simply a government policy of directing physical force against those who have neither initiated nor threatened the use of force themselves.

It is important to note that, although actions like murder, rape, theft and assault are the paradigm examples of physical force, the concept is significantly richer and wider than that. It can cover many of the sorts of things you mentioned, e.g. chemical pollution, as long as objective evidence exists connecting specific pollutors to harm done to specific individuals or property.

Whether the individuals harmed have to sue the pollutor directly or the government has the capability to use retaliatory force on their behalf is, in my view, a technical detail. I don't have a problem with the idea that the government can, in some cases, sue the pollutors itself on behalf of the victims -- as long as there is objective evidence to back up its claims that force is being initiated. And in the absence of such evidence, using government force would be an instance of arbitrary government power.

As for how long the resulting litigation could take -- all things considered, I like the idea of the government having to take time to demonstrate clearly the legitimacy of its exercise of retaliatory force in complex cases. Governments initiating force against innocents have done orders of magnitude more harm over the years than private-sector actors. We have to bear that in mind when considering the appropriate safeguards that should be applied to government action.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Taxes would not be necessary. Money would.

Look up the preliminary and temporary injunctions and see if they address your concerns.

Well, notice I did not specify taxes on labor or profit. What about a tax on the one factor of production that is not the product of anyone's labor? Land.

Ok, injunctions would seem plausible, but that still wouldn't address the potentially massive caseloads that would likely necessitate the creation of a new division of courts to deal solely with environmental litigation. And, without some objective standard (or court precedent), each plaintiff would have to (re) establish, in each case, the scientific, chemical or biological damage done to his property.

I think you need to take a step back and think about what "controls" actually are. In Rand's view, the purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of its citizens from violation by physical force. All activities of the government must be directed towards that purpose. A "control" is simply a government policy of directing physical force against those who have neither initiated nor threatened the use of force themselves.

It is important to note that, although actions like murder, rape, theft and assault are the paradigm examples of physical force, the concept is significantly richer and wider than that. It can cover many of the sorts of things you mentioned, e.g. chemical pollution, as long as objective evidence exists connecting specific pollutors to harm done to specific individuals or property.

Whether the individuals harmed have to sue the pollutor directly or the government has the capability to use retaliatory force on their behalf is, in my view, a technical detail. I don't have a problem with the idea that the government can, in some cases, sue the pollutors itself on behalf of the victims -- as long as there is objective evidence to back up its claims that force is being initiated. And in the absence of such evidence, using government force would be an instance of arbitrary government power.

As for how long the resulting litigation could take -- all things considered, I like the idea of the government having to take time to demonstrate clearly the legitimacy of its exercise of retaliatory force in complex cases. Governments initiating force against innocents have done orders of magnitude more harm over the years than private-sector actors. We have to bear that in mind when considering the appropriate safeguards that should be applied to government action.

Ah, thanks for that answer, and I concur. I was just looking for some clarification on that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, notice I did not specify taxes on labor or profit. What about a tax on the one factor of production that is not the product of anyone's labor? Land.

1. What is a tax?

2. What is your justification for imposing any tax in any form?

And, without some objective standard (or court precedent), each plaintiff would have to (re) establish, in each case, the scientific, chemical or biological damage done to his property.

What specifically is inadequate about current procedural mechanisms for such things? There's the class action, res judicata, collateral estoppel . . . . Hell, I'd even listen to an argument that the state Attorney General could properly assert such claims.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry Peter, I'll go one further.

Regulation is inherently non-objective law (i.e. it must be either arbitrary, or subjective). It consists of flipping the maxim "Innocent until proven guilty", by instead asking the "regulatee" to prove that he is innocent (something that is a totally arbitrary, and insidious task), and criminalizing the failure to prove, rather than the crime itself. It divorces reason from the person who needs to use it most, i.e. the person in the context of decision, and instead places decisions in the form of "policy", "boards of review", and "central planning". And replaces one form of crime, with a worse form of crime (subjective law).

Every example you come up with can be shown to be inherently of this form. Take zoning for example. Who decides how land is to be zoned? a "board". By what rational mechanism do they decide? [blank out] Are they subject to influence that is non-rational (in fact they are subject to more influence of this type). What's worse than your slaughterhouse example is the zoning board who bends to the influence groups to change your zoning status by whim to allow the slaughterhouse to be built. You haven't really solved the problem, you've just changed the nature of the abuse, now with little legal recourse available.

The fact is people who still think that "just a little regulation" is a good thing never stop to understand what free market mechanisms would be in place that would resolve most of the "extreme" straw men cases they want to pose as "the problem". Read Greenspan's article in "Capitalism: the Unknonwn...".

"Atlas.." was rife with examples of what happens when "regulatory" legislation is introduced. Did you not believe them? Far worse in the real world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And, without some objective standard (or court precedent), each plaintiff would have to (re) establish, in each case, the scientific, chemical or biological damage done to his property.
Why is that a bad idea? The fundamental idea behind liability law is that you should compensate a person for the wronful damage that you have done to them. That means that if you have not actually done any damage to a person, you should not have to "compensate" them. There has been a movement in the direction of resuming damage when none exists, so are you arguing that this is a good thing?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, notice I did not specify taxes on labor or profit. What about a tax on the one factor of production that is not the product of anyone's labor? Land.

But the most valuable land in a state is land that has been improved by labor: tilling, excavating, constructing buildings, etc. How can we separate site value from improvement value except in the most subjective and arbitrary way?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
But the most valuable land in a state is land that has been improved by labor: tilling, excavating, constructing buildings, etc. How can we separate site value from improvement value except in the most subjective and arbitrary way?

You can, particularly if the land-owners perform their own valuations. Rand seemed to allude to this in her distinction of land from the other forms of capital.

I'm talking about a tax on land as the fact it exists, regardless of the improvements made upon it. Then again, I suppose you would run into a metaphysical problem, in the sense of ascribing an intrinsic value to something, which of course Rand rejected. But also consider how the residents of Galt's Gulch financed their "government": essentially, through ground rents which were collected by Midas Mulligan.

Hmmm....

Edited by Peter
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regulation is inherently non-objective law (i.e. it must be either arbitrary, or subjective). It consists of flipping the maxim "Innocent until proven guilty", by instead asking the "regulatee" to prove that he is innocent (something that is a totally arbitrary, and insidious task), and criminalizing the failure to prove, rather than the crime itself. It divorces reason from the person who needs to use it most, i.e. the person in the context of decision, and instead places decisions in the form of "policy", "boards of review", and "central planning". And replaces one form of crime, with a worse form of crime (subjective law).

Objectivists in general need to be careful in their use of the phrase "non-objective law" in that it has two meanings. First is that the law in question does not accord with the values of Objectivism as an ideology. Second is that the law has a non-objective meaning or application. A law with an objective meaning and application is one in which, "Men must know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law forbids them to do (and why), what constitutes a crime and what penalty they will incur if they commit it."

Your post argues that regulation is non-objective under this second definition but I think this is clearly false. Regulation is not inherently non-objective law any more than any sub-variety of legal statutes is inherently non-objective law. The punished crime in violating a regulation is not failure to prove innocence, it is the result of the government's proof of the violated regulation. The government essentially can't say "We think you are guilty of some crime or another, you have to prove you didn't commit any violations." The government via the agency has to present some sort of concrete violation, and both sides go before the judge who decides the case. There are differences in administrative law proceedings vs. regular criminal or civil law, but those differences alone don't make regulation non-objective.

A non-objective law is essentially a law which nobody can know what it means or how it applies except the enforcing authority. Thus a non-objective law is almost exclusively non-statutory and has no precedent to give any insight to its effects. Statutory law, while it may contain words which are arbitrary will eventually build up enough case precedent to give the people prior knowledge of how it applies. This is true of all statutes, whether they criminalize murder or minimum-wage violations.

Some forms of regulation may be non-objective. For example, a board which has complete control over zoning with no codified rules, procedures, chance of appeal or prior precedent. In such a situation a party goes into the proceeding "blind" to both the law AND its application in his case.

What I think you might have been trying to get at is that regulation is non-Objective in the sense that it doesn't accord with the principles of Objectivism as an ideology. That may actually be true, but it is also far less useful an assertion because it takes the question out of the realm of legal interpretation and into the realm of politics.

Edited by Vladimir Berkov
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regulation is not inherently non-objective law any more than any sub-variety of legal statutes is inherently non-objective law.
The term "regulation" has two senses. The one that you are using (a body of rules constructed by an agency under authorization from a legislative body) is not contextually appropriate. The sense that is appropriate is the one that prevents actions which might result in (perceived) violation of rights. For example, zoning is thought to prevent loss of value that might result from economic freedom; safety laws are intended to prevent possible injuries. The standard civil approach to these matters is to sue for actual damages, if a neighbor's tree falls on your house; or, sue the neighbor if their dog bites you. The regulatory approach to these matters is to prevent the action in advance of any actual damage -- in other words, to assume that you are guilty of inflicting damage, even if you haven't done so.

Focusing on the rest of Kendall's comments, note that he clearly identified the process of arbitrarily imposing rules without rational basis. The argument was not about the unknowability of the words of the regulation (which is a separate possibility). Rather, the meaning of the regulation -- the concrete referents in terms of relating facts to actions taken by the agency with regulatory power -- is very often unknowable, especially when it comes to zoning.

A non-objective law is essentially a law which nobody can know what it means or how it applies except the enforcing authority. Thus a non-objective law is almost exclusively non-statutory and has no precedent to give any insight to its effects.
And yet we have federal antitrust law.
Statutory law, while it may contain words which are arbitrary will eventually build up enough case precedent to give the people prior knowledge of how it applies.
No, not really. Even when you think you know what a law means because it has been tested in courts many times, that meaning can be changed by a clever enough twisting of words. And it doesn't take any accretion of precedent, you just need a single well-placed holding (SCOTUS being the best place for definitive decisions).
Link to comment
Share on other sites

But the most valuable land in a state is land that has been improved by labor: tilling, excavating, constructing buildings, etc. How can we separate site value from improvement value except in the most subjective and arbitrary way?

Completely unimproved land has zero monetary value; Thomas Paine fell into this particular fallacy in his work Agrarian Justice. It may, given some projected improvements, have theoretical value, kind of like pork futures. In fact, if you have some kind of rational land-ownership practice (as opposed to the absurd assumption that all land belongs to the king/government and is bestowed or withheld by said king/government at will), it's impossible to own land that is completely unimproved; in order to claim land, you have to improve it.

The entire concept of property depends upon the idea that you have input some kind of effort in order to be able to claim ownership of the whatever-it-is; "property" comes about as a merger between physical existents and human consciousness; without the involvement of both, there is no property.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The regulatory approach to these matters is to prevent the action in advance of any actual damage -- in other words, to assume that you are guilty of inflicting damage, even if you haven't done so.

Preventing possible future damage is not the same as a presumption of guilt. It merely is moving the law's intervention further up the causal ladder. Much of law is based at its root on probability.

And yet we have federal antitrust law.
How is anti-trust non-objective?

No, not really. Even when you think you know what a law means because it has been tested in courts many times, that meaning can be changed by a clever enough twisting of words. And it doesn't take any accretion of precedent, you just need a single well-placed holding (SCOTUS being the best place for definitive decisions).

So are you saying that no law is objective?

Completely unimproved land has zero monetary value; Thomas Paine fell into this particular fallacy in his work Agrarian Justice. It may, given some projected improvements, have theoretical value, kind of like pork futures. In fact, if you have some kind of rational land-ownership practice (as opposed to the absurd assumption that all land belongs to the king/government and is bestowed or withheld by said king/government at will), it's impossible to own land that is completely unimproved; in order to claim land, you have to improve it.

You are ignoring the fact that future value IS a value. For instance, the value in an unimproved lot covered in hardwood timber is not the present market value of cut lumber, it is the future value of the lumber discounted to the present. The monetary value of unimproved land is thus based on any future values people might have for it, plus whatever marginal present utility it has.

Unimproved land can have a present utility. For instance, if I bought a large area of unimproved land for hunting or hiking or just as a nature preserve. It has a present utility even though no human effort has gone into improving it, and in fact human improvements would likely destroy such a utility.

Labor-based theories of property may be useful for settling legal disputes, but it would be foolish to require labor in order to claim property rights.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Preventing possible future damage is not the same as a presumption of guilt.
Prior restraint is morally indistinguishable from presumption of guilt.
How is anti-trust non-objective?
The act proscribed by law is determined entirely post hoc: ou are guilty of monopolizing if and only if you are found guilty. There is no independent definition of the proscribed act.
So are you saying that no law is objective?
No, I am saying that the crime stare decisis, the practice of deliberately writing ambiguous law, myriad interpretive principles including howlers such as "substantive due process", and the principle of separability (read: philosophical disintegration) result in totally non-objective law. Interpretively speaking, it is correct to say that law in the US is now wholely subjective. More to the point, people have no reasonable basis for presuming to know what the law says. Your hunch might still be right about 50% of the time, as long as you only consider obvious things like killing, stealing, blowing up buildings, and whacking people with baseball bats. What exactly is proscribed by RICO?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Prior restraint is morally indistinguishable from presumption of guilt.

Not really. And the laws in question aren't really prior restraint, any more than "attempted murder" or "driving while intoxicated" is prior restraint.

The act proscribed by law is determined entirely post hoc: ou are guilty of monopolizing if and only if you are found guilty. There is no independent definition of the proscribed act.
I don't have the time right now to research this on Westlaw, but I know that anti-trust laws exist by statute. With any crime you "are guilty if and only if you are found guilty" as that is a logical truism. What I think you are getting at is that it is hard to tell if you have violated anti-trust until you are charged. That is a separate problem from the law being non-objective, and is rather a problem of the law being too broad or too complex for everyday people to understand and follow.

No, I am saying that the crime stare decisis, the practice of deliberately writing ambiguous law, myriad interpretive principles including howlers such as "substantive due process", and the principle of separability (read: philosophical disintegration) result in totally non-objective law. Interpretively speaking, it is correct to say that law in the US is now wholely subjective. More to the point, people have no reasonable basis for presuming to know what the law says. Your hunch might still be right about 50% of the time, as long as you only consider obvious things like killing, stealing, blowing up buildings, and whacking people with baseball bats. What exactly is proscribed by RICO?

Yes, some law is too broadly worded but that is assuming you only rely on the statute in question and not any case-law. All law is inherently subjective in the sense that it requires interpretation by judges. I think the big problem is not poorly worded statutes but rather the over-abudence of things which are criminalized.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With any crime you "are guilty if and only if you are found guilty" as that is a logical truism.

No, that is not true. Being found guilty is a judgement made by human beings, whereas BEING guilty is a fact of reality. Hence being found guilty does not necessarily mean you are guilty. It is not true that a falling tree makes a sound if and only if it is found to make a sound (i.e., by a human listener). The tree either makes a sound, or it does not. I either committed an objectively defined crime X, or I did not.

Antitrust is non-objective because a "conspiracy, in restraint of trade" (Sherman Antitrust Act) is something you cannot objectively define; at the very least, it IS not objectively defined. There is no pointing at a fact of reality and saying "that action, right there, is a conspiracy in restraint of trade". There is only a judge or jury deciding what they think that woozy phrase means, and making a subjective determination on the basis of whatever whim they happen to have. Most importantly, there is no way for a businessman to consider a particular action and ask himself, "will this be a 'conspiracy in restraint of trade"? There is no way to answer that, because it amounts to asking, "what will the judge or jury decide in the future based on their woozy understanding of this phrase and their particular whims of the moment?"

Edited by Spano
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, that is not true. Being found guilty is a judgement made by human beings, whereas BEING guilty is a fact of reality. In the same way, it is not true that the falling tree makes a sound if and only if it is found to make a sound (i.e., by a human listener). The tree either makes a sound, or it does not. I either committed an objectively defined crime X, or I did not.

But we are talking about law here, not philosophy or logic. In the law, there is not a separation between being found guilty and being guilty. Once someone is found guilty in a court of law, they ARE guilty for legal purposes. They might try to appeal their conviction alleging they are actually innocent, etc. but the way the system works is to determine as best as possible whether someone is guilty or not. Since we are talking about law here, not objective, independant reality the legal use of the word "guilty" is the only one that is relevant.

Antitrust is non-objective because a "conspiracy, in restraint of trade" (Sherman Antitrust Act) is something you cannot objectively define; at the very least, it IS not objectively defined. There is no pointing at a fact of reality and saying "that action, right there, is a conspiracy in restraint of trade".
Again, you need the actual complete statute and annotations to determine whether something has been sufficiently defined or not. At least, give me a cite so I can go research it on my own to verify your allegations.

There is only a judge or jury deciding what they think that woozy phrase means, and making a subjective determination on the basis of whatever whim they happen to have. Most importantly, there is no way for a businessman to consider a particular action and ask himself, "will this be a 'conspiracy in restraint of trade"? There is no way to answer that, because it amounts to asking, "what will the judge or jury decide in the future based on their woozy understanding of this phrase and their particular whims of the moment?"

In a way, your complaint is simply true of our entire legal system. All people have to judge their actions on what a judge and jury may decide in the future based on any number of rational and irrational circumstances. So far, I haven't seen any evidence from anybody in this thread to show that anti-trust is any different than any of the other laws currently on the books.

Edited by Vladimir Berkov
Link to comment
Share on other sites

At least, give me a cite so I can go research it on my own to verify your allegations.
An old but good book about anti-trust law is "The Antitrust Laws of the United States of America", by A.D.Neale. I read it a long while back, after seeing it in the bibliography of "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal". The author appears to be objective in his presentation. He does make the point that many aspects of the law are left vague and open to interpretation.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have the time right now to research this on Westlaw, but I know that anti-trust laws exist by statute.
15 USC 1 et seq. "Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal." There are no criteria knowable in advance of the act of engaging in business that permit you to know what level of success is illegal. "Retrsaint of trade" is undefined.
What I think you are getting at is that it is hard to tell if you have violated anti-trust until you are charged. That is a separate problem from the law being non-objective, and is rather a problem of the law being too broad or too complex for everyday people to understand and follow.
No, it is not just hard, it is impossible, and that is exactly what it means for a law to be non-objective. There are no objective criteria for judging that the law has been violated, only the subjective feeling of the jury.
All law is inherently subjective in the sense that it requires interpretation by judges. I think the big problem is not poorly worded statutes but rather the over-abudence of things which are criminalized.
Without disparaging the valid point that too man things are criminalized, the other and most fundamental problem is that statutes are too poorly worded and that there are no objective standards for resolving the myriad referents of laws.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

All law is inherently subjective in the sense that it requires interpretation by judges. I think the big problem is not poorly worded statutes but rather the over-abudence of things which are criminalized.

My question to you is, "Is the 'overabundance' of things that are criminalized simply an unexplainable happening?" i.e. "So what is the cause of an overabundance of ciminalization?".

My assertion would be that if you start needing people to prove that they are not guilty of a "real" crime, then you will inherently result in criminalization of all sort of "precrimes", and since this is proof of a negative, the number of precrimes sufficient to assure no crime is infinite (actually arbitrary, but the net result is an explosion of criminalization of "non-crimes")

Subjective law requires more than plain court interpretation, it will require all sorts of policy development, essentially policy as law, by the exectutive. It will require all sorts of training of the practitioners in any such field since they will not be able to tell what is criminal by the statutes. It will require guidance on how to comply with such a law, and leave the practitioners still not sure. It will essentially necessitate the big beaurocracy and "politics of pull" that Rand predicted . I've lived this. You won't convince me otherwise. I googled reviews for a book on my nightstand currently (but which I have not started). Here is one reviewers comment on the FDA.

"If you've ever been on the receiving end of an FDA action, you know the prevailing culture inside the FDA views the entire industry as the police view criminals. The FDA often seems to doubt every iota of data, question every motive and act as if the administrative procedures which insure fairness are somehow boundaries on a power they believe should be limitless. Many parts of the FDA are an "end-justifies-the-means" culture. Staff who don't toe the line and approach industry with all out animosity and suspicion are often suspect themselves of being deficient in intellect and/or integrity."

Vladimir, I realize you are a law student, and I work in one of the most heavily regulated industries out there (chemical/pharmaceutical) so this should be an interesting discussion, but realize you will inherently get into the realm of the philosophy of law so I'll at least point you to some concepts. Rand addressed her concepts here very specifically. She wrote on anti-trust, and Greenspan added an article on FDA as well in CUI.

http://www.tafol.org/bulletins/b07.html#b07whtisobjective

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, but in AS Midas Mulligan actually owned the whole valley. Why shouldn't he receive money for letting other people use his land?

Midas Mulligan indeed owned the land, but even he didn't create it. He was, essentially, the government who collected the ground-rents from his tenants to provide for a common defense. To this extent, he was abiding by the Lockean principle (which was supported by many other Enlightenment thinkers) of private property.

But who really can lay claim to land? It isn't *yours*, since didn't create it (as opposed to one of Roark's building designs or Galt's generator, which are very clearly theirs). Nor can the government lay a natural claim to the land, since the government is simply composed of the same people that occupy it.

Now-- I should preface this next statement with saying that I am not an advocate of the tax I speak of. I'm merely exploring its philosophical implications-- thinking out-loud. But, since land itself is the product of no individual's labor and is a finite resource, who has the right to lay claim to it? Men. Which men? What if some mean cannot afford to acquire it or have no desire to? If you consider the possibility that land itself was nature's "gift" to the whole of mankind, and, is the physical entity upon which any exercise of liberty takes place (with liberty being the right of every man), then what we're talking about here really isn't a "tax" at all, but a rent due to the rightful owners-- mankind in general.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because land by itself is not worth much at all; when individuals expend effort to improve it it thereby becomes their property just like anything else one might change and/or produce. If I take a piece of iron ore from the ground and make an ingot from it it would be mine, just as a piece of land would be mine if I were to make a farm there and work it.

Once that has happened the owner can sell it, and the new owner has the exact same right to the land as the original owner did.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 USC 1 et seq. "Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal." There are no criteria knowable in advance of the act of engaging in business that permit you to know what level of success is illegal. "Retrsaint of trade" is undefined.No, it is not just hard, it is impossible, and that is exactly what it means for a law to be non-objective. There are no objective criteria for judging that the law has been violated, only the subjective feeling of the jury.Without disparaging the valid point that too man things are criminalized, the other and most fundamental problem is that statutes are too poorly worded and that there are no objective standards for resolving the myriad referents of laws.

I just did a cursory search of 15 U.S.C 1, and just on Westlaw alone there are 546 pages of references, cross-indexes and the like explaining or amending the statute. Thus there is certainly more to go on than the one sentence from the statute you quoted. When assessing what the law means, you virtually NEVER go by the plain words of the statute. The job of a lawyer is to find out how past judges have interpreted the statute and what past cases with binding precedent have held. There is no law out there in which a simple reading of the words of the statute ends the inequiry into what the law means.

And again, there is never an "objective" criteria to tell if the law has been violated which somehow doesn't involve a fact-finder (either jury or judge.) There isn't some all-knowing, all-seeing entity which we can ask whether the law has been violated or not. The best we can do is a jury or a judge, and both are inherently subjective.

You won't convince me otherwise.

If neither facts or reason will convince you, then there is no point in carrying on this conversation with you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...