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|10-17-2012 02:56 PM|
Which you can't do. Locke couldn't. Rothbard sure as hell couldn't.
You read it somewhere, and adopted it as an article of faith. What I'm offering you is, rather than an unreasoned article of faith, a reasoned explanation of the means by which rights are created.
They tend not to do research for the sake of research when they could devote that energy to pursuing specific, hopefully profitable, objectives. This is why core research is overwhelmingly coming not as an extension of business, but from our research universities and government funded labs. It comes from people who want to discover something, without knowing whether this eventual discovery can be leveraged for profit for a specific enterprise. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge.
We leave it to the private sector to look for and exploit value in the results.
There's no way to say with certainty that the private sector wouldn't have eventually gotten around to big railways, highways, telco lines, internets, etc. but it obvious that they didn't have the vision or commitment to blaze those trails. We had to "wait" for the government that you deride to do the actual innovating.
There is no notion of ownership, of "rightfulness" until there is another person to agree to such right. There is no "right" to own until there is another person to create that relationship. And the right has no value until there is multilateral enforcement of claims.
It is as arbitrary to say that Cheetahs have an intrinsic right to life because they are the fastest land animal as it is to say that humans have an intrinsic right to life because they are the best reasoners.
Neither of those claims is, ironically, based on reason. Rather they are simple pronouncements, based on nothing more than wishful thinking.
The "right" to life isn't intrinsic to humans. We're animals competing for resources like any other. It's not a magic present from our creator to his favorite pets. Rather, it is our ability to reason that allows us to create and enforce a set of rights through negotiation.
|10-17-2012 12:50 PM|
And I don't believe you need written records, that is simply an example of one manner in which they would prove to be the rightful owner of a land. I'm sure there might be many other instances of evidence that could be used.
Do you really think that if something is stolen, and can't be returned to the rightful owner, then nothing can ever possess rightful ownership of the good again?
If you are alone on a deserted island, and you fashion a hammer, blade, and construct a hut, you obviously don't see the need to make any sort of official claim of ownership (which would be silly for one person to do), but that doesn't mean that there isn't property and an owner. In reality, every concept of ownership is present except a foreign party to challenge who is the rightful owner. Once other parties step onto the scene (forming 'society' in a general sense) is when the importance of ownership is seen in its ability to prevent conflict of scarce resources.
There was a time when people thought no private company could possible compete with the post office, yet thanks to a loophole in the law, Fed Ex and UPS do so in areas where it is legal for them to.
To quote Rothbard:
If the government and only the government had had a monopoly of the shoe manufacturing and retailing business, how would most of the public treat the libertarian who now came along to advocate that the government get out of the shoe business and throw it open to private enterprise? He would undoubtedly be treated as follows: people would cry, “How could you? You are opposed to the public, and to poor people, wearing shoes! And who would supply shoes to the public if the government got out of the business? Tell us that! Be constructive! It’s easy to be negative and smart-alecky about government; but tell us who would supply shoes? Which people? How many shoe stores would be available in each city and town? How would the shoe firms be capitalized? How many brands would there be? What material would they use? What lasts? What would be the pricing arrangements for shoes? Wouldn’t regulation of the shoe industry be needed to see to it that the product is sound?
It's not irrelevant, it's actually the core of where natural rights come from, ie the nature of man and his surroundings.
|10-16-2012 12:20 PM|
In addition, you seem to have now put forth a definition of "ownership" that is contingent upon written records. So have you abandoned the idea that ownership is a real concept that exists in nature as a condition beyond a defensible claim? You should, but if you haven't you'll need to reconcile these positions.
^^Again, you're position isn't even consistent unto itself. You have work to do.
It's a process that is extrapolated to the present day, in which we have reached progressively greater levels of stability by negotiating sophisticated systems for resource allocation, as well as low-cost mechanisms for enforcement.
A deed doesn't change the underlying truth of a defensible claim, it just formats the claim to take advantage of low-cost organizational enforcement of claims.
Traversing numerous and varied interests requires a degree of collective will and collective force. It's necessary. The bigger the project, the more miniscule the chance of unanimous action through voluntary participation. Feudalism blows.
And obviously, the more the better, with population forming a buffer against easy, lopsided alliances. Ideally the population base is large enough that the bulk of the enforcement power is remote enough from any given individual that they do not benefit directly from a violation of your claims.
You've caught on to part of this with your realization that what may be "rightfully" claimed is that which is recognized by society. Continue that evolution of thought and understand that ownership isn't a natural concept, but rather an advantageous social tool.
That is to say, ownership is not intrinsically established via the addition of labor. The natural state of existence isn't alchemically transmuted by work. The only way that labor can establish ownership is if a society sets that standard. You see- a should be, rather than an is?
This is not, in any way, an argument. It goes no distance to supporting the claim of natural rights.
As before, it's quite as arbitrary as suggesting that cheetahs have natural rights by virtue of being the fastest animal on land. Sure, it's a true fact, but it in no way supports the claim that this fact somehow points to a natural right to X.
The Lockean dilemma is that he claims the existence of natural rights intrinsic to humanity- a set of features to which man is exclusively and naturally entitled- but he cannot establish a basis for such a claim either through observation or through strength of reason. It's born of his presupposition that man is God's special project. We have to have these features, because that is what would make us special and distinct from the other animals.
It's pure, circular nonsense when you get right down to it. With a little bit of thinking we can better understand and explain how we do what we do. It's not magic or mystery, but it is a pretty damn impressive accomplishment.
|10-16-2012 11:16 AM|
Also to take into consideration is that more likely than not, land across the US probably had no rightful owner. The Native American population was at most probably 20 million (I think that's high, but whatever) and they didn't live on vast farms. Odds are a very small portion of the land was 'owned', while the rest was simply in a state of nature waiting to be owned.
It does get more complicated than the author of that article would like to admit when it comes to temporary homesteading claims on public lands (not unowned) to view a parade. In these instances there are laws established by the government that owns the land, or at the very least societal norms that are in place.
Reason at a human level
Language skills at a human level
Social skills at a human level
The ability to produce and use goods at a human level
Cooperate with one another and nature to the degree humans do
|10-14-2012 03:14 PM|
One legal entity not directly receiving land grants does not necessarily mean- and in this case absolutely does not mean- that Hills output was not fueled by land grant. Quite the opposite.
You understand the nature of the question, yes? You espoused a worldview in which ownership is something real, "rightful" - some objective state beyond a defended claim. I am asking, as I have many times, for you to describe how such a real state comes to exist.
I, on the other hand, have been telling you that ownership is a concept that we created and embrace simply as a tool to manage resources. We like it because it reduces the cost of chaos.
And, of course, there is no shortage of irony in lauding a system that exists expressly as an outgrowth of government innovation and which ties people together across a vast physical infrastructure created through eminent domain- nationwide connectivity itself being born of government vision and funded by the public.
An individual can think that he or she "owns" something (he or she claims something) but without a society to observe and enforce claims the concept of ownership is no more meaningful than any other claim in a state of nature.
A) An arbitrary concept meaningful only to the degree to which it is observed by others
B) An objectively real condition that exists in nature, which should remain inviolable.
However, when you say "we are not like animals," you are simply begging the question, as if repetition constitutes argument. Remember, you are supposed to be making an argument in support of your larger claim, that somehow evident in the way we live (as compared to other animals) is proof of the existence of real, intrinsic natural rights.
Deeming the smartest, fastest, hairiest tallest, longest-lived, or most social of all the animals are observations that may be made about various species. Where, in such observation, is evidence of these allegedly intrinsic "natural rights?"
Now, again, with fair warning, you are just courting futility, I challenge you to actually make such an argument. Succeed and you will catapult yourself to the top of the canon.
|10-12-2012 12:36 PM|
As far as this meaning he got federal land grants when virtually every other source I've read says he didn't is suspicious. I wonder if he the land grants he says he got were simply the Federal government recognizing his claim to purchased or unclaimed land out west. (I imagine much of the land that he looked at was completely uninhabited way back then)
|10-11-2012 03:49 PM|
You've been provided with links to historical accounts. The internet has many more to offer.
Like I've said before, buying stolen merchandise from a fence does not confer even a semblance of legitimacy. Even if one wants to believe in some metaphysical state of ownership, the original "owner" is simply out of luck, robbed of value by force and threat of force. And that doesn't even get into the left-hand, right-hand relationships. The left hand selling granted assets to "independently finance" right-hand acquisitions does not make the success of the right hand any less dependent upon the grants.
New frontiers are the border between chaos and civilization. The process is ugly, but this is what settling these new frontiers looks like. If it's this nasty in a frontier setting, try to imagine it today. Just try to imagine negotiating a practical cross-country rail like without government intervention.
You want to blame the state for trying to encourage development, rather than the scam artists who ripped them off? I suppose we can fault the state for naivete, and individual members of that body for susceptibility to corruption. Like a huge, huge number of other interested parties, the state was victimized by shady mofos. That time and that industry was a godawful mess of scammers looking to exploit new opportunity and very little to hold them in check. It was not very far removed from a state of nature. Competing rail lines were quite literally going to war with one another, attacking, destroying and killing like feuding tribes.
The market economy doesn't succeed without government. Without a body of law to establish your rights, and a government to enforce those rights, there is nothing to protect your rights except you own force. Even if you can defend your rights against most customers, competition can be, quite literally cutthroat.
Compare this international resistance to chaos against the constant state of war- of open conquest - for most of human history.
As I said before, one can argue that a system of ownership is beneficial, but not that ownership exists objectively as a metaphysical state- as a natural right.
I can't simply make use of a resource to which you may make claim, and then magically pronounce that I have established some objective ownership of that resource. Not without the intervention of Libertarian Jesus to pronounce my ownership rightful?
Keeping in mind that for linkable material we're restricted to the internet, here's a book available on Google books for free. Hill starts on Page 338 and this particular bit of history starts on page 357
Starting, for example with Hill's first railroad: The St. Paul and Pacific. That railroad built on land grant land. => government swindled and defrauded => financial trouble bailed out by Dutch investors and put into receivership==>Receiver does nothing and drives the company into bankruptcy--> hill swoops in to buy the company dirt cheap.
Allegedly, Hill colluded with the receiver who, in exchange for tanking the company, would get 1/5 interest after the buyout.
But again, nefarious dealings aside, it cannot be argued that Hills railroad interests were built on land not attained through negotiation with interested parties, but on land granted by the government and passed between government after seizure from the indigenous peoples. Eminent domain x100.
We do this in a number of direct and indirect ways- again just like other animals.
If you're speaking of social complexity and cooperation, we're still middle of the pack.
|10-11-2012 09:45 AM|
Do you also disagree with: "When he was looking for the best path for one of his tracks to take, he went on horseback and scouted it personally"? How about the fact that it didn't go bankrupt when the State subsided rails all did? Is that Unicorns and pixie dust to you?
Well, the article addresses what happens if an individual claims obviously ridiculous amounts, so I don't really feel the need to address that. The reality is, if you live in a society where everything is already rightfully claimed, then to justly acquire wealth you have to trade your services for it. For example, when I was born I came into the world with nothing. Over the years I built skills and was supported by my family. Then I went out and got employed, and now I am able to purchase goods from others willing to sell.
|10-10-2012 01:56 PM|
It a simple matter to collect the facts to prove the point. The flyer simply illustrates the point- which is precisely what I said when I included it.
The very route that you are celebrating was freaking land grant.
I'm sure that as a devotee of Libertarian mythology you would like the story to be about something else- anything else- but the facts are what they are. But hey, all it takes to build the route is a little libertarian elbow grease and a grant for 47 million acres of land.
You're incredibly wrong about this. You've been presented with the facts of the matter. While I can discuss differences of opinion, I won't waste my on a discussion in which one party can't acknowledge the basic facts of the matter.
Just admit- even just to yourself- that the claim you were promoting is Stossel-quality nonsense so that we can stop wasting time.
It's blasphemy, of a sort, but it'll only hurt for a second. Say ten Hail Mises, work the rosary and feel better.
Remember, as I explained at length, it's not a justification.
It's quite an innovation to negotiate toward a respect for the lives of enemies. The chivalric code was an innovation. Today we have the Geneva convention, created and negotiated in international cooperation, which has gone a long way toward "civilizing" warfare.
Now not only are there rules of engagement that offer protection to both non-combatants and combatants, but there is an international community that tries to enforce these standards against rogue actors.
Surely there is something between the (proposed) sapien-neandrathal genocide, the slaughter of the Canaanites, the enslavement of the Jews, the destruction of the Carthagenians, the Mongol hordes, the annihilation of the Pueblos, our own dirty business with the Native Americans and...
On second thought, history was utterly freaking brutal, with a deep, rich history of wholesale slaughter and outright genocide.
Wake up, man. You have ideas about how the world would be without government, but even a cursory look at history should be enough to dispel these fantasies. Humans, at every stage of history, with every size of "government" have been brutal killers, often eager to exterminate every last man, woman, and child of the dreaded "other."
It is only recently, again with the luxury of hard-won stability, that we have created a system of law and enforcement (alternative to the chaos of nature) that is sophisticated enough to affect behavior on a global scale. Genocide, rather than being par for the course, is something which now deserves a name, and something we discourage. If you appreciate that perspective, give government a hug.
Not only does it perpetuate the arbitrary standard of "owning" something by making use of that thing, it tries to use tailgating and sunbathing as a model for how this self-organization takes place, without making the obvious concession that the more scarce a resource, the greater the need, the more probable a violent outcome. Though people surely do come to blows over something as trivial as a parade spot, most of the time it's simply not worth the cost.
As for your own answer above, note that everything having been "claimed" by the first human, the second has nothing with which to negotiate. The best #2 may hope for is to take resources from #1 and hope that abundance is a shield against costly violence or that he can overcome #1.
Extrapolate this over a growing population and finite resources and the problem should be obvious.
I laid out, numerically, the sequence of events through which this land came to be Hill's. I believe I've even used this example before.
As regards the "settlement" of the Northwest, there is very little that might be considered honorable. Just fantastic amounts of swindling, fraud, perjury, bribery and outright theft. If you don't know the history of the Robber Barons, you should absolutely read about the period. It's fascinating, if for no other reason, to see the rank corruption produced by the race to exploit the resources of a new-to-whites continent.
Which, of course, is the same problem Locke had. He really wanted certain values to be respected, but couldn't manage to demonstrate that such right existed in nature. They were not, despite popular repetition, self evident.
That's nothing to do with being human, and everything to do with the state of society to which we've negotiated.
Humans of different times and place, as I mentioned above, had a much more casual relationship with violence. Killing, raping and burning used to be little more than a good days work to be recounted around campfires while comrades in arms swapped gory details.
History makes it clear that those things you think of as inherently human aren't inherent at all, but rather the product of millenia of ongoing negotiations ceding individual, animal sovereignty in exchange for the relative security of structured society.
|10-10-2012 11:07 AM|
On the Wiki page you got it from it says: "The Great Northern was the only privately funded, and successfully built, transcontinental railroad in United States history. No federal land grants were used during its construction, unlike every other transcontinental railroad; according to Hill, his railway was built "without any government aid, even the right of way, through hundreds of miles of public lands, being paid for in cash"." Everything here seems to allude to the rail being built under just circumstances.
Now, a fair criticism is "Well, a small part of that line was acquired by purchasing a bankrupt railroad. That RR had received land grants and possibly subsidies from the government before it failed." It's true the GNR didn't operate in a vacuum from the government, and it did have competitors that were government subsidized. I think it's a rather small criticism considering the overall size of the line compared to the tiny portion that was bought at auction, and what I think is more important is the fact that nearly all the lines in this area (save the Great Northern) that were built with federal land grants and federal subsidy failed during the panics of the late 1800's. It would seem the story should be about how unstable federal involvement is in the RR industry, and how the more stable process is to be "built in stages, slowly to create profitable lines, before extending the road further into the undeveloped Western territories"
History happened. We can either look at it and say, "All of that death and destruction was a mistake that should never happen again" or "Thank goodness we did that killing, because now I have so much stuff."
As for alternatives, I'd imagine there would be small fights at best, and between professional soldiers. This notion of dropping atom bombs on civilians would be gone as any small state that expressed a willingness to do so would immediately be ostracized from the rest of civilization.
It's also not arbitrary to confer rights upon those who have the cognitive senses humans do rather than physical traits because what we are talking about is the exercise of those cognitive senses. Arbitrary would be saying every animal has rights because it has a heartbeat, or a brain, or claws, or whatever you fancy, with out having a logical flow from those characteristics to natural rights.
|10-09-2012 11:55 AM|
At this point you've twisted yourself around so far that you've lost sight of the original discussion.We're not still talking about this because I'm obsesses with the history of railways. We're still talking about this because you refused, even when presented with evidence, to acknowledge that this bit of Libertarian mythology is pure fantasy. The rail didn't reach from Minnesota to the Pacific by negotiating its way across multiple stakeholders. It was "railroaded." Myth, busted.
We are "here" because our ancestors won. They got what they needed and here we are as a result- regardless of how else they might have gotten what they needed or what other alternative futures might have been created.
Like evolution, it doesn't mean that it was the only way to get from one point to some other point, but looking back from a later date to the former we can see the course quite clearly.
Remember, people already have the option of "negotiating" as well as legal recourse when those negotiations fail to resolve disputed claims.
How can you even imagine that taking away the alternative of legal recourse would reduce the number of times that people resort to direct violence? Absurd, no?
We drop bombs to stop a civil war, to stop a genocide, to end a global war. Government isn't inventing violence, it just seeks to control and reduce such costly disruption. That's one of the reasons humans negotiated to a state of order, remember. We invented and abide by government because it is better than the alternative anarchy. We were not forced out of the state of nature, but climbed out quite voluntarily.
The first human being comes into existence; what can he or she rightfully claim. The second human being comes into existence; what can he or she rightfully claim? And so on. How does a state of what you call "rightful" ownership come to exist.
Of course, the truth is that rightful ownership is cut from the same fictional fabrication as the concept of natural rights. We use the idea because it's convenient, but it's not an objectively real condition. It's just our attempt to mitigate the cost and chaos of the state of nature.
FWIW, I'm pretty sure it was land grand land, so a bit of both.
It would be quite as silly to say that natural rights pop into existence as a result of a species being the fastest climber, the best digger, or the strongest swimmer.
Worse, the arbitrary nature of such a pronouncement can be (and has been) problematic in a practical sense.
If greater natural rights come with greater reason, do some men have more natural rights than others?
Cannot other men claim, with equal certainty, that natural rights- even humanity itself- come only with superior reason and white skin?
See the problem? You've made an arbitrary pronouncement, and will circularly support it by pointing out facts or perceived facts. Those facts don't actually support the arbitrary claim.
The fact of the matter is that prior to interaction there is nothing to recognize. There is nothing to observe in the individual. There is action, and no evidence that any action is prohibited or that any status is protected. It is only after interaction that such characterizations would be observable. Rights are very much created through negotiation and derive all value from enforceability, and it is only after interaction that one would be able to see if such a system was negotiated.
That is to say, either the two humans would try to kill one another, or they would work out a relationship based on the cost of force. Just like every animal. One might be submissive to the other. They might further interact. They might go their separate ways. They might fight.
One animal killing another is neither right nor wrong, but chaos is costly and those costs are something which all animals try to mitigate in their various fashions. It becomes "wrong" only within a system of rights that dictates that such behavior is wrong. It is rule-breaking.
The drive to propagate our genes (including rearing, within our reproductive strategy) is born of the same impetus as our desire to claim and collect resources: survival of the individual and of the species.
|10-09-2012 09:44 AM|
Far less common? It's constant. Just because it's not in your neighborhood doesn't mean it's not happening.
|10-05-2012 01:59 PM|
Feel free to explain how oil transitions from being a resource to which we all may make equal claim, to someone's rightful property.
That's a great freaking deal (as long as one is not an Indian." This is you rightful ownership?
I reject as utterly absurd the idea that your desire to put a structure on a piece of land creates some metaphysical state of rightful ownership that is somehow greater than my desire to maintain the land as open space.
If you disagree, I'm sure you won't mind if I build myself a fine cabin on your lawn. I'm sure you'll agree that the land is then rightfully mine.
Aside from being both circular and arbitrary, it's not a factually accurate distinction. There are many other animals that have complex social behavior and are capable of complex communication. Some animals are even demonstrably self aware.
It's not enough to claim that we are different from other animals. All species are "different" from other species. You can't simply say that we have some sort of special, magical natural rights because we're "different."
If I kill you, it's Danocide. If my family kills your family to claim a better watering hole, it's nature. If my tribe kills your tribe to capture better grazing land, it's tribalism. If it's one race killing another for perceived inferiority (which is a particularly human habit, the "inferior" animals have the decency to kill for survival rather than with contrived purpose) it's genocide.
These things are not new or unique to government. The scale is larger, but the killing is rarer (adjusting for population density and resource distribution). The cost is lower because there are less expensive ways to settle most disputes. If you think urban life is violent now, try to imagine 8 million people crammed into NYC without the benefit of law and order.
Though, again, what you're trying to do is to say that different techniques or tactics make us different in some fundamental way. Being (as far as we can tell) the smartest animal doesn't make us fundamentally different anymore than being the biggest animal makes whales fundamentally different.
Yes, we can reason, but it's that ability that allows us to define and enforce rights, rather than an indication that those rights must exist and belong to us because we think ourselves special.
|10-05-2012 12:29 PM|
I object to the notion that homesteading is something 'arbitrary'. There is plenty of literature on the topic that soundly reasons it's existence and the benefits of it. I would say your claim of oil you don't know exists in places you've never been is far more arbitrary than a person who has bought (or homesteaded ) the land, built machines to extract, and then shipped it to refineries.
And I don't 'blame government' for violence. I understand that violence between people happens. I credit government for war, genocide, and deaths far greater than any private civilian skirmish would ever yield. (Which is why I advocate as small a government as humanly possible)
What about the Parent/Child relationship absent government. If there is no legal framework dictating the responsibilities of a parent to a child, would you think the relationship would lose all meaning if, say they were on a deserted island? Or do you think, part of the nature of a human being is hard wired the desire to claim ownership over one's offspring, and to take care of that child?
|10-05-2012 11:22 AM|
You're talking about a robber baron like any other, ruthlessly amassing fortune by "railroading" other people- including but not limited to advocating and profiting from the seizure and sale of land to which other inhabitants had equal, if not better, claim. Their misery becomes his profit. This is your Libertarian saint?
Conflicts are constant, and in no way intrinsic to government. In fact, government, by providing a structured alternative to violence, avoids a good deal of the violence that would otherwise be born of chaos.
There is oil in the ground, no person discernibly entitled to a greater share than another. A powerful person or alliance arbitrarily claims ownership. They simply pronounce it so. If they have the force to defend the claim, they can keep it. (An ongoing conflict in many oil-rich countries.) The strong individual or alliance, having arbitrarily claimed the resource- effectively robbing others of the opportunity to dispose of the resource, then sell or grant "rights" to that resource to some developer or another. Again, note that the forceful claimants are selling/giving away a manufactured "right" which exists in no way beyond will and force. Those developers, in turn, suck the muck out of the ground, process it, and sell it back to you.
What we see is no different than the biggest ape seizing the fruit tree. King of the mountain, so to speak. The lions that drink first at the watering hole.
You, however, seem to think that somewhere in this chain of events, which are born solely of seizure and force, that there must be a moment of magic in which that which is claimed becomes "rightfully" owned. Where does that happen? There is no negotiation with all interested parties, and there damn sure isn't unanimity. It's force. Oh noes- you are part of the problem!
At the core, any bilateral conflict is just two animals making claim to the same resource. Cooperation, negotiation and all of the civilization that we layer on top are attempts to get what we need or want while reducing the cost of conflict. When those efforts fail to deliver what we need or want at a lower cost, we necessarily fall right back to the prospect of violence. At that point, under threat of force, both parties know the risk and potential cost. Either one party will, under threat of force, abandon the claim, or violence will be realized. To the victor the spoils, provided he is healthy enough to enjoy the resource.
Note that alliances and order structures- rules, law, order government at any level- are simply negotiation in bulk. Rather than negotiating each and every interaction at an individual level, we pre-negotiate claims and enforce them through the threat of violence. Don't kill. Don't steal. The first to arrive at a four-way stop has the right of way.
The cost reduction is immeasurable. You want to blame govenment for violence, but the truth is that government greatly reduces the kind of costly, chaotic violence that we can see in the state of nature.
Outside of such a structure, there are just animals claiming resources. Outside such a structure you can no more "own" a piece of land than a bear can "own" his territory. Just as the other so-called "natural rights" don't exist outside of a power structure that recognizes and enforces such agreements.
You've been down this road before. No, rights are not observable. Actions are observable.
We're pretty clever for animals, but animals nonetheless.
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