One Time To Oppose "Privatization"


When thousands of people have already spent years homesteading the land to be "privatized."

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  1. Just because the word “privatization” is used, doesn’t mean this has anything to do with property rights. This is no more than a land grab by the government to set up a tax base (as opposed to setting up a better tax base). Real privatization would be to settle ownership rights over the properties already being lived on and offer compensation for moving. Or simply demarking public and private land and improving the public land so that private firms will find the value of the adjoining property more valuable and start developing through legal channels.

  2. This is the inevitable trade-off when property is insecure — justice looking forward vs. justice looking backward. And it’s not always clear what provides greater justice & security looking forward.

  3. how is kicking people off land they have been living on “Justice looking forward”?

    Unless you believe that US privatization of all Indian lands was really the only possible compromise between an existing people and new people.

  4. Privatize, like it’s cousin Deregulate, when put into practice usually means the opposite.

  5. Looks like it’s already been privatized.

    – Josh

  6. By “justice looking forward”, I mean finding an answer to the question of what state of affairs (past & present) will make people feel most secure about property in the future. It may be that kicking people off land they’ve been living on will in some cases make people feel more secure about land in the future — the logic being:

    “The people who were kicked off were living there under a regime that was known to be insecure. The regime that replaced it was to be more secure. Therefore the regime that replaced it is more secure.”

    It’s like confidence in money.

    However, it’s also possible that seeing one land-holding regime replaced by another may make people think it more likely that further replacements will occur in the future, making them feel less secure about owning land. It all depends on the psychology and the facts of the situation.

  7. The point is, episodes like this demonstrate that the vulgar “private is better than public/privatize all that is public” formulation is deeply flawed. There are historic and cultural means of ownership that are quite different from the capitalist, deed-based system we’ve had in the west for a few centuries. This is little different than the way we “privatized” the land that was collectively owned by Indians.

  8. Yes, and that’s a separate problem. Consider a current example: the ham bands. Portions of spectrum for amateur radio, I mean. They are of obvious value to their users, and to the extent ham radio nurtures experimentation, we all benefit.

    However, it also makes economic sense to privatize radio spectrum — that is, to allow for private parties to have the right to exclude others from transmitting on those frequencies in those places. The gains in economic efficiency are similar to those from privatizing land.

    However, the collectively used ham spectra can’t retain their value while being privatized. Even collective privatization — giving it to an organization of all its present users — would be unwieldy and lack the advantages of privatiz’n.

    But how is one to arrive at the optimal mix of unowned ham spectrum and privatized spectrum? With the unowned spectrum not put onto the market, there is no price mechanism to determine its value.

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