Property Rights

A Libertarian Theory of Property Rights

Libertarians hold that taking or using someone's resource without their consent constitutes initiation of aggression.

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Last week I set out Auburn University philosopher Roderick Long's argument that libertarianism can't be reasonably dismissed as strange. (A modest objective, to be sure.) After all, Long writes, mainstream libertarianism holds that each individual has a right not to be aggressed against, aggression being defined descriptively (not normatively) as the initiation of physical force. What's weird about that? To those who object that libertarians believe in only that right and no others, Long responds that other alleged rights—say, positive welfare rights—would have to conflict with the right not to be aggressed against, making for an incoherent theory. As I summed up the argument:

If people had rights in addition to the right to be free from aggression, that would indicate that they had enforceable claims against others whose alleged rights violation did not entail the use of aggressive force. (If it did entail the use of aggressive force, we would … not be talking about an additional right.) That would in turn indicate that the one whose alleged other right is violated could legitimately use force to compel others to act in a certain way. (Remember, that's an important part of what it means to have a right.) But since by stipulation those others had not used aggressive force, the force used against them in defense of the alleged other right would itself entail aggression.

In other words, Smith's right to be free from aggression would clash with Jones's proposed other right. That is incoherent, unless we dump the right not to be aggressed against—which would open up a horrendous can of worms.

But that was only one half of Long's paper. It's worthwhile to look at the second half.

Long begins by addressing a claim that critics of the libertarian theory of property rights often make, namely, that using a resource in someone else's possession without consent does not constitute aggression:

Libertarians, notoriously, condemn as unrightful any interference with private property. But how is this connected with the libertarian position on aggression? After all, someone could acknowledge a right to be free from initiatory force, but deny that seizing someone's external possessions counts as initiatory force, or indeed as force at all.

(Matt Bruenig makes this objection to libertarianism, to which I respond here.) 

This is an important matter for libertarians, as Long explains: "Since libertarians accept the Positive Thesis" that human beings have only the right not to be aggressed against, "they can acknowledge a right to control external resources only insofar as interference with such control would constitute initiatory force."

bixentro/Flickr

But how can interference count as initiatory force when perhaps no force at all is used? If I see your bicycle leaning up against the fence at your home and use it, without asking, to run errands, how can it be said that I have initiated force against you? I don't seem to have used force at all.

To see why libertarians reasonably interpret this as aggression, Long asks us to "imagine a world in which people freely expropriate other people's possessions":

nobody initiates force directly against another person's body, but subject to that constraint, people regularly grab any external resource they can get their hands on, regardless of who has made or been using the resource. Any conception of aggression according to which the world so described is free of aggression is not a plausible one.

In a note Long embraces "a broadly Lockean account in which a person's right to exclusive control over her possessions is seen as closely analogous to her right to exclusive control over the molecules currently composing her body." But he hastens to add that "I do not take my present argument to depend on the correctness of this account, since at the moment my thesis is not that the libertarian view of property is true, but rather that it is, while the welfare-statist view is not, intelligible as an application of the Positive Thesis," that is, that persons have a right not to be aggressed against.

Thus, Long continues, some uses of external possessions would have to count as aggression, and stopping such uses would therefore not count as aggression; in fact it would be permissible under the libertarian theory of rights, since rights entail the permissibility of using force against violators. "In short," Long writes, "we are committed to a system of property rights—that is, a set of principles determining when one may, and when one may not, interfere with a person's control over some external resource."

As already indicated, Long's purpose is not to show that libertarian rights theory is "decisively superior" to a theory of welfare rights, but only that welfare-rights theory has serious problems not found in the libertarian theory.

We must back up a step. Long notes that welfare statists are not committed to rejecting property rights. Rather, the welfare statist believes that when government transfers resources from one person to another, it is simply recognizing and enforcing the recipient's (alleged) rightful property claim to those resources. That is, the welfare statist "is asserting a right, on the part of one group, to exercise control over certain resources that have heretofore been under the control of another group. Hence the libertarian and the welfare-statist disagree, not about the existence of property rights, but about the transfer conditions of those rights."

Indeed. Libertarians hold that resources may be transferred only by consent. But, Long notes, "for the welfare-statist, such a transfer of property rights can be triggered not only by mutual consent, but also by, e.g., Y's need, regardless of X's consent."

The question is whether the welfare-statist approach has serious flaws that the libertarian theory escapes.

Keep in mind that mainstream libertarian property-rights theory gets off the ground with the Lockean labor-theory of just initial appropriation. This then leads to what Long calls "justice in transfer (mutual consent), and justice in rectification (say, restitution plus damages)." He continues:

I count as initiating force against a person if I seize an external resource that she is entitled to by the application of those three principles. If she is not entitled to the resource under these principles, but is in possession of the resource anyway, then my seizing the resource counts as force, but not as initiatory force, so long as I am acting on behalf of whichever person is entitled to the resource; otherwise I am initiating force against that person.

For Long, "this is at least a possible and coherently intelligible way of instantiating that right" to be free from aggression—which is more than can be said for the welfare statist's theory of rights. I refer you to Long's paper for the details. Suffice it to say here that problems abound with a theory which holds that a person can be transformed from a legitimate holder of a resource to an aggressor with respect to that resource without having done anything at all. Moreover, the welfare statist doesn't say that individuals in need have a right to appropriate resources directly. Only the government has that right.

But now it is the government's right to control … resources that stands in need of justification. Since governments, on any liberal view, are not mystical bodies of social union but are simply collections of individuals, on an equal moral footing with the individuals they govern, a government can have no rights in excess of the sum of the rights of the individuals composing it.

Thus "the libertarian's ethical and political commitments should now be, if not compelling, then at least comprehensible"—which is what Long sought to accomplish with his paper.

Thie piece originally appeared at Sheldon Richman's "Free Association" blog.

NEXT: "On Looking into Coke's Reports"

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  1. *puts on swami hat* I foresee much bitching and butthurt over this article, despite its reasonable claims and narrow scope.

    1. If by “reasonable claims and narrow scope” you mean, “trite and banal,” I’d agree.

      1. Yeah. This guy is a pseudo intellectual git who expends a large number of words to say very little. And what little he does say is of even less value.

    2. I foresee preemptive white knighting and fanboyism as if any criticism of Richman was equivalent to calling your mother a cunt.

      Hey look, I nailed it!

    3. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing
      http://www.work-mill.com

      1. Your mother is a cunt. No, not you, PM, but this khudsehoirobro assmunch.

    4. 1. property rights are one of the cornerstones of libertarian thought. they are “trite & banal” to socialists, statists & partisans. if you know this stuff already, fine. there are plenty who dont, and reason mag is as good a place as any to evangelize.

      2. Im not a fanboy of richman. I am, however, nauseated by the sharp turn to the right thats overwhelmed the comments here. richman articles seem to get the worst of it, even when writing primer-style intros to libertarian theory. but hey, “principals and not principles”, right?

  2. Slappy Daddy Gojo is not going to like that.

    http://www.AnonGO.tk

  3. “Whenever A annoys or injures B, on the pretext of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel.”

    Mencken’s Law

  4. Things got weird around here last night, hopefully a Richman article will bring things back to normal.

  5. OT: Has anyone heard about this Indiana pizza place? Does anyone have an opinion about the issue? I would really be interested in reading about it.

    1. It is owned by the O’Connor family in Indiana. I presume they are Irish-Americans. Those wanting their weddings catered with Irish-American pizza deserve our pity.

      I will hereby pledge the first $25 to the “Indiana Pizza LGBT? Relief Act” to restore proper Italian-American pizza rights to this beleaguered community. The LGBT? community cannot truly exercise its hard-won rights in full unless it is freed from the scourge of Irish pizza.

      1. Irish pizza? Now I’m picturing something with corned beef, and Dubliner cheese. Served with a nice cold Guinness. Hmmm actually doesn’t sound too bad.

        1. You don’t need pizza with Guinness,it’s a meal all it’s own.I’d add Sam Smith’s oatmeal stout to the list.

        2. What would the sauce be?

    2. Have fun.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/pol…..ed/389489/

      1. I read this yesterday. It was strangely sentimental. Naturally, the author avoided any difficult issues (NAP, freedom of association, property rights etc.). After all, these lead down the slippery slope away from the holy Statist position.

        His main argument seems to be that the benighted rubes owning small businesses deserve restraint and sympathy from sophisticated Atlantic subscribers.

        Reading it confirmed in my mind the decision to cancel my subscription 2 years ago was a good idea.

        1. At least he is recognizing that the holy movement has gone too far, at least in this case.

          The comments are amazingly retarded, though.

          1. Agreed. But he will be pilloried by his readers for throwing this modest “bone” to the unenlightened.

            These SJWs view this “struggle” as modern-day Abolition, so some self-styled John Brown will probably burn down this pizza joint. I hope not.

            1. The reaction to the outcry itself by many here and on the right is interesting.

              At times when people or companies make a policy or statement seen as anti gun owners rights they are met with outrage including denunciation via social media, threatened boycotts, etc. Some bad apples of course will send communications which might be seen as vicious or even threatening. The people outrage feel a major principle is at stake.

              But when the same occurs from the gay rights movement we get wailing and gnashing of teeth about Twitter mobs and such.

              1. Bo could, of course, name several businesses that were forced to close due to death threats from second amendment activists.

              2. Bo could, of course, name several businesses that were forced to close due to death threats from second amendment activists.

                1. Smith & Wesson darn near closed from such a campaign.

                  1. So I guess you could say you almost had a point?

                  2. PM “Bo could, of course, name several businesses that were forced to close due to death threats from second amendment activists.”

                    Bo: “Smith and Wesson”

                    Bo misses the point – PM surely meant 2nd Amendment proponents haven’t forced business closings. Ie libertarians don’t have a track record of coercion.

                    1. ‘Forced business closings’

                      Both the MD gun store and the pizza store reported threats and much more valid outrage. One closed, one changed his practices, in response.

                  1. Close. We’ve got claimed death threats, although they didn’t result in the business shutting down. Leaving that minor detail aside, all you have to do now is show Reason’s crypto-Republican cabal defending those threats and you’re in business (metaphorically, of course).

                    1. So social media mob intimidation and boycotting of business is OK if the owner responds by changing practices or nearly going out if business?


                      all you have to do now is show Reason’s crypto-Republican cabal defending those threats ”

                      I don’t remember any equivalent outrage by that faction here, but if you have evidence otherwise I’d be happy to be corrected

              3. At the risk of engaging, I seem to recall a goodly number of the Reason commentariat (assuming we’re talking about Starbucks specifically and businesses generally) saying that, while the decision to forbid entry to anyone packin’ heat was stupid, pantywaist, and mostly Progressive signalling aimed at gaining points with their primary demographic, it was certainly their right to do so.

                Likewise, the majority libertarian opinion (not counting certain socons who have yet to make an appearance in this thread) in this issue seems to be that, while ignorant, short-sighted, and bigoted, a business absolutely has the right to not engage in activity which its owners or employees would find disagreeable for religious reasons (or any other reasons, really) and–and here’s the important part–owns the consequences of those actions.

                Put broadly, since it seems to be an item of confusion, the libertarian “line” is that everyone has a natural right to liberty, including the right to own property beginning with the self, limited only by the extent to which the exercise of that right restricts the equal right of anyone else to do the same, with the corollary being that each person owns the results of those rights, be they desired or not, beneficial or not.

                1. Wworton I’m talking about the differential reaction to the ‘campaigns’ of social media and boycotts by the two sides.

                  Everyone should have the right to refuse business.

                  Everyone should have the right to criticize or boycott those who do.

                  No one has the right to threaten, but the fact that some small number of people in the outraged group do should not be held against the entire group.

                  And this hold whether it’s SJWs or gun rights advocates or whoever doing it

                  1. Yes well, in this case the some small number is actually a large fraction of progressive movement and in any case, the movement in its entirety wants government coercion used against the ‘bigots’.

                  2. If that’s what you’d said to begin with, nobody would find it objectionable. It’s practically a tautology: “Bad things are bad no matter who does them.”

                    What you said instead was:

                    The reaction to the outcry itself by many here and on the right is interesting.
                    [snip]
                    But when the same occurs from the gay rights movement we get wailing and gnashing of teeth about Twitter mobs and such.

                    Maybe you chose a poor turn of phrase or maybe I and apparently a few other people misunderstood, but it looks like you’re implying that the majority of people in these forums walk in lockstep with the socially-conservative right, which is demonstrably false on this issue and others. Maybe I missed something, but I don’t recall a time when anyone around here advocated in favor of death threats in one instance and against them in this one.

                    I’m not going to talk about patterns of behavior or anything, but it seems like you’re conflating someone’s observation about the role of the state in this and similar issues with bigotry and responding by calling out some supposed hypocrisy in a way that is, frankly, deeply ironic. If you’re saying that we shouldn’t judge a whole group by the actions of “bad apples” I would counter with the saying, “Charity begins at home.”

                  3. There really is no proportional bad behavior on the side of 2A supporters relative to progressive SJW’s. Not even close. For SJW’s, threatening behavior is the standard. For 2A advocates, it is a relatively rare exception. So it really is a false equivalency.

        2. Naturally, the author avoided any difficult issues (NAP, freedom of association, property rights etc.). After all, these lead down the slippery slope away from the holy Statist position.

          After all, nobody’s forcing you to have gay sex. Unless your transgressions land you in prison; but even then it’s only a maybe.

  6. 1. Forcing me to build a chair for you is aggression; you are stealing my labor from me.

    2. Taking that chair from me after I built it is similarly stealing my labor from me.

    It doesn’t matter whether you steal the chair from me by force or trickeryl you have stolen my labor.

    Anyone who can’t intuit that is willfully blind. Anyone who can’t understand that even when it is spelt out is willfully deaf, dumb, and blind.

    1. But but did you build the roads going to your chair shop!?

      Neither did I, neither did our current government, but whatever apparently the fact they you didn’t build the roads dictates that mob rule, or the government, or society gets to tell you what you can do with your private property, at least according to the commenters at the Huffington Post.

      1. I confess, I am willfully blind to the welfare right and the entire class of *want* rights, when when dressed up as *need* rights.

        Maybe that is why I cannot see how it can be possible to delegate to a government the right to steal my money and labor when I do not have that right myself. The fact that government then uses this stolen money and labor to also steal my land and build a road, and then dare tell me that I didn’t build it … somehow I can’t quite see any logic there.

    2. I think it really is that obvious with personal property, but how about real property? We don’t create the land and a lot of it that’s claimed isn’t really being used in any real sense…

      1. I think that is one of the trickier questions for libertarianism. In places where there is a long tradition of small land holdings, as is the case in a lot of the eastern US, I don’t think it is much of an issue, but there are obviously situations where large portions of the land are controlled by people or entities that did not acquire it through honest “mixing of one’s labor with the land” or whatever you want to call it.
        How to get from a situation like that to a more just (in the libertarian sense) system of land ownership while avoiding ongoing forced redistribution is not completely obvious.

        1. large portions of the land are controlled by people or entities that did not acquire it through honest “mixing of one’s labor with the land” or whatever you want to call it.

          I think the vast majority of this land is government “owned” land.

          1. In the US, I think this is the case.

        2. there are obviously situations where large portions of the land are controlled by people or entities that did not acquire it through honest “mixing of one’s labor with the land” or whatever you want to call it.

          I would venture to say that there are probably no more than a handful of acres, if that, in the US today where the current owner acquired the rights to the land by homesteading it.

          For starters, I don’t see why buying land is any different than buying a chair (or, if you want to distinguish the material object of the chair from the intangible bundle of property rights that constitute land “ownership”, go with buying stock in a company instead). I paid for it. Why isn’t that enough?

          1. Why isn’t that enough?

            Because the chain of ownership must be legitimate or the present owner’s claim is in jeopardy should a superior claim exist. Pick an uninhabited acre of land in the middle of the Arizona desert. Who are you buying it from? Because whoever that is, must themselves have a valid title to the land or there’s nothing to sell you. The legitimate owner of private property starts with the homesteader and proceeds from there to whomever acquired the property with the true consent of the previous owner.

            Once you strip away the government monopoly of title enforcement, ostensibly funded by property taxes, the issue of unhomesteaded property melts away as the legitimate owners could reasonably be whomever is actually willing to spend a small fortune securing their claims to large tracts of barren wastelands. That satisfies the mixing of labor requirement.

      2. But did you improve it? It’s not the land. It’s the minerals and/or the space on top of the land that is typically improved to make it useful.

        Just because the landowner didn’t create the dirt does not mean that he/she created nothing and therefore deserves no ownership.

      3. It is my one area of utilitarianism. Mises nailed it. Draw a line and declare property rights from that point forward.

        As big a proponent of natural law as I am, I dont buy any arguments for natural law property rights, as much as I want to.

        This is also why I support the single land tax. And no other taxes.

        1. I think the “best” tax, with the unproven assumption that government taxes must exist, is a property tax primarily because it requires the least intrusion by government. You can measure land area and post the tax bill without even caring who the owner is. If you want different tax rates for different land (city, county, etc) or if you want to value the improvements, you can let each owner self-declare its value, the governments set their tax rates once a year, and people can pay anonymously; all the government cares is that the tax is paid. As for self-assessments, don’t allow collecting damages beyond the self-declared value. If everybody lowballs their self-assessments, the tax rate will make up for it.

        2. But, what of Bird Law?

      4. The only problem I see with real estate is that its provenance is so muddied by wars, revolts, feudal theft, and government theft in general, that no one can prove title going back very far. But otherwise, you earn money to buy land same as any other property.

  7. Matt Bruenig makes this objection to libertarianism, to which I respond here.

    You sir, are a brave person for conversing with the Bruenigs.

    1. I haven’t seen Matt. Does he have a dead tooth as well? His and hers?

  8. Lord, first a piece on climate-system change brought out all the gaia trolls (go check it out – Bart R. in particular) and now something on property rights that threatens to invite other left-wingers.

    Happy Easter!

    1. Wouldn’t want any left wingers here messing up the near vertical position of the see-saw…

      1. Yeah, it’s almost like libertarians have some kind of problem with people who reject in totality the entire concept of property rights as articulated in libertarian philosophy. Thankfully we have Real Libertarians like you to defend those positions.

        1. Swoosh.

          1. “What I said wasn’t ridiculous D-grade shitposting, you just didn’t get it!”

            I wonder if you could possibly get any further up your own asshole.

            1. Shhh, you’re interrupting his feelings of quiet self-satisfaction!

            2. You didn’t get it.

              I wasn’t commenting on the whether leftists here should be agreed with, but noting that we have lots of liberty restricting right wing people here, so why the special objection to a few leftists?

              1. EVIL SOCONZ IS EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                THE LEFT ARE ONLY MISGUIDED. THE TRUE EVIL IS THOSE HATEFUL RIGHTIES AND ALL THE RIGHTWING POSTERS HERE AT REASON!!!!!!!

                1. RF: ugh, we had some leftists here last night.
                  Me: so what? We have lots of right wingers here all the time.
                  FUQ: why do hate right wingers? Why? Leave ’em alone, leave ’em alone, oh please, please don’t criticize them!!!

                  1. You really do live in another world of presumptuousness and false equivalences.

                    But hey. To each his own.

                    1. Rufus, you need to drink more.

                  2. You forgot to mention your Jewish girlfriend from Canada.

                    How convenient.

                    1. From the Niagara falls area, right? We wouldn’t know her.

            3. He’s an attorney, apparently. So yes, he could.

      2. Yes. Largely because in the end, all they advocate is to take something from somebody to give to someone else because civilization and demand higher living wages because deserved.

        It gets tedious listening to the gibbering whine.

        Personally, I think the thinking around here can get rather nuanced and complex. Present a proper reasoned argument and we’ll listen even if it’s not ‘libertarian.’

        1. We even listened to white Indian.

    2. This cartoon nicely explains the mindset of the marxist watermelons:

      http://www.lowbird.com/data/im…..7-pett.jpg

      1. Energy independence is a retarded slogan I’ve come to understand.

        I love how they have an irrational fear of nuclear energy – the safest and cleanest and most efficient use of energy – choosing instead unreliable sources like wind and solar.

        They’re special little snow flakes for real.

        1. And now that the US (and Canada) have the developed oil and gas resources (not to mention enough uranium to last for a very long time) to be “energy independent” it’s even sillier.

          Except for green jobs and energy independence, the things on the list in the cartoon are all desirable things. But they are things that are more likely to be achieved through a robust market economy and the innovation and efficiency that it brings.

          1. The United States has the world’s largest stock of proven coal reserves but produces only 14%.

            Stew on that for a second.

            1. I’m pretty happy to see coal displaced by gas in many applications. Coal is pretty dirty. But if the worry genuinely is energy independence, yeah, we have nothing to worry about.

              1. Oil and gas are indeed preferable but coal (and other fossil fuels) makes North American ‘energy independent.’ Technology has made coal production pretty safe as we know.

                What they mean, as we know, is no fossil fuels – which is abundantly ridiculous a concept.

                1. Particularly ridiculous if nuclear is off the table.

                2. But then we will have a massive crisis, which government will have to solve with more government! And it will all be just wonderful when we are just like the paradise that Venezuela has become.

      2. Unfortunately the offers of energy “independence” all require we sign away all independence across the board.

  9. Property is a useful fiction, just like language, units of measure, law, and money. Almost all social behavior is based on useful fictions.

    The fact that hours or rights don’t exist the same way the sun or trees do is unimportant. It just makes life easier if there is a common understanding about who owns what.

  10. “…Long notes that welfare statists are not committed to rejecting property rights. Rather, the welfare statist believes that when government transfers resources from one person to another, it is simply recognizing and enforcing the recipient’s (alleged) rightful property claim to those resources. That is, the welfare statist “is asserting a right, on the part of one group, to exercise control over certain resources that have heretofore been under the control of another group. Hence the libertarian and the welfare-statist disagree, not about the existence of property rights, but about the transfer conditions of those rights.”

    Indeed. Libertarians hold that resources may be transferred only by consent. But, Long notes, “for the welfare-statist, such a transfer of property rights can be triggered not only by mutual consent, but also by, e.g., Y’s need, regardless of X’s consent.”

    What ‘resources’ is he referring to? The fruits of one’s labor? If so, is he seriously arguing that a welfarist has a ‘right’ to income earned by another party (for resources to me in this case means ‘money’)?

    Welfare is most definitely not a right. It’s an entitlement and an enabling mechanism.

    1. He’s saying there’s two conceptions of what entitles a person to say they have as right to a resource. Ours is, we created it or got it consensually, theirs includes the idea that human need can grant the right.

      1. ‘Grant’ meaning coercion.

        No one has the ‘right’ to anything another person creates.

        In any event, that decision has already been made. The question now is to what degree and conditions can people get welfare. I think it’s safe to say plenty of people on welfare shouldn’t be on it and still worse, it’s filled with rampant fraud. Alas, to the progressive this is collateral social damage in order to do the ‘right thing.’

        Personally, I have little problem with ‘social safety nets’ provided we can control it. If I had the purse strings, I’d be very, very strict about who gets the money.

        1. I think all the safety net we’d need could and would be provided by charities if we had a much smaller gov

          1. Look. We see people would support one another all the time. A new model of this example are ‘crowdsourcing’ tools like GoFundMe. Of course, the hard left hates this because (and I’m just generalizing for argument’s sake) A) they don’t support each other and B) react with rage whenever such sources are used for events they disagree with – ie Memories Pizza.

            Charities would also reemerge as great sources of support.

            But right now, our first thought is ‘the government ought to’ and not ‘we ought to’.

          2. Don’t forget that a lot of poor, unskilled, illiterate people could easily help themselves if not for zoning, occupational licensing, etc. There are literally an untold number of jobs which they could handle — cutting hair, braiding hair, fingernails, day care, home cooked meals, handyman, taxis — which are forbidden for their own good by the majestic progressive movement.

      2. He’s saying there’s two conceptions of what entitles a person to say they have as right to a resource. Ours is, we created it or got it consensually, theirs includes the idea that human need can grant the right.

        This is just another example of the infantile foundation of leftism. In their paradigm, everyone is the ‘child’ of society. And just as a parent has an obligation to provide the material needs of his underage child, society has an obligation to provide the material needs of ‘its children’ ie everyone.

    2. Progressive Statism is always rooted in slavery and oppression.

  11. The welfare statist argument is just the Heinz dilemma. “But what if somebody really, REALLY needs your money? You should give!”

    George ought to help!

    I like Molyneux’s takedown of it. If somebody really needs money, they can:

    1. take up a collection

    2. get a loan

    3. pay in installments

    4. sell/pawn/mortgage everything they don’t need to live

    5. 2 or more of the above

    People do this stuff all the time.

    Furthermore, people who are on welfare are usually NOT at the edge of death. They could be independent if they were willing to forgo some comforts. If you don’t believe this, check out the cars in the parking lots of food pantries and unemployment offices.

    Pity the poor woman who had to drive her Mercedes to pick up food stamps!

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..od-stamps/

    1. And the ‘mindset’ of a welfare recipient is not always as depicted by the left. That is, they’re honorable and just need a chance to get back on their feet. I don’t doubt there are people like this but I don’t doubt there are more that aren’t.

      In Canada, the first line of defense we offer is unemployment insurance. If you lose your job you the government covers you for a year (conditions of course apply). People who after one year still can’t find work, generally end up in the parent’s home or on welfare.

      Some of these folks fall on hard times. Others not so much. We see so many cases of people who actually work and still collect. And where they don’t work, the welfare cheque becomes a means to an end. This is why I see it as enabling. I have two people on welfare at my daycare. Let me tell you, they have it all backwards including their personal life choices. My sister finds herself coaching these two.

      1. the government covers you for a year (conditions of course apply)

        The amount of time one is covered under EI is dependent on the geographical area — actually, the unemployment rate in the geographical area. Below 6% of (local) unemployment rate, the max. EI coverage is 36 weeks.

        1. Actually, 45 is the max. 10 months. I overshot by 7 weeks although I could have sworn when I inquired over a decade ago it was one year.

          http://srv129.services.gc.ca/e…..s_cur.aspx

    2. That’s mostly because the markets have created a situation whereby most of the lower quintile live better than the middle class of the 60’s/70’s.

      The cost of almost everything – in terms of hours worked to acquire – has plummeted since the Industrial Revolution. New cars seem to still be partially immune to this trend though.

      1. Perhaps a part of the explanation for cars is that new bells and whistles are being added to them faster than the price is declining.

        1. Government mandated bells and whistles, in particular. Air bags, crash resistant bumpers, CAFE standards forcing expensive modifications to save on cheap gasoline, and so on.

          Weight of a 1960s VW beetle: about 1,700 pounds

          Weight of a 2014 Toyota Yaris: about 2,300 pounds

          Weight of a 2014 VW beetle: about 3,000 pounds

    3. re this: the poor woman who had to drive her Mercedes to pick up food stamps!

      This part was particularly rich: “Two weeks before my children were born, my future husband found himself staring at a pink slip. The days of unemployment turned into weeks, months, and, eventually, years.”

      Hmm. I arrived in Austin with just the stuff that I could fit in the backseat of my car. Within a month I had a job. Not a great job. But money coming in. Then I got a better job.

      If you’re an educated person and can’t find any sort of employment at all after * years *, maybe the problem isn’t the job market. Maybe you’re just not willing to humble yourself and take the jobs that are available.

      1. Having been in that position, there is the problem of being overqualified and nobody wanting to hire somebody who may find a more suitable job in three months and quit.

    4. A few years ago, my mother rented a house to a woman on a ‘means tested’ municipal housing assistance program. The woman paid $ 80 of her monthly rent, and the remaining $ 620 was paid by the city, likely bolstered by federal funds. We knew this woman to also receive EBT other welfare payments.

      WE came to find out this woman had a new $ 25k car with a $ 400+ per month payment. I suppose this is what the progtard economists like Krugman mean when they discuss welfare economic stimulus.

  12. “Critics of the libertarian theory of property rights often claim that using a resource in someone else’s possession without consent does not constitute aggression. How can it count as initiatory force when perhaps no force at all is used?”

    We make a mistake in emphasizing the “aggression” aspect.

    The problem isn’t “itinerary force”, per se. The problem is the lack of consent.

  13. “I count as initiating force against a person if I seize an external resource that she is entitled to by the application of those three principles. If she is not entitled to the resource under these principles, but is in possession of the resource anyway, then my seizing the resource counts as force, but not as initiatory force, so long as I am acting on behalf of whichever person is entitled to the resource; otherwise I am initiating force against that person.”

    What does it mean to be “entitled to a resource”? It means having the legitimate right to choose who uses a resource and how it is used. The right to choose is what we’re talking about when we’re talking about “rights”. The question isn’t about “force” or “aggression”, per se. If when we’re talking about those things, we’re really talking about “consent”, then why not emphasize the consent rather than the force?

    1. Consent is the absence of force by definition, you’re still describing the same thing either way.

      1. Talking about “consent” is more useful than talking about “force”–and the appropriateness of one is dependent on the other.

        We shouldn’t emphasize why it isn’t appropriate for the government to collect taxes for welfare by “initiatory force”. We should emphasize when it is okay for the government to use “force”.

        The “My seizing the resource counts as force, but not as initiatory force, so long as I am acting on behalf of whichever person is entitled to the resource” quote is the important part.

        Yes, the government’s use of force is legitimate insofar as it is used to protect our legitimate right to make choices for ourselves about our own property. If the government can’t take our property without our consent, and the government is acting properly when it uses force to protect our right to make choices for ourselves about our own property, then why emphasize words like “aggression” or “force”?

        What could be more confusing than talking about how “force” is okay but “initiatory force” isn’t?

        If the difference between them is “consent”, then why not emphasize “consent” rather than “force”? If the difference between “initiatory force” and “force” doesn’t already exist clearly in the non-libertarian mind, then we need to create that distinction in people’s minds and make it the illustrious center of our argument. And that distinction is “consent”.

        If whether something constitutes “initiatory force” depends on “consent”, can they be exactly the same thing?

        1. It’s a semantic distinction with no functional difference. I have no particular preference, but I’m already converted anyway. If you were evangelizing you could conceivably use whichever language appeals best to the recipient’s intuition. It’s simply two ways of expressing the same concept. 2×3 and 3×2 both equal 6.

          1. I think using what makes sense to people is important for practical reasons, but I think there’s more to it than that.

            “If whether something constitutes “initiatory force” depends on “consent”, can they be exactly the same thing?”

            The ability to fly depends on dealing with the force of gravity.

            Flying and gravity are intimately connected, but they aren’t the same thing.

            Rather than the NAP, I think libertarian philosophy should be centered on the proper definition of a right, and I think the definition of a right is “a choice”. I think an individual right is the right of an individual to make a choice.

            I have the right to choose my own speech.

            I have the right to choose my own religion.

            I have the right to choose to own a gun.

            I have the right to choose what is done with my property.

            I think it’s true that if the definition of a right became clearer in people’s minds, we’d live in a better, more libertarian world.

            But I also think that centering our philosophy on the definition of our rights (rather than “aggression”) is more fundamental and, therefore, more accurate in our description of how the world works, why our place as individuals is supreme within it–as well as why the legitimate functions of government are properly limited to non-aggression.

            1. It’s like the difference between a bird knowing how to fly, on the one hand, and a bird understanding the fundamentals of gravity, on the other.

              Understanding the fundamentals lets us design airplanes and launch spacecraft.

              \That analogy breaks down quickly in that understanding the right to make choices for ourselves is probably more intuitive (like a bird knowing how to fly) than the NAP, but I hope you get the point.

            2. Change that to “I have the right to determine what is done with my labor” and it becomes crystal clear. As I said above, whether someone forces me to build a chair for them, or takes the chair after I have built it for myself, in both cases they have violated my self-control and enslaved me. Slavery is theft, theft is slavery, same thing.

              1. “Change that to “I have the right to determine what is done with my labor”

                I’m on board with that.

                But it’s bigger than just your labor, too.

                You have the right to make choices for yourself.

                Your right to make choices for yourself is only circumscribed by your obligation to respect the right of other individuals to make choices for themselves, too.

    2. The only right to choose they believe in is to fuck people of the same gender or commit state sponsored infanticide. Everything ielse is up to Top Men.

  14. If everyone agreed that there were only one tree in the world, then I would say these guys feel confident that they’ve cut it down and parsed it out equally. Too bad they’re blind to the forest that others see.

    The definition of “violating individual rights” is not solely “aggression”, nor vice verse. Nor does adding the word “initiation” change any of this.

    A dictionary! MY KINGDOM FOR A DICTIONARY!

    1. One of the problems with their “aggression” dealio is that it seems to suggest that the government’s behavior (rather than individual rights) is what determines whether something is just or unjust.

      If the government does this, it’s okay; if the government does that, it’s injustice.

      But it isn’t the government’s behavior, exactly, that determines whether something is wrong. What determines whether something is wrong is whether it violates someone’s rights.

      The existence of those rights doesn’t depend on the government, and the incorrectness of violating those rights doesn’t depend on the government either.

      One of our biggest problems in getting our argument across is battling the misconception that the government is both the originator and the definer of our rights. When we tell the heathen that something is right or wrong depending on whether the government is using “aggression”, with a lot of people, we’re probably reenforcing the very erroneous beliefs we’re trying to fight.

  15. …Auburn University…

    Obligatory: “WAR FUCKIN’ EAGLE!!!!”

    So, last Sunday when Sheldon convened the Richman Libertarian Sunday School, a number of folks (myself included) were talking about how the right to be free from aggression doesn’t really work well as a first principle, and that the right to property does. What Richman poses as a conundrum and then proceeds to solve in what I see as a somewhat tangled manner is the problem that is solved very neatly by ownership, with the added bonus of handling the aggression issue as well.

    Simply put, the first principle is that every individual owns himself or herself, ownership being understood as sovereignty over the disposal of entity in question. By definition, then, you own your labor, this being the use of yourself. By extension, things you create or alter belong to you, being the result of your labor, as does whatever results from your labor. That’s what we more generally conceive of as “property”.

    So what about real estate? Same principle: either you’ve mingled your labor with land, making it yours absent prior claim, or you’ve purchased it with money earned via labor. What about inheritance? Why does a pile of cash that you had nothing to do with belong to you? Because the initial acquisition of that property fell under the conditions above, and its disposition was at the will of the person who owned it. That’s how ownership is transferred.

    1. Reggie Ball 2, Auburn 0.

      Also obligatory.

      Fuckin’ train terrorists.

      1. still living in a past no one cares about. After one natty and almost a second, Reggie who?

        1. Y’all have a parade to celebrate your act of terrorism. Sounds like you all care. Maybe Bama should have a tree poisoning parade.

        2. Y’all have a parade to celebrate your act of terrorism. Sounds like you all care. Maybe Bama should have a tree poisoning parade.

    2. Still doesn’t account for the desideratum I wrote about: freedom of movement of oneself or one’s things.

    3. If you own yourself, can you sell yourself? And if not, why not?

  16. Man – son of man – buy the flame of ever-life
    (yours to breathe and breath the pain of living): living BE!
    Here am I! Roll the stone away
    from the dark into ever-day.

    There was a rush along the Fulham Road
    into the Ever-passion Play.

    1. kinnath said @11:56:38:

      There was a rush along the Fulham Road

      into the Ever-passion Play

      1. +1

        Lover of the black and white it’s your first night.
        The Passion Play, goes all the way, spoils your insight.
        Tell me how the baby’s made, how the lady’s laid,
        why the old dog howls in sadness.

  17. If I agree that you have an exclusive right to govern an acre of land, then you may expect me to respect this right. If I agree that you have a right to food I have grown on a parcel of land when you are starving, with or without an equitable exchange, then you may expect me to respect this right. All property rights fit this description. “Welfare rights” are not exceptional.

    Membership in a community respecting Lockean propriety is a subjective preference. Membership in a community respecting the right of a starving member to food, regardless of his recent productivity, when the community has sufficient food is also a subjective preference. The former right does not logically precede the latter, and I expect many free communities to establish both in some form or fashion, because human beings commonly want both.

    Lockean property rights are not logically distinct from welfare rights. Lockean property rights are themselves welfare rights, but they don’t exhaust the category. In historical reality, individual rights exclusively to govern scarce resources have always coexisted with other welfare rights, and I don’t expect this reality to change in a freer, more fluid society without powerful, remote central authorities.

  18. Let’s say that Bank of America, repeatedly convicted of abuses related to how they have handled foreclosures, forecloses on the house of a family that has lived there for 15 years. The people living there refuse to leave. The bank initiates a procedure to evict the people living there and when the sheriff arrives he blows the family’s brains out. It’s not so much that I disagree with the idea that the government shouldn’t use undue force, it’s who that force is applied against that I think I would disagree with most of the commenters here.

    What if the sheriff, a member of the community, refuses to act against the homeowner stating that he isn’t going to carry out an action that would further the interests of a multinational bank as opposed to a local family who is invested in the community and pays the salary of the sheriff through taxation?

    1. It’s who that force is applied against that I think I would disagree with most of the commenters here.

      What do you go by if not by rights?

      Race? Sexual orientation?

      Maybe you hate Christians?

      How do you pick your good guys?

      P.S. Bank of America’s misbehavior was perpetrated by Countrywide–before Countrywide was acquired by BofA. You’re effectively ignoring BofA’s rights because of something another company did.

      Also, it isn’t entirely clear whether BofA refusing to acquire Countrywide was (like the Merrill Lynch acquisition) an option from a regulatory standpoint. The Merrill Lynch/BofA marriage was widely considered a shotgun wedding. In which case, you’re blaming the government for enforcing BofA’s property rights–because of an acquisition the government forced them to make.

      1. This time with links:

        “Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis testified before Congress[8] that he had some misgivings about the acquisition of Merrill Lynch, and that federal officials pressured him to proceed with the deal or face losing his job and endangering the bank’s relationship with federal regulators.[60]

        Lewis’ statement is backed up by internal emails subpoenaed by Republican lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee.[61] In one of the emails, Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker threatened that if the acquisition did not go through, and later Bank of America were forced to request federal assistance, the management of Bank of America would be “gone”. Other emails, read by Congressman Dennis Kucinich during the course of Lewis’ testimony, state that Mr. Lewis had foreseen the outrage from his shareholders that the purchase of Merrill would cause, and asked government regulators to issue a letter stating that the government had ordered him to complete the deal to acquire Merrill. Lewis, for his part, states he didn’t recall requesting such a letter.”

        http://tinyurl.com/oque88w

        It should be noted that these threats were made against Bank of American just a few months after the government seized Washington Mutual and sold it J.P. Morgan–despite Washington Mutual not being out of compliance with its debt.

        1. So Lewis obeyed his corporatist masters to keep his cushy position in the corporative state, and that makes him some kind of victim? Why is he any more a victim than Lacker or whoever was yanking Lacker’s chain at the time? It’s not clear to me how Bank of America is any more “threatened” than the underwater debtor refusing to vacate a house after a foreclosure notice or the sheriff refusing to enforce the foreclosure order. A corporative state is all about threats, but why would I shed more tears for megabank CEOs or even megabank shareholders than for the debtor?

          1. Being threatened by the government to go through with an acquisition against what you consider to be interests of your shareholders does not justify the government refusing to protect the property rights of shareholders to the homes of deadbeat borrowers–as American Socialist suggests.

            Why do you need that spelled out for you?

            Maybe you think American Socialist is right in his/her proposal that property rights should only be respected if the property right holder is part of a favored class, too?

            1. Labeling the megabank CEO a victim of threats while labeling the debtor a deadbeat is utterly arbitrary and simply reflects your own political preference for the last neck in the sequence of jack booted thugs. That the CEO is part of a favored class protecting his privilege is precisely the point you ignore.

              1. Full Definition of DEADBEAT
                1
                : loafer
                2
                : one who persistently fails to pay personal debts or expenses

                It’s not arbitrary when the debtor defaults on their obligations.

      2. Bank of America is a corporation that absorbed Countrywide. A meaningful distinction between the sins of Countrywide and the sins of Bank of America no longer exists. You might as well say that I’m not guilty of the sins of my past self. If this absorption was not optional, then corporations do not absorb other corporations freely, but this fact is a separate issue.

        Any officer or shareholder of B of A is free to resign or to sell his shares if he doesn’t like the corporative state apparatus in which he operates, so if these people complain when the same apparatus declares the corporation not entitled to foreclose on a particular mortgage, I have little sympathy for them. It’s not like B of A operated in a libertopian market when it’s share price was rising before the “financial crisis”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

        1. Bank of America is a corporation that absorbed Countrywide. A meaningful distinction between the sins of Countrywide and the sins of Bank of America no longer exists.”

          Do you bother reading the posts you’re responding to before writing such stupid shit?

          I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn’t bother reading anything.

          Here’s an important snippet you seem to have missed:

          “Let’s say that Bank of America, repeatedly convicted of abuses related to how they have handled foreclosures, forecloses on the house of a family that has lived there for 15 years. The people living there refuse to leave. The bank initiates a procedure to evict the people living there and when the sheriff arrives he blows the family’s brains out. It’s not so much that I disagree with the idea that the government shouldn’t use undue force, it’s who that force is applied against that I think I would disagree with most of the commenters here.”

          1. If banks weren’t allowed to repossess the houses of non-performing borrowers, what do you think would happen to the availability of home loans in this country?

            Or maybe you’re one of these people who thinks the government should supply free houses for everybody?!

            Maybe you’re somebody who thinks the idea that banks might change their willingness to offer home loans in a reaction to not being allowed to repossess the houses of deadbeats is a right-wing conspiracy theory called “Economics”–invented by the Reagan Administration because they hated the homeless and AIDS victims?

            I’m just guessing, here. You tell me! Why do you apparently agree with American Socialist that banks shouldn’t be allowed to repossess the homes of delinquent borrowers?

            1. There is no choice between all banks never repossessing the house of a non-performing borrower and a particular sheriff refusing to enforce a particular order to vacate against a particular borrower in the context of the sort of “financial crisis” the U.S. experienced over the last decade. You engage here in the fallacy of the excluded middle. We could spend all day discussing the myriad of possible options in particular circumstances, but I expect you only to accuse me of “stupid shit” and the like, so you may have the last word here.

              1. My response was to a specific comment.

                I didn’t invent anything.

                American Socialist suggested that the rights of Bank of America’s shareholders shouldn’t be protected by the government.

                I responded to that.

                Now you’re running with the goal posts and trying to hide them somewhere that I’ve never been–and doesn’t make any sense to anyone:

                “There is no choice between all banks never repossessing the house of a non-performing borrower and a particular sheriff refusing to enforce a particular order to vacate against a particular borrower in the context of the sort of “financial crisis” the U.S. experienced over the last decade.”

                Now we’re all supposed to pretend that it’s okay for the government to purposely not protect the rights of Bank of America’s shareholders–because that doesn’t necessarily mean that the government won’t protect other people’s rights?

                Are you suggesting that equal protection of the law isn’t really an issue–because some people are more equal than others?

                I don’t think you know what you’re saying.

                I think you’re flailing. I think you’re running around in circles. I think you’re making up stupid shit.

                Buy a clue.

                P.S. I wasn’t the one who brought up Bank of America.

    2. What… what is this?

    3. Let’s say that socialist repeatedly missed payments on a mortgage which he freely entered into decides to squat in the house that rightfully isn’t his. Let’s say that he and a few million of his friends get together and have the government take money from other completely unrelated people to pay for their poor decisions, because, dammit, they WANT that house!

      What if a taxpayer tells socialist to fuck off and take some personal responsibility?

      I can dream, can’t I?

  19. I’m not sure whether it helps in this discussion, but there’s also the legal theory of “innocent use”, which Emerich de Vattel in 1797 (The Law of Nations, or, Principles of the Law of Nature) described as, “that which may be derived from a thing without causing either loss or inconvenience to the proprietor”, and that a right to innocent use (or “innocent advantage”) “is derived from the right to things of which the use is inexhaustible.” Further, “when the innocence of use is evident, the refusal” by the proprietor “is an injury.”

    1. There is nothing in the real world whose use is inexhaustible, though. Such “innocent use” of an item causes wear and tear and beyond that, deprives the owner of the opportunity to profit from renting it.

      1. Transient passage across land may qualify as inexhaustible, especially around the edges.

        Note, I am not agreeing with the OP’s cite.

  20. If the government can’t take our property without our consent

    Then it isn’t a government any more. A government that relies on voluntary purchases in exchanges for services, where you can opt out of paying for any those services and take your business to a competitor, no longer meets the definition of a government.

    and the government is acting properly when it uses force to protect our right to make choices for ourselves about our own property

    Only governments in rainbow unicorn land act that way. Real government actors use force to further their ends at your expense, and take away our right to make choices about our property.

    1. Government is force. Its only purpose is to prohibit or compel; coercion is its core competence and violence its tool.

      1. And yet we need government for the same reason we need the stinky bacterial flora in our intestines: it keeps even worse things of its ilk from gaining a foothold.

        You want to talk about rainbow unicorn land, look at anarcho capitalist fantasies.

  21. Reason theory of libertarianism: full pop culture conformity

  22. In times like these, I find it’s helpful to look to t?h?e? ?c?o?o?k?i?e? Jack White:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt_l-9HtX3M

  23. Libertarianism is babies discussing ethics. “Human beings have only the right not to be aggressed against.” Yeah, only. It does take taxpayer funded government to enforce this right, so you can’t say taxation and state enforcement is inherently bad. Thus, I prefer a system in which there are more rights than just that one. I like rights. Why do libertarians prefer to have as few as possible?

    1. At no point did you approach anything even resembling a coherent thought. We are all dumber for having read this.

  24. Ellie . you think Cheryl `s stori is good… yesterday I bought a gorgeous Chevrolet Corvette after having made $4089 this month and just a little over $10k this past-munth . without a doubt its my favourite-job Ive had . I began this seven months/ago and straight away started earning over $79, per-hr . check my source

    you could try here…….. http://WWW.WORK4HOUR.COM

  25. Nice stance Reason. Now… can you please be consistent when it comes to the Gay Mafia and RFRA.

  26. *yawn*

  27. It isn’t incoherent for rights to conflict. That’s complexity, not incoherence. Life is complicated and a political philosophy that instinctively flees complicated things just isn’t adequate to the task of dealing with life.

    Rights conflict all the time. That’s the basic reason we have courts. That’s what courts do- balance rights against one another. I have a right to stack garbage up on my property, but my neighbor has a right not to have his yard get stunk up by his neighbor’s garbage, so we need to balance those two out and find an optimal solution. I have a right to speak my mind, but a business owner has a right not to have his business destroyed by me standing out front of his store lying about him using kittens for meat. Newspapers have a right to run whatever story they want, but if they run the formula for a biological weapon that would wipe out the entire country’s population that you could make from things you have under the kitchen sink, then we all die and all this talk about rights becomes meaningless.

    I always get the impression that libertarians are trying to design a system of rules based on what would be the most neat and tidy. They prefer a system of rules that can be written on a single index card over a more complicated one. But other than the kind of aesthetic satisfaction somebody gets out of thinking in simple ways, I don’t really see how simplicity could be prioritized over how optimal a rule actually is in the real world.

  28. I am curious as to how the author would handle the issue of taxation of citizens who do not wish to pay for any government services. Service or fee based taxes (gas tax for road maintenance, park fees for users, etc.) are easy enough, but how do you handle the income tax? I must coerced if I choose not to pay my tax. Does this mean that any government service (such as Defense) that is not fee based cannot be sustained?

  29. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.netjob80.com

  30. I have been arguing lately that taxation to pay for “Economic rights” is fractional slavery. This article seems close to that. We need powerful arguments. The bad guys here are promising most people something for nothing (free health care, increased social security benefits, food stamps, etc.) You need emotionally potent arguments to be able to win elections that are promising a lot of people free goods and services.

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