Sunday, October 04, 2009

Property rights by contract

Property rights by contract

What does the dictionary say a "contract" is?

"[A]n agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified." Doing. Not peripheral matters, but the "doing or not doing". As in "doing your job". Your race, hair color, type of shoes (as long as they do not prevent you from doing that which you contracted to do), or whether you are armed has no bearing on the "doing or not doing" that is contracted.

Next we have "[A]n agreement enforceable by law" and "the written form of such an agreement". Is the demand that you relinquish your human rights "enforceable by law"? What sort of "law"? Is such a demand valid? Here we are getting back into government coercion which is outside the scope of this article. The remaining definitions don't really concern us here, but feel free to read them.

Is every voluntary interaction a "contract"? Is any conceivable contract OK? Or, are there some conditions that are never acceptable nor "enforceable" due to their reprehensible nature? What about a contract which "allows" or "requires" you to initiate force?

If, as I believe, it is never within your rights to initiate force, is a contract which "authorizes" you to initiate force on people who enter your property valid? Can you agree to a contract relinquishing your right to not be attacked? Can you "contract" to stop being human?

If a property owner makes the rules clear before we enter his property, then we have the choice to agree or not. If the restriction is hidden in the voluminous "user agreement" the reality is that bizarre requests can't be anticipated, so we would need to specifically ask what is permitted and what is not. Once again, it is dangerous to set gun possession restrictions apart from other strange demands that a property owner may make.

MamaLiberty points out "Nobody is forced to take a job or shop in a certain store". That is true to an extent. The reality is that in some places, while you are not forced to deal with one particular business, you may be forced to deal with a particular set of businesses. If they all have the same rules, then you really have no choice but to deal with one or the other. You can't buy milk at the gun store, after all. To claim otherwise is to side with those who say "If you don't like the way things are in America, get out!" I am not saying this proves anything, just that it is something to consider.

I am simply trying to get you to think. Lest you think otherwise, I think it is preferable to try to get along with others. Go along with their requests unless they put you in danger or ask you to violate your principles. If they initiate force against you, you have the right to defend yourself, but you are not required to do so. If someone makes unreasonable demands, avoid them.

Property rights and governmental meddling

Property rights and governmental meddling

It is not within government's authority to tell anyone how to use their own property in any way, as long as no innocent is harmed by the use. Not if it benefits me personally or if it harms me. I do think it is good if artificial government rules which restrict freedom are removed. Sometimes this is done by passing a new "law" instead of the more rational action of removing the old, offending "law". I know this is not the case in the example that started this discussion.

What about places that have government-mandated signs forbidding guns, rather than a sign the owner wanted to post based upon his own desires? If the restriction is not based upon the property owner's desires, but upon governmental "requirements" then are you wrong to ignore it? How do you know the property owner's real wishes? Do you ask? Do you assume liberty, or do you assume slavery?

On "government property" we have no option, since government is a monopoly. I brought up the fact that government owns nothing to get that discussion out of the way. There is no ethical obligation to obey government's rules, although it may be a smart survival strategy. It is best to avoid government employees and buildings anyway.

I am not saying you should or should not act in a particular way, but I am asking you to think about the issues involved. It is good to understand where you stand and why.


Property rights- body, stuff, and real estate

Property rights- body, stuff, and real estate

Whenever someone of MamaLiberty's caliber disagrees with me, as she does with my previous column on personal property "bubbles", I know it is time to stop, re-evaluate, and give the subject some deep thought and careful examination. This is one of those times.

Do your property rights exist if you don't exist? No. What are "property rights"? Having property rights means that if you own something, you have the right to use that thing in any way you wish, as long as by doing so you do not initiate force and thereby violate another person's rights to "life, liberty, and property". As a point of clarification: Governments never respect any property rights but their own, which ironically don't really exist since there is no individual who holds the rights over the property that government claims, along with the fact that government possesses nothing which it did not steal. Stolen property does not belong to the thief. Just to be clear: Government has no property rights.

There are three types of property rights that I can see. There are property rights over your body, which for the purposes of this discussion I will call "bodily property rights" (otherwise known as "self-ownership"). There are property rights over the stuff you own, such as your cars, guns, boots, knick-knacks, appliances, and skull collection. I'll call this your "stuff rights" (as opposed to "right stuff"). Then, there are property rights over your real estate- property such as your land, home, or business location, which I'll call your "real estate rights".

Take your living body out of the equation and the other two types of property rights vanish (along with all your other rights) except that they may transfer to someone else. This means that your existence brings into being your "bodily property rights". Your rights to own, use, and destroy your stuff and your real estate derive from your existence.

If one thing (such as a right) brings forth another thing, then the fundamental thing outranks that which derives from it. That means that your "bodily property rights", from which your "stuff rights" and your "real estate rights" come, must necessarily come before any other property rights if we are to be consistent. After all, you can't have a hangnail if you have no hands or feet; nor any broken bones if you have no bones.

Now, what about a property owner's "real estate rights" trumping a customer/employee/visitor's bodily property rights? If you invite someone, can you really demand they leave their bodily property rights behind? Is that even a real invitation? Is such a demand valid? Does such a demand violate a person's rights by initiating a kind of force? Do you own the space between their skin and their clothing when they enter your property so that you can dictate what resides there? Does the ownership of that space change as a person travels from place to place throughout the day?

When you really consider that concept, the absurdity becomes apparent. That doesn't mean that the absurd implications are wrong, but it should at least cause you to question the idea more thoroughly. I know I have no claim on your "bubble" of bodily personal property no matter what I might prefer, nor upon anything that may be there as long as it doesn't make an appearance on my property. Be warned that others may disagree and lay claim upon your body, your clothing, and the space that exists between the two. That doesn't mean they are right.

I think that the position that "real estate rights" trump the "bodily property rights" and the "stuff rights" of anyone invited to enter the real estate comes from a real desire to be nice and respectful of the real estate's owner. That is fine. It is not always the wisest thing to exercise every right you possess at every moment. I do think it is putting the cart before the horse, though. Perhaps people are afraid of the reaction the general public might have if this realization were to become common.

Coming soon: MamaLiberty thinks the issue comes down to "contracts". She may be right. I will look at the idea of "contracts" which require you to give up your basic human rights in a subsequent column.