Tag: property rights

Is Bill Weld the Best Thing Libertarians Can Get?

Jack Parkos | United States

The mainstream libertarian movement is dying. It could be speculated that libertarianism will never come to significance under today’s system. Mainstream libertarians have abandoned private property rights and decentralization for a so-called “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” platform focused on “tolerance” and weed.

Bill Weld puts the final nail in the coffin. Bill Weld was the vice presidential candidate under Gary Johnson in the 2016 Presidential Election and has joined the Republican Party in a possible attempt to primary Trump in 2020.

As a libertarian, I can only stand back and laugh at what’s happening. If Bill Weld is the best we can do, then is libertarianism dead? While he is running in the Republican Party, he no doubt has the views of the Libertarian Party. Many of his views are an insult to libertarianism.

Admittedly, Bill Weld does hold some good views, such as decentralizing education and being more dovish on foreign policy. However, he does have some views that many libertarians cannot get behind.

Weld’s Blatant Anti-Libertarian Agenda

Bill Weld has been quoted as comparing AR-15’s to “weapons of mass destruction,” and is indeed pro-gun control. Even many mainstream Republicans are fine with the AR-15. In an interview, he was quoted as saying,

“The five-shot rifle, that’s a standard military rifle. The problem is if you attach a clip to it so it can fire more shells and if you remove the pin so that it becomes an automatic weapon. And those are independent criminal offenses. That’s when they become essentially a weapon of mass destruction. The problem of handguns is probably even worse than the AR-15.”

That statement sounds more like something one would hear from the Democratic Party, but this is coming from a so-called “libertarian” running in the Republican party. It’s an embarrassment to all libertarian whether they support the party or not.

A Right to Abortion

There is plenty more he can be criticized for. Bill Weld has little respect for property rights or the Constitution. On the issue of abortion, he stated that the federal government must ensure everyone has access to abortion.

“I think it’s OK for the government to be involved in ensuring clinic access because that’s guarding a fundamental constitutional right of the individual. So that’s not the nanny state; that’s good government, not bad government.” However, Weld is wrong, this is a nanny state. Furthermore, nowhere in the Constitution does it state abortion as a right. Weld is buying into the leftist lie that abortion is somehow a “right”.

Endorsing a Violation of Property Rights

Weld and Johnson ran a campaign in 2016 that seemed to be simply social liberalism and not libertarianism. Weld’s running mate Gary Johnson supported forcing a baker to bake a cake for a gay wedding, furthermore, explaining that he would force a Jewish baker to bake a cake for a Nazi. This is a complete violation of property rights, a key tenet of libertarianism. Much speculation points to Bill Weld holding similar views to Johnson based on his past rhetoric, one, in particular, being his support for affirmative action.

Furthermore, Weld supports an open borders policy. Right now, under a massive welfare state and the current state of politics, immigration restrictions are needed. This isn’t an anti-libertarian stance but rather an overall net gain for liberty. Moreover, he compared Trump’s immigration plans to Nazi Germany, making holocaust references and comparing Trump’s wall to the Berlin wall. This is all from the leftist playbook.

An Endorsement of the Opposing Side

Perhaps worst of all was when Bill Weld practically endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.

“Having said that, I’m not taking back anything I said about the massive difference between the two establishment party candidates. One would be chaos for the country, I think. And the other would be a very business-like and capable and competent approach to our affairs.”

In this interview, Bill Weld explains how Trump would be chaos for the country and that Hillary would run it better. Furthermore, he endorsed Obama for president as well. No libertarian in their right mind would endorse Hillary or Obama, so why did Weld support them? It could be said that Trump was maybe the better option for libertarians as many thought that way. However, he did not have to support either of the candidates in any elections. After all, Ron Paul didn’t.

Ron Paul is retired from politics, and right now there does not appear to be another charismatic libertarian to lead the movement. Rand Paul will likely not run for president either.  However, libertarians should not look to Bill Weld to be a leader of the movement.


71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon.

Featured Image Source

Advertisements

Property Rights in the Digital Paradigm

By Atilla Sulker | United States

Earlier this year, I published an article on Lewrockwell.com in which I discussed social media sites, free speech, and “digital property rights”. In this piece, I came to the conclusion that social media sites and blogs are very much like physical buildings and firms. The property owner may set his own rules within his property, so long as these rules don’t involve violence. He may grant, limit, or completely revoke my right to free speech, and may expel me from his property if he wishes. Social media sites ought to operate in this same way.

What my investigation underscored, however, was something more fundamental. Not only did it shed light on the fact that free speech stems from property rights, or that property rights can be applied to the internet, but it also highlighted that private property rights are an excellent tool in combating disputes over speech, among other issues, and are the final arbitrator in such disputes. I am currently working on a paper in which I seek to give a more than superficial analysis of the internet through property rights, but for the scope of this article, I shall try to summarize my argument extending digital property rights beyond social media sites.

If social media sites are like private firms in the physical realm, then networks and ISPs are like private roads and road managers, respectively. The internet is comprised of multiple networks, each connected to form the aggregate. This conglomeration of networks allows the user to explore what we refer to as the internet, a set of connected networks.

Suppose that we lived in a society in which all roads were privatized and road managers could collect money for the use of roads through various different mechanisms. A given road manager could charge a fee per mile, a fee every time someone entered their road, a larger year-long pass fee, etc. Regardless of how the fee would be collected, competition would encourage the most convenient system, and so a one time fee covering a longer term of usage would probably become popular.

Now just as buildings and land are private property, private roads are as well. If a private road manager were given full access to his property rights, he would be able to curtail the entry of certain people, limit certain speech, etc. This could be very practical, as the majority of society would demand that certain people such as criminals not be let in, this demand being backed by their willingness to give the road manager their money. Roads could also prevent overflow by not permitting the entrance of people beyond a certain limit. We now see that roads are bound by the same property rights as houses and restaurants, given that they are privatized.

Since ISPs own a certain portion of the internet, their respective network can in many ways be likened unto road managers owning certain roads within the whole conglomeration of roads and highways. For one to own property, they must either homestead “common property” (property not owned by anyone, for example, a chunk of undiscovered land), purchase it from someone else, or steal it. Public property is another interesting phenomenon. No one owns it, but everyone uses it and funds it.

Many claim that the internet is “open” or public, but this defies the fundamental nature of how property works. “Common property” does not exist in the digital realm since bandwidth, which can be likened unto lanes in a road, is created by ISPs, hence they claim the original ownership. Henceforth, they have the exclusive right to use the property as they wish. In this sense, the idea of net neutrality is rebuked, for it is a violation of digital property rights, the equivalent to the property rights of the private road owner.

These roads lead the way to websites, which can be put into two categories. The first one is the one I discussed in my previous article- social media sites and blogs. Again, these websites are like physical property in which the owner may expel people. The second type of website would be simply meant for reading information, not including any accounts (for example, an informational site). These websites can be likened unto privately owned land/ landmarks not meant for letting people in, but meant simply for viewing as one drives down a road.

Ultimately, each ISP, like a private road would offer something to bring in more customers from other firms. Imagine that there is a Starbucks in the middle of nowhere and there exist two roads to get to it. Suppose one road is made of a material that drastically speeds up the cars using it, while another road is just a normal road. Assuming the price to use either road is near the same, the customer would choose the former as he would be able to get his coffee faster and get back to what he is doing. Customers could choose ISPs over each other in this same fashion. Certain ISPs could also limit internet traffic to prevent “overflow” and keep their networks efficient. Hence trying to homogenize each network is actually betraying the idea of consumer choice, despite the rhetoric of those supporting it.

My investigation has hopefully dispelled this notion that the internet is “free” or “open”. This is a common fallacy that ignores the hierarchical connection between property rights and free speech, the former being the apparatus which the latter stems from. If we treat the internet in the same way in which we treat the physical realm, it is seen that private property rights again become the final arbitrator of disputes. Domain owners own only their plot of “land” and ISPs own their “roads”. Taking this approach is not only moral but allows the market economy to properly function and bring on a plethora of competing firms and consumer choices.

References

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. “Of Private, Common, And Public Property And The Rationale For Total Privatization.” Libertarian Papers 3, no. 1 (2011): 1-13.


This article was originally published on LewRockwell.com

71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

The Social Media Censorship Problem, Solved

Atilla Sulker | United States

With the recent suspending of the accounts of many individuals on social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, people are beginning to question the validity of the move. In fact, some liken it to an attack on free speech and a bold censorship. To the libertarian, this is a major area of concern; before any actions take place, one must evaluate the situation critically.

We must first establish the premise that government tends to gradually prey on our liberties more and more. We are like the frog in the boiling pot, so to speak. If we assign government a small task, the scope of this task becomes larger over time. As a result, we end up with more regulations and fewer liberties. Based on this premise, the goal that the libertarian should be aiming at is to extend free speech as far as possible without violating the non-aggression principle.

The Nature of Rights

It is also important to realize how rights work. Rights are hierarchical, and at the top of the hierarchy is property rights. From property rights stems the freedom of speech and a whole range of other rights. Property rights not only allow the owner of the property to say what he pleases on the property, but also give him the power to use property such as billboards and signs to spread his message. In this way, property rights come before free speech. 

You can not come onto my property and say as you wish. I, as the owner, set the limits as to what people can and can’t say. Though I may allow you to say certain things, you have no initial right to speech on my property; I must grant it to you. We can clearly see the superiority of property rights to free speech.

So how does all this apply to the digital paradigm? I will now begin exploring a term I have coined: “digital property rights”.

Rights and Social Media

Many people use the argument that Facebook and Twitter, among other social media sites, are private companies and they hence have the right to pick and choose who can use their site. If one thinks about this, it is similar to businesses in the physical realm. For this analogy, I will be comparing social media sites to giant apartments.

If I were to rent an apartment, I would have access to a certain area of property, but I’d simply be renting it and would still have to live within a certain set of rules that the property owner sets. The apartment owner has laid out his terms in our contract. He could quite possibly charge me fees for various violations of the contract, whether it be a noise violation, a disturbance of peace, etc.

Connecting this to social media, it becomes clear that accounts operate in this same way. The account user is entering the “digital property” of the site owner. The site owner ultimately has the rights to grant or revoke the right of speech to the user. It is his or her “digital property”; hence, he or she sets the rules. We can think of account restrictions and temporary bans as fees charged to the tenant in the apartment for various violations of the contract. We can think of account terminations as the evictions of the digital realm.

The Implications

So where has this analogy lead us to, and what implications does it have for the libertarian? For one thing, it outlines the importance of the voluntary contract, but beyond this, it shows how fundamental property rights are to the libertarian conscience. It seems that property rights can solve practically any issue, and this is certainly one of them. It can, of course, be applied to areas beyond just social media, including websites and domains.

Now a common objection to the ideas I have laid down would be that these social media sites have conspired with the government to ban certain people, and hence this is not private discrimination, but public discrimination. Though this argument may be convincing, it is important to never lose sight of our goal, which is the diminution of the scope of government. If we were to try and stop social media sites from taking such actions, it would bring in further government intervention, which is not a good means to our desired ends. 

Another objection that I have heard is that these various social media sites are “monopolies”. In assessing this claim, it is important to look at monopoly from an Austrian economist’s perspective. To the Austrian, monopoly is not when a certain firm controls the majority of an industry, but when it has the government’s permission and privilege to do so. Luckily, there are still alternative routes to spread ideas on the internet.

The Only Fair Is Laissez-faire

The private industry is very important in protecting one’s freedoms because incentives for profit are directly linked to the satisfaction of the consumer. Some people think that it is wrong to criticize the censorship of certain social media sites, because they are private. However, one can criticize a private company, yet still believe in its sovereignty. After all, the whole point of privatizing is to ensure greater consumer satisfaction.

Laissez-faire capitalism is the only way to increase the amount of choices in an industry to the greatest extent. With the consumer in control, we will ultimately see the fate of sites like Facebook and Twitter. If the consumer does not like their execution of censorship, they may protest the sites and boycott them. These same protocols exist in any industry. The consumer decides the fate of a company, so if a firm is not pleasing the consumer, they will either have to change their ways or liquidate. This is one of the many benefits of capitalism. Vote with your dollar!

Originally published on Lewrockwell.com


71 Republic prides itself on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon. We appreciate your support.

Featured Image Source

The Liberty-minded Solution to the Scallop War

By Thomas Calabro | United States

Perhaps the Scallop War is not the worst “war” we’ve seen, especially compared to our history of violent conflicts in the past decades. It is still, however, an intriguing conflict based on poor economic policies. The failed negotiations may increase tensions between the UK and France. But after looking at this so-called “war” between the two European allies, I saw the opportunity to discuss the best approach that promotes liberty and eases tensions, while protecting the stock of scallops.

What is the Scallop War?

The Scallop War is the hostile dispute over the fishing rights of scallops in the English Channel, specifically the Baie de Seine area off of Normandy. Both countries border the English Channel, but the UK has a longer scallop season than the French do. The fear of depletion from the British has pushed French boats to ward off their British counterparts by throwing “smoke bombs and rocks” at them.

This situation is not new. It has occurred before both historically as well as academically. The issue at hand is another example of the Tragedy of the Commons. Basically, this arises when parties consume common resources, those that are non-excludable and rival, at an unsustainable rate.

The increase in scarcity means that both parties cannot have all they desire. These common resources are goods that are not privately owned, and therefore non-excludable, but are also rival, in that consuming one unit of a good means everyone else has one unit less to use. In this case, the nations catch scallops in international water for economic gain. So, both parties have an incentive to catch as many as possible while they last.

Alex Tabarrok, a professor of economics at George Mason University, explains the Tragedy of the Commons while also outlining three main approaches to combat the issue. The approaches include Commanding and Controlling the actions of the perpetrators, using Cultural Norms to assure better practices of gathering resources, as well as simply Creating Property Rights on these Common Resources to incentivize good behavior.

Command and Control

France understood the issue at hand but went about it in the wrong way. They are legislating their own fleets from dredging those waters in the summer months. They intend to restrict fishing for scallops from May 15th to September 30th. But, this only puts France at a disadvantage, as British fishermen in vessels can still dredge for scallops. The attempt to control the collection of common resources only incentivizes people to find other ways to continue the harmful practice.

Cultural Norms

The second approach relies on slowly ushering in the cultural norm of exercising the preferred practice. The agreement that the two countries approved put this practice to the test. Basically, British fishermen were supposed to willingly give up their advantage in the scallop market and hold their fleets to the same policies as the French.

However, the deal fell apart a few days later when British fleets desired compensation for damages. This deal, though, was destined for failure from the start, as it relied heavily on the good faith of Britain to respect and follow France’s closure period. Even though the UK and France are close allies, it is tough to expect such cooperation without efficient incentives.

Property Rights

The third approach, on the other hand, is the most powerful policy. Creating property rights on the scallops themselves incentivizes the practice of restraint. Prof. Tabarrok mentions that New Zealand is an excellent example, having implemented property rights on fish with the use of Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQ). Citizens can purchase the right to a certain amount of a common resource, such as scallops, that will sustain the population without hindering profits. Fishermen, therefore, have an incentive to increase profits by reducing the cost of collecting resources, rather than increasing the supply of that good.

By giving citizens private ownership over the scallops, therefore making it excludable, the State essentially changes the way people use the goods in question. It replaces the short-term concept of collecting as much as possible now with the idea of collecting a small amount now and leaving more to catch later in the long run.

This economic lesson does not resolve the issue of reparations, although one could argue that British fishermen deserve reimbursements for damages to their own private property.  That may be the only issue between the two countries if they seek this path of establishing property rights on scallops. Perhaps if States understand the effectiveness of incentives over controls, we could develop more policies that promote the ideas of property rights, free markets, and free people.

Get awesome merchandise and help 71 Republic end the media oligarchy by donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Featured Image Source

 

Can You Solve the Lawnmower Paradox?

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

In any society, there are two very important guidelines to follow: property rights and contract law. Without a state, these two principles reign supreme, but even with one, they are essential for society’s proper function. Both property rights and contract law protect communities against near-constant struggles for ownership and possession.

Property Rights and Contract Law

Property rights, of course, details that an individual has the supreme right to control what they are doing with their property, insofar as their usage does not intentionally and directly take away the rights of another to do the same. I, for example, have the right to use a saw and cut down a tree. I cannot, though, use the same saw, even though it is mine, to cut down a tree on bordering property.

Contract law, on the other hand, refers to the voluntary terms and conditions under which one individual may give, trade, or sell property to another. If someone else decides to give me their bordering property in exchange for my saw and a sum of money, I can then cut down that tree, even though it may be difficult without my saw. Perhaps, I could instead increase the sum of money that I am willing to give, and keep the saw. So long as it is voluntary, I can trade whatever I would like, on terms that both parties agree to.

Thus, it appears that both property rights and contract law have critical roles in upholding society’s stability. However, there are certain situations in which these two guidelines may play against each other. Enter, the lawnmower paradox.

The Lawnmower Paradox

After some unimportant time of use, I have decided that I would like to get a new lawnmower. In doing so, I realize that I do not still need my old lawnmower. Remembering that my neighbor was also looking for a new one, I decide that I will negotiate a contract with him for it.

Following some deliberation, we come to some terms. For a price of $50, I will give him the lawnmower, and he can use it whenever he wants. But since I am worried about someone wasting or misusing it, I include a clause that he cannot scrap, sell, donate, or trade it. In other words, he can use it himself, whenever he wants, but only he can use it.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Since I control what happens to the lawnmower, I technically am still the property owner. If the neighbor owned it, then he would have full permission to do with it what he wanted, provided he is not preventing anyone from doing the same. However, I have asserted my ownership over it by completely controlling what he can do with it. Technically, though he can use it anytime, it is still my lawnmower. So, rather than selling it, I have merely rented it to him for an indefinite period of time.

Despite this, though, the contract still reads that he may use the lawnmower any time that he wants to. Since the contract states that he can do so, and both parties have signed it, he can do just that.

The Dilemma Begins

A week goes by without issue, until all of a sudden, my new lawnmower breaks irreparably. The only lawnmower I still have is the one that I have indefinitely rented to my neighbor. However, both of us want to mow our lawn at the exact same point in time. Who has the right to cut their lawn first?

I am the rightful owner of the lawnmower, and I control how he can use it. On the other hand, though, the contract gave him permission to use it whenever he wants. So, my neighbor can use it whenever he wants, but I control when he uses it. Thus, the lawnmower paradox forms. Sound crazy yet?

Both property rights and contract law stake valid claims as to who may operate the lawnmower for personal use under unlimited circumstances. So, basically, the property rights and contract law sides of the issue contradict each other, with no clear winner. But if neither of us cedes the right to go first, neither of us can cut our lawns, and they will grow over with weeds. Who, then, should have to cede their right to cut their lawn first in this lawnmower paradox?

Greater Applications

Of course, the situation is highly improbable. Realistically, I could talk to my neighbor and agree to let him go first, or vice versa, to maintain the peace. Or, to plan even better, we could negotiate times that I would need to use it in advance, to avoid the dilemma entirely. But in higher stakes situations, there could be considerable conflict.

Imagine, for example, that rather than a lawnmower, I live next to my neighbor in Puerto Rico. After a hurricane, the entire island will lose power for months. However, there is only one generator, and my neighbor is currently using it under the same circumstances.

If the two cannot come to an agreement, neither of them will be able to prevent the food in their respective refrigerators from spoiling. Who has a right to use that generator? Is it the owner with property rights, or the indefinite recipient under contract law? Can you solve the lawnmower paradox? Let us know what you think in the comments below!


To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source