Childhood is a phase in which we are all full of energy. We can’t focus for too long in monotonous tasks. To a lot of children, school is dull and boring. After all, making a child sit still for endless hours doing the same repetitive tasks until the bell finally rings is a torment to them. Many in this age group spend most of their weekdays counting the days left for the weekend to finally arrive. Weekends are synonymous to freedom and fun times! However, in Woodland Elementary School in Elkhart, Indiana, this is not always the case as a lot of low-income families struggle to feed their children and make ends meet.
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.
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
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TJ Roberts | United States
My good friend Kevin Shaw released the article “Post-Scarcity and Freedom” to this website just yesterday. Mr. Shaw is a brilliant individual with a deep dedication of liberty for all human beings. His recent article brings up the progress humanity has made in spite of government regulations, almost reaching an apparent lack of scarcity in several industries.
The problem, however, is that scarcity will always exist so long as nature exists. Even if humanity achieves a superabundance of resources, which is hypothetically possible, it will still be impossible to shake off human nature.
Scarcity in the Garden of Eden
Suppose humanity managed to return to the Garden of Eden. Work is meaningless, for all that one desires is provided by nature. There is a superabundance of every resource. Even then, there is a form of scarcity, which demands the establishment of natural private property norms.
Even when all resources are readily available to the inhabitants of this hypothetical Eden, our bodies are still scarce. There is only one me. There is only one you. Our bodies, no matter what, are scarce resources. It is with this in mind that it is natural that I am the owner of my body in the same way that you are the owner of your body. Truly, we are the original appropriator of our own physical beings. To argue against this is to prove it, whereas to make the claim “I do not own myself” is to employ self-ownership.
Scarcity and Action
Whereas a human being owns themselves, it is axiomatically true that human beings act, i.e. they deliberately attempt to modify their condition to a condition that is more satisfactory based on their subjective valuation. Since human beings act, they choose. They must prioritize what they will do now and what they will do later. Even in a post-scarce world, time is scarce. Eventually, we will all die. With this in mind, there are things we will not be able to do or have.
But even if humans were immortal, time is still scarce. You cannot do several things at the same time. I must choose if I will eat an apple now, or if I will drink water now. I must choose if I will read or if I will watch a movie. The list goes on. As actors prioritize, certain goals are set aside for more pressing needs. By having a choice, you are incurring a cost upon yourself every time you act. This is the basic principle of opportunity cost. If my first choice in action is to drink water and my second choice in action is to eat an apple, the cost of me drinking water is the satisfaction abandoned in not eating an apple at that moment.
Scarcity and Reality
Throughout human society, technological advancement has made life easier. Whether it be the creation of agriculture in the Neolithic Revolution or the Industrial Revolution, entrepreneurship has allowed for a more efficient use of resources. This can make prices drop significantly, allowing for a cheaper and more comfortable life.
I agree with Mr. Shaw that the best way to increase abundance is to allow for the free market to flourish and to get the government out of people’s lives. What is problematic, however, is the belief that scarcity can be eliminated. No matter how efficient production becomes, scarcity will always be a natural part of life because we are all inherently scarce.
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By Casey Ward | United States
In today’s world of identity politics, there are many views on how the world should be run. During this debate, however, scarcity is often ignored when calculating the opportunity cost of different policies.
Scarcity and Post-Scarcity in the Modern World
The best example of ignoring scarcity in our time is universal healthcare. Essentially, the supply of healthcare is less than the demand for it. While we all agree that everyone should have access to healthcare, the fact remains that we cannot provide such a system without violating someone else’s rights.
This means that the only way universal healthcare can actually work is if we lived in a post-scarcity society, which will likely never happen. Since the universe, as far as we know, is finite, we cannot have infinite resources.
Scarcity, Capitalism, and Communism
However, if we factor for scarcity, it becomes clear that communism vs capitalism is a fool’s choice. If you boil it down, the main desire of communism is that the workers collectively control the means of production. In a free market system, individuals privately own the means of production in search of a profit. Capitalism is naturally voluntary, and over time, lowers prices to all individuals. On the other hand, when universal healthcare forces the creation of price ceilings, the market is thrown out of equilibrium. This, as a result of scarcity, creates a shortage.
Take, for example, medishare or any other voluntary cooperative. It is jointly run by its members in order to reach a mutual goal. With a group incentive of paying off medical bills, each individual is able to thrive. Yet, they do so without giving up their rights.
On the other hand, coercive social programs offer no incentive for success. For instance, the state prohibits people on disability from having another income source. By providing a service, but requiring no contribution, government cannot cover the demand with enough supply. The same is true with all modern safety nets. Social security costs more than what is being put in, and thus, supply cannot cover demand.
Is Post-Scarcity Possible?
Anarchists often leave out this important factor of scarcity as well. This is why Elon Musk’s utopian post-scarcity anarchism will never work. Post-scarcity is not achievable since it neglects two very important and rather scarce items, time and energy. Both are vital to our life, but neither are infinite.
We all seek a longer life and yet extending our life is painstakingly slow. The few results we do see are miniscule, compared to the age of the universe. Even if we did find the cure to our mortality, we would die. It would just come at the eventual day when the stars burn through their fuel, leaving us without energy.
“When I can build anything I want whenever I want it, there’s no real point in using force to maintain control over a surplus.” -Human Iterations
Post-scarcity solving the need for a surplus, (as Iain M. Banks describes in his series called “The Culture”) is Musk’s eventual utopian goal. However, this simply will never occur, even in an immortal world. If someone knows that the universe is dying, they would stockpile materials to prolong the inevitable a little longer.
At the end, that would nullify any post-scarcity attempts. Without a doubt, the two most important things to our survival are going to disappear. All ideologies must address scarcity, but how we do so could change the world. The choice comes down to the market. Do we allow nature to take its course and seek an equilibrium? Or, is it justifiable to allocate some resources to benefit a group of people at the expense of others? Only the former recognizes the equal rights of all.
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