Saturday, January 24, 2009

Parcel of Property vs. Grab-Bag of Opinions


Property adherence offers about as clear-cut a means of deciding individual legal disputes and collective policy disputes as humanity can plausibly engineer — and one tending, not coincidentally, toward utility- enhancing, decentralized, individual-freedom-respecting outcomes.

I may be guilty of assuming all the libertarians I’ve talked to over the years realized this and so had the property rubric in mind as they reached decisions on various issues, but perhaps some of the younger ones in particular didn’t.  Perhaps some — despite, say, speaking positively of drug legalization, cutting the Department of Transportation budget, and deregulating agriculture — really have no strict ideological reason for seeing these things as connected, more a grab bag of vaguely similar opinions, like any other political faction’s eclectic fondness for, say, guns, Shakespeare, monogamy, and estate tax cuts.

I would like to think I’m getting something a bit more predictable and coherent from libertarianism, though.  If not — all sniping about single-minded ideologues aside — the movement will, I think, have been a waste of time and will get nowhere from here, simply because it will so easily become one more tiny, ill-defined demographic amidst other vaguely-moderate voters.  Useless.  Libertarians who think they have a loud voice to contribute to the very noisy democratic clamor without the clear message of property rights are deluded.

But that does not mean we should pretend the universe offers greater clarity and simplicity than it does, and anyone with a healthy respect for individuals must also admire the way that human political thinking seems to come in 7 billion varieties, when all the nuances and details are taken into account.

So, rather than repeat my own take on things again, let us spend the next seven days — the climactic final week of the Month of Liberty (i.e., Property) — looking at one person per day (sometimes two) who somehow complicates the story of property, challenging my account — or just serving as a living warning.

Tomorrow, then, the Week of Vexing Individuals begins.


dave said...

I’d like to hear more about roads. I think I follow your point but I’m stumped how town roads would work.

Todd Seavey said...

There are privatized toll roads in many places already, so that doesn’t strike me as much of a hurdle, but instead of more on roads, today (1/25), can I offer you: _A Thousand Plateaus_?