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Article :: Human Nature

17. Are Land and Natural Resources a Special Class of Property?


17. Are Land and Natural Resources a Special Class of Property?

The rule of law enforces peaceful coexistence, innovation and prosperity by encouraging honest trade of the production of people and discourages force and fraud which creates conflict and destroys civilizations. The rule of law is a forceful expression against those who disagree with mans basic moral value which is survival by "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness". It enforces how man should treat man by defining the survival methods that are morally invalid and thus prohibited. Criminals, by not respecting the right to life of others indicate that they consent to be judged by their own values, which allows the exercise of force against others.

However, the basic right for all to choose survival by contributing to civilization cannot be guaranteed solely by the "rule of law". Man cannot exist independently of his environment and no set of laws which exclusively considers man versus man without considering environmental survival requirements can insure that all have the right to choose survival. Note that I do not claim that all men have the right to survive, only the right to choose to survive, by lawful methods (contribution to civilization by honest trade).

This section needs major work. Tragedy of the commons precludes common ownership which results in no one taking responsibility and caring for and conserving common resources. Below is socialist leading crap. Re-work to focus on breaking monopoly control of land and resources.

To illustrate the problem of treating land and natural resources as private property, exclusively possessed, consider the consequences if an individual or group managed to own all land surrounding a regional water supply. This land, under the doctrine that land is private property would be a monopoly, controlled exclusively by the owners. Since access to water is a basic necessity of life, the owners would achieve total control of access to this vital resource and thereby be able to extort whatever they want from the people of the region, effectively enslaving them by taking all of the fruits of their labor in exchange for water. Violence, both in enforcement of landowner´s rights and by people attempting to get water at reasonable cost is the inevitable consequence.

Another problem with treating land and natural resources as private property is legitimacy of ownership. Land and natural resources cannot be created by man. We all need them as do future generations. Every single parcel of land on the planet except for the oceans outside national boundaries and Antarctica (no owner except mankind by international agreement) has been secured and is held by the exercise of force, when historical "ownership" is traced. Most international conflict is regarding historical grievances and current conflict over land, water and resources. If you overlay maps of past and present regional world conflicts and maps of the most necessary natural resources, the two are identical. Under the doctrine of private ownership of land and resources, force or "might is right" is the only way to hold and acquire these vital resources. Land and natural resources are necessities of life, for all of mankind, including future generations.

The fact that land and resources are by nature different from property created by man trading his life (time and energy) for the fruits of his labor was pointed out and proven to the author´s satisfaction by the writings of Henry George. "Progress and Poverty", R[XX]. This work has been suppressed and very few, if any academic works in the area of economics and human rights seem to make or be aware of this property distinction. Progress and Poverty asks and answers the same question as this work, namely, what causes the rise and collapse of civilizations, with different arguments but similar conclusions and a much more comprehensive focus on economics.

Where this is leading is that all land and resources belong to the people who occupy a geographical region. Land should be rented and resource extraction and rental fees must be used for the people´s common interest. People can continue to privately own, sell and monopolize improvements to land such as homes and mines, but they must rent the land and pay for resources extracted. This seems to imply government, but does not. The current concept of government as those who monopolize the exercise of force over a geographical region with pretend accountability to the people is extremely flawed.

If land and resources were acknowledged to be the common property of the people who occupy the land and private land ownership were prohibited, it would be legally impossible to transfer ownership away from the people as spoils of war, eliminating a major cause of conflict. Similarly, current practice of supporting tyrannical regimes to control local populations while their resources are stolen would be illegal, since, by law, the resources belong to all of the people of the region and not just the elites in control.

A more realistic definition (what it used to be) of Government is "CommonWealth", where all are equal stakeholders and government is legally (forcefully, if necessary) constrained to treat all equally is discussed in subsequent sections.

The author has barely touched on this topic and the major social advantages in eliminating private land ownership. If ownership were properly defined as "earned property", the absurdity of private land ownership would be readily apparent. The natives who "sold" Manhattan to early American settlers for trinkets and beads were not fools. They believed that the land belonged to all and that they were being compensated for moving their homes. They had no idea it was a permanent eviction and denial of all right to use the land forever.

It is highly recommended that the reader take the time to read Henry George R[XX].

17.1 The Problem of Monopoly

The inescapable conclusion that enforcing "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" for all has environmental components making it necessary to treat land and natural resources as a special class of property is irrefutable. If private ownership of land and natural resources is allowed, monopoly control by landowners enslaves the people by forcing them to pay whatever the landowners demand.

This argument may be truthfully generalized by acknowledging the basic fact that "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" depends on having the environmental necessities of life achievable. Life for all is not possible without its basic requirements being achievable by all. Monopoly control of any necessary component of the requirements of life (ability to choose to live by contribution to civilization) gives an unfair advantage and unearned wealth to the monopoly holder. This interferes with choice and mankind´s evolution to excellence by creating an environment where some prosper without contribution and interferes with the distribution of rewards to those who do contribute.

Note that I have been very careful to use words such as achievable, ability to choose and not words such as entitled. Monopoly control of necessities destroys civilization by giving unfair advantage to some, eliminating the necessity of monopoly holders to contribute to civilization, shifting rewards from the productive, interfering with the best ideas winning and thus destroying social evolution towards solving mankind´s problems. Similarly, entitlement to the basic necessities of life allows the possibility that some people will choose to not contribute at the expense of those who do contribute and makes it a viable choice to be a parasite on your fellow citizens. Worse, their children become socialized to this poor survival choice. Both the welfare state and tolerating monopoly control of necessities have the identical effect of shifting rewards from the productive to unproductive, destroying civilization and social evolution. This is well known by the PTBs who present the alternatives as a binary choice between pure capitalism and socialism. Both are doomed to fail and the PTBs profit from the conflict and failure as the social pendulum swings between two equally destructive alternatives.

As discussed in the "What is Truth" and "Absurdity of Applied Philosophy" sections, any generalized philosophy such as capitalism, socialism or *ism´s in general cannot provide the knowledge required to handle all situations (environments) from the infinity of possibilities without considering exactly the environmental factors and relationship between action and consequence. To ignore the situational facts is to guarantee failure.

To resolve the problems of monopoly requires defining the basic necessities of life and guaranteeing opportunity for all to choose to contribute in securing these basic requirements.

Those who choose not to contribute, given every opportunity, have also chosen their own fate. They own their lives. The rest of us and hopefully they can learn from the consequences.

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