The Tragedy Of The Commons

“The tragedy of the commons” is a term used to describe the problem for property rights advocates when it comes to government-controlled property open to the public. It is a form of socialism, because the arrangement makes it difficult to determine who has the right to do what in that context.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that where a libertarian stands on this issue is paramount above most all other stances or views, because it is so applicable and relevant to what we see in our modern political context. Also, their take on the matter will determine much of their other attitudes.

There are essentially two different viewpoints.

The first is that public commons or public lands are owned by all, because no private entity owns them. This means anyone from anywhere has equal access to it and can use it for any purpose they want. All resources therein belong to everybody, and the government controlling the land has no right to impose any kind of restriction on the property’s use or activity on it.

This is an inherently communist interpretation of property rights.

The second viewpoint holds a more nuanced – and intelligent – analysis. Although the state controls the property, not everyone has the right to access or use it because not everyone is paying for it. Those who are coerced into funding its maintenance and perpetual control via the government holding it are the true owners. By opening it up to all, it allows people who are not forced to fund the property’s maintenance and control to essentially rob others of their money through the state.

Also, because certain people are not paying for it, they have no incentive to reduce or restrict their consumption of the resources or endeavor to maintain the property. It is someone else’s problem.

Further, this viewpoint rightfully points out that there is no private sector example of a property in which the owner is not allowed to set rules or impose restrictions on the use of the resources on the property. All private property is governed by the owner who is free to impose whatever rules they please.

To remove all restrictions on a public commons or property leads to the lowest common denominator of individuals occupying it, the destruction of the property’s quality, and the full consumption of any resources on it to the point of shortages.

As Hans Herman Hoppe writes:

The second possible way out is to claim that all so-called public property – the property controlled by local, regional or central government – is akin to open frontier, with free and unrestricted access. Yet this is certainly erroneous. From the fact that government property is illegitimate because it is based on prior expropriations, it does not follow that it is un-owned and free-for-all. It has been funded through local, regional, national or federal tax payments, and it is the payers of these taxes, then, and no one else, who are the legitimate owners of all public property.They cannot exercise their right – that right has been arrogated by the State – but they are the legitimate owners.

What’s a greater tragedy than that of the commons is that so many libertarians adopt a communist view of state-controlled property that leads to the defense of unsustainable activity rather than understanding the situation is an aberration of how the land would be handled by the private sector.

This matters, because it affects how you think public land should be operated. The communist view is that no matter how much or in what manner the state taxes a group of people to pay for the land and its resources, anyone can come and occupy it for whatever purpose they desire. It eventually leads to the destruction of that property just as we saw in communist nations.

In contrast, the correct application of libertarian philosophy is that the state has an illegitimate claim of ownership and that true ownership is found within those taxed to pay for the land. Therefore, as long as the state entity controls it, those people have a right to impose through that state entity rules, regulations, restrictions, and policies as to who may enter the property, how it and the resources therein can be used in order to assure its overall preservation.

Once the property is sold to a private owner, the matter is moot – at least for those who argued in good faith.

 

 

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What Is And Is Not Free Speech

A curious debate over free speech has occurred regarding the case of Michelle Carter, a girl from Massachusetts convicted of manslaughter for her involvement in the suicide of her boyfriend.

Reason Magazine argues that she had a right to tell the boy to kill himself because it is a form of free speech.

Meanwhile, Quintus Curtius offers the legal argument for why she should be convicted.

Like Quintus, I disagree with Reason for a number of reasons (heh).

If you read through the case, you will find this was not a mere quip or remark. This was not her merely saying “go kill yourself.” We have to look at the totality of what she did.

This girl conceived of the idea of suicide and proposed it to a minor whom she knew had psychological problems that would make him susceptible to suicide in a way a normal person would not.

She came up with the precise details of the plan for how he would kill himself and then continually pressured him into doing it when he became hesitant or was insufficiently persuaded to kill himself. She was in contact with him up until the very moment he killed himself and failed to notify the people responsible for his well-being.

In full context, she knowingly exploited the psychological condition of a child (not an adult) to get them to kill themselves, all while deliberately failing to notify his parents or authorities that he was going to do so.

She even pretended to have been ignorant of the whole thing after it happened. 

As Quintus explains:

It is essential to recall the behavior of the defendant in this case, and the background of the two actors, Carter and Roy.  The victim was essentially handicapped; he had a known psychological condition.  Carter exploited this condition; she showed a malicious disregard for his safety by literally ordering him, over and over again, to end his life.  This case has nothing whatever to do with “free speech,” and attempts to make this an issue are grotesque in the extreme.

Imagine if a special needs child died because another child that was not special needs lied to them and told them it was safe to cross the street or enter the crosswalk when they knew there was incoming traffic, and then the special needs child got hit by a car – and the guilty party denied that they had said anything, then claimed free speech when caught.

That is not free speech, and neither is what Carter did. The context of her behavior matters. If this had been a limited form of speech directed toward an adult, that would be a different matter.

To be sure, this is an extremely rare and unique case, and while many free speech advocates are afraid of where it could lead if she is ultimately sentenced, I would argue that there is a dangerous precedent if she is not convicted.

It would mean that it is acceptable to exploit the condition of a child to get them to harm themselves while absolving yourself of responsibility.

Lastly, let’s also consider what would happen to such a person in an actual stateless society where the idea of free speech only exists for your property.

I’ll leave that for you to imagine.

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Why I’ve Been Quiet

Lately I haven’t posted anything, even though every day seems to have a blog-worthy topic.

To be succinct, I’ve felt I’ve said all that needs to be said in a fundamental sense on any issue I see in the news.

At a certain point, a person’s part of the conversation has reached its end.

Perhaps I’m being pessimistic, but I don’t see libertarianism as an ideological faction having any significant influence or effect on the national discourse or discussion. Not that it doesn’t have relevance as a philosophy, but because its adherents generally speaking see it as a movement when it can’t and won’t, for reasons I’ve explained before.

Jeff Deists’ recent interview on Tom Woods’ podcast regarding the future of the “libertarian” label seems to vindicate my assertion.

The belief that one should leave each other alone is insufficient for a collective identity of any kind. The fight over the libertarian “label” and “thick” v. “thin” libertarianism would have been avoided had proper separation occurred.

Further, partnerships, alliances, and other limited working relationships are possible only when there is a mutual goal. It is self-evident that the various factions within the “liberty movement” have mutually exclusive visions of the world they want to live in and, correspondingly, the political stances they will take. If you want to create a new man, you’re not going to get along with a traditional man.

Some other quick thoughts on the problem.

  • Libertarians insist on dialectic when the political realm is a game of persuasion and rhetoric. Trump’s “MAGA” slogan was a textbook example of effective political rhetoric. Study effective meme-generators like Vox Day who writes: Remember, the most effective rhetoric communicates truth without necessarily being literally truthful in the details. It persuades through emotion, not reason, which is why it cannot be analyzed in the same way as a logical syllogism. 
  • There’s also a lot of preaching to the choir. Mocking the American flag as a “skycloth” and “statists” gets you lulzlzlz from fellow libertarians, but persuades nobody. If you’re not trying to change someone’s mind and just want to puff up your own chest, just cough up to it.
  • The persistent conflation of “nation” with “country” – as though nations couldn’t and wouldn’t exist without the state – and the examination of political situations from a hyper-individualistic perspective. It’s why much libertarian analysis on cultural and social disputes is way off.
  • Obsessing over “ideological purity” when attempting to rectify real-life political problems. No plan no matter how perfect ever survives first contact. If you’re a hipster libertarian just trying to be ironic about it, at least be honest.
  • Vague or unrealistic goals. I was once guilty of thinking otherwise, but government is not going away. Making its abolition your goal is as Utopian as trying to abolish poverty. As RamzPaul once pointed out, they don’t have a coherent plan on how they achieve their “stateless society” and, consequently, how to maintain it against those who favor government.  The fact that you have the right to something means nothing if you can’t protect that right from someone stronger than you. So set limited, tangible and realistic objectives that can be measured. For example, stop worrying about whether people call themselves libertarians. Names and labels don’t matter as much as actual ideas and beliefs.
  • Living vicariously through politics as individuals – libertarians should strive to live as free as possible to pursue personal ambitions, but they should strive for them irrespective of what or who is governing them. Making politics an idee fixe or waiting for the political situation to change before pursuing personal goals is a recipe for misery, and we all know what misery loves.

Perhaps I have other thoughts, but I’m too preoccupied living the productive life of a free man, a life I intend to live no matter what happens around me.

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Egalitarianism Is Inherently Statist

Bionic Mosquito writes about how community is found within a truly egalitarian society  – through the state, and only through it (bold emphasis added):

Destroy all other hierarchies and all that is left is the State.  This should not be a difficult concept to grasp.  It takes little more than opening one’s eyes to our daily existence.

Where during the Middle Ages the quest for community might lead one to the Church, today the journey often ends in the political party.  Eventually, when man feels he has lost all control of his destiny, he willingly turns to the totalitarian state.

Citing Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor:

“So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and painfully as to find someone to worship.  But man seeks to worship what is established beyond dispute, so that all men will agree at once to worship it.  For these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or the other can worship, but find something that all will believe in and worship; what is essential is that all may be together in it.  This craving for community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the beginning of time.” 

I know, I know… “I am an individual; I am strong; I am a libertarian.”

OK, so pretend Dostoevsky isn’t writing about you.  Instead, just look at the 50,000 others cheering wildly for the troops next time you are at the ballpark.

Just who is the one who doesn’t fit Dostoevsky’s description?  Who is the oddball?

Hierarchy is neither anti-libertarian nor anti-liberty. Hierarchy is good. It gives people a sense of purpose and a role in culture, society, and their institutions. It provides structure and stability.

Every successful, effective group has positions and roles, and the members either take those roles or are delegated them according to their abilities.

This has nothing to do with “equality” by whatever definition you wish to provide.

It has to do with giving people a place to belong. The idea that everyone has the same role or has equal authority to anyone else is just as Utopian as the notion that without the state there would be no need for hierarchy.

Even if the titles are not bestowed officially, men naturally seek leadership among their groups.

People are innately unequal in every way imaginable, save for their common right to self-ownership.

Death is the true equalizer; we are all going to die, and only in death do we become equals.

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Traditional Education Or Bust

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Jeff Sanders at PJ Media provides five problems with state-run schools in America, though they are merely five more reasons you should educate your children on your own.

I’ve never been a fan of the term “home-schooling,” because it implies the kids stay inside all day surfacing the internet and become book worms or geeks totally out of touch with the culture and society around them – until they go to college and go wild.

If I ever get married and have kids, they will be traditionally educated, by me and my wife. They will learn what we decide are important for them to know and reflect our values. That includes practical skills such as wood-cutting (as pictured above), changing car oil, fixing a leaky faucet and basic home maintenance. Their reading material would include classical Western literature. Physical fitness would be a must, too.

All this would be done discreetly and with as little fanfare as possible in order to avoid unwanted attention from anyone who might have an axe to grind, rather than to make a political statement or thumb my nose at the state.

This is the only sensible approach to educating a child in today’s environment.

At this point, I have absolutely no compassion or sympathy for people who send their kids to state schools and then complain about it expecting their whining to bring about any sort of change. My only concern goes for the kids who have no say in the matter, but even then I have no power to change it.

If you haven’t figured out by this point what you’re doing by sending your kid to these places, then you’re being woefully ignorant. It is adamantly clear by now that the administrators do not answer to you, and your kid’s education is not their responsibility. No one is punished when your son or daughter can’t locate their own nation on a map but know about white privilege and what a transgender feminist thinks about the Industrial Revolution.

Regardless of what the state claims about how it owns your kid, the reality is your child is still your responsible to raise, which means you need to take the proactive steps necessary to prepare them for adulthood, and when they aren’t able to take care of themselves by 18 when they snatch that worthless high school diploma, that is your fault, not the state’s. If enough people actually had the balls to pull their kids out of school and find some traditional form of education instead of instigating gadfly-worthy walkouts, then change might occur.

 

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No Escaping The State

In recent months I’ve come to the conclusion that there are few, if any, options for a man who wants to live a free life with minimal state involvement, and yet at the same time marry and have kids.

The marriage part is difficult enough to navigate, but apart from that is also the kids.

Apparently there are some men who actually contemplate the notion of having children through surrogacy, thinking it will save them from the state by not marrying.

Boxer breaks it down well in his post on how your children are not yours and therefore surrogacy is not an option to avoid the state.

Remember, gentlemen, you do not have any say over your kids. Your children belong to the feminist state. Once you internalize this truth, you’ll find yourself ready to participate in Marcuse’s great refusal.

I’d add that any man who wants to have a surrogate child better accept that he will be quietly suspected of any number of weird lifestyle choices. Protest all you want, but that is the reality. And considering some of the weirdos I’ve met who adopted kids but never married, the suspicion is justified just as much as that aimed at unmarried women who adopt.

However, there’s a separate issue that people tend to get confused on.

There is the moral, and then there is the practical.

Morally, and rightfully, your children are yours until they become of age to care for themselves. The state has no business telling you how to raise your kid. I’m not arguing against that.

However, practically speaking you are a temporary steward of those kids – the state implicitly claims them as their own the moment they are born. Practically speaking, it can take them from you whenever it pleases and on whatever pretense it desires. If they think you won’t comply with the CPS worker who shows up to collect your kids, they will bring a law enforcement officer along who will have no hesitation (and would likely enjoy) demonstrating his power over you while it happens.

If you send them to state-run schools, any values you hold that don’t correlate with that of the state will be undermined and your authority denigrated in the eyes of your children. If you try to homeschool your kids, you will be watched for any unorthodox behavior or views as pretext to seize them. If you send them to private schools, they are also watched for anything that might be deemed too radical, and they know it.

And don’t think that taking your kids to the middle of nowhere will help, either. Unless you’re in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness or somewhere so remote it would take too many resources to do anything, you will show up on the radar at some point.

The fastest and easier way to attract attention is trying to be left alone, because it sends the message that you’re doing something they don’t want you to do.

You may think all of what I wrote above is unfair. You may deny the state’s claim all you want. But unless you’re capable of exerting superior force and violence to the point where they will cease to bother you, then you have to acknowledge their claim when making life choices, because they are stronger than you and can do what they want if they want.

One of the great tragedies of the modern world is we renounce the notion that “might makes right” by foolishly believing “right makes might.” It doesn’t. You can be in the right as you protest your son being dragged off by the state because taught him some religious viewpoint considered dangerously “extreme.” You can then protest all you want as he gets passed around foster homes and eventually dies from neglect or abuse.

That doesn’t change the fact that it happened and you couldn’t stop it. And if you knew what could happen, you have a responsibility to take the precautions needed to avoid that situation to the best of your ability. 

I’m not arguing that men shouldn’t get married or have kids (the former before the latter, if you will – thank you). I’m saying they if they do, they should do so with full knowledge of what they’re doing and the risks they expose themselves to of state violence – and plan accordingly. 

Don’t have a kid and then do stupid stuff that all but guarantees a confrontation with the state.

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Rules For Immigration

I have more or less stopped writing about the immigration/border issue, because I’ve found people are less concerned about the results than they are about the “spirit” or “principle,” which ignores all relevant information used to determine prudent action. Not only that, but we can only look at what is happening in Europe to see the fruits of that policy.

However, my interest was reignited after I read a list by Jim Cox of negative cultural traits that should be used to bar people from entering the United States, (it could also apply to any country with common sense).

Among them are:

  • cannibalism
  • female circumcision
  • convicted criminals

Mind you, we’re talking about lowest standards possible for a functioning society. However, this is how it would work in a private society. The owners would set rules for who is allowed in, and yes, they would be free to presume the values of those trying to enter based on where they come from.

I’m sure there are some open border advocates who will even protest these standards. After all, what right does the state have to prevent someone from crossing an invisible line?

Cox answers that question in a similar manner as I have repeatedly.

Until we can shift to a Private Property Society we are stuck with a government handling immigration. With all property owned privately the immigration problem would be a thing of the past as the property owners would set the terms for access to every piece of property. Until PPS is achieved shouldn’t we prefer that government policies closely match what would likely be the rules when it is achieved?

Open borders advocates should direct their wrath at government intruding itself into what could otherwise be a private property society rather than at those of us who wish to solve the problem by creating that society.

Why some want to welcome violent (do I need to say, virulently anti-libertarian) people into American society is beyond me.

The problem is that open borders is fundamentally an anti-boundary ideology. It is opposed to all borders, not just ones controlled by the government. Who are you to impose any boundaries on others? Who are you to say this is yours and that is theirs?

Practically speaking, they don’t care if government manages the borders and continues to tax people for continued control. What they care about is that government remain inactive in how that property is managed.

This is why the notion of common property is inherently communist. Once the state has taken money from you to control and manage land, it belongs to everyone, according to this viewpoint.

Mind you, these same people will also point out examples of U.S. imperalism over the years – so does that land occupied by the U.S. military now belong to Americans as much as the people who’ve lived there for centuries? (Rhetorical; it doesn’t).

I could get into the more ulterior motives for much of the open borders stance (like the total lack of interest in the immigration/border policies of non-Western nations).

But this whole issue could be answered by simply entertaining the mindset of a Big Government advocate: If you wanted a larger, bigger state, what policy would you favor?

Better yet, what stance do they take right now?

 

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