Monday, January 3, 2022

On Property

Subtitle: sovereignty is not conserved. I have said much of this before and I'm likely to say it again. 

All things either have one owner or zero owners. If that venison steak is in your stomach, it's not in my stomach. However, maybe the deer gets away instead. 

As long as the deer is already bagged and butchered, if we fight over who gets to eat the steak, someone is going to win. This is why all things have at most one owner. Maybe you win but you let me eat it anyway; nevertheless, you control it, so you own it. 

To own thing means securing it. You can change things from unowned to owned; from natural to wealth; in this case, sovereignty has increased. E.g. you hunt down the deer and drag it back home; it is now secured. 

Ownership can also be lost. If a typhoon blows up while you're trying to drag back the buck, you can lose the meat. 

The net wealth of the world is all secured assets less the cost of keeping them secured. 


Cooperators help each other's security, rather than trying to breach it. "Hey, uh, you have a hole in your fence over there." The more stuff they have secured, the more they can trade with, which means the more stuff you can have secured. The wealthier your friends are, the wealthier you are. 

Ideally, you form a low-security group. If you agree to not take anything that has a "dn't tk plz" sign on it, then your friends can afford less security, which makes them wealthier, which makes you wealthier. Contracts are made of paper, which is much cheaper than physical interdiction. The closer you are to being able to leave a pile of gold bars unattended on a park bench and find them still there when you return, the richer you are. Naturally, to form such a group means keeping a big, high gate. Not everyone can cooperate with everyone else. To form a low-security group means extra security against anyone who would trespass against the social rules. Anyone who wants in needs to be thoroughly, expensively vetted. Anyone born inside has to be punished extremely for breaking the rules. 

Good fences etc. The stronger the borders, the wealthier the territory. 


Collective ownership is merely an insult against ownership. Irresponsible ownership. E.g. maybe the rules say you can't assign the steak to yourself. That doesn't mean you don't own it, it means you own it less than you ought to. No matter how many "collective" owners there are, if you fight about who gets to eat the steak, someone is going to win and make the final decision. You can do pairwise duels until you find the one who never loses. That person is the owner.

"Collective" ownership merely reduces the options the owner has, and sometimes makes ownership unclear and thus expensive. Having to fight to work out who the owner is a large and unnecessary drain.  

"Collective" ownership, absent extraordinary (and thus expensive) measures, means the person making the decision isn't held responsible for the decision. If you can't eat the steak yourself, how upset are you going to be if someone steals the steak? "Oh yeah, [supporter I was going to pay off with the steak], it was stolen, nothing I can do, go after them yourself." You're not going to be that upset. The extra costs of maintaining the "collective" are going to come out of the security budget. Less security => less wealth. 

A just society is one which makes ownership as clear as possible, makes effective security as cheap as possible, and allows you to secure as many objects and affordances as possible. It is not clear how, exactly, to accomplish these things, which is why a just society allows as much Exit as possible. Many solutions are plausible, and a just society allows you to try any of them. In particular, I believe tax = 0 is a workable solution.

Making ownership as clear as possible means being as responsible as possible. This implies that one can mind one's own business and doesn't need to bother with anyone else's, because they can't (legally) bother with yours. Taxation is inherently irresponsible, and as long as taxation can be zeroed out, it ought to be. As long as things are as responsible as reasonably possible, you can try a tax > 0 solution without having to demand I stop my tax = 0 solution. If this is a bad idea, Gnon will punish me; you don't need to. In a responsible, just society, you cannot usurp Gnon's prerogative. It is not merely illegal, it is impractical. 

In general, if security is breached, it was insufficiently secure, and the fault of the (former) wealth owner.
When security is breached, wealth is always destroyed, and sovereignty decreases. If someone cuts your fence, then the fence is destroyed. If a typhoon breaks your fence and all your sheep escape, then your fence and the herd are destroyed, as far as you are concerned. Further, when a person destroys the fence, it discourages you from using fences in the future, and thus using anything which needs to be secured with a fence. Wealth is flagrantly destroyed.

In an unjust society, ownership is unstable. Security is lost unpredictably, rewarding opportunistic thieves and punishing investors. Ownership is "collective" instead of total; you can't exploit all the affordances of your artifacts. The State will actively attack your ability to secure yourself, e.g. Prussian school anti-bullying campaigns reliably punish those who defend themselves against bullying. Unjust societies continually leak wealth and thus leak sovereignty into entropy. 

It is always necessary to ban certain affordances, specifically the affordances used to breach security. However, these bans are perverted by the State. They defect on you, then ban you defending yourself against their breaches, saying they're "securing" the State. In the end they end up asserting that cooperation is bad and deviance is good. All Europeans have been living under cooperation-negative eugenic pressure for at least 900 years. In the past this tyranny was leavened by technological incompetence. Gnon could not be put entirely in abeyance. By granting the State higher technology, it has transitioned fully into a kick-the-can regime. Devoted entirely to eating the seed corn.

P.S. I call the whole security => ownership thing meta-Rothbardianism. Lunar path: maybe you liked the whole "mixing your labour" libertarian stuff, but realized it's actually intended as a joke and isn't even slightly logical. If so, then the correct formulation is [secure your shit]. 

P.P.S. No really, envy is a sin. It's a big deal. 

P.P.P.S. Exile is fine if you exile them to a country where they wouldn't have broken the law. Otherwise the place you exile them to should sue you for vandalism. In other words, I suggest you form a strict commune and exile anyone who can't follow the rules to a more lax commune. No need to execute someone who wishes to cooperate but can't quite manage it. However, there is a need to remove them from the high-privilege gate. 

P.P.P.P.S. Narcissism inherently involves having shitty borders.

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