Reply To: Property Rights


Hello Patricia,

From your first post, If I understand your statement correctly: A landlord can dictate that a renter not have sex on on the landlords property. This would seem to be reasonable to me but not because he simply owns the land, rather, because it was stipulated in the rental contract. I wouldn’t assume this would be a favorable business practice in the first place but under such a contract, the terms of redress should be stipulated before entering such an agreement.

In the case of a person (probably at least two) engaging in sex on a private property owner’s front lawn without permission. The case should be considered as a matter of trespass, unless damages to said property are brought about in the course of trespass i.e. they broke the swing or kicked up the lawn driving their heels into it.

In the case of a business opened to the public I am a bit unsure if a prohibition of sex must be first stipulated (like the no shirt no shoes signs) or be assumed by the nature of the business. I mean, If you go into a movie theater where would you infer that you are allowed to have sex there. Now if it was Joe’s Movie Theater and Swingers Club the nature of the business is implied if not otherwise noted. I wouldn’t walk into Joe’s and begin lighting fireworks. I am not certain but I think this would also fall under trespass if some sort of redress would be sought.

When we talk about property rights I believe it to mean that an individual has sole ownership of a land, object and them self. It seems to me that universal land ownership is unlikely, for at least economic reasons, but even a situation of homesteading is unclear to me. We are not starting from some zero point. So, even if government disappeared what would be the limitations, in regards to amount, when it comes to homesteading? Someone somewhere will be left out.

A person owning land and person living on that land is a situation experienced by nearly everyone for, say, their first 18 years. In the world of property rights the parent would not own the child’s property(if they have any) but when the parent decides to expel the child from their home so to go the child’s belongings, the parent has no further right or obligation to them. The same now in a landlord tenant arrangement. I have contracted to live in your dwelling and may do as I wish, provided, I don’t violate the terms of our contract, whatever they should be I have agreed to them of my own accord.

In terms of what a person can and can not do. If a land owner provides a public space, a sidewalk, a park, whatever then he may stipulate that behaviors beyond property damage are forbidden but he may also expressly allow undesirable behavior i.e. Junky Park, Crack Alley or Murder Lane( only meaning he allows murder, individuals would still have to agree to be murdered).

All of this might seem difficult or at least cumbersome but the charm of this system is that anything can be done. A large land owner might open a park where everybody agrees to the rules of the park, gives up their life savings and lives in a communist utopia. They could call it Hell On Earth. Sadists and masochists can do as they please without fear of reprisal from ambiguous laws that don’t represent their choices.

People tend to quietly move along in their day going places to do certain things. what property rights gives us is the opportunity to go where we want and act how we want, if the cost of that freedom is not being allowed to act like an asshole on the way there, well, that doesn’t seem so bad to me.

I believe the important things to remember are that basing rights on property rights gives us a consistent grounding for making law. In my opinion one of the most harmful phrases I know is “there should be a law against that” OK why? Another important point; while it is true that people can act a certain way it is not obvious that they would. If I caught you smoking pot in my park when I stipulated that no drug use was allowed does not mean I have to take action against you merely that I can if I choose.

Problems. The issue for me, is punishments or redress. How are these formed outside of specific contract? When one rapes, murders or hurts another how or why is that person agreeing to a particular punishment? What do we deem appropriate as punishment and on what logical grounds? If we create a legal system that requires a specialist to make judgements then have we introduced an arbitrary component to law, how is this helpful? In matters of children and abortion I think Rothbard laid out a perfectly reasonable, yet, somehow unsatisfactory application of rights.

I still feel like there is some issue you raised that I am glossing over but I’m not sure what it is. Sorry for the lateness of my reply, this is an important topic and one I’m still learning about so forgive me if I missed the boat completely.