ijuin wrote:The assumption here appears to be that "property rights" are a unified, indivisible set. In other words, it is assumed impossible to sell only some of the rights to a piece of property.
I wouldn't call that an assumption, but a direct implication, yes.
For example, an arrangement whereby I sell you the rights to build on a plot of land that I own, yet retain the mineral rights (i.e. any inorganic materials or fossil fuels extracted from the land or beneath it belong to me) would be impermissible under such a principle.
On the other hand, why should I not grant permission for specific, limited uses upon the mutual consent of myself and other contracting parties? If somebody wants to pay me for the right to put up advertising signs on my land and I accept the offer, why should I not do so, barring objection from the neighbors?
The assumption at work here, or premise if you like (which itself is the conclusion of another argument if we want to go even deeper here), is that it is only necessarily wrong (impermissible) to do something to things that belong to others, including themselves (their bodies), against their consent; (or equivalently, since obligation is the de Morgan dual of permission, that it is obligatory for you to refrain from doing so); and that consequently there is nothing necessarily wrong with doing (it is permissible to do) anything to things which are exclusively your own. Since rights are made up of your permissions (for liberty rights) and others' obligations (for claim rights), that means everyone has the liberty right to do anything they want with themselves or their things, and claim rights against anyone else doing anything else to themselves or their things. That is tantamount to a classical liberal view of property rights, so we can say for short that the only rights are property rights.
(When there are multiple owners of the same property, this implies that each has rights to it only to the extent that they do not infringe on others' equal rights to it).
But starting from that premise that those are the only rights, and that that is the case not because we agreed that it would be so, but just because that's what's actually right or wrong (however we are to construe "actually right or wrong", which is a complex metaethical question I can also delve into if we really want), we cannot then just agree that certain other things are necessarily wrong and therefore impermissible and therefore that that we have obligations to refrain from them and that others therefore have claim rights to such against us. I know J Thomas will agree with this part vehemently so I'm trying to phrase it as nonconfrontationally as possible, but it's basically taking the classical liberal / libertarian premise of natural rights and moral universalism (of some variety) and running with it, and saying that whatever is right or wrong (even if that turns out to be nothing) is so for reasons other than we believe it to be so, because belief does not make fact. As a consequence, we cannot give people new rights; people have whatever rights they have. Those rights may be conditional, "do not X if/unless Y", and we can maybe change the factuality of Y, but not the normativity of "do not X if/unless Y". So if we say "do not act upon anything if someone else owns it and that someone else objects to you taking that action upon it", then that someone else is capable of changing whether or not they own the thing, and whether or not they object to your action, but that can't change whether or not you ought to obey that imperative.
But what you ask for in your first sentence above is perfectly possible under that imperative. You may withhold objection from specific, limited uses of your property if you like, and that will make it permissible for others to use it like that. However, that does not give them a claim right to that usage -- they can't tell you to fuck off if you decide to object again. It's still yours, and their use of it is not secured in any way; you're just being nice to them for the moment. For a nice volatile image: it's like if a girl implies that if you buy her dinner she will sleep with you; then come time for the sex she's decided you're an asshole and isn't up for that anymore; it's still her body and you have no claim to it, and she is free to tell you to go fuck yourself instead. This is just extending that principle to not only everyone's body in every way, but their property as well. Like I said earlier, I can let you punch me in the face, and you giving me money may convince me to let you punch me in the face, but I cannot sell you a right
to punch me in the face; if I object, you still have to stop.
(If there was an interaction someone thought was a sale, but it turns out that someone thought they were buying something that wasn't able to be sold or didn't exist at all, then the seller just stole from the buyer and owes him his money back. This same principle applies to these sorts of situations, and the other kinds of transactions that are happening now under the guise of rent and interest etc; the buyer deserves his money back).
I think that the real philosophical stumbling-block here is the idea that, under a temporary "rental" arrangement, the permission to use the property can be suspended or rescinded without a "resale" back to the original owner--the tenant has no "in perpetuo" claim to the property, unlike a "proper" owner.
But under present systems, the renter does supposedly acquire some claim to it; their right to make use of it is secured for some specified time. Under my system, you cannot sell such a right by itself, because you cannot by agreement just create the obligations which constitute that right; the only obligation is to refrain from acting on someone else's property. So in order to give yourself that obligation and therefore give them any claim rights to the property, you have to relinquish ownership of it to them. At which point it's theirs and you can't take it back unless they sell it back to you.
You could permit them to use it (by not objecting to their use), and they might give you money to convince you to give that permission, but that permission is not a claim right, and that would be a really risky arrangement between strangers on something so important as housing, and so couldn't reliably serve as a widespread economic instrument.
However, the logistics of transferring ownership for very short term use (a few days and less) are generally too cumbersome to be practical as compared to a fee-for-use structure. Would you "buy" a hotel room for one night and "sell" it back, and would doing so require you to put down a large "down payment" or collateral that is much larger than the one-day usage fee?
I admit that hotels are one of the difficulties I'm struggling with on this idea (or rather, how to implement hotels under such a system). I have some ideas but none of them are clearly correct so I'll spare them for now.
J Thomas wrote:
Some things are easily translated: you trade someone wood and money in exchange for an assembled chair, for example, and that amounts to paying him to assemble the wood into a chair.
Sure. Or just pay him for the chair, and he can buy the wood himself.
Well, the point of that example was how to implement an arrangement which under the current system would be an employee laboring on materials owned by his employer, and being paid for that labor. A possible reinterpretation of that (which may not be necessary depending on the solution to implementing sale of services in general) is that the employer is both a supplier to and a customer of the laborer, who buys those materials from him and then sells a finished product back to him. (Of course they wouldn't waste time swapping cash around all day, they'd just keep a ledger of materials bought and products sold and who owes who what, and settle out every few weeks, like a regular payroll cycle).
You can't buy things on time, because a promise to pay at some future time is a new imaginary thing we put a name on.
I don't see it as buying a promise. You are buying/selling a thing, and just accepting delivery/payment on different terms. If delivery/payment is not made, the transaction is void and if you retain possession of the thing/money (depending on which end of the transaction you're on), you have just stolen it.
Because you did in fact promise to deliver when they did their part, and they accepted the promise in lieu of the actual property that you promised to give them.
How is that any different to the much shorter-term "promise" I make to hand over cash before walking out of a store with my chips, or the similar "promise" the clerk makes to hand me a product from behind the counter immediately after I hand him my cash. Only the time scale differs as far as I can see, one person is still holding up their end and then standing there waiting for the other person to hold up their end. Under your interpretation, it would be impossible for anyone to ever buy or sell anything, because there is always some delay in delivery; what does it matter, in principle, if it's 30 seconds or 30 days?
So, how about if you want to rent out a house month-to-month. They pay you a month's rent and deposit in advance, and you sell them the house. They promise they will sell it back to you and to no one else, in the same condition you sold it to them. They also promise to pay you the whole value of the house, but you will accept payment next month. Every month you agree to delay the payment for the whole house until the next month, and they promise to sell it back to you for what they paid you. When they move out, they pay you the whole price and you pay them the whole price and you're even.
Unless I'm misreading this scenario, it sounds like in the end I get my house back in the same condition and they get all of their money back, which would be fine under my system, but I'm not sure why we would want to come to that arrangement. Unless I was one of those companies in the business of adding liquidity to the housing market, in which case I sell it to them expecting to buy it back later and then sell it to someone else, but I don't know why all that complicated month-to-month arrangement is necessary for that (though they would probably be paying me off in monthly installments, and upon sale of the house back to me would pay off the remaining installments with the proceeds and keep the equivalent of what they had already paid in -- minus the difference in my selling price and my buying price, of course, which if they don't like they're free to shop for another buyer instead, but I'm really convenient, so that might not be worth it).
Police and courts are just services (and we do need some way to sell services) -- namely enforcement of your rights and mediation of disputes.
Worse and worse! We started out, you just buy and sell real physical things and you don't sell abstract rights. But now we have courts that sell abstract mediation of disputes
The very first hurdle we hit was "how do you sell services", and my response was that I'm not 100% certain of the mechanics of it but I do intend for it to be possible to sell services somehow. I'm just not sure how to integrate that into the rest of the system. (Think of this like trying to implement a columns layout in CSS; it was obvious how with HTML tables, but we want to get rid of tables for principled reasons, but columns are useful, so we want to figure out how to make them with CSS too). However we get over that hurdle, it handles this case too.
they are in fact directly selling you rights, which is about as abstract as it gets. And police are selling enforcement, which can help you or hurt you depending on what the courts do.
They are not selling rights, they are selling mediation of a dispute over whose rights have been violated. This is an ordinary service that people actually sell in real life today. "I will listen fairly and impartially to both of your cases, weigh them according to this process, tell you who is right according to these standards, and have these nice men with guns enforce my decision. Would you like to buy that service, knowing that I might find you wrong? Or would you rather just fight about it yourselves?" Although today the "I will have these nice men with guns enforce my decision" part is carried out by proxy of contracts and government; you agree to be bound to the decision in a contact, and the government just enforces that contract. And the "just fight about it yourselves" part is "just sue each other in a regular court instead", because that's the fallback under today's system. I'm suggesting implementing regular courts like this too, and relying on the fact that few people will want to fight all their own battles all by themselves to get most people into buying some kind of "justice insurance" like this to look after their interests -- just like people set up governments to protect themselves, since this is a form of government, merely a stateless one. And the few people (mostly wackos) who think they are hot shit and can fight all their own fights, and don't want to be beholden to any
kind of fair process (since they can shop around until they find one they think is fair), will have to get through everybody else's justice systems first, just like the police ostensibly protect people from vigilante justice today.
Or you can just jointly own the common areas. Sell them a room and one share of the commons.
So now we have "commons" for which you can sell partial abstract rights. It keeps getting murkier.
"Commons" in this context means a specific part of an ordinary house layout -- the areas used by all the residents, like the kitchen and bathroom and living room, as opposed to the private bedrooms used only by one resident each -- not any special kind of property or abstract right. Likewise, a share of something is not some abstract right you're selling; you are just sharing ownership. Joint ownership was a possibility of this from the beginning. Most of the universe is jointly owned on this account of things, as by default everything starts off publicly (all-inclusively jointly) owned, by everyone. Completely exclusive ownership by exactly one party is the minority case. I don't know how you missed this as I've talked about it in two or three other posts already.
.... And paying someone to deliver information is no different than paying them to deliver letters or packages, which brings us back to the first paragraph of this reply.
No. There's got to be a difference between paying somebody to give you a physical package, versus pay them to deliver you abstract information. One of them is a physical thing, and the other is some kind of abstract right.
You seem to have just ignored the argument I made toward why they are not so dissimilar, and decided to declare that they must be dissimilar.
Lets try this one instead. If we have some way of paying people to delivery physical things to specific other places at specific times, I could pay someone to make a whole bunch of deliveries of little black and white balls in a specific order, couldn't I? Each ball would be one delivery, and I can specify when and where it is to be delivered, and I can buy as many such deliveries as I want, can't I? Well if I can do that, I can transmit binary information, just in a really inefficient way. Any other kind of transmission of information is fundamentally the same, just delivering different tokens of ones and zeroes in a different medium.