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Monday, April 4, 2011

Allodialism cannot create space; Geoism puts space to best use

Pam Brown wrote:

PB) People discover new things all the time. 
[...5 examples of non-spatial property, and ...]
an island that no one knew about (PB

I bet it's been decades since anybody discovered an economically useful island that nobody else knew about. And of course, such a discovery doesn't add so much as a single square inch to the surface area of the Earth. Even if you created an island by building on a shallow part of the seabed, that area of the sea floor was already there. You should certainly own your improvement to that area, but excluding people from that area is Locke-compliant only while "as much and as good" seabed is available to others.

PB) Where to you think incentives to create, find, invent come from? PROPERTY RIGHTS. (PB

You can't "create" or "invent" new locations in spatial resources: the Earth's surface, EM spectrum, orbits, sea lanes, air routes, etc. All you can do to a location is reach/claim/occupy it.  I don't see a whole lot of "finding" of new locations happening -- new islands, new air routes, new parts of the EM spectrum, new orbits. Even when you say you "found" a location -- like an island, or the radio "waterhole" between 1420 and 1666 MHz -- all you really did was find out that a pre-existing location was more useful than had been previously known.

There should indeed be incentives to put each location to its best use -- and that's exactly what geolibertarianism does.  It says that you can't idly appropriate community-created ground rent while withholding a location from the use to which the highest bidder would put it.  If you really value your use of the location more than the highest bidder does, then you have to put your money where your mouth is, and show that you value the location even without appropriating its community-created ground rent.

The whole point of geolibertarianism is to create incentives to put each location to its best use.  Allodial propertarianism fails miserably at that task, because it lets kings and conquistadors hand down to future generations the royal authority to violate Lockean PROPERTY RIGHTS.

Example: In the Silicon Valley suburb where I live, land is worth about $2M per acre. (One mile south of me, a 15-acre estate was just purchased for a U.S. record $100M.) There is a 20-acre monastery a mile west of me (adjacent to the mansion recently sold by Barry Bonds, and down the street from Cisco's CEO) where 16 cloistered elderly nuns sleep on straw mattresses, have no TV, and wake up in the middle of the night to pray.  Their only "work" is "prayer", and they live only on "alms".

Example: About a mile north of me are hundreds of acres of land owned by Stanford University in the hills above campus, with sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay.  Nearly all of the land is off-limits to everyone but -- wait for it -- cows.  The university grazes a handful of cows there, in order to comply with Leland Stanford's posthumous requirement that a demonstration farm be maintained on a portion of the vast amount of land he used to create the university.

So we have nuns and cows, both sleeping on straw, keeping hundreds of acres of prime Silicon Valley land off the market. This props up real estate values for me and my billionaire neighbors (Andy Grove lives two driveways down), and makes sure that their gardeners and maids can't afford to live anywhere near them.

For the market to guide all land to its best use, all land has to be treated equally -- whether it's owned by nuns or billionaires.