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Thread: Private property vs Public property

  1. #1

    Private property vs Public property

    I was arguing with my sister over Christmas dinner. She was saying government intervention is absolutely necessary for environmental protection. I told her about the idea of private property rights. If individuals had a vested interest in resources (because of ownership), then there would be an incentive to defend those resources (through the judicial system). Not sure if I explained it to her in the most articulate manner, but I could tell it was an idea she never considered.

    Anyway, she stated that private property ownership would be disastrous. She cited the example of public parks, saying that under private ownership, the owner of this park would charge people money just to access these facilities, as opposed to walking into a park for free. I wasn't too sure how to rebuttal this.

    Also, she asked me how private property would protect the air, since nobody can own air. This I also was not able to answer directly.

    So, anybody care to help me sharpen my blade of debate? How can I respond to these claims?



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  3. #2
    "government" is the worst polluter out there examples-- the military, nuclear testing, nasa, air/land/sea convoys to protect diplomats etc.

    government leases out lands supposedly in the public trust to corporations who log it, mine it, drill it-- without concern for the longterm management since their leases are short term.

    since government owns ENORMOUS swaths of land it has an impossible time monitoring and controlling its usage--this of course leads to abuse.

    your argument to privatize property is of course a better solution. your sister's fear about parks is silly-- movie theaters are private, people have to pay to get into them too. so what? they are usually clean, and of high quality, and if not, you bring your money elsewhere.

    the exact same principle applies to parks.

    as far as air pollution, if anybody can actually prove in court damages caused by a specific entity's pollution of the air then they should be compensated.

    this can be done through the courts more effectively than through government regs which are ALWAYS influenced by if not completely written by the business interests involved--government always becomes more corrupt the more it attempts to intervene.
    Those Who Do Not Move, Do Not Notice Their Chains.

  4. #3
    Well, you already pay for public parks in taxes. So it's not "free". The park would be funded by a small entrance fee, or if you use the park often, you could probably buy a relatively cheap yearly membership. There's also companies who would pay to advertise in the park, in addition to concession stands, drink machines, etc.

    You're right that you probably can't really own the air, but if an air pollutant ends up on your property, you have every right to sue.
    Paul Goldwater '08

  5. #4
    For the public/private parks debate, I suggest both of you watch the segment on NY's Central Park in the 8/25 episode of Stossel:
    http://www.hulu.com/stossel
    and see what a huge difference privatization made. The episode is mostly about transportation so watch the whole thing if you're interested in that topic

    Here's another story from Mary Ruwart's "Healing Our World", chapter 8, which is available as a free audiobook and pdf file here:
    http://freekeene.com/2010/10/06/worl...rld-audiobook/

  6. #5
    I don't agree that private parks would require an admission fee. some might, but some probably wouldn't. Think of it like a bookstore. Is there any bookstore that says you CAN'T go in and browse for free? Of course not. As long as enough people in total buy books (and coffee, muffins, etc.), then the bookstore "free riders" can and will exist, and this is apparently okay for the store owners since they have not prohibited the practice.

    I expect that clever entrepreneurs can figure out how to make money in a private park without charging admission. Having a snack bar, or paddle boats, or even outdoor seminars on the native plant/animal species are just random ideas off the top of my head.

    Using Google, I found another rather clever idea: http://www.likecool.com/PAY_SIT_Priv...ing--Home.html

    That said, I'm sure some private parks would charge admission, but so what? Have you or your sister ever been to Disney World? Acres and acres of privately owned land, all cared for and cultivated in ways that very few (if any) public lands are. But you gotta pony up to get in there. (Actually, you have to pay to get into the amusement parks, but you can access Downtown Disney for free.)

    Think of the simplest form of pollution -- litter. Where are litter problems the worst? On public lands. Public parks, city streets (publicly owned), highways (publicly owned), waterways (publicly owned). Now go back to Disney World. See any litter? Ha! The area there is clean that I guarantee you would feel GUILTY for littering (something most of us don't feel in the above areas because there is usually plenty of litter there already). Any litter that does manage to fall on the ground is typically there for just a couple of minutes before someone comes along and picks it up (ok, a little longer cleaning up after the Main Street parade and other "extravaganzas").

    so to see why this pollution occurs on public lands and not on private (usually), we just have to consider incentives. Who has an incentive to increase the number of people on public property? No one! They don't make more money, it's "free" for everyone! So why bother cleaning it up? Disney has no such luck. If they want people to come, they had better make the place look nice. Think of the last privately-owned place that you went to that had trash all over the place. Yes, those places exist, and they get punished for it. If you go to an unsanitary restaurant/hotel/theater/etc., what are the odds you'll go back? See, private property puts incentives in their proper place.

    Z

  7. #6
    WOW! I bookmark every thread I make because the answers I receive are so valuable. Thanks for the replies and the links. Seriously, you guys are the best!!

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by nodeal View Post
    I was arguing with my sister over Christmas dinner. She was saying government intervention is absolutely necessary for environmental protection. I told her about the idea of private property rights. If individuals had a vested interest in resources (because of ownership), then there would be an incentive to defend those resources (through the judicial system). Not sure if I explained it to her in the most articulate manner, but I could tell it was an idea she never considered.

    Anyway, she stated that private property ownership would be disastrous. She cited the example of public parks, saying that under private ownership, the owner of this park would charge people money just to access these facilities, as opposed to walking into a park for free. I wasn't too sure how to rebuttal this.

    Also, she asked me how private property would protect the air, since nobody can own air. This I also was not able to answer directly.

    So, anybody care to help me sharpen my blade of debate? How can I respond to these claims?
    Public parks are not free. You pay for them with your tax dollars. Even in a libertarian society, air pollution could pose a problem. If one has a factory on their own land that pollutes the air, and air is freely moving, then I would have to say that such an incident could require intervention from the government. If a person owns miles upon miles of land, and they regularly burn stuff, then air pollution from it would probably not be able to travel off the land and be proven as detrimental or bothersome to anyone, let alone be proven to be either of those things. A factory with a huge, profusely fuming smokestack on top of it, however, could easily be prosecuted, especially if it's on a small piece of land, crowded by other private property owners.

    As for the incentive to keep a private park vs. a public park clean, the public park has no incentive be kept clean because the money that funds it comes regardless because it's taxed from the people. A private park has incentive to be kept clean because a) it's one's own property, and b) if one is charging money, it should be kept clean in order to maximize profit.

    But, in the end, the only thing that matters is the upholding of everyone's rights when it comes to property. Nothing else.
    "Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon." - Rorschach

  9. #8
    The current environmentalist movement is anti-private property. They're kinda of like that nosy neighbor that always bothers you and asks you what you are doing.
    They use force, to make you do, what the deciders have decided you must do. -- Eldridge Cleaver



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  11. #9
    A good example of private land open for public use is Ducks Unlimited land. From my understanding DU is the oldest conservation organization out there, I have been a member for years. There are DU lands in the Dakotas and Canada that are open to public hunting. The land is purchased through donations from DU members like myself who gladly contribute to protect wetlands used by waterfowl for nesting and reproduction. I have hunted these lands, but they are totally open to the public.

    DU has conserved more than 12,000,000 acres since 1937.

  12. #10
    A good rule of thumb is to immediately stop someone when they make the claim that something is "free". NOTHING is free. Everything that is an economic good is by definition scarce and must therefore have a cost. Air, under normal circumstances, is free. When someone makes an economic decision, such as selecting a production method, air does not factor in because it is free. In this case, air is not an economic good and instead a general condition of the environment.

  13. #11



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