Does Private Property Exist in America?

Discussion in 'Too Hot for Swamp Gas' started by gatorplank, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. gatorplank
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    gatorplank Well-Known Member

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    This is a serious question. If I sold you a piece of property and said you had to pay me a certain percentage of the property's overall value every single year, then do you really own the property? Now replace the individual with big brother. If you have to pay big brother a certain amount of money for a piece of property that you supposedly own, then do you really own the property or does big brother really own the property?
  2. ThePlayer
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    ThePlayer VIP Member

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    Not in Richmond, California.
  3. GatorRade
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    GatorRade Well-Known Member

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    What you are asking is somewhat semantic and somewhat philosophical. When you say 'property', you seem to specifically referring to real estate and real estate taxes, yes? We usually pay no recurring taxes for iPods or couches.

    The semantic issue is, as usual, pretty boring. It is "owning", if that is how you define "owning". So let's instead address the philosophical issue that you probably intended: should we define this as ownership? The first thing that pops into my mind here is the role of government. Let's picture a world without this entity, let's say the tribal regions of the Amazon rainforest. What determines my tribe's property limits? Usually, it a combination of getting there first and ability to defend the territory from outsiders. So in this sense, we only "own" the property as long as we can defend it. Once a stronger force comes along, we lose. So did we ever own that property at all?

    This is where government comes in. One of the roles of government is to enforce property rights. Once we sign a contract, no one can take the home from us as long as we don't break the contract. If someone forces their will and kicks us out of our own home without us breaking the contract, we call the police. We then have the force of the government on our side to take back the property. Obviously, someone needs to fund these police/legal forces. Indeed those are our taxes. In fact, we can draw an extension that our taxes also help to pay for fire fighters that help defend our homes against nature as well - something else we don't get in the Amazon.

    So I wonder if we can think of "ownership" in another way: the likelihood that I will still own this property in the future, if I still desire. Paying these requisite taxes likely maximizes our odds of this definition, even if it introduces a new way to lose your property: failure to pay. We are of course, breaking the other implied definition, "Ownership means no longer needing to pay for the property", but we have to pay to keep our property regardless - either in the form of taxes or in the form of investment in defense.

    PS We certainly can imagine a situation with private police and fire departments, but without a legal authority that beholds both parties, I am not sure this doesn't get us back to a tribal type law of the force of the private police determining the result of the ownership dispute. I hope that I made your pretty simple question complicated enough. :)
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  4. channingcrowderhungry
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    channingcrowderhungry Well-Known Member

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    How one can even "own" land is a pretty abstract concept in the first place. I understand the necessity for it, but to try and draw the parameters of that "ownership" is hard
  5. channingcrowderhungry
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    channingcrowderhungry Well-Known Member

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    You basically took the time to write out what I wanted to say. Thanks!
  6. GatorRade
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    GatorRade Well-Known Member

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    Appreciate it. Meanwhile, I was feeling a bit envious of your brevity. :)
  7. wgbgator
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    wgbgator Sub-optimal Poster Premium Member

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    Property rights only exist within the context of a state. The state needs revenue to protect property rights. Revenue comes in the form of involuntary taxes. Taxes are on wealth. A lot of wealth is in the form of physical, tangible property and its utility, especially true with real estate.
  8. MichiGator2002
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    MichiGator2002 VIP Member

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    Private property predates the state, is entirely independent of the state. It is utterly horrifying that this "only exists in the context of the state" bilge has any foothold.
  9. wgbgator
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    wgbgator Sub-optimal Poster Premium Member

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    Well, I said property rights, not private property.
  10. MichiGator2002
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    MichiGator2002 VIP Member

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    My post holds in both cases -- rights, property or otherwise, are metaphysical concepts. You might as well say the soul, or the conscience, or the Cartesian self only exist in the context of the state.
  11. gatorplank
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    gatorplank Well-Known Member

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    I am not going to argue the anarchist position, but government can exist without a property tax. There are many alternative ways to fund a government.

    And then there is the question of what defends people from a government that would tax their property beyond the cost that it would take to defend that property? For example, I doubt that all the property tax in Gainesville is spent exclusively on the defense of "private property."
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  12. wgbgator
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    wgbgator Sub-optimal Poster Premium Member

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    Well, those are all concepts theorized and codified after the existence of the state. So ... other than saying it is so, you don't really have much evidence to support your statement, unless you can find caveman scrawl of a legal title to a cave on a cavewall or something. You just seem to be retroactively applying concepts which postdate the formation of complex societies/city-states, etc. Even the idea of writing and record keeping didnt happen until after the formation of complex societies/states/governments.
  13. mocgator
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    mocgator Well-Known Member

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    Of course not sadly. When you die do you get to give it to your children free and clear? Nope. So I guess you don't own it. The government owns it... as they sadly own you.
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  14. wargunfan
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    wargunfan Well-Known Member

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    The fact that the United States exists is a result of white settlers becoming better organized and militarily stronger than the native inhabitants. The original pilgrims probably had no structure for paying property taxes. But the English brought with them the framework for property "ownership" and property taxes. Every state is a patchwork of counties. within those counties are parcels of land surveyed and mapped out according to the English method of Section, Township and Range platting. We are the heirs of the English monarchical methods of land control and taxation. We are allowed to remain on our land as long as we pay fealty to our lords in the form of property taxes.
  15. orangeblueorangeblue
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    orangeblueorangeblue Well-Known Member

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    True enough. Innate human nature though, I suppose.
  16. wgbgator
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    wgbgator Sub-optimal Poster Premium Member

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    Well, the Pilgrims actually formed a government ("a body politic"), so they did have a structure of sorts.

  17. wargunfan
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    wargunfan Well-Known Member

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    I don't see any specific reference to property taxes there. But you can be sure that the collection of property taxes eventuated.
  18. tegator80
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    tegator80 Well-Known Member

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    This makes sense. My take is that, absolutely no, we can't "own" land. What we do is attempt to build a society through "ownership." We as "owners" are, at least in theory, pledging to do good with our land. And the state gets the value of taxing. But if we are not good stewards then it is in the purview of the state to take it away from us. So in reality all land is owned by the state and we are the stewards, but with economic benefits over the renters.

    If Egypt is a prime example, laws and political structure is all well and good but those who own the guns get the ultimate say so in what happens in their area of influence. Of course you could say that about the Americas and the American Aboriginals.
  19. LittleBlueLW
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    LittleBlueLW Premium Member

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    Well, law enforcement seems to agree that I can shoot someone dead in defense of my property so I guess there is a least a few things deemed private property by the powers that be.
  20. wgbgator
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    wgbgator Sub-optimal Poster Premium Member

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    I have no idea if they taxed anything, but they did have civil framework/structure to enact laws, ordinances, etc.

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