>(REPOST FROM Friday, May 05, 2006)
There is a very important distinction.
State Property is indeed PRIVATE Property: the private property of the state. But is not the state the representative of the public in a democracy? No, not at all. First of all, assuming even a majority of the populace votes, the remaining members of the population who either a.) declined to vote or b.) voted for someone or something else, have had their desired outcome rejected by the majority, yet remain members of “the public”. (And no, the refusal to vote is not consent to the outcome, anymore than a refusal to vote on what kidnappers do to your body is a consent to their acts; the state is not a voluntary organization after all.)
Second, the very term “public property” by definition means property open to the public. Completely non-exclusionary. I can think of no example of state property – from a downtown park to (most definitely) secret military installations in Nevada – that fits this criteria. The only form of exclusion that could still exist in the case of truly public property would be the exclusion of the phenomenon of two, or more, people occupying the same physical space at the same time. (A law of nature that it is not worth revolting against.) Even Cesar Chavez park, in my city of Sacramento, regulates against “indecent exposure”, something within the realm of non-rivalrous consumption of the park’s amenities, but revolting to the aesthetics and morality of the majority.
State property is the private property of, at most, those that have explicitly stated their support for the state’s agents; and at the very least, the state agents themselves. But it is most certainly not PUBLIC. Ownership is control. The next time you try and take a boat out on a river that has been declared off limits due to dangerously high water levels, or decide to play a game of b-ball in the local high school gym at 2am, remember that it is you, a member of the public, who is being denied ownership.
“Well, it would just be better if nothing were owned.” Ok, but the first intervention on behalf of any person to prevent others from acting all uppity – as if, like, they deserve to own something – is a defacto assertion of ownership itself. Good luck with that.
Currently reading : Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market (Scholars Edition) By Murray N. Rothbard Release date: By February, 2004