Property Rights and Pollution with Walter Block With Walter Block

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  • Lincoln Gardner

    Ocean Pollution

    Ok, we understand the tragedy of the commons. And we accept that private property ownership can reduce pollution. But how does that play out for the world’s oceans? Even if the oceans were privatized and you could buy, say an acre of ocean off the coast of California, you only own the water and fish while it and they are within your boundaries. You can choose not to pollute  and not to fish, but what if your neighbors decide to kill every fish that enters their boundaries, or decide to grow some oxygen sucking algae for energy use, that kills fish? Given that there are ocean currents and fish that travel long distances, how does anarchical environmentalism work in the oceans? Is this a different problem than the issue presents for landowners? Does anyone have a hypothetical scenario in which private property rights in the ocean reduces pollution or improves fisheries?

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  • Ethan Shukis

    Origin of property rights

    What is the origination of property rights? Where do they come from that you can reason their existence as natural? We usually argue for property rights at some point in our discussions as libertarians, but I’m curious as to where we can claim they’re from. Personally, I derive mine from God and my religious beliefs, similar to what Jefferson stated about God given rights. But what about someone who doesn’t believe in a deity? How can they derive property rights in a way that can’t be dismissed as ideals, but derived in nature? This is also (and arguably more so) important for arguing these natural rights to people who won’t accept a divine aspect. It’s important to have property rights, and they’re evidently beneficial, but the argument remains for declaring these as rights, otherwise the NAP is in jeopardy. How do we have a right to property?

    Jump to Discussion Post 11 replies
  • troi+

    iNation is raising seed capital. What do you guys think about replacing the state’s function of storing legal documents? I assume they mean property registration. Unlike some prominent anarchists, I am in favor of this. Real property such as land titles should be on a blockchain. Thoughts? “Founded in February 2015 by David Mondrus (CEO) and Nathan Wosnack (CCO), iNation is one of the world’s first secure, distributed, and cryptographically verifiable store of legal documents. iNation is one of the first companies to address the coming unbundling of the government services market. More information about the platform, its products/services will be available soon.”

    Jump to Discussion Post 0 replies
  • Brian ‘Maverick’ Blum

    Source of Right of Ownership

    I own my house and several investment properties.  I purchased them from people who purchased them from people who purchased them from people.  Earlier on, ownership of them was granted to people after the American revolution took possession by military might.  Prior to that, it was granted by the King of England.  Prior to that, people came into “ownership” by conquest (i.e., militarily taking them by force from prior inhabitants), and prior to that, by exploration (i.e., taking them by force from nature).  Is this “might makes right” the original source of property ownership, or are there some brilliant Libertarian minds, wiser than I, who have postulated grander justification for the original source of the right of ownership of property?

    Jump to Discussion Post 32 replies
  • Yilmaz Rona

    Why I Don't Make My Son Share

    Image credit A cheering essay by one Beth W: Why I Don’t Make My Son Share I don’t agree with the approach of the mothers in either of these situations. I think it does a child a great disservice to teach him that he can have something that someone else has, simply because he wants it. And I can understand the desire to give your children everything they want; we all have it. But it’s a good lesson for you both to learn that this isn’t always possible, and you shouldn’t step all over other people to get these things. Furthermore, this is not how things work in the real world. In your child’s adult life, he’s going to think he’s owed everything he sees. This is already happening in the next generation. I read a fascinating article about how today’s teens and 20-somethings are expecting raises and promotions at their jobs for reasons like, “I show up every day.” I suggest everyone give it a read.

    Jump to Discussion Post 5 replies


Liberty-lovers are often told by their detractors that the market cannot handle the externalities of pollution without governmental “assistance.” Are these assertions correct? Even if one accepts that the market can handle air pollution, what about smell pollution? Noise pollution? What if Mr. Burns builds a giant umbrella that blocks out the sun? Join Walter Block June 21st at 4pm EDT to find out the answers to these questions, as well as your own!

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