Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Control and ownership

Thomas has taken on the thankless task of illustrating the difference between ownership and control and why the latter is better to this poor slow fella.
First case – you have a warranty deed to an acre of law in Pima County Arizona. And to keep it simple you also have the water rights, mineral rights, oil and gas rights and alternative energy rights to it. Now you may own it but do you really control it? If you want to drill a while, build a house or expand it, or run a business you will need to get a permit from Pima County to do so. Pima County also charges you a tax each year for the land and if you don’t pay they will take ownership of it. The State of Arizona and the U.S. government may also take the land if you don’t pay your state and federal taxes. And the County, State and Federal government may ALL use the Constitutional concept of Eminent Domain if they feel the public would be served by putting it to another use then the one you are using it for. Yep, you own that acre of land under Real Property Laws, but those laws don’t give you much control.
You may be surprised to find that I substantially agree. However, this is not because ownership is a bad thing, but because as our founders pointed out: with property taxes you don't really own it. Ownership is by definition control. If you don't control it, you don't own it.
Now let’s look at Rand’s plan in case two. The transportation corporation gets a land grant twice the size of Texas around their spaceport so if you want to locate with a few hundred kilometers of it you will have to buy the land from them. Odds are, being a profit maximizing corporation you will have to pay separately for the mineral, water and energy rights to it as well as for the deed. And again, being a good profit maximizing corporation their lawyers will probably include clauses that allow them to take back the land in a form of corporate Eminent Domain if they feel they have a better use of it or you do something they don’t like on it. And since there is no government sovereignty you will have little recourse but to git when they tell you to get. Sound like a great plan doesn’t it. Again, you have a piece of paper that you paid for giving you title, but your control is limited.
This is a big problem, not just for claims the size of Alaska. The other day I decided to draw a proportional map using my hybrid plan of 1000:1 company to individual claim. The same problem exists for this substantial smaller ratio. Even at 100:1 it's a problem. I'm still thinking this problem through. It has multiple facets. My original settlement plan didn't have this problem.

As for eminent domain (and any tax by any name) this is why I continue to push for 'absolute and total ownership' where we get away from the fiction of 'public rights' to control private property.

Update: I missed Thomas' sleight of hand above, but George caught it. Scroll down to Romper Room.
Now look at the current state of affairs – Case 3. If you build a facility or mine on an acre of the Moon or Mars you don’t have title to the land, but neither does anyone else since land titles are not allowed. But since you were first you something more valuable, control, since any trespassers would be causing inference by definition. And if you want to expand, drill for water, mine resources you just go ahead. Your only limitation with be the laws of the country of record for Registration of your settlement (which would be legally considered a space object). But if you don’t like your current country of Registration you just change it by “selling” your settlement to another corporation you set up in another country with more favorable laws. And if you want to expand to the next acre of land you just have to eyeball it to see if anyone has made use of it. If not, its yours to expand on to. And if some megacorporation or government wants to get your land for a “better” use? Well they are out of luck. Since there is no land title and no sovereignty there is no legal means for them to do so, other then buying your facilities at YOUR price. Of course they could try a hostile take over, but you would have not only the legal right to resist but the ability to sue them in court on Earth under Article IX. In short, although you don’t have title under the current legal system you have something far more valuable – complete control of the land your facility or mine is on.
Control is an illusion here as well. You're just putting your faith in a different set of papers. One's that are mostly outside of your control. With deeds, not only are you more in control, but others share your goal and will assist in your defense. They have a legally binding document and aligned interests that assures this.
So tell me. Which of the three models is more favorable to lunar development? The Arizona one where you have title by very limited control. Rand’s model where again you have title by limited control or the current one, where you have no title but complete control?
I fear your argument might win on the moon. It is too damned close allowing the busybodies more effective involvement. It's not a sure thing but I can't see the world politic not doing what they always do.

This is one of the main reasons I advocate for mars. Being more difficult to initially develop is a feature (not a bug.) This means it will necessarily require more control locally. Unless governments choose to wipe them out completely I don't see how they could win against thousands that claim and defend their right to ownership.
Again, you need to move beyond placing you faith in a piece of paper that says you own a piece of land but doesn’t give you real control over it. I will take the control any day over a piece of paper that the government or a mega corporation may nullify at any time.
Ultimately, no paper of any kind determines ownership. Defense of ownership is always required even to the point of your life. The whole point of any legal argument is to avoid the force argument. Traditionally, this is what deeds (and community... not something to ignore) give you.

Ownership is by definition control. It's not about the papers. It's not me putting faith in those papers.

With no sovereign, for the first time in human history we have a chance to see what real ownership is.

Update: Again, George says it best, "It’s the deed and the car title that make them capital. In the third world the lack of legal deeds and title keeps everyone in poverty." He also adds to that, that public recording of deeds and titles is for the prevention of fraud.

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