Do We Really “own” Anything In A Capitalist Society?


These rights we can observe humans demonstrate:

Constituo (homesteading / creation)
Transitus (crossing)
Observo (observation)
Usus (use of 3d space)
Fructus (consume the fruits of)
Mancipio (sale and transfer)
Abusus (destruction / conversion)

When we say ‘ownership’ we mean some subset of these properties.  The limit on ownership is externalities. In other words, your use of a thing cannot harm another. 

In almost no cases to we grant Abusus to land, water, air, knowledge, art, monument, norm and tradition. Even under slavery you can rarely kill a slave.   Why?  Because these things create externalities that affect others.

So most of the time when people say their ownership is limited, it is not the property that is limited but the consequences of use of that property.

All creatures that can move and remember tend to create and defend property: that which they have expended effort to acquire.

Property rights however are a product of organized cooperation.  The purpose of property RIGHTS is this:
To reduce transaction costs in determining use. (reduce conflict)
To eliminate rent seeking from efforts at creating productivity.
To provide incentives to those who have local knowledge to make use of it in the service of others, through production and trade.
To provide constant punishment to free riders who are ever-present.
In other words, to create cooperation at scale in a division of labor in which none can seek rents and all must earn returns.

In order to accelerate consumption we borrow.  In order to borrow others retain an interest.  You are generally prohibited from Abusus, and your Mancipio is limited.  And if you fail to pay off the lender you will gain back your rights of Mancipio.  But rarely Abusus.

At all times you possess some subset of rights.  in very few cases do you posssess all rights.

The current intellectual debate is whether it makes any sense at all to charge interest on home loans since this seems to be one of the the primary causes of inflation. Worse, it is such an important part of the american economy that most economists feel terror at the thought of interfering with it.

To say that the american economy is a house of cards, for this reason, is not too far off. Our primary source of wealth and our primary industry for two hundred years has been selling off the continent that we conquered to new generations and new immigrants.

This is our dirty little secret of how the american way of life is really funded.

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