I can see that if all land in the world was privately owned that you may not need any regulatory agencies since any act of pollution etc. would a priori be a crime against the person whose property you're despoiling. But we don't live in a world like that. In this world, there are huge tracts of public land, seashore, rivers, seas etc. In this world, there are many polluters who don't care about common property and deliberately misuse common land. You only have to see the news to witness something like this:
At any rate, you get the picture. So the question I have is, even if we wanted to eventually set up a totally capitalist private-property world (something that frankly seems to be a very, very distant vision from where I sit) don't we need some sort of regulation of public land in the interim ? Do we just trust that people will not succumb to the tragedy of the commons even if they're on the road to a more totally capitalistic world ?
While the theoretical vision of a totally capitalist economy is very intriguing, I'd be interested in how Objectivists see regulation in a world that is very much a mixed economy and likely to be one for many many years to come. Just complaining about the shackles on private ownership and decrying regulation doesn't seem productive or practical to me. If we have a mixed economy (which we do) what's the best approach?
asked Mar 01 '14 at 12:45
This is presented as a question about pollution on "public" land, but it's actually a question about accepting a mixed economy as inevitable instead of arguing for laissez-faire capitalism and its underlying premises of the efficacy of reason and the morality of individualism. The question states:
... the question I have is, even if we wanted to eventually set up a totally capitalist private-property world (something that frankly seems to be a very, very distant vision from where I sit) don't we need some sort of regulation of public land in the interim ?
The suggestion to accept a mixed economy as is and try to make the best of it reads like the voice of a collectivist commissar saying to a "recalcitrant" individualist: why do you fight the system? You have no chance. Why not join us instead of trying to fight? Accept the system as it is and do what we tell you to do.
I hope Objectivists and others will continue to proclaim, "Never!" -- and continue to fight to the death if need be. To "fight" here means to pronounce moral judgment, to identify a mixed economy (or worse) for what it is and say so. Let all the commissars of the world learn to stop chiding freedom lovers everywhere to give up on their dreams of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
For more on the profound significance of "Never!", refer to "Sanction of the Victim" in the The Ayn Rand Lexicon.
In case anyone is interested in the Objectivist view of pollution, an overview can be found in the topic of "Pollution" in the Lexicon. In "The Property Status of Airwaves" in CUI, Ayn Rand also mentions so-called "public land" and how a proper government acts as a custodian of it until it becomes someone's duly earned private property. The public/private status of the land changes nothing in regard to the pollution issue. "Public" land does not convey a license for anyone to do anything he wants on or to such land.
I can see that if all land in the world was privately owned that you may not need any regulatory agencies since any act of pollution etc. would a priori be a crime against the person whose property you're despoiling.
If criminal prosecution and civil liability in a court of law are acceptable remedies (as they are under capitalism), then what else could "regulation" refer to? The question uses the term "regulation" as an undefined (floating) abstraction. If today's "regulatory agencies" are what is intended, they typically go far beyond the proper functions of government.
answered Mar 06 '14 at 23:25
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