Help! I'm debating a communist friend on property rightsSubmitted by Chuckduck764 on Thu, 11/08/2012 - 22:37
I am debating a communist friend of mine on property rights. I explained to him in very general terms the libertarian theory of property rights. I basically said that each individual inherently owns himself, his faculties, and his actions. Therefore, each individual has a right acquire property previously unowned and voluntarily exchange property with others.
My friend gave a completely improbable (but still possible, as far as I can tell) scenario. He said that assume that one family, over several generations, has acquired a massive amount of wealth. Then, that family goes about purchasing every single piece of "land" available in the private market. The family does this by offering land sellers money that is above equilibrium price, thus bidding land prices well above market equilibrium. In a way, the family serves as a monopolistic consumer in the land sector. Because of the family's massive amount of wealth, they are able to sustain this continued practice of buying high priced homes. And since they have so much wealth, they can provide low-cost rental housing to individuals, making renting seem more economical then owning a home. This encourages people to rent from this wealthy family rather than buy a home/land or hold on to their current home/land. Thus, people will sell their houses and land to the family and, instead, rent from them. He says that eventually, this one family will own most of the land on the earth and will be renting housing out to most of the world's inhabitants. Now I know this is highly implausible, but my friend still asserts that it is possible. He than says that the wealthy family could simply tell individuals, once their rental contracts expire, "get off my property!". Well the only way to get off the family's property would be to leave earth and, essentially, die in outer space. My friend than suggests, "Is this really a good theory if the end consequence could be such a negative result?" He also says that since individuals have a right to self-ownership (which my friend agrees with, oddly enough), but they also have other property rights (under libertarian theory), than how could this family "force" individuals to leave the earth? Because doing so would, undoubtedly, "rob" them of their lives (their property). In other words, in order to uphold the property rights of the wealthy family, the property rights of self-ownership of the individuals would have to be sacrificed, thus providing an inconsistency in the theory of libertarian private property. Can anyone help me refute this?
Lastly, my friend's alternative theory of property is that people have a right to self ownership, but no one has a right to more than they "need". Every individual who has "more" also has an obligation to give his/her property to someone who has "less", since the person who has more has excess goods but the person who has less has unfulfilled "needs". Can anyone help me refute this too? Any help would be greatly appreciated.