2008-09-13

Property, Government, Freedom, et ali

As best I can, I'm trying to write down some thoughts which came to me while working outside earlier today; it could have been toiling in the hot sun, but I don't think so...

Property; this relates to the United States of America, it may differ in other countries. Anyway.

We talk a lot about the 'Right to Property', owning things 'Free and Clear', 'Unencumbered', about the freedom to do with it as we please. The reality is far different. No one in this country owns property free and clear, unencumbered, with the freedom to do with it as they please. Haven't since the Whiskey Rebellion, at the latest.

No court in the US will ever strike down an EULA, although none will enforce it upon the Federal government. EULAs, after all, are the Software Industry's declaration that they hold the same rights to property intellectual that the Federal Government holds to property physical, and as the power to enforce derives from Federal Force of Arms, only the Federals are immune; the US Military does not need to abide by licenses, being able to cite 'needs of state' when challenged.

You're a property owner, you own your home. Rather, you have custody of it under sufferance of the Federal Government; don't pay your property taxes, they can take it away. Doesn't matter if no services are being provided, can be as remote a location in Alaska or the Ozarks as you can think of, you may exist as a subsistence farmer, you have to generate cash revenues to pay your property taxes; they'll then tax those revenues, of course.

You may be retired, on a fixed income, and have no hope of keeping up with inflation, and have long held that at least you had your own home, no one could throw you out of that, didn't need to worry about rent; wrong, property taxes exist, and while you may have no intention of selling, property taxes are always based on what could be realized if you chose to sell, and artificially inflated at that, because property prices go up when there are more buyers than sellers, scarcity drives market price, if every piece of property sold each year, which is the presumption behind property valuation for taxation, the prices would be far lower than they are.

Some Governmental entities, such as Oregon, have at times allowed Senior Citizens to defer their property taxes; defer, as in put of until later, later in this case being after they die, upon which their heirs are faced with an immense debt to pay, with effectively no grace period, in some cases exceeding what they could hope to realize from the sale of the property concerned.

This is effectively the same as the 'reverse mortgage' being touted about these days, with private lenders rather than governmental agencies; no successful challenges going to be made of whatever terms they set up, as a successful challenge would be precedent to challenge similar governmental practices.

You've paid your taxes, free and clear now, right? Wrong.

Imminent domain. Property can be seized at will by governmental agencies for the 'public good', which can range from sidewalks, widening roads for increased traffic, all the way to total seizure for alternate use [which can include being a parking lot for a new shopping mall]; in less scrupulous municipalities, imminent domain is used as a bargaining tool by developers, 'sell at this price or we'll get it condemned to our use'.

Sounds like I'm a frothing-at-the-mouth right-wing militia type, doesn't it? Don't think much of them, their solutions, in my mind, aren't much different than the current problems, except they don't bother to cloak them in public concern. They do have one thing in their favor; they never cloak that the ultimate means of controlling property is force majeure, that he who can wield the greatest force at a given location says what happens with property, which is what the Whiskey Rebellion established.

Given that, then the best one can hope for is a situation with the greatest constraints upon the use of force; beware the man who seeks para-military powers, for para-militaries operate without the constraints placed upon the regular military.

Do not expect copyright to loosen, or to expire earlier than they currently do; never mind that the initial copyright/patent/etc. period was established by the founders of this country as something along the lines of 14 years, total, upon which the item/concept entered the public domain, and now its more like life+25, the whole concept of copyright extending past the lifetime of the writer is ludicrous, how can the deceased receive a return on their investment? They wanted to guarantee an honest return upon investment, while at the same time encouraging research and development in the private sector; not resting upon one's laurels, not tying whole fields of development to one individual or firm. Rewards for innovation, that's what they wanted to safeguard, without then leading to restraint of trade or stifling of innovation; if you own the patent, you control whether anyone gets to use it, which is where all the conspiracy theorists come from in re Alternative Fuels and the major energy corporations, if technologies which would disrupt things as they currently exist are developed by the industries affected, they can prevent them from being implemented, and would of course favor any legislation which extends the duration and scope of patents and copyright... maybe they aren't so out there as all that, it does reflect the trend in regard to Corporate Law and Intellectual Property Rights.

Man, I've wandered far afield. Then again, I haven't. Rights to Property are only as valid as the Force the Property Owner can bring to bear in the relevant venues. That said, unless watchdog organizations scrupulously challenge every act of every organization to diminish the rights of the individual, individual rights of all kinds will only continue to decrease in reality, whatever the legal codes may say. No individual has the power to resist the force wieldable by corporations and governments. The original intent behind local militia in the constitution was, as argued by the right-wing extremists, to counterbalance the power of the central government; I just don't trust the current batch of extremists of any flavor to tend toward any reasonable balance as the result of their actions, they're just as bad as those they feel they oppose.

Huh. Next thing you know I'll get into my rant on States Rights and the so-called Civil War. [Hint: anti-slavery, pro-right-to-seceed; principles behind the Revolutionary War, anyone?]

Post this Puppy.

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