System Failure

The system is broken. It’s not just broken in the United States. It’s the entirety of Western Civilisation. It’s not time for a reboot. The virus is still inherent in the system. It’s time for a new system.

The reaction to this line of reasoning does something along the lines of, ‘It’s easy to criticise. What’s your solution?’ So let’s begin by parsing this enquiry.

Firstly, not all problems have solutions.

Humans, it seems, need resolution and closure. And they seem to gravitate towards easy answers, specious or otherwise. But humans have an abysmal track record of solving complex problems—political issues, social issues, economic issues, and so on. It’s not as much as there is no solution, per se, but that the interactions within the complexities are too many to consider. The system has a temporal dimension, which means even if I solve the problem at time-nought, the solution may not hold at time-prime.

Secondly, that one can recognise a problem does not mean one can fix it.

This was the denouement of Occupy Wall Street a few years back. They shed light on the problems, but those in charge—hawking ‘solutions’—established a frame wherein a problem without a solution is worse than a problem ‘remedied’ with the wrong solution. You don’t have to be a mechanic or body shop guy to recognise a smashed car even if you can’t fix it.

Auto smash

What then?

Harry Potter’s Hermione’s Magic Wand

If I had a magic wand, for a start, I’d abolish Capitalism, private property, and religion and go from there.

What’s wrong with private property?

‘Do you live on the street?’ is a typical response I hear when I suggest abolishing private property. ‘Give me your address. I suppose you wouldn’t mind if I moved in’ is another. I’ve discussed eliminating private property elsewhere, but the underlying problems remain:

  1. Why accept the usurpation of the commons to private property?
  2. Why accept the premise that one can own what one doesn’t possess?
  3. Why accept the premise of a first-come, first-served principle?
  4. Why accept, given the notion of property rights, that distribution must occur within the domain of economics?
  5. If one accepts that property should fall into the domain of economics, why not apply a ‘best use’ litmus instead of a ‘first come’ or ‘ability to purchase’ litmus?

Usurpation of the Commons

I don’t accept this usurpation. In nature, where conflict exists, violence or the threat of violence is the arbiter. As humans in nature, it’s no different. Like the meat one purchases behind the veil of a grocery mart, we are shielded from the inherent violence,

In many jurisdictions, property owners are justified in homicide if another person encroaches on their property. Many homeless or indigent people have tried to squat on unoccupied property only to be forcibly removed.

Monopoly Game Board

Property is like the game of musical chairs. And if you are late to the game, the chairs may already be taken. Imagine joining a game of monopoly late in the game and ownership of all the property has already been distributed. How do you think you might fare?

Possession is 9/10 of the Law

Possession is different to property. That I possess a place offers a different justification for my occupancy of it than a place that I own in absentia. Sure a philosophical argument could be made against any right to possess, but I’m not going there—at least not today.

This becomes a situation where usage is a determining factor. Can this ownership be justified if you’ve got a dozen places scattered around the globe?

First Come, First Served

It’s easy to see why this is in place: It’s simple. And at the start, there were few people and a seemingly infinite amount of land, but this was not sustainable. Land is ostensibly a fixed resource whilst humans multiply somewhat geometrically. So, given enough time, this allocation problem was predictable and inevitable.

But, given that property is something we insist on, what are the alternatives? Do we have a lottery periodically to redistribute property? Do we reset ownership whenever a new potentially qualifying owner emerges? Do we establish duration of ownership with some expiry? Do we not allow property to pass to forward generations? Or do we simply disallow ownership because this solution is too cumbersome to implement?

Disclaimer: In an attempt to economise my time yet still contribute content, this is a post dredged from Drafts (from May 2020) and posted with touchups in the manner of applying lipstick on a pig. Sadly, it’s still relevant.

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