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Why have private property when the air and water is not or cannot be privately owned?

Many of our environmental problems stem from 'the tragedy of the commons.' Air blows and water runs so how can we privatize it? Should we try? How might that work?

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    Jan 21 2013: in free market theory, the first to arrive has ownership. ownership applies to a specific use of a resource, potentially but not always all uses. in that sense, we are all owners of the atmosphere, and we have breathing rights on it. anyone interfering with this right can be sued, compensation for the damage and immediate cease of the offensive behavior can be demanded. obviously, one needs to prove an actual harm to said rights. specific cases can be tricky, but that's why we have courts and private mediators.
    • Jan 22 2013: Do you you believe we should set in place limits to use of a resource. For example, say you own a herd of elephants in Africa. Should you have the right to slaughter all of them? Do you see the need to limit our freedom to overexploitate finite resources?
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        Jan 22 2013: if you own it, you own it. you can slaughter anything as long as you don't affect other people's property doing so. for example if you hurt the local ecosystem, you are in violation with other owners. however, how stupid one has to be to destroy one's own property?
        • Jan 22 2013: Owners destroy their property all the time for various reasons. In the midwest of the U.S. we experienced drought so severe there wasnt enough pasture and herds were sent to slaughter. In Amazon rain forest soybean farmers clear cut trees to produce a soybean crop. The poor rain forest soil leaches away and the land is worthless. Private property although I understand its merits does not do an effective job of keeping ecosystems alive. Economists forget that the majority of our economy can be given credit to healthy ecosystems and the species that thrive.
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        Jan 22 2013: and all those sound very reasonable to do. underlining that people use their property mostly wisely. they also make mistakes, but it tends to correct itself with time. those that waste their property, will have no property, and out of the game.

        the only exception would be climate altering changes. but as i have said, in free market theory you have no right to alter the atmosphere in such a way that hurt the usage rights of other people. so you can clear rain forest only to a degree it does not hurt the planet considerably. all we need is a functioning legal system. but before anyone calls for government at this point, let me call your attention to the fact that governments do exist today, and they are not handling the situation well at all.
        • Jan 23 2013: I guess your view could make good sense for our environment if it were set in different circumstances. Its not simply the legal system that is lacking. Right now we live in a culture that does not think environmentally (realistic). You see any extractive economic activity is going to cause damage to other landholders. So the means of our modern economy will have far too many liabilities. The effects of mining, industrial farming, industrial fishing, manufacturing all cause extensive damage. If private property owners realized the real damage these activities were doing then they would sue any private enterprise that engaged in said economic activity.
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        Jan 23 2013: if our culture is such that we do not care about the environment, how would anything, including governments change that? in a democracy, governments do what people approve and demand.

        but we do have a problem with the legal system. as of now, you are not in the position to sue big companies for real harms, as they only required to comply with government-set rules, and they are not accountable for any more. you can not sue an open pit mine for ruining the land. they have a permit, you are out of luck.
        • Jan 24 2013: Here's my idea. I agree the justice system needs to change. Another thing that needs to happen is the government should get out of the business of regulating the environment and into simply monitoring it. This way landowners who do not have the money to do an environmental assesment of their soil, air, water can get it done. Any persons polluting will be more easily caught and sued for damages.
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          Jan 24 2013: Unfortunately most democratic governments are highly influenced and undermined by 'big businesses' of all sorts of your so called 'freedom of ownership' ones. If you are still surprised why those environmental standards are that low and therefore easy to be kept by damaging industries, you are either a true 'theorists' of your favored theory, or just not watching carefully where the money and many 'politicians' goes.

          The free market theory keeps denying senseless behavior in ownership, as if wisdom for those people were on sale long enough to have spread sufficient among them. That is a theory only and off the given reality.

          Common properties have always been violated by a view and for just their very profit and if you would look at this world as she is and without using 'pink market theory' goggles, you would find many of your 'honorable owners' doing exactly the opposite of what you expect them to do...

          And as long money can by yet another experts opinion or field study, not even the most perfect legal system imaginable was able to compensate for it. Delaying is strategy here and endless legal proceedings not affordable to anyone, especially to those who do not own much themselves, yet depend on clean and healthy common properties, such as the ecosphere, water and air...

          You yourself know what Einstein is often referred to to have quoted, so you may start including this in your theoretical belief system for a first reality check ...

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