There is an element of the left which disdains property in any and all forms. I don’t mean this to characterize many people, though there are antI-property tendencies in most people. And I don’t mean this to imply that we need to or ought to live under so rigid a property rights absolutism that I must offer compensation to any passerby for whom I may bother from whistling while I do yardwork.
But Proudhon and his modern descendants argue that “property is theft.” Ignore Marx’s famous criticism of that for now, we have yet one more inconsistency to focus on. If man is not permitted to own the produce of his labor, must it be the case that any and all produce from his labor is unowned and therefore not tied to him? Think hard now. Think hard. OK, so suppose I am a cow farmer, who doesn’t really own the milk that I had a hand in producing and doesn’t really own the fertilizer that I had a hand in producing (“you didn’t build that, remember?) … what would Proudhon and his followers say about the other stuff that I produce as a cow farmer? For example, cows are responsible for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions that threaten the very survival of our planet (so we are told). And we are told that we need to institute a carbon tax or a carbon permit system as one way to deal with that problem. Well, how is that even possible if I am not the rightful owner of the things I produce?
Generally, if you wish to rule out the institution of property, and I emphasize that this is certainly in fashion among the stylish progressives on college campuses, then on what grounds would you argue that someone’s “property” is violated? What possible conception of pollution could you develop without the concept of property? And if you wish to invoke that unowned methane gas is causing global warming, and that no one gave farmers permission to emit methane into “our” atmosphere, why would you argue that farmers need permission? It’s not “THEIR” methane? Remember we have no property and we have no claim to the things we produce. I’d love that world. In that world, I can let my dogs free in the neighborhood to poo wherever they want without having to pick it up because after all, I don’t own them or their poop.
Is there some sort of sophisticated pretzel that I have not been privy to eating? If so, please do send along an argument, inquiring minds want to know.