When Private Property Isn’t

My comment, at the Mises site:

[From the author of the piece]: “This does not mean that someone cannot be prevented from accessing certain venues or activities when their rightful owners set preventive sanitary rules….”

BM: Libertarians must really get past this kind of thinking. Does anyone believe that airlines, social media companies, mainstream media companies, any large company of any type is a private company in any meaningful sense? How quickly and suddenly they bow to government dictates no matter how draconian, and what punishment will befall them if they don’t. Willingly or through coercion, they do the state’s bidding.

The piece was about forced vaccinations.

There is much about private property that isn’t private.  At one extreme – consider it the closest to a libertarian ideal: we have property, acquired via voluntary transaction; either produced from other materials, acquired in trade, developed in code, etc.  Yet, even at this extreme, try not paying property tax on the property, or income tax on the privately earned income, etc.  The property isn’t purely private in the sense of the owner have complete control over use and disposition.

At the other extreme…libertarians and Austrian economists will use the phrase “crony capitalism.”  If this phrase is to mean anything, it has to indicate that the private property (necessary for a system of capitalism) has not been earned or acquired in a manner that fits the above definition of private property: acquired via voluntary transaction.  Instead, it has been “earned” via government connection.

Examples of this abound: perhaps the most obvious is banking, especially money center banks.  Others include military contractors, pharmaceutical companies, airlines, tech and social media companies, mainstream media, etc.  It could also include any company or industry that petitions the state for something (as opposed to petitioning the state to not do something or to stop doing something).

These crony capitalist companies do the state’s bidding.  They lobby for funds, lobby for regulations, and in exchange, they pay the piper by dancing to his tune.  They realize the consequences of just saying no.  Why do such a thing, when saying yes pays so well?  Can the property that results from such an arrangement be described as “private”?

There is a large area in between, of course.  The most unfortunate, and taken from the last sixteen months: any church or small business that did not enforce or abide by state mandates faced the potential of being crushed, and its pastor or owner faced prison.  One cannot call this property “private,” though through no transgression of the owner.

But the entities that hold property via crony-capitalism can in no way be considered holders of private property.  They are extensions of the state, really not much different than the military, department of (in)justice, the various spy agencies, etc.

Conclusion

Libertarians really need not make the caveat, as was done in the statement I cited at the opening of this post.  Instead, the proper caveat should be that much of what is considered private property isn’t.

Until this is fully embraced and understood, well…we are like the dupe, falling for the con of the shell game.  Complain about government encroachment and defend the so-called private entities that are just as much a means of that encroachment as any government employee.  Yes, such libertarians may be following the right shell, but there is a second one virtually equally as dangerous to liberty.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.

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