John Schinnerer John-Schinnerer at data-dimensions.com
Thu Jun 8 15:19:12 EDT 2000


-----Original Message-----
From: Toby Hemenway [mailto:hemenway at jeffnet.org]

>I used to be of the "property is theft" school, believing that ownership
>a cause of evil. But over the years I've seen that if people don't have a
>personal stake in something--own it in some way--that thing gets abused...

>...I think it's simple human nature to take better care of what we
>have a stake in. 

I agree with you on the "having a stake in" angle - and I suggest that we
seek less pathological ways to have this manner of relating than the
"property" concept our culture currently lives (it's too unsystemic - thus
MAXXAM can do what it does on its "private property" regardless of
consequences happening far beyond their borders, and so on...).  There are
other ways to "have a stake in" whatever...various aboriginal people
apparently did not have "property" (especially land) as we have it but
appeared to take good care of the systems that sustained them.  Of course it
was easier with so few people around...I suspect a culture of scarcity
(which we live) plays a big role in the desire to "own" things that there
are assumed to be never enough of.  

People *choose* to abuse rental property, rental equipment, trash public
places, etc. - no one forces them to (and not everyone does)...and what
about those who own their house and trash it and their yard anyhow?  I would
say that assigning the problem to the nature of the object (or more
correctly the nature of the relationship between the object and the person)
is a mistake.  I doubt everybody owning their own everything is going to get
us anywhere all that wonderful...not that I think you're suggesting that,
but that's one extreme...

Then there's the trashing of "public" property (parks, etc.), which in
theory everyone has a stake in...but tax money pays for people to pick up
after other people, enabling them to keep trashing without consequences. 

The P-Patch community gardens in Seattle are mostly wonderful-looking and
appear well cared for - the users don't actually own their plots (they pay a
yearly use fee or something like that), but they apparently feel they have a
stake in them.

>If communism or anarchy, in their true senses, could work, that would be
>wonderful. But in the real world they have always, every time, become
>perverted by the powerful and degraded by the many resulting

Yeah, just like "democracy," and "socialism," and so on... ;-)

John Schinnerer

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