Post for Sep 4-10 2011 (Tidbits and Nuggets)

TaN: Property is a very interesting issue – especially when it comes to ownership of nature.  Most understand property to mean private property – as against public property.  However, this is correct but only if and when the issue is about economics (and business).

The truth of the matter is that there is only personal versus communal property and the two are differentiated primarily based on frequency of usage or utility.  In other words, a property is considered personal if it is often used (the duration is arbitrarily set at a day) whereas it is considered communal if its usage or utility are relatively far in between.  Moreover, an additional consideration for personal property is based on hygiene – such as a toothbrush, regardless of how long or far apart one uses the toothbrush.

To elucidate further, take the case of writing instrument.  A particular writing instrument that is used by the same person daily, it can be considered as personal property, but should the person have another writing instrument that s/he uses only once a week, that latter writing instrument may be considered communal – i.e., others may use it (because its use is far apart and others may use it during the unused period).  In this way, the use of things may be optimized (i.e., it is not kept in reserve while others could have availed of it) and the strain on the environment (i.e., in terms of raw materials) will not be great.  [Note: This is the exact contradiction to the concept of consumerism, which advocates that people must have their own property even if they use it only once a year; and, in direct congruence with Buddhist Economics and is environmentally sustainable, because the use is maximize with the least demand on production.]

Furthermore, when it comes to the argument of ownership of non man-made things, it becomes controversial because of the issue of ownership of natural things – especially of land.  It is the bone of contention that: (1) Patents are a form of ownership and things in nature cannot be patented (ergo owned) – so how come land can be owned?  (2) Only things made by man can be owned by (or considered properties of) man – again, land is not made by man so how is it that we come to own land?  If we can own land, by extension, we should also be able to own the waters, the air, the plants and the animals, and even people.  But we can’t.

Some would argue that land is a special case, but what makes it special and why is water and the air not also special?  Ownership can be gained from any one of the following: (1) through creation (i.e., it was created by man – from nature); (2) through exchange (i.e., from an owner to another); and, (3) from discovery – as in finding something – but only on the pre-requisite that it is man-made.  And, since land is not made by man, nor acquired through an exchange, nor from discovery, by all arguments, land should not be proprietable (if there is such a word).  Land, being a finite resource, should be shared by all – no one having entitlement over it but to be used by all.

To sum it all up, ownership can only be applicable to man-made things and exclusive use should be based on frequency of use rather than on propriety – with exceptions for special instances such as hygiene and as potential hazard.  It used to be that people shared everything, that all activities are communal efforts and the fruits of our labor is partaken by all.  The institutionalization of private property created barriers and separations between and among people and we learned to be greedy, inconsiderate, unsharing, selfish, and uncaring – among other things.  Privatization was justified by arguing that it provided an incentive for people not to be lazy – that we are rewarded by our industry and by our efforts, that our share of the wealth should be commensurate to the effort we put into its creation or our condtribution.  It is just a guise the result of which we are reaping today – in the form of massive concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few elite while the rest of humanity is wallowing in poverty and in misery.

TaN: Management-Labor (CBA) negotiations should have a prescriptive period of completion or successful and mutually beneficial termination – or they should be sequestered.  At present, the way CBAs (collective bargaining agreements) are being conducted, the odds are heavily in favor of management.  It does not seem fair that management already has the wealth and it should also have the time.  Even with arbitration from the government, there is still a great possibility – no, certainty – that government labor arbiters can be influenced or persuaded to favor management.  The way I see it, the only way that labor can get close to equalizing the odds is to have all parties involved in the nagotiations sequestered somewhere – cut-off from work, family, and the world – until some sort of a mutually beneficial agreement is reached.  No one goes home until the negotiations are successfully concluded.  The only reason a member of the sequestered group can be excused from further sequestration is due to a medical emergency or a personal tragedy.

Given this, I posit further that this be instituted likewise to court cases – where all parties, especially the counsels, either conclude the proceedings amicable for all within a prescribe time limit (as mandated by law) or they are sequestered and are ex-communicado until the case is decided and executory.

TaN: Just this week, according to NBC News, because of the escalating incidents of (youth) bullying and with the latest suicide of a young boy, New Jersey just passed a law mandating “zero tolerance” to bullying.  This is yet another support and illustration of exactly what I have been arguing ever since – that it is primordial and fundamental for primary education (and family culture) to not only instill in children the proper values and behavior so, as they grow and mature, they become responsible adults and good citizens.  It is precisely the quantity and the type of laws that are enacted that reflects on the maturity and morality level of a society – i.e., the more laws to govern us, the more irresponsible we are.

It is said that, “For a mature and responsible person, no law is required, it is redundant; for an immature and irresponsible person, not enough laws can be sufficient.”  For a resposible person, s/he would “instinctively” know the right thing to do; laws will be superfluous.  S/he would know that bullying is not good and would not do it, knowing enough to respect the rights and the dignity of others.  A responsible, mature and just society would act accordingly and would be considerate of other.  They would exercise compassion and respect for others.

We have to remember the original purpose of the law – to establish a set of rules and regulations to ensure that rights of people are protected and fair treatment and opportunities are accessible to all.  It establishes a code of conduct or of behavior by which every person within its jurisdiction shall abide and comply.  From this, it is clear that the law’s purpose is to ensure that people behave and act in a responsible and mature manner – which is precisely the bone of contention I have put forth.  It proceeds from the assumption (or is it presumption?) that man is “by nature” irresponsible and immature, that s/he cannot be trusted to act and behave in a manner befitting an adult.  This is pessimistic but it is what is being implied.  It is this premise that gives a negative impression regarding the nature of man – not a positive and encouraging impression.

The whole point of this TaN is that we are being conditioned to think negatively about our fellowmen.  If we take time – the “road less travelled” because it is more difficult and more complicated but it is the right way, will be lasting, and will be self-sustaining in the long-term – to teach our children (for importantly and more convincingly via example) their rights and the corresponding responsibilities and the limitations, as well as the correct values, we would avoid all these unnecessary laws and codes of conduct and whatever.  It is because we fail in our role and duty as elders to teach the next generation properly that we have to resort to laws and penalties to ensure that people act and behave ethically and morally.

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