I'd like to hear your comments on a scenario (one discussed on a podcast a few months ago by Tom Woods). He gave an example where a guy who owns a private plane can't invite you onto the plane and then say "get off my property" in mid-air. His line of thinking was "you can't put a person in a precarious position and then tell them to leave". I would then ask - what if a child somehow accidentally wandered onto your plane without you knowing? Would you have the right to tell them to leave mid-air?RW response:
I am assuming you are asking this from my Private Property Perspective.
First, my line of thinking on "rights" is in sync with that of Henry Hazlitt as he outlined in his very underappreciated book, The Foundations of Morality.
Hazlitt didn't believe in rights the way they are generally thought of and neither do I but it would take a book to discuss the topic in detail.
Second, I believe your question has a number of hidden foundational premises. Please allow me to rephrase the question with what I believe are the hidden premises.
Given the extremely unlikely possibility that a child somehow wanders onto a plane unnoticed and discovered in mid-air and the owner of the plane was so cruel and heartless that he told the child to jump out of the plane in mid-air ("Get off my property"), should we alter the Private Property Society view, whereby PPS is held as total respect for Private Property and introduce an overlord of some sort that can rule in opposition to private property. That is, introduce some sort of government, whereby, it must be noted, we have seen throughout history that governments evolve into mass murderers to the tune of hundreds of millions?Bottom line, your question really is: Should we adopt a slippery slope move by creating a structure, government, that has resulted in deaths of hundreds of millions to save a theoretical child in an absurd situation where a child wanders onto a plane owned by a total nutjob?
I am against nutjobs, but the specialty of a certain type of nutjob is to gain governmental power (SEE Chapter 10: "Why the Worst Get on Top," in Hayek:The Road to Serfdom . The world is not perfect and we don't ban cars because some people will die in them or halt plane flights because there is the rare crash. I am 100% against favoring government, which is where the most evil nutjobs lurk. To favor such a horrific structure, which I repeat, has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions, to save a theoretical child is absurd. I have to tell you such theoreticals must have every totalitarian nutjob cheering. If you really had the chance to set up a PPS, would you really abandon it to go down the slippery slope of introducing government to the world? I am against such an evil structure because, among many things, it is a structure that is naturally driven toward killing.
Under any structure that can be conceived, you can come up with many, many scenarios where an innocent can die--any structure. That said, you have to come up with some very insane theoreticals to show how an innocent death in a Private Property Society would occur. When it comes to the government structure, sadly, the world offers very real examples of how horrific things can get, no theoreticals needed. It happens with seeming exponential growth.
In other words, you are framing your question about a Private Property Society as though it should be looked at from an absolute perspective when it must be looked at in terms of alternatives. And so I ask, as we look at the alternative, government, do you want more of this to save your theoretical child?
Government exists by creating scenarios by which they claim they are protecting us. They don't, they end up killing us. Once a society moves away from PPS to protect a child from wandering on to a plane that is owned by a nutjob, it is a society that is on its way to introducing all kinds of government "protections" that time after time have resulted in millions upon millions of deaths. No thank you, I'll stick with PPS.
Finally, the question of the theoretical child is really a question about punishment theory for a trespasser. It is theoretically faulty to make an argument from a private property perspective that anyone other than the victim can determine what amounts to just compensation. Value is always subjective.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn.