Mutiny on the Bounty

Bounty: value not derived from effort or risk, but from windfall alone.

There is great wisdom in the concept that the land belongs to no one, that we just exist upon it for a time.  That the private use of land, and the resources inherent to it, is taking unto oneself something now no longer available to all.  The value of land and resources inherently includes a bounty.  The issue at the root of this is that the private ownership of persistent monopoly rights to collect bounty is a conceit that comes at and to the cost of all.

A bounty is inherently of unknown value. It’s value can only be assessed as it is revealed, as it occurs. The question then is how should such occurrences be managed within a market economy?

The difficulty is manifold. A windfall is by definition uncertain, so will be valued over time at a considerable discount to its actual anticipated worth. In most cases, the further in time the windfall is away, the greater the discount.

Yet a degree of security of tenure is required in many cases to extract any value from the bounty available. If the bounty is not recovered, there is no benefit. And different bounties have different timescales; from seconds to centuries.

First it is important to understand what is being bought and sold here; stripped of the mechanisms we have in place to facilitate it. What is occurring here is that we, each, are selling our opportunity to benefit from a windfall, to another. Now that process is undertaken by means many and various, generally involving governments, but it is still the transaction at the heart of it. We do this because it is to our advantage to do so. For a start, we can’t take advantage of every opportunity out there. Secondly, we specialise at various tasks; I for one wouldn’t know (practically) where to start to gain value from a rock in the ground. But someone else does; they value the opportunity to do so more than I do, and are willing to pay for the opportunity.

A system of valuing and recovering the opportunity cost lost by all in order to make it available to one should provide both security of tenure and an appropriate scope of time. In any stoic transaction, the purchaser wants to spend as little as possible, and the vendor wants to receive as much as possible. The purchaser in this case makes their money from assumption of risk, more specialised skills, and better understanding. It is to the purchaser’s advantage to extend the time period as far as possible, as the bias inherent in packaging up value flows to them. Counter to this, in any situation, the drive for the supplier of the good is to minimise the timeframe involved.

We have many systems of doing so. These vary from licensing, to quota systems, to the outright purchase of the ongoing right for a capital sum. These are solutions that trade tenure for cost along a scale, with something like a real time purchase of desired goods – like the national electricity market – at one end of the scale, and outright purchase, like freehold title, at the other.

If any of these is pernicious, it is the outright purchase. Necessarily, the outright purchase obtains an absolute minimum compensation for the assumption of rights. To suggest otherwise is ignorant, or at the very least ill considered. The granting of persistent rights suggests that only on generational timescales is it possible to derive benefit from the purchase. At this point, I’d suggest that only statehood qualifies for such a constraint; I’m open to other suggestions.

To allow the persistent purchase of rights to bounty for a capital sum is to frustrate the market for those rights. It minimises the return that each of us as individuals receives for the granting of our inherent potential to utilise that resource. Wherever possible this should be avoided; wherever it exists, it is in our interests to see it eliminated.  Where bounty is found to have been privately assumed, on a timescale longer than required for its recovery, mutiny is the required response.

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About Neocolonial

Ideas. Dreams. Collector of alternative perspectives. Engineering. Education. Politics. Photography. Whatever else catches my attention.
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