I don’t believe in property and never truly have. I don’t know why this particularly is, as a child born in the 70s and growing up in the country where the saying goes that everyone has a brick in their stomach and thus wants to build an own house, I liked having things.
I was lucky because my father was a closet nerd and thus we had a Magnavox, a VIC20, and later a C64. No wonder that IT and the Internet would become my playground later. Even if I never had an Amiga or Atari ST, yet later on in life I would get hold of a Macintosh Plus. But I digress.
Being sole descendant in my family, I stand to at some point inherit 4 houses, one standalone house and three historically protected smaller townhouses in my town of birth. Plus the revenue of the sale of the house of my late grandfather from father’s side.
And I want none of it.
That’s right, nothing. Nada, noppes, zilch... zero. None of it at all.
Because I don’t believe in the transcending inheritary value of titles or in ownership received without actually having worked for it and deserved it.
Yet, that’s not how our modern society functions and nor how elder societies did. Ownership, property rights are a fact and they cascade down on, most often, the next of kin. Thrown in your lap, complete with a selfpat for being so awesome and hopefully so deserving of it. Maybe even rich.
All you had to do was be patient. Wait and outlive the generation before you.
“Beware of overconcern for money, or position, or glory. Someday you will meet a man who cares for none of these things. Then you will know how poor you are.”
Universal Resource Inheritance
As a Steemian, who doesn’t condone of tribalism, I don’t follow Daniel Larimer, he of Bitshares, Steem, and now EOS fame - AKA @dan or @dantheman, much. Yet, I admire Dan for being a great designer of possible alt-economies and much of his personal writing and thoughts interest me more than the latest platform he is active with nowadays, next month or next year.
Because it seems that at heart we share similar values, beliefs.
And so I stumbled some days ago on a recent post by him on Medium: Universal Resource Inheritance. Much like myself, Dan doesn’t believe in the perpetual aspect of property either.
... Furthermore, one must ask the question, why do Adam and Eve have the right to control the definition of legitimate ownership of property for all eternity? Is each new generation bound to recognize the property rights allocated by the prior generation?
Is “first come, first serve” a proper basis for assigning initial ownership to unowned property? Does this generation have the right to consume all the oil and rainforests? Does this generation have the right to allocate all the mineral rights for all of eternity?
While, obviously, I would claim that content should be on the Steem blockchain, most definitely, that’s a stone I better leave unturned, yet one of Steem’s one time visionaries touches upon some great points which I think deserve some attention. Especially on this brilliant platform with true potential to improve distribution and eventually, if the stars are aligned correctly, slightly disrupt the status quo.
As Larimer highlights, of course, the issue extends beyond the titles to real estate or jewelry and also involves rights to land, land which may contain other natural resources which can be mined and stocks.
Larimer suggests a “Wealth tax” of 5% which would redistribute, or at least universally reward everyone on this planet with a yearly amount. While I doubt that the solution of the 5% “wealth tax” is more than an actual “good conscience” tax for wealthy people it nevertheless deserves some attention to be given. Even more so in an era in which
many some few always more wealthy people decide to donate their wealth for philanthropic purposes - or at least partially.
Larimer mentions some staggering numbers a simple 5% tax would distribute. Numbers which would empower large swathes of society, even more so in less wealthy areas and especially when families were to collaborate.
Total global real-estate is worth about $217T distributed among 7 billion people about $1500 per person per year. Total global stocks are about $100T or $1200 per person per year. Total world wide money supply is also about $100T. All told this would give everyone, including the billions of poor and starving individuals in Africa, India, and China a total income of about $4000 per year or $333 per month. This is greater than the global median per-capita household income. This is over 4x the median income in Africa. Talk about impacting world-wide poverty!
Despite not solving the generation over generation, pretty much eternal ownership of title deeds, the tax does deserve attention, all while still maintaining the exponential curve possible by the head start because of inheriting ownership titles.
First, and foremost, everybody would be above the “poverty line” and elements such as welfare and even tuition fees would become less of an issue, much less. This in return would make development worldwide much more of a reality, also under flawed and corrupt governments, because citizens would be able to contribute their basic share or not require assistance anymore, except for maybe in a very few not necessarily financially driven cases.
Yet, the most interesting aspect of the “wealth tax” is that given that the powers that be would most likely never approve of such, any initial start of URI would have to happen on a voluntarily opt-in basis. An opt-in obtained only by demonstrating sound understanding of the so-called “peace treaty” that is URI and its economics, as explained in a follow-on post:
In the mean time, I believe that non-hypocritical supporters of a fair property right system could voluntarily create a private society that operates under these rules. If this private society can grow in market power and influence, then eventually it could take over public opinion. The key to the success of such a private society is that it condition membership and therefore qualification for URI upon tested understanding of the economics and principles behind URI and voluntary payment of dues proportional to wealth.
Keeping in mind, and leaving out of this post, the economic designs blockchains - especially Proof of Stake based ones - have brought us, all while assuming the whole system would indeed operate on such blockchain and be governed by Code is Law and its limited but defined arbitration processes, one can but wonder how an initially limited but educated URI society, dare I say civilization, could change lives and empower new middle classes.
And, possibly, be a jumpboard to scale and achieve real change and disrupt the stasis and the 0.01% swamp.
URI, as a wealth tax may not solve the title deeds issue which brought us perpetual rather than ephemeral property ownership, but it could most definitely be a bringer of change and possibly even an optimized model for many philanthropic efforts we see now. That because URI is a full circle process allowing us to tackle each aspect of a society’s need. All while both, obviously, aren’t mutually exclusive.
Education, of course, is a key element in Larimer’s URI wealth tax concept. Just like understanding the difference between “needs”-based and “available for redistribution”. Without such an unschooled mass led by wealthy advertising and propaganda may result merely in festishization of poverty.