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This is Green-Libertarianism Made Simple: an introduction to the basic ideas and categories of the Green-Liberty Party. It is based on an analogy and intuitive appeal, and is short on serious theory. Constructive feedback is encouraged. Flame off, brain on, please.

Green-Libertarianism for Dummies

by Ben Sharvy (v 1.1, 25.Jul.96)

Consider a class, and the rights of the students with regard to it (tip-off: the class is the world):

Libertarian Principles

1) Do all students have a right to equal grades? Obviously not.
2) Do students have a right to equal grades for equal work, i.e., everybody who works three hours per week is entitled to the same grade? Obviously not.
3) Does whether grades affect one's ability to meet fundamental needs (food, medicine, shelter, etc.) have any bearing on the answers to the preceding questions? Nope.

The above situation is analogous to the world. It concerns basic principles that govern the relationship between what we do, deserve, and need. If we substitute "people" in for "students," and "wealth" for "grades", we get: (1) people do not have equal rights to equal wealth, or (2) to equal wealth for equal work, even though (3) wealth constitutes a means of production upon which fundamental needs may depend.

The Socialist Comeback

4) Do students have equal right to access the class's resources (e.g., the teacher and materials)? Yes.
5) Is it justified to prohibit students from controlling class resources to an extent that cannot be practiced by the others in the class (e.g., monopolizing the teacher)? Yes. Unless...

A Sneaky Libertarian Curveball

...unless the other students waive their rights, which they might do by explict consent or trade. (Students might also use more than the standard ration of class resources under a system for preventing waste, e.g., a student "using" the teacher during office hours may do so beyond his allotted time if nobody else shows up.) So, it IS morally possible for somebody to monopolize the class resources. Unless....

The Socialist Waits on the Curveball and Strokes a Clean Line-Drive to...Left (of course)

6) Suppose it is a class that operates on an ongoing basis, so that students are continually dropping out and new students entering (community education classes are often like this; it is obviously how the world is). Suppose that a few students ("capitalists") have managed to control 100% of the class resources, in accordance with the rules for doing so. And now a new student enters. Are the capitalists still entitled to 100% of the class's resources? No. The new student is entitled to a standardized, initial (i.e., "fundamental") share of class resources--teacher time, etc.

Note that the right under discussion is a right of _access_ to resources rather than ownership. To acquire everyone else's right doesn't then entail a right, say, to destroy the class microscopes or to remove the language center from the teacher's brain: it doesn't have any of the implications of _property rights_. It is a different kind of right, for which a different name is appropriate: an _opportunity right_.

So, here's an important principle not currently represented in any political system: in a given community, one's opportunity right to communal resources is a function of the size and constituency of the community, which means it is constantly changing, and this change mitigates change brought about by free-trade activity. For example, a monopolist's 100% control of resources may be reduced to 80% control due to the entrance of new members with their fundamental opportunity rights. The effect of applying this principle to the real world will be determined by what one considers a communal resource: the essential point is that a resource is not something that one creates (that role was played by grades in the analogy), which suggests that natural resources such as land, air, ecosystems, wildlife, water, etc., are what is communal. In other words, property rights are constrained by egalitarian principles: Everybody, when they come into this world, has a right to equal access of the earth.

That's a socialist outcome. The libertarian aspect is that the results of one's legitimate use of resources, e.g., one's grades or wealth, are not communal. There is no right to equal wealth (or grades), and how hard one works bears no intrinsic relation to what one deserves. This is true even though wealth (like grades) may affect one's ability to meet fundmental needs. There is no right to democratic control of the means of production per se, just the natural resources of production (socialists usually count wealth, machines, and other non-natural things as "the means of production"). "The wealth" is not a big pie in the sky, but the earth is. Libertarian principles show that environmentalist-oriented socialism, rather than a labor-oriented socialism, is the justifiable socialism. And environmentalist-socialism does not entail any scheme of wealth redistribution (e.g., progressive income tax) or social engineering (e.g., minimum wage) or welfare.

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