quinta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2005

Re: Ambientalista Liberal II

Em Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution, By Murray N. RothbardOriginally published in the Cato Journal 2, No. 1 (Spring 1982): pp. 55-99. Reprinted in The Logic of Action Two, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. (1997) pp. 121-170.

"(...) A Theory of Just Property: Homesteading

There are two fundamental principles upon which the libertarian theory of just property rests:

(a) Everyone has absolute property right over his or her own body; and

(b) everyone has an absolute property right over previously unowned natural resources (land) which he first occupies and brings into use (in the Lockean phrase, “Mixing his labor with the land”).

The “first ownership to first use” principle for natural resources is also popularly called the “homesteading principle.” If each man owns the land that he “mixes his labor with,” then he owns the product of that mixture, and he has the right to exchange property titles with other, similar producers. This establishes the right of free contract in the sense of transfer of property titles. It also establishes the right to give away such titles, either as a gift or bequest.

Most of us think of homesteading unused resources in the oldfashioned sense of clearing a piece of unowned land and farming the soil. There are, however, more sophisticated and modern forms of homesteading, which should establish a property right. Suppose, for example, that an airport is established with a great deal of empty land around it. The airport exudes a noise level of, say, X decibels, with the sound waves traveling over the empty land. A housing development then buys land near the airport. Some time later, the homeowners sue the airport for excessive noise interfering with the use and quiet enjoyment of the houses.

Excessive noise can be considered a form of aggression but in this case the airport has already homestead X decibels worth of noise. By its prior claim, the airport now “owns the right” to emit X decibels of noise in the surrounding area. In legal terms, we can then say that the airport, through homesteading, has earned an easement right to creating X decibels of noise. This homesteaded easement is an example of the ancient legal concept of “prescription,” in which a certain activity earns a prescriptive property right to the person engaging in the action.

On the other hand, if the airport starts to increase noise levels, then the homeowners could sue or enjoin the airport from its noise aggression for the extra decibels, which had not been homesteaded.

Of course if a new airport is built and begins to send out noise of X decibels onto the existing surrounding homes, the airport becomes fully liable for the noise invasion.

It should be clear that the same theory should apply to air pollution. If A is causing pollution of B's air, and this can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then this is aggression and it should be enjoined and damages paid in accordance with strict liability, unless A had been there first and had already been polluting the air before B's property was developed. For example, if a factory owned by A polluted originally unused property, up to a certain amount of pollutant X, then A can be said to have homesteaded a pollution easement of a certain degree and type.(...)"

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