I had an interesting discussion with my brother, who is a libertarian, this morning that included fishing, the "fair use" doctrine and property rights. (Where he and I have always agreed is that the primary role of government is to prevent individuals from interfering with the interests of other individuals... we just disagree over means, methods and degrees.) I see the fundamental premise of libertarianism as being an avoidance of coercive use of power - by the state, anyway. The first problem is, of course, that property rights do not exist in the absence of some state authority. The role of the "state," whatever its form, is to mediate differences between "citizens." More often than any other basis, the differences between citizens revolve around "property rights."

But what is a property right or interest? Do I have a property right in the air I breathe, the water I drink (or otherwise consume), the land upon which I place my feet, the invisible spectra of radiowaves? What prompts me to recognize such rights or interests in others? If I want it, what impells me not to take it? How can such rights be recognized, mediated, or even exist without the predicate of a "state"?

That is, I think, the foundational flaw of libertarianism. It is based upon the recognition of property interests as if they existed in absence of the state, yet such interest cannot be recognized or effectuated without reference to a state system. The "state" and "property" are inextricably linked. Failure of the premise requires failure of the conclusion.

A well reasoned argument is like a diamond: impervious to corruption and crystal clear - and infinitely rarer.

Here, as elsewhere, people are outraged at what feels like a rigged game -- an economy that won't respond, a democracy that won't listen, and a financial sector that holds all the cards. - Robert Reich