What Surfing Can Teach You about Ownership
To understand ownership, it helps to understand something about surfing. Surfers employ a system of ownership over waves so that everyone gets a turn. Prof. Dan Russell describes a scenario in which three friends are surfing but none wants to be selfish. As a result, the good waves pass by and no one has a good time. If they had prescribed a system of ownership instead, they would all have their turn to the waves. Among people who are not friends, a lack of ownership often leads to pushing and shoving. People who want peace need to instead determine whose wave is whose—or who owns property.
Although many people conflate ownership with selfishness, this is not accurate. Ownership plays an important role in a functional society for several reasons:
– Ownership allows for more creativity and enables us to do the things we want to do.
– Ownership puts a check on selfishness and greed because it gives the owner the right to say no. This also makes conservation possible.
– Ownership fosters greater civility and fairness. Respecting ownership is a way to respect each other, and when ownership isn’t protected, the most vulnerable people usually suffer most for it. As Prof. Russell says, “If we care about fairness for everyone, we have to care about ownership.”
How Property Ownership Changes Your World View [article]: Julia Hanna from the Harvard Business School explores how property ownership affects our beliefs and our attitudes toward capitalism
Private Property Ownership (video): Robert McNamara explains why private property matters in a free society
The Power of Property Rights (video): Professor Tom W. Bell explains that property rights allow people to live together in peace, prosperity, and freedom.
Property Rights: The Little Guy’s Best Friend (video): Professor Aeon Skoble argues that equally protected property rights are the little guy’s best protection against the rich and those