Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Remedial Class - The Necessity Of Private Property

“We are not against development in general, but in this case, they haven’t shown any consideration for us local residents or our environment,” You said. “All that has [mattered] to the county government and the wealthy developers has been how to make [money].”

You Huang-ming (游煌明) perhaps does not realize that making money means creating value for other people - and why should his valuation of how the four and a half hectares ought to be used get to trump anybody else's valuation? Why is his value (leave the land as it is) "appropriate" to the four and a half hectare site and that of the would-be developers (create wealth) "inappropriate"?

There is a particular difficulty with this question in Hualien because nobody actually owns the land - the local government claims discretionary control over it on behalf of the people living in nearby Hualien City. The difficulty for developers is in trying to buy the land not from a single owner, but from a multitude of owners represented by a government. I have little doubt that there will be people living in Hualien who would be quite happy to "sell" the land to the developers just as there are people like You Huang-ming (游煌明) who do not want to sell. Whereas he favours the "undisturbed and fragile ecosystem" to remain as it is, there will surely be others who favour the prospects of alternative investment or employment. The fiction of the "common good" is just that - a fiction. Different people live different lives and therefore have different values. Everybody understands this elementary fact, yes? Why can't people like You Huang-ming (游煌明) do the math and work out the political implications?

When more things come under the control of "collective ownership", this simply decreases the radius of values in which civilized, peaceful exchange can take place.

Incidentally, I love the road up from Kenting to Hualien. I'll be biking it again this summer for sure.

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