Dakota Access Pipeline
The saga of unlawfulness at the Dakota Access Pipeline seems to be winding down for the time being. There has been plenty of coverage of new developments regarding the situation, but little has been said about the root cause. Ultimately the individuals choosing to be rioters and trespassers are to blame, but something should be said about the environment that fostered this behavior. Yes, Obama and former Governor Jack Dalrymple made the situation worse, but they did not cause it. Where does most crime and riots occur? Public property.
Regardless of what the 3rd-grade textbooks we were taught, public property is owned by nobody. The government, unlike corporate boards or individuals, cannot “own” anything since ownership is a natural right that only individuals possess. Corporate boards are elected by individuals who own shares in the company. Ownership can be homesteaded, and transferable (exchange, inheritance) via a change of title. On the other hand, government comes into possession of property like a robber does, by force. Not only is public property illegitimate but is a cesspool of moral hazard.
Eroding individuals right to private property is extremely dangerous. However, even more hazardous is the creation of public property. When public property and private property mix rights and law become blurred. Unlike public property, private property does not grant universal positive rights. Public property creates socialized “positive rights” of speech, travel, and others. The right to speech and travel do exist in the axiom of private property; only it’s privatized. Private property issues negative rights. Nobody can enter your home without your consent and start protesting. The key word is consent.
You have the right to be left alone. Furthermore, no home-owner or for-profit property owner would tolerate violence and bad behavior by outside actors. You would also ban those people from entering your premises. You would immediately act since you will gain more value to your property, body, and mind if you take the necessary actions to prevent and remedy property violations.
The Army Corp of Engineers land, Camp Oceti Sakowin, was ground-zero for the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrations. The camp is trashed and is now a real environmental crisis due to these negligent vagabonds. The private property that shared borders with these public lands were also affected. Livestock was poached, there was property damage, theft, and blocking traffic. Innocent people were terrorized. How did this all happen, because the law of man (politics) reigns over public property.
When property is privatized, there is capital stock in the resource. The owners tend to care about their property more and also have more incentive to improve property more so than elected and unelected bureaucrats. The rules of private property are very simple; you need consent. You own your car before someone can use your car they must seek your consent. If you say, “No,” the issues is settled. If someone violates your consent they have just committed a crime against you since you have ownership (title) of the car. The violator has no moral or legal justification for their activity, especially in the name of “free speech”.
When property is under political management, everything is up for grabs. Things can change with the election of a president, a judge or department head. There is no consistency, “law” is being created via fiat. Law in the natural world is organic. Law is discovered. Civilization discovered things are typically better when people are not spending their day murdering each other. The word murder did not originate from a centralized power drafting a law.
What to do?
Riots will continue as long as there is public property. North Dakota taxpayers and private property owners are eating the cost of this lawlessness. Camp Oceti Sakowin is an example of the tragedy of the commons. This whole situation could have been avoided if North Dakota were to kick out Federal Thugs from managing our lands. Who are we to kid faceless bureaucrats over 1,300 miles away actually care about North Dakota or the land they [mis]managage. The same also applies to land that is [mis]managed by the State of North Dakota. No rational North Dakotan wants another costly and immoral Dakota Access Pipeline riot. Privatize every square inch of North Dakota.
With the likes of George Soros, and very well organized eco-extremist organizations spreading their destruction at any given moment. North Dakota legislators need to be bold and start pushing back on “federally owned” land. However, the argument doesn’t end there. The underlying principle is that government has no moral or economic justification (natural right) to own anything, let alone land. Resources are better managed and allocated under the scrutiny of market functions and private hands.