Let us suppose that our nation is a condominium and that we pay taxes as if they were rent. The question we have to answer is “Who is the owner of the condominium to which we legitimately pay rent?” The owner is the one who built the condominium. When I say “built” I mean that he may have built it with his own hands or through the voluntary exchange of other people’s labour.
If you pay builders to build you a house, the house is yours, not the builders’. If you pay masons with money earned from your work, it is as if you have indirectly built the house with your own work. Once acquired, the property can then be donated or sold.
If we did not need to ‘build’ the house (directly or indirectly) to be its owner, it would mean that we could arbitrarily declare any other house our property.
The first owner is therefore the one who does ‘work’, who mixes his work with reality. Without ‘work’ there is no ownership. If there were no need for work to establish ownership of things it would mean that we could all legitimately declare anything ours.
If everyone is the owner of something it means that in reality no one is the owner. It is in the very nature of the concept of ‘ownership’ to exclude others from using or managing the property.
A car owned by two people who want to go one to the sea and the other to the mountains can never go both places. Ownership of the car cannot be exercised by either of them, making both “non-owners” of the car. We have logically established that ownership is, of necessity, linked to work.
Now we must answer the question “Who built and therefore “worked” our nation ?”. Some will say “ people, of course”. So let’s try to define the work of the people. How can we do this?
In order to define the work of the Italian or African or Ghanaian people, we can do no more than go and define the work of all the individuals. This is because the people is a group, the “group” is an abstract concept. It has no correspondence in reality. The group is made up of individuals who are the only real element.
There is no will of the group and there is no “work” of the group. There is only the work of individuals.
We have ascertained logically that the ownership of the territory cannot be of the Italian people because the Italian people do not exist, but then who is the owner of our nations ? The answer is that, just like the concept of the people, the territories does not exist. There are no borders in reality but only in people’s minds.
Every bit of territory therefore belongs to those who have obtained it by working it or through free trade. If you buy a house, that house is yours. It does not belong to the people, it does not belong to the state.
Neither the state nor the people have the right to take it away from you or impose “rents” on you. “Rents” which at this point are nothing more than protection money. Suppose for the sake of argument that there is no need for labour or free trade between individuals for there to be property.
A group of people buys a piece of land and builds a shop. Another group of people comes along and says to them “Good morning, we are the police, the land you have bought is part of the territory of the state, which is the property of the people. You have to pay the taxes if you don’t want us to come with guns and close your shop”.
The government become the owners of everything and you are the owners of nothing. If work or exchange are not necessary to obtain property then what follows is that property is defined by who is stronger, by who is more violent. Exactly as it happens today.
The state with its monopoly on violence owns everything. The Voluntary Workers reject violence as a basis for building a society. They do not consider what has been stolen or arbitrarily defined as property. They trace property back to the real, legitimate owners – the individuals.
He is the CEO of the Institute for Liberty & Policy Innovation (ILAPI) in Ghana. His research interest are business red tape reforms, inter-regional integration between Africa and Europe, and Free market economics for Africa's prosperity.