Originally posted by HauntWok
reply to post by SQUEALER
We actually don't buy land. What we buy is "protection". We buy the right to be protected in some use of that land.
If I buy land to put up a house, the rights usually don't include the right to dig up the mineral deposits on that land. I only have rights to the
top soil. If I discover there's gold and silver underneath that top soil. It isn't really mine. I have to apply for the mineral rights to the land,
and make another purchase, to that same property, to dig up the gold.
It is not clear, when land transactions were done in the past, what specific rights were implied in those transactions. The rights to property evolved
over time, to include and exclude various things.
For example, when the United States purchased land from Mexico, did they specify they were buying the mineral rights under the land, or was it just
the top soil that they now owned?
It is clear that America has the rights to build on the land, to walk the land free of Mexicans, but what about the rights to the commodities under
the ground? Who owns that? Do the Mexicans still own the mineral deposits?
Would modern Mexicans have a case, if they went to the international court, and claimed that their forefathers only intended to sell the rights to
America to settle on the land, but never intended to sell the mineral rights beneath the ground, and therefore all that mineral wealth is sill
When America bought Alaska from the Russians, Russia did not know about the huge Oil and Gold deposits that would be found there. Could Russia now
claim today, that they only sold the top soil rights back then, and therefore all that Oil and Gold is sill theirs?
The thing about property rights, is that those rights are often ambiguous. You could not have entered into a deal about something that you did not
know exists. So if you later discover that in the old chest you sold to the antique dealer, was a precious manuscript in a hidden compartment, who has
claim to the hidden wealth?
If you buy a piece of land, and while doing some gardening, you discover a box of cash hidden by drug dealers, whose money is it?
Clearly, the box of cash isn't listed in the deed to the property!
So, the thing about owning property, is that it is often partly undefined. This leaves the door open to contests over the property you think you
Mexico and Russia can both make valid claims to the mineral wealth now enjoyed by Americans, just as the government can stop you from digging up the
huge deposit of rare-earths you suddenly discover is under your land.
At the end of the day, the police, locally, and the military, internationally, give us protection to the rights we think we should have. It all
depends on how much we pay these entities to protect our point of view, and our liberty to do what we want.
Mexico is unlikely to tackle the United States over the mineral rights, since their military isn't up to the job. But, they might sneak more Mexicans
into America, to swing the "vote".