Private Rights and Public Resources in Roman Law [No. 86]

Private Rights and Public Resources in Roman Law [No. 86]


Well it turns out that there are two kinds
of problems that you have to worry about in any regime of property rights. One of them is the question that one person
will take this property right and use it to blockade the way in which others can use things
of their own. Now what legal systems instinctively knew,
is that if you allow a blockade, it’s not going to encourage productive use of a resource. What it’s going to do is to allow one individual
to make sure that somebody else doesn’t have access to that resource unless it turns out
that they buy their way in. You then have to figure out who is going to
be the person whose got that dominant whip hand; and you have to ask yourself whether
or not if there are millions of people out there, you can enter into bargains with all
of them, so as to get rid of the appropriate blockade. The second problem is the externality problem. That’s a problem which says I’m using whatever
it is that I own. What I am going to do is essentially now create
noise or filth of one kind or another that spills over quite literally into somebody
else’s land, and if it turns out that you don’t have private property, you don’t have
the externality problem. And so what you’re constantly trying to worry
about is which of these two problems is bigger. And what you do is you now have a river, and
what it does is it runs a very long period of time and there are many people who are
riparians that own property on either side of the river. Well, if I can bottle it up, it means that
no downstream user can essentially gain any access to the water. Rivers support fish and if that water’s in
a barrel, there’s not gonna be that many fish who start to live. Our rivers essentially give you recreation. You can swim in a river. You can’t swim in a barrel. All of the common uses that one would like
to have with respect to all water when you talk about nutrition, fishing, recreation,
navigation. Occupadio is forbidden and now we’re effect
all of these particular rights are going to be preserved one way or another.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *