In the above post on Oo.net, I came up with what I think is an elegant solution to the "problem" of fishing rights, so now I'm looking for input on my solution. Basically, it is:
Would-be commercial fishermen bid yearly for a license to sell a specific type of fish (in a specified country, since governments can't exactly guarantee anything about other countries). This license is known as the "primary" license. The holder of the primary license can also issue "secondary" licenses whereby others can acquire the right to sell fish of the specified type. Each type of fish will be bid individually.
Note: The government is not the default "owner" of this license; in the absence of anyone that wishes to bid for a license (such as on fish that have little or no commercial value) then the license remains "open", and no one can contest anyone else's use of that type of fish.
I invite everyone and anyone to try and poke holes in my solution or demonstrate how it would not work. You may need to read the entire thread to understand the question under debate, however, and it's a bit long.
If you're not an Objectivist and/or you don't understand or care to understand how Capitalism actually works, I will inform you that your ideas are "not even wrong". This doesn't mean that I hate you, it just means that I don't want to write a ten-page paper explaining the foundation of the discussion before I get around to the actual discussion. So, this is actually a fairly narrow question.
You won't get anything out of this other than (possibly) bragging rights. I'll go ahead and offer a few scenarios that occured to me and my rebuttals as a starting point:
Q: Jennifer, wouldn't this constitute at least the potential establishment of a coercive monopoly?
A: In a word, no. A coercive monopoly depends not only on the non-existence of competitors, but the impossibility of competitors, and all anyone has to do in order to defeat your monopoly would be to out-bid you for the license next year. The government would only be ensuring that you had the right that you'd paid for, just like registering a patent.
Q: What's preventing the highest bidder from issuing more licenses than the market or fish population can support?
A: What prevents a manufacturer from making more shoes than he can sell? The fact that he'll lose money if he does. If there are already a great many entrants into a specific field, the wise capitalist invests elsewhere. If he doesn't, he loses his shirt and the problem quickly vanishes.
Q: What happens if some political group raises a bunch of money and buys all the fish licenses so that no one can fish?
Hey, if that's how they want to spend their money, so be it. It's no different from someone buying a strip mall and turning it back into wilderness.
Q: What's preventing everyone from refraining from bidding and getting "free" licenses?
Self-interest. The problem of fishing rights really only arises in the case of industrial-scale fishing, at which point it becomes profitable to acquire this sort of license so that you can exclude or (somewhat) manage your competitors from a specific field. Besides, could you ever be completely certain that you'd managed to secure the agreement of every potential competitor? Trying to enact a deal of this kind would leave the door open for a very small venture-capital firm to acquire the primary license at a very low price, then charge everyone for secondary licenses!
Q: What happens with foreign countries that don't have fish licenses?
Nothing. In any situation other than anarchy, the government will have to do something about fishing rights. Currently, the tendency is towards telling you where you can fish, and when, and how much, and how, and so on and so forth. Entry into a market where all you have to do is buy a license would be much more profitable.
Anyone else have good ideas? I realize that this scenario is terribly concrete, but I think it's beneficial to your overall thought processes if you occasionally attack concretes from an abstract standpoint. In addition, by showing that the same principle can be applied to even this concrete makes your entire case all that more sound.
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