Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Property Rights

Via Calpundit I see that little Jonah Goldberg and various other libertarian-conservatives/conservative-libertarians are all in a muddle about the new national do not call list as they sorta like the desired effect but are horrified that there isn´t any market solution to the problem.

This is rather silly. This is a market solution, though not in the way people like Goldberg tend to see it, where there is some explicit financial transaction. Instead, what the government has done is clarified and/or redefined property rights, depending on how you look at it.

Previously, you didn´t own the right to determine who did or didn´t cause the telephone in your home to ring. Well, you could do the equivalent of putting up fences by having various electronic gizmos and caller ID or whatnot, but no one could be prosecuted for climbing over those fences. Now the federal government has strengthened your ownership of your phone by enforcing your ability to exclude certain classes of callers.

Of course, nothing is now stopping you from selling or renting that particular asset you now have - perhaps we can look forward to companies offering people money to take themselves off the no call list and then marketing that list to telemarketers...