Sean Roach on February 26, 2010, 10:35:58 am
I tend to agree with you.
One thing might make it less likely, and that is if property IS fungible.
If one lot is treated as like another, than a person might move away if they don't like the terms.

You might notice this thread is over 15 months old, and that is, or was, a point of discussion on it, as recently as the top post on the last page.

One way to control a finite resource, such as access, is to make the business responsible for its own connections with neighboring businesses.  If the lot is clear, but the lot holder beside it won't talk to you, and won't allow you to connect with him, you're going to have to find someone else to tie in through.  The problem with this is it puts the burden of maintenance on those who will pay.
Everyone needs the place to stay aired up, so a business that refuses to maintain the airskin over their place is a liability to its neighbors.  A business that avoids paying for air recycling, or security, remains habitable, at the expense of its neighbors.  Once the cost of supporting this freeloader exceeds the benefit of being able to walk across in front of this freeloaders property, or being able to target the customers of this freeloader with add-on goods and services, the other holders would probably do things like throwing up curtains to keep their air for them, and possibly just sealing the freeloader off until he provided for his load on the mixed resources.

Another thing.  Ceres is an iced over rock.  The escape velocity is 1430.78 mph, less than a third that of the moon, (source http://www.qrg.northwestern.edu/projects/vss/docs/space-environment/2-whats-escape-velocity.html).  The term "belters" is used frequently.   I think you might be oversimplifying things to assume the elder Guzman's debtors are all on Ceres.

Scott on February 26, 2010, 11:57:42 pm
There are various ways of dealing with the "renters economy" phenomenon.  I think the one most likely in the context of Ceres' stateless culture, and the fact that no place there is habitable without a considerable amount of improvements, is a more usufruct notion of land rights.  You own a plot of land on Ceres so long as you have and are maintaining a home or business there. If an owner abandons some section for several years, and squatters move in and start making a home or a going concern of the place, chances are the other Cerereans not only won't object, but may side with the squatters against any absentee landlords. (Laws in most United States have some form of this, called "adverse possession," although it isn't used much and of course the government courts apply it inconsistently.)

Roads within the settlements can and would likely be owned and maintained by a associations of merchants who rely on those roads for their businesses.

And ultimately, if Ceres gets to be too "overgrown," there are other planetoids, asteroids, the Jovian moons, the Saturnine moons, the Kuiper Belt, etc. Space, even the space just within the Sol System, is Big. Really, mind-bogglingly big. You may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's but that's just peanuts to Space. And eventually, someone will invent a workable FTL drive and we'll have whole new planetary systems to colonize.

ttogreh on February 28, 2010, 09:08:02 am
There are various ways of dealing with the "renters economy" phenomenon.  I think the one most likely in the context of Ceres' stateless culture, and the fact that no place there is habitable without a considerable amount of improvements, is a more usufruct notion of land rights.  You own a plot of land on Ceres so long as you have and are maintaining a home or business there. If an owner abandons some section for several years, and squatters move in and start making a home or a going concern of the place, chances are the other Cerereans not only won't object, but may side with the squatters against any absentee landlords. (Laws in most United States have some form of this, called "adverse possession," although it isn't used much and of course the government courts apply it inconsistently.)

Obviously an absent land lord is easy enough to resolve in a stateless society. A present, rent-seeking land lord is much more sticky of a problem.

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Roads within the settlements can and would likely be owned and maintained by a associations of merchants who rely on those roads for their businesses.

Sure, but I still have not seen any evidence to convince me that such an association could not become its own going concern and turning into a natural monopoly. First, a few streets, then a few blocks, and then "enough" of Ceres to make the collection of road rent a commodity.

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And ultimately, if Ceres gets to be too "overgrown," there are other planetoids, asteroids, the Jovian moons, the Saturnine moons, the Kuiper Belt, etc. Space, even the space just within the Sol System, is Big. Really, mind-bogglingly big. You may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's but that's just peanuts to Space. And eventually, someone will invent a workable FTL drive and we'll have whole new planetary systems to colonize.

People live together in cities because it is more efficient than spread-out settlements. That efficiency is self-evident. I don't care if a Cererean can go to alpha centauri for a vacation. Ceres will still have a finite metropolitan area, and it will still have roads.

quadibloc on February 28, 2010, 11:57:23 am
Roads, in an anarcho-capitalist society, would be just like the mall air conditioning in your example. Merchants with stores would be useless without access, so they would join together to provide roads, so that their customers could visit their stores.
Malls have air-conditioning, and office buildings have elevators. Is it just fear of the unknown that makes us imagine that without Big Government to hold our hands, highways and bridges would be impossible?

Although city governments do set standards, if a real estate developer is going to turn several acres of farmland into a suburb, the developer pays for contractors to put in the sewers and the electricity and to pave the roads. So even now the government isn't actually doing it all. City bylaws just help to avoid the situation where people have to drive around neighborhoods where the developer skimped on the roads... or plagues from neighborhoods where the developer skimped on the sewer capacity.

It wouldn't necessarily be an improvement if, for the sake of livability, in the absence of city governments, nearly everyone felt it necessary to live in a gated community. Government, by being able to make everyone do his share, just lets larger people organize together more quickly than they can by private cooperation. In a world plagued by war, the advantage this provided more than made up for the disadvantages that even oppressive governments had, never mind democratic governments - because the real choice people had was either have an oppressive government, or be killed or enslaved by the next tribe over.

Scott on March 02, 2010, 01:00:55 am
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Sure, but I still have not seen any evidence to convince me that such an association could not become its own going concern and turning into a natural monopoly. First, a few streets, then a few blocks, and then "enough" of Ceres to make the collection of road rent a commodity.

I'm not sure why a business owner who depends on roads to bring customers would want to give up his share of a road association. The bigger the road network, the more association members, all of them with a self-interest in supporting their businesses by providing safe and convenient access.

I'm not sure what sort of evidence might convince you about this. You can't really prove anything with storytelling, you can only illustrate, offering a vision of what might be.

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People live together in cities because it is more efficient than spread-out settlements. That efficiency is self-evident. I don't care if a Cererean can go to alpha centauri for a vacation. Ceres will still have a finite metropolitan area, and it will still have roads.

So long as living in on Ceres offers more benefits than striking out on one's own or with a group of like-minded people and establishing new colonies elsewhere (which gets easier over time with improving technology), or going to newly-established places that have unclaimed space available, I don't see how this is a problem.

quadibloc on March 02, 2010, 03:31:10 am
So long as living in on Ceres offers more benefits than striking out on one's own or with a group of like-minded people and establishing new colonies elsewhere (which gets easier over time with improving technology), or going to newly-established places that have unclaimed space available, I don't see how this is a problem.
You've just stated the single biggest problem with this comic as an argument for Libertarianism or anarcho-capitalism, or whatever (as opposed to entertainment, which purpose it fulfills quite well).

The earlier history of America shows that democracy with strong limits on what the government can tax people for, if not full-blown Libertarianism, is not only workable when there's an open frontier next door, but that it would be very difficult to get people to sit still for big government with piles of regulations like we seem to have today under such a circumstance.

Now, take a crowded world, where there is no "elsewhere" to go to, just every scrap of land being controlled by one or another government, and all of them very crowded, with few people having any choice but to work for wages for someone else as a living... and having government defend renters against landlords, and wage-earners against their employers, with regulations at least sounds very attractive. Zoning laws, laws restricting pollution, and even gun control, at least sound like they make sense if your place of residence has the density of Manhattan Island.

So if you leave out the gratuitous cruelty of today's dictatorships - and on a smaller level, the Terra in this story -  it isn't as clear cut. One is still dealing with a world where everything you own depends on the restraint of the majority in not voting itself largesse from the public treasury, so it's not a good alternative, but if circumstances confine people to a crowded area, making that work without a lot of government seems to be the more difficult case.

ttogreh on March 02, 2010, 06:04:16 am

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I'm not sure why a business owner who depends on roads to bring customers would want to give up his share of a road association. The bigger the road network, the more association members, all of them with a self-interest in supporting their businesses by providing safe and convenient access.

I'm not sure what sort of evidence might convince you about this. You can't really prove anything with storytelling, you can only illustrate, offering a vision of what might be.

Let me try to illustrate what I am trying to say. Pops ran his doll store well, but Junior was more interested in thermonuclear demolition. When Pops died, he sold the store to a nearby merchant that he and Pops knew for a song. He actually made more money selling his road association membership to "Ceres Road Holdings, LLC". Repeat my story "enough" times. The roads are well run, the rent on them is reasonable, but for the love of god, don't forget to pay it.


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So long as living in on Ceres offers more benefits than striking out on one's own or with a group of like-minded people and establishing new colonies elsewhere (which gets easier over time with improving technology), or going to newly-established places that have unclaimed space available, I don't see how this is a problem.

Oh, it certainly is not a problem. Indeed, it is quite a lucrative opportunity to people that might not be as like-minded as you would like them to be.