“Property is freedom” is a common sentiment among libertarians. However, some property rights arguments have the effect of restricting freedoms of movement, association, commerce, protest, and speech in public spaces. This can lead to strange conclusions like justifying immigration controls, cultural supremacy, and the initiation of force under the guise of “libertarian” property rights theory.
Public space is where freedom happens. Ironically, many public spaces are owned by governments. Any proposal to privatize existing public space must preserve established public access and freedoms while divesting ownership to non-governmental owners.
In a 2011 article, Hans Hermann Hoppe theorized public space as the genesis of governmental authority, and a method for privatizing public space consistent with property rights acquired through homesteading. However, Hoppe grants too much authority to the new private owners, failing to adequately preserve public freedoms that have also been “homesteaded.” The resulting framework could subject occupants of public spaces to the whims of their owners, trading one king for thousands of kings.
I propose an expanded concept of property rights and public space that is more consistent with the non-aggression principle, offers better conflict resolution, and establishes “Opt-in Trusts” as a simple, achievable, broadly beneficial method of privatizing all government-owned public space.