In many ways, we now live in a world made possible by widespread individual ownership. Kant and Locke, and perhaps especially Hegel, would be proud: property rights are widely assigned to people who work to express themselves. In today’s legal/economic structure— characterized both by large integrated entities and widespread dis-integrated, or small-scale, production—there are many owners. This widespread ownership brings with it great advantages of individual autonomy and decentralized power.
But it also brings a problem. When many components must be integrated to form a salable product, or when there is great value in the aggregation of many dispersed pieces, individual ownership can be costly. Whatever label is placed on it—anticommons, excessive transaction costs, a runaway “permission culture”—the reality is the same: too many rights, too many clearances required, too many resources wasted assembling all the little pieces. Put simply, too much property.
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