From Common Wealth to Common Property
February 2006 issue of Vermont Commons, USA.
Peter Barnes, 2006
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Common property—as distinct from common wealth, and from individual or government property—has a long though little-known history. Frequently it is property owned by a community—a tribe, a village, a people. Individual rights to share in the property depend on membership. If you’re born into the community, your share is a birthright. Conversely, if you leave the community or die, you lose your rights. Shares aren’t saleable to strangers as they are with corporate stock.
While the main reason we need common property is to save the planet, there’d be ancillary benefits as well. These include non-labor income for all, a more vibrant culture and a less distorted democracy. These benefits would arise because well-managed common wealth adds to well-being in ways private property can’t.