ad infernos

Lew Rockwell points to some “Latin You Should Know” from

Among the Latin phrases, I found this common-law term I learned from reading Murray Rothbard on property theory:

Cuius est solum eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos: “Whoever owns the land it is theirs up to the sky and down to the depths.” The state of Kansas used this law in the 1970s to argue that airlines could not serve liquor when flying over Kansas, a dry state. “Kansas,” Attorney General Vern Miller said, “goes all the way up and all the way down.” (If that’s true, Kansas can lay claim to, and prohibit drinking in, about 82,282 square miles of western China.)

There’s plenty wrong with the Kansas interpretation, but there’s even more wrong with Neatorama’s snide aside about western China.

Here’s my summary of Rothbard on the ad coelum rule:

Property Units: Rothbard versus Common Law

Rothbard’s main departure from common law tradition is his disagreement with the common-law principle “that every landowner owns all the airspace above him upward indefinitely unto the heavens and downward into the center of the earth. In Lord Coke’s famous dictum: cujus est solum ejus est usque ad coelum; that is, he who owns the soil owns upward unto heaven, and, by analogy, downward to Hades.”

But according to Rothbard, the ad coelum rule never made any sense in the context of homesteading: “If one homesteads and uses the soil, in what sense is he also using all the sky above him up into heaven? Clearly, he isn’t.”

So Rothbard rejected ad coelum, but we needn’t side with Rothbard to reject both the Kansas interpretation (pro–ad coelum) and the Neatorama interpretation (anti–ad coelum).

What’s wrong with the Kansas Attorney General’s argument is that ad coelum is a common law property precedent, and the state of Kansas does not own the entire territory of Kansas, according to common law. Even if you recognize the state government as a legitimate property owner (which Rothbardians don’t, of course), its property is limited to those areas not owned by the citizens and residents of Kansas. The irony of the state’s mouthpiece citing common law as an excuse to extend the reach of its “dry law” is that alcohol prohibition is itself a violation of common-law property rights.

But Neatorama’s parenthetical commentator is wrong at a much more rudimentary level, because ad coelum establishes a three-dimensional property boundary in the shape of a cone, not a cylinder. The point of the cone starts at the theoretical center of the planet; its supposedly infinite reach is only heavenward, not bidirectional.

Lord Coke’s dictum extends ownership “upward unto heaven, and, by analogy, downward to Hades.”

China isn’t Hades.

the reason for the season

“This is a day to remember liberation, disunion, the idea that a house divided might be more civil, peaceful and secure than one kept together by force.”

– Anthony Gregory, “The Case for Independence”

shorn on the 4th

I recently wrote,

I love [Gary] North the most when he’s writing about education. Second best: history. I used to love his stuff on gold and banking and money in general, but since I deal with Austrian economics all day every day, I don’t learn as much from his economic writings as I used to. On education and history, I still learn plenty.

Well his LRC article today is a perfect example of the kind of history I was talking about. It even includes a bit on education (the fact that the slogan “No taxation without representation” is a fabrication of history textbook writers) and on gold and banking and money.

This passage alone is worth the cost of admission:

The British in 1763 had signed a treaty with France settling the Seven Years War, which was called the French and Indian War in the colonies. This war had drained the treasuries of both countries.

The name of the war is incorrect. It refers to the dates of the official hostilities: 1756–63. It should be called the Nine Years War, because it began, not in 1756, but in 1754. It began on May 28, when an inexperienced 22-year-old Virginia militia officer led about thirty-five troops in an unprovoked surprise attack on a small group of Frenchmen commanded by Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville. The battle is called the Battle of Jumonville Glen. It took place in Western Pennsylvania.

The previous year, the militia’s commander had established an alliance with a village of Seneca Indians. He consulted with their leader the day before the attack. The Indian had encouraged him to strike first, without warning, which he did the next morning. The French lost the skirmish. Nine were killed; 21 were captured. Thirteen were wounded, but the group of about eight Indians without warning killed them. The Virginian met with the wounded French commander to discuss the terms of surrender. Before he could formally surrender, the Indians’ leader smashed his skull with a tomahawk.

France and England had not been at war. This was the opening salvo.

Another 400 men soon arrived. This was not enough. He surrendered on July 3 to a French and Indian force of 600 French and 100 Indians. As a condition of his troops’ release, he signed a document admitting that the French commander had been assassinated while surrendering to him. The French word was “l’assassignat,” which the young officer later said he thought meant “killing.”

The officer was Lt. Col. George Washington.

From “Shorn on the Fourth of July” by Gary North

a year ago today

On the baby blog, exactly one year ago this hour:

independence day

Benjamin has declared his Independence this July 4th by breaking his mother’s bag of waters.

(We may be out of touch for a while.)

liberty vs democracy

A substantial point of disagreement between Mises and many American libertarians was the question of democracy. Mises would come to taste the particular American flavor of hostility to democracy in a 1947 exchange of letters with Rose Wilder Lane. Apparently they had met for lunch, and Lane had the impression that Mises believed they shared the same outlook on fundamentals. At the meeting she did not feel it was the right moment to start a discussion on the subject, but later wrote him to set the record straight: “as an American I am of course fundamentally opposed to democracy and to anyone advocating or defending democracy, which in theory and practice is the basis of socialism.” FULL ARTICLE