mardi, janvier 24, 2006
Sometimes, in reading the news and issues that are current, one can notice a subtle serendipital line that connects one item to another. It is normally casual and occurs without any premeditation whatsoever. I was intrigued over the past few days by the constant appearance of the concept of "ownership" in different areas and coming from different parts of the world. Law students learn from an early stage the difference between "ownership" and "possession" that is at the basis of many civil transactions. The ultimate owner of an object (or right) may not be the current possessor. A typical example is the contract of rent whereby the landlord is the owner but the tenant is by contract the current possessor of the tenement.
Anyways. The dangers of digressing are as multiple as the subject is wide. Property rights and ownership are also at the basis of political divisions. The ownership and management of property can be seen to be the root of differences between capitalism and communism. For a long time the distinguishing factor between the right and the left (those huddled close to the centre of course, and not the extremist right and left who both have state ownership in mind) would be their approach to the management of property for the generation of common good.
But now lets to the news and see the items that have this common thread:
1. Duh!mericans and Eminent Domain
The land of the free is transforming property ownership into a bet of the brave. The legal device of "eminent domain" is equivalent to the UK "compulsory purchase order" or that one time favourite of MLPN governments "expropriation". In very lay terms its origins lie in the balance between the usefulness of a property (normally land / building) for the state as against its usefulness to the current owner. An act of exproproriation by the state would normally be for the common good of the state such as for example expropriating land for the building of a highway. Under normal government fair compensation would be tendered to the person who loses property for the common good. In Malta, various Kazini were acquired by the MLP dangling the threat of expropriation before the owners' faces until they subsided to accept a pittance immediately rather than wait for the irrisory compensations that were meted out at the time. But then the Kazin Lejberista is a public good is it not? Well, in Duh! States, Judge Souter, one of the judges who recently backed the return of eminent domain to the fore of government prerogatives is risking losing a 200 year old farmhouse to some activists seeking to develop this property simply to teach him a lesson or two.... read more here.
2. God's Word is Copyrighted
Another form of ownership rights is that found in intellectual property rigts. The latest news is that some works supposedly (if you are a believer) inspired by the most supreme of intellects will henceforth be copyrighted. The Vatican has transferred copyright on papal texts to its own publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. The Vatican also plans to charge rights on any papal texts of the past 50 years. It appears that reproducing papal words will now cost money and this will go to the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. The Vatican claims that this is being done in order to to protect papal works and ensure that the rules would be applied more rigorously. But surely libel laws and basic authorship rights would suffice? Maybe they should ask Hogan.
3. Evo Morales
Bolivians, particularly those of the indian kind, were elated to see Evo Morales inaugurated as the first indigenous indian to hold such a post in South America. This continues the swing to the left in most South American countries. Hot on Evo's agenda are various ownership issues. These include the ownership of the gas industry in Bolivia (which he wants to renationalise), the ownership of coca-fields (which he wants to keep and continue the fight against drug dealers in the process) and ownership of Bolivia's destiny (which he wants to wrestle away from Duh!merica). A bit of a Mintoff for the 2000's, Morales might even succeed where others have failed but he will need to rope in the support of fellow South Americans in the process. There is hope yet... el pueblo unido....
4. George's Cross
And finally to the hottest topic this side of the ewro. The blogosfera (Maltese blogosphere) has moved on from discussing the nomenclature of the eurocoin and shifted to another symbol of the Repubblika. Or maybe not. As in, it is a symbol but it remains disputable as to whether the Repubblika really wants it. Of course I am talking about Cross George. That medal of honour that we share with the Royal Ulster Constabulary. We also share it with this list of honourable gentlemen of course but there have only been two collective awards so we should be proud.
One thing that really irks me is the fact that, benevolent as he may have been, King G did not deem it fit to create an ad hoc award for a nation but simply gave us something that any individual could get. Sorry but I do not see that as gratitude. You want to impress me? For heaven's sake Harrod's carried the Royal Insignia for ages simply for providing the Germanic family with its favourite household items. We all know where those insignia went after Queen E stopped liking the Al Fayeds!
So the fact remains that the cross is George's and not ours, simply because we cannot claim exclusivity over it. So I COULD agree that a removal of the man on the horsey in a cross thingy is in order. But then begins the ugly business. I definitely want something on the flag. The red and white alone is so bland to the point of being pathetic (sorry Poland). Twanny worries me. He mentions cacti and maltese boats (dghajsa) and I begin to get nightmares of the first symbols of Mintoffs republika. Please please no carnival floats. I have a few ideas in mind but I will leave them for the second installment of the J'ose postings.
That's it... ownership and all.