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Who Owns What In China? Is It Wealth?

Popularity 2Viewed 1282 times 2015-4-4 17:11 |Personal category:Quote Me|System category:Economy| ownership, things, and, wealth

Continuing the series of posts about wealth and what it really means, this is a post that deals with issues of 'ownership'.

I define 'ownership' today as a set of legal rights humans have over something. It can be tangible or intangible. Some of it might constitute wealth.

Modern ownership, that I refer to, precludes ownership of other humans. Not so long ago, it was allowed and has now been outlawed supposedly by the abolition of human slavery. We are allowed to 'own' other living creatures, just not other humans. Humans with their typical ingenuity have always found ways of working around clearly spelled out laws and principles and have managed to effectively enslave others. This is what often leads to the greatest wealth a person can accumulate.

Of all the 'rights' we have over something we own, the crucial one that tells us if we REALLY own something, is one that I observe even a baby or child understands fully! It is the following. 

The ultimate ownership test:

'The owner of something has a right to do whatever they please with it - even destroy it, so long as it does not interfere with anyone else's rights - usually legal rights.'

The littlest children often illustrate this true concept of ownership by smashing what they own and destroying it. They then flash a smile to show you their happiness at the full exercise of their rights. Unfortunately, this is right denied to most adults over most of what they are under the illusion that they own. One can clearly see from history that many of the old slave owners too often demonstrated and exercised the above stated right fully.

By applying the above crucial test you realise exactly what you REALLY own and what you don't own or what you don't FULLY own. Philosophically, we can see that any concept of what we 'own' really extends to a small period of time, limited by our own lifetime. This was likely well understood by many civilizations and cultures around the world. It shows a level of wisdom that they allowed ownership of objects and even each other, but not of land, especially not of land that was not personally used or occupied, by the person. I will discuss the old, ancient concept of ownership in a future post. I think it was a different idea - one of control rather than ownership.

In addition to legal rights, usually we have legal responsibilities over the things we own. These are often clearly stated. One of the crucial responsibilities is to ensure that what we own is not involved in infringing someone else's legal rights. For instance, we have the responsibility that the car we own does not run over someone else, that the dog we own does not bite someone else or that the music player we own does not disturb someone else's sleep. 

There are often much more responsibilities than the rights we have. The object usually is worth owning for a specific purpose or utility for us and that is all we can get from it. We can enjoy its utility for perhaps a little while, not all the time, but we are responsible for it for entire time we own it. I am sure you are starting to see something here - ownership is not all fun and great. It comes with a downside.

I am going to further elaborate on this and hopefully shake some of your fundamental beliefs of 'ownership.' At the end of this discussion I will ask you a question that I want you to think about, regarding each thing that you 'own' today. Hopefully it will also give you an idea of whether to regard what you own as wealth or not.

In modern times, there are often things that we think we 'own' - take the following examples.
The most common things that people in the western world 'own' as what might constitute as wealth are 

1) House, land
2) Car
3) A lot of gadgets, appliances

Assuming that all of the above are fully paid for (owned outright), we still have the responsibilities by law to keep them in good condition. We need to pay an yearly tax - land/property tax for a house or land and registration fee for a car. We also need to pay liability insurance (often compulsory) for vehicles. We need to mow the grass, keep the land free of fire hazards, weeds or other pests and looking well maintained according to the community standard as per local laws. All gadgets or appliances (especially the more useful ones) will need maintenance, repairs or servicing. All of this will cost you and you will need to work hard to keep them up, in addition to other needs and necessities of life and family. You cannot even apply the crucial ultimate ownership test. You cannot destroy or dispose of your house or car or gadgets in anyway you like. You are completely restricted by the laws. So, if you reflect a bit, you might wonder what are the limits of rights you have over these things you 'own'.

So we see that even if we own something outright (it is completely paid for and we don't owe anymore money on it) it is often something that seems to own us and enslaves us in making us work to just keep it up or maintain it. Look around today and you can see that often we don't even fully own it - in that we don't have the full rights over it that we should/could, but we have ALL the responsibilities. In addition to that we have to work harder to pay interest over and above the money we still owe on those items we 'own'.

So, the question is what do YOU really own? 
Do you own your house?
Do you own your car?
Do you own all your gadgets and appliances?


Do the house, car and gadgets, all own YOU?

In the next post in this series, I will discuss the following.

Ownership and Control

There is a crucial difference between 'ownership' and 'control' over something. The owner may not always be the person who has control over what they own.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




Shake hands

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Comment Comment (3 comments)

Reply Report SEARU 2015-4-4 22:56
I am sure you could become a lawyer in that court!----------since you are good at for debating!
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2015-4-7 11:08
I only own my mind, even it could be twisted sometimes.  
Reply Report KIyer 2015-4-7 14:08
Dr.Bill.Shen: I only own my mind, even it could be twisted sometimes.   
Good one! True. .

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