Thursday, April 23, 2009

Killing Trees

Students have many reasons to loathe law school textbooks; the back-breaking size, the low-quality paper, the unanswered questions in the notes between cases (Do you see why?).  The biggest gripe among my students, however, is the price of their materials (textbook prices rose by 186 percent between 1986 and 2006).  Thinking that I might be able to get a better deal for my books, I took a look at the price of some of the leading property texts:

Dukeminier, Krier, Alexander, Schill  $149
Merrill and Smith $146
Singer $146
Rabin, Kwall, & Kwall  $144
Nelson, Stoebuck & Whitman $143
Casner, Leach, French  $143
Freyermuth, Organ, Noble-Allgire and Winokur: $142
Sprankling & Coletta: $132
Bruce and Ely  $129

This seems problematic.  Is the difficulty, as Ian Ayres said, "the lack of price competition?" Is it that we just don't pay attention to prices?  Should I run for state senate on a platform of breaking the textbook monopoly?

Steve Clowney

April 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Krier on Evolutionary Theory and the Origin of Property Rights

James E. Krier (Michigan) has posted Evolutionary Theory and the Origin of Property Rights on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Legal scholars have never settled on a satisfactory account of the evolution of property rights. The touchstone for virtually all discussion, Harold Demsetz's Toward a Theory of Property Rights, has a number of well-known (and not so well-known) shortcomings, perhaps because it was never intended to be taken as an evolutionary explanation in the first place. There is, in principle at least, a pretty straightforward fix for the sort of evolutionary approach pursued by followers of Demsetz, but even then that approach - call it the conventional approach - fails to account for very early property rights, right at the genesis. The early developments are better explained by a very different approach based on evolutionary game theory. The game theoretic approach can account for a basic system of property rights rooted in possession; it cannot, however, account for complex property systems. To explain the latter requires the conventional approach. Hence, the two approaches combined suggest a satisfactory account of the origins and development of property rights systems.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

April 22, 2009 in Property Theory, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Gift to be Simple, A Gift to be Free

For anyone with an interest in Utopian communities, the New York Times Magazine ran a long article on the Transition Initiative:

The Transition movement ... shares certain principles with environmentalism, but its vision is deeper — and more radical — than mere greenness or sustainability. “Sustainability,” Hopkins recently told me, “is about reducing the impacts of what comes out of the tailpipe of industrial society.” But that assumes our industrial society will keep running. By contrast, Hopkins said, Transition is about “building resiliency” — putting new systems in place to make a given community as self-sufficient as possible, bracing it to withstand the shocks that will come as oil grows astronomically expensive, climate change intensifies and, maybe sooner than we think, industrial society frays or collapses entirely. For a generation, the environmental movement has told us to change our lifestyles to avoid catastrophic consequences. Transition tells us those consequences are now irreversibly switching on; we need to revolutionize our lives if we want to survive.

Although it's somewhat difficult to mine specifics from the group's website, the Initiative seems to have mixed views on the benefits of communal property.   As one of the group's websites states "land and natural resources will no longer be regarded as private property that can be owned by individuals, corporations and companies.  However all improvement on the land such as houses, factories, gardens, farm infrastructure, being wealth will all be subject to private ownership."

Steve Clowney

April 21, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Blogging the Bluegrass


Lexington, Kentucky is a wonderful place to live and work.  Founded in 1779, Lexington is the self-proclaimed "Horse Capital of the World," Kentucky's second largest city, and home to (arguably) the oldest law school in the country

Kentucky is also a fun place to teach property.  Under the guidance of Jesse Dukeminier, Kentucky adopted a wait-and-see approach to the Rule Against Perpetuities (and allows judicial reformation of violations!). Another great property fact about the Bluegrass State: Kentucky remains one of the few places where you can get full title to government land by adverse possession.  So, if you ever pass through Kentucky, look me up - I'll be the guy camping out behind City Hall, trying to start a real estate empire.

Pic: Manchester Farm - Lexington, Kentucky

Steve Clowney

April 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)