Real and Personal Property, Part 1 to blupete's Essay
"On Property Rights"
William Graham Sumner1 described property as a "most fundamental and complex of social facts." Given Sumner's description, it will be no surprise to learn that the legal rules surrounding the posession and transfer of property are equally "fundamental and complex." I make no attempt to sort out these rules or to explain their complexities, here, at this place. But, I choose to say this much: property, as most do understand, is something physical, something that can be possessed. Lawyers break it down into two categories real property (land) and personal property (moveable stuff).2 Personal property, for the purposes of discussion, can be further broken down, physically speaking, into two sub-categories: into that which is easily possessed (pocket property) and that which is not so easily possessed (jumbo property). "Jumbo property" and real property are by their nature difficult or impossible to be physically possessed by a person or a group of persons; guardians are often employed to watch over these kinds of property. With personal property, possession is often good enough to show ownership. Not so with the other kinds of property. Because it cannot be physically possessed there is often difficulty in proving ownership; invariably, papers will have to be produced. (As a lawyer, I can tell you that much paper comes about whenever the question of ownership comes into play in respect to real property and/or "jumbo property.") Now, it is much easier to move paper around than the property itself (indeed, real property, by its nature, cannot be moved at all). In the final analysis, it's not the paper that is of value. The paper (more and more, now, it's just so much electronic bits and bites) is but a large social accounting system to keep track of who owns what.
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