I am not sure that I buy the idea of collective ownership, unless each member of the collective explicitly and voluntarily agrees to stipulations.
Let me start by breaking down ownership as a concept. If you view ownership as a bundle of rights - each to certain actions relative to an object - then you can see that we have, for example, a moral right to breathe in the air that our life requires. And breathing is an action relative to our body (the object in question). Owning our bodies, means having a bundle of rights - each being an action and each being relative to the object that we own. Each of the rights is not just about an action, but implies the relationship between the object and the individual. It is MY right to breath. But, we are able to define rights by our nature as individuals (it is an individual right, so it is Steve's right, Mark's right, etc. - common to all individuals.)
Notice that we can have moral rights without first explicitly or voluntarily agreeing.
But there are legal rights as well. The right to sell stock in a company is an action that you acquired the legal right to take when you purchased the stock. When you purchased the stock you became a collective owner.... and, in that example, it was done explicitly and voluntarily.
I would say that the "collective" part of the ownership (when it is that kind of ownership) is not directly tied to the "agrees" part. Some things are owned collectively (corporations, partnerships, property held in common by marriage), and not everything has an explicit, voluntary agreement... like the intestate inheritance one has a legal right to (parents die in an accident and have no will. Kids inherit. They own that right to inherit upon the death of their parents absent any agreement to the contrary).
Government is an institution whose proper purpose is to uphold justice, which requires proper definition and defense of individual rights. If it is founded on voluntary consent, as it ought to be, then individuals truly delegate certain responsibilities to it.
I agree with the part about the purpose of government and the definition and defense of individual rights. But not on the part about voluntary consent... at least not so much. Here is why. If a career thief is also a citizen and has given his voluntary consent, what are we going to say? That his consent was invalid because he planned on violating rights? Does that make the government's attempt to arrest him when he steals wrong (he didn't give proper consent)? Or if the thief refused to consent, does that mean government has to give him a free pass to steal? What about a man who was born here, therefore is a citizen, but, like me, never explicitly gave consent? Does that mean govenment, even when it acts true to its proper purpose, is illegitamet? What about a government that is 95% acting to defend individual rights and 5% violating them? No one has the right to consent to a government violation of rights. Contracts, which are civil agreements, grant legal rights, and must, by their nature, be explicit and voluntary. But with government I just don't have what feels like the definitive answer to the issue of "consent of the governed." At this point, I have an answer that is just made up as a kind of intellectual place-holder. We all grant our moral consent to the protection of individual rights - and no more - not explicitly, but just by being creatures who have individual rights and who live among men. That consent is logically derived as opposed to voluntarily given, but it only grants the authority to defend individual rights and is not a blanket authorization. It is a kind of axiomatic consent in the sense that no one can consent to the violation of the rights of others, and no one can have a moral right to object to the protection of individual rights.
I'm not entirely happy with that answer, but it is what I have now. It has the value of making proper government moral and any action of any government that violates an individual right is not sanctioned by that 'consent.'
Government has no rights, I think; only individuals do. If government has no rights, the collective government is said to represent also lacks rights. Except that I do not think any collective has any rights. Rights have as their purpose the defense of individual moral agency. Collectives can't choose, and therefore lack rights. Properly constituted government represents, in an agency relationship, not a collective; but rather an assortment of individuals, all of whom maintain an identical reciprocal relationship with that government.
Government has no individual rights... only individual have individual rights. That's true. But government has legal rights (granted by the constitution, which was granted by the ratification of a majority of the states at the time, whose representatives doing the ratification were elected by a majority of the citizens of those states).
A corporation keeps track of its "owners of record" - usually this is done by a bank for the corporation. This is a record of who were owners of stock (and how many shares and of what stock issue) at any given date. With government what we have is citizenship. Looking at this as a legal ownership right in the common property, it is something we inherit (from whom?) at birth, if we are born here. Hey, those are just the rules governing this legal right as it currently exists. (I think that citizenship should NOT go a person by being born here, but that everyone should have to take a test before becoming a citizen - a test that you take at age 18 or so. If you are born to a couple, at least one of whom has a legal right to be here, then you should inherit the legal right to be here (not citizenship) That's how I see it).
A collective would have no individual rights. True. But it can be a way of talking about the legal rights of those individuals who make up that collective. For example, if a group of individuals all sign a contract saying that they will put x number of dollars into an investment, then sell that investment vehicle in 10 years and divide the money, they, collectively have legal rights relative to the investment. That is, we can talk about their rights in that fashion. If you are member of this collective, you have this or that right. Collectively speaking humans have the capacity to choose, but the collective can't choose, just the individuals.
Legal rights should always have, at their base, moral rights. I have a right to my life, hence I should have a legal right to defend myself, and it should be against the law (legally prohibited) for someone to murder me. Contracts are a recognition that we own certain things (have rights to take certain actions relative to some object) and that we can trade or give away those rights. So, if I have full legal title to an autombile, I have the right to drive it around, and I can trade that right to someone else. They can drive it around for a period of time in exchange for money. In that rental agreement for my car. we are dealing with legal rights, but they rest upon moral rights (individual rights).
Collectives do choose... in a sense. We vote. We do that as shareholders in a corporation, as homeowners in a homeowner's association, as citizens in our elections. It is how we exercise the degree of choice the context allows. When I'm in a romantic relationship, if I'm wise, I'll give up - not my moral agency - but some of my choices, to share in the decision making that is part of the context of our relationship. The collective 'us' will choose to do some things and not others. A 'collective choice' is just a way of saying that by some mechanism we adopted one choice over others as the action accepted by the collective. It is how we exercise our capacity to choose when we share in something... hopefully because that shared concern benefits each of the members over the long haul more than not belonging to that collective.
When you say that "Properly constituted government represents, in an agency relationship, not a collective; but rather an assortment of individuals, all of whom maintain an identical reciprocal relationship with that government," that is true in the sense of where government derives its just powers... from the soverign individual who has individual rights. But we often must talk, when talking government, about things that are relative to all citizens as opposed to those who are not. E.g., citizens should vote, others should not. And about the citizens as a group versus the government. Citizens should be able to do anything that doesn't violate the individual rights of others and government should not be able to do anything unless the constitution specifically authorizes it. When we do this, we are talking about the collection of individuals as a group. There is nothing wrong with that as long as we don't attempt to imbue that collection with an identity or properties that it doesn't have.
If government exists to defend properly defined individual rights, then it has no right to abrogate the rights of its citizen clients, including for instance, of an employer who wants to hire, or an entrepreneur who wants to move here to facilitate cross border commerce, or a woman who wants to bring in eligible marriage candidates. As soon as the government restricts immigration, it violates the natural rights of its citizens, and also violates the rights of foreign individuals to peacefully sustain and promote their own lives.
That would all be totally true... unless you recognize that we have property in common that justifies the government, as the custodian/manager of that property, from preventing those who are not owners of that property from using it. Government can stop people from trespassing on government property - like a military base - it is acting as the agent of the property's owners to protect that property. If a person is from another country and has not been given a legal authorization to come to this country, then stopping them at the border is justified as long as one recognizes that government is managing a jurisdiction of laws that is property that the citizens hold in common. An employer has no right to hire someone to work in your livingroom, unless you, as the owner of the right to be in your livingroom, grant your permission. That is why an employer can't hire someone who would be trespassing on our jurisdiction to take the job - because that person doesn't have the right to do the trespass. The employer can hire him, but the worker can't come here, just as the employer can hire him to work in your living room, but the worker can't go into your living room.
Our jurisdiction of laws is of huge value. Even with the great number of bad laws, we have a legal environment that is better than most other places on the globe. This value is the product of our efforts, our thoughts, our history. We built it. We own it. We need to act in our self-interest as a nation to protect it because it is part and parcel of what protects our individual rights.
And you were concerned that your post went on for too long :-)