Thankful for property

NPR: Failed communal Massachusetts colony

Socialism isn’t evil because it fails, it fails because it is evil.

And even if you start with the most devout and well-intentioned people, it will make them corrupt, envious and lazy.

It’s a lesson we have to learn sooner or later.

19 thoughts on “Thankful for property

  1. John Stossel has much the same thought today.

    It is clear that an economy based on private property is more conducive to production and consumption than one based on communal property. There is, however, a subtlety to consider.

    It is that while private property may be superior to other arrangements, is is amenable to its own abuses. The main one I have in mind is the charging of rent.

    It is entirely feasible for all the resources of society to move over time to be under the control or ownership of only a few agents such that — through the institution of private property — everyone else must pay rent in some form to use those resources. The subtlety is that such a final arrangement can occur while all along seeming to be a free-market development.

    There’s a meme going around that captures this notion. Attributed to Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum, it states, “You will own nothing, and be happy.”

    To prevent such a rentier economy from evolving is not an easy thing. The main requirement is limited, decentralized governance. Also, the governed must value liberty in their politics above all else.


  2. True, if individuals were assigned the equivalent of 40 acres and a mule, productivity should increase as profits accrue.

    The reality, of course, is that some will thrive, some less so and others will fail.

    The successful ones will buy the land from those less so. The financial and political power increase for the winners. Eventually, monopolies arise and the benefits of competition are lost.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. You can’t exploit anyone in a free market. A person chooses to accept a job at a salary they are willing to take. They might want more, but they face competition from other applicants, just like you have choices when you go to a store.

          Some people have the organizational talent and ambition to run a business, others want to put in their day’s work and punch the time clock and go home. That is their choice.

          And that can change over time. My brother-in-law punched the clock for decades, then took a chance with other employees to start their own company. Now he manages a business he partly owns.

          Both were valid choices at that stage of his life.

          People should be free to choose.


          1. How do you determine, if someone is being exploited rather than being paid what his labor is worth other than by the market?

            If you compel a higher payment, the result will be the loss of the job, sooner or later.


          2. “A good employee is a treasure you hold on to.”

            Until the cost of keeping that “treasure” grows to high to maintain. Profits outweigh loyalty to good employees and the only “treasure” that truly matters is that which goes into the pockets of the owners and shareholders.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. “A good employee is a treasure you hold on to.”

            Sorry, but this sort of paternalistic thinking does not cut it anymore. It may work in a small dental office situation, but it is absolutely irrelevant in a major corporate environment.

            In our country we generally ask people to work against their own self interests and against the interests of their fellow employees. We ask that they work hard and efficiently but punish them with staff reductions and layoffs when they do. The economic incentive is to work slowly and inefficiently. If you have an idea how to work more efficiently, you keep it to yourself. This negative incentive in our too capitalist system is one of the reasons that better paid Europeans who are strongly protected against layoffs and dismissals are just as productive as American wage slaves.


            Liked by 2 people

  3. Here is the point made by the author that people like you need to think more about . . .

    “I am on record: successful economic grand strategy entails a balance between cooperation and self-interest. Extremes in one direction or the other are unsustainable.”

    Many countries other than ours have found demonstrably better balances between the two.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You think in platitudes.

        This particular platitude – as agreeable as it sounds – raises all kinds of questions that are not easy to answer in the messy realm of reality.

        What does “truly free” mean?
        What does “coercion” mean?
        Who might the coercers be?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. In a truly free market the government does not interfere in transactions between individuals but does not allow individuals to employ force or fraud in those transactions.


          1. Truly free? Like a truly free Scotsman?

            More platitudes using undefined terms.
            What is “force?” What is “fraud?” What does “interfere” mean.

            Is requiring a producer to cover the external costs of his transactions interfering?
            Can I lower the cost of my product by dumping pollution in the river? Is that interfering?
            Can I fire someone causing him to lose his home if I hear he is trying to organize a union? Is that “force?”
            Can I sell products with built in planned obsolesce? Is that “fraud?”


            Liked by 1 person

          2. Measurable externalities are a form of private force and government is justified in resolving that cost. But that only applies to the direct creator of the externality. If I sell you a gallon of acid, and you dispose of it after use by dumping it in the river, it is you, not me, who has created the externality.

            The same thing applies to a gallon of gasoline. The user, not the seller, is responsible for any externality.

            Regarding unions, they are in general a good thing but government should be entirely neutral. An employee organizing at the place of business certainly can be fired. The proper protection for union organizers is not the government but the support of his fellow workers and their willingness to withhold their labor in his support.

            Planned obsolescence, if concealed, is fraud. Properly disclosed, it is not.


          3. “Measurable externalities”

            The Devil is in the details. That is why we need government and political processes to arbitrate.

            What “measurable externalities” count and how will they be measured? For example, there are statistically significant increases in lung illness downwind from coal-fired power plants. To avoid that, should people have to move (FREEDOM!) or should power producers be required to capture the effluents (SOCIALISM!)?

            As for firing someone for trying to organize it shows that you totally discount the real force constantly at play in our society – economic force. When you are trying to house and feed your family, it is just as real as your favorite jack-booted government thug coming to collect your income tax.

            “Truly free” is complicated when you try to move past platitudes.

            Liked by 2 people

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