Truth To Power wrote:Just and efficient allocation of the scarce resource can be achieved under various institutional arrangements; but as the price of land simply measures the expected welfare subsidy the landowner will take from the community, significant exchange prices for land cannot arise in a free market. Allocation of land in a free market must therefore be primarily by rental prices, not buying and selling prices.
American Serf wrote:Care to expand on this technical point?
Sure. By definition, a free market can't include subsidies for some participants at the unwilling expense of others. As the market exchange price of land is nothing but the expected subsidy to the landowner at the unwilling expense of everyone else, it can't be significant in a free market. So in a free market, who gets to use the land is decided by reference to its market rental
price, not its (derisory) market exchange
price. IOW all prospective land users are then effectively bidding to rent land, not to buy it.
Truth To Power wrote:No, that's objectively false, because unlike property in land titles and other privileges, property in the fruits of one's labor does not deprive anyone else of anything they would otherwise have. This is the crucial fact that capitalism and socialism must try to prevent you from knowing.
I suppose capitalism and socialism have succeeded in that aim, since I don't see how things could be so. This "fact" of yours strikes me as an unwarranted maxim, a bit of rhetoric.
It's a physical fact: if I produce something and own it, you lose nothing. But if I appropriate land and own it, you lose your liberty to use it. Likewise with any other privilege: ownership rights in privileges make others worse off; ownership rights in the fruits of one's labor doesn't.
If a few increase their private wealth far beyond the average, and hence increase their social influence and power, to the extent that they come to dominate the media, and the schools, and the government -- and also dominate whole sectors of the economy by gobbling up or selling off goods -- how do you assure me that this class of wealth-elites do not become plutocrats who will tilt the economic order and the laws in their own direction?
You're talking about two different things: the producer's physical power to give benefits to others, and the potential that this power could be used to influence a political
process to obtain institutional
power to take
from others (i.e., privilege). The second is the threat, not the first.
Just in virtue of having free access to land, the rest of the people will be wise to the plutocrats' game and offset their self-interested abuses?
them to resist, if they are so inclined.
Truth To Power wrote:Whether he should or not, he can't. He needs privilege if he is going to stop others from exercising their rights to liberty.
Again, it feels to me as if you're waving the word "privilege" around like a magic wand.
It simply identifies and isolates the central issue -- which can indeed seem like magic to those unaccustomed to keen insight into and deep understanding of subtle and complex phenomena.
There is such a thing as coercion. Wealth is a mechanism by which to manipulate the masses, to divide and conquer, to distract and confuse, to "win hearts and minds", to manufacture "consent".
Sure, extreme wealth can be turned to unworthy ends as well as beneficial ones. But so can extreme intelligence, learning, beauty, technological advancement, or any other power to give benefits to others. Does that mean we have to stop anyone from having "too much" of those things, too? Ever read Kurt Vonnegut's, "Harrison Bergeron"?
There is a very good reason we WANT the most productive people to have the most wealth, and even to have extreme wealth: they are the ones best able to allocate that wealth for optimum productive effect, to the benefit of all.
Having your own acre and your own tractor doesn't make you immune to coercion.
Of course not, but there is a difference between persuasion and coercion. The greedy will always use whatever means are available to take more than they need or deserve; but we need to distinguish between the means and the ends. Threatening to take what someone has is coercion; offering them something they don't have is not.
American Serf wrote:We don't need that sort of work.
Truth To Power wrote:What sort of work? We do need producers if we are going to live.
Producers, but not devils hell-bent on maximizing production for maximum private profits without concern for "external" socioeconomic costs.
It is up to our institutions to make sure costs are internalized, not producers.
We don't need them at all.
We need people who know how to allocate resources for maximum productive effect. It is up to the rest of us to make sure all the costs are included -- and we need to be very, very clear about what is a genuine cost, and what is merely someone's personal ox being gored through others' free choices to take up opportunities. A cure for spinal cord injuries would put all the wheelchair manufacturers out of business, but that is not a valid reason to suppress spinal cord research; and the resulting unemployment of their workers is not a genuine social cost, however much it might look like a cost to them
Truth To Power wrote:"His" land? You are already on the wrong track.
Surely it's not a free-for-all? How is the land allocated for use?
Open bidding for secure tenure in a rental market.
Compare, while he's there: "His seat in a theater", "His place in line".
That looks like equivocation: it depends what your definition of "his" is...
Truth To Power wrote:Why? Why punish those who contribute to the wealth of the community? [...] By what right do you prevent people from helping their children? [...] By what right could you forcibly diminish the return to his toil?
If you're not sure what kind of answer I'd give to these questions, you've missed the point I've been aiming at.
I'm asking YOU to think about the answers you would give to those questions, and reconsider the justifications you believe are valid.
Truth To Power wrote:Nonsense. There is a difference between great power to give and great power to take. Learn it, or continue to talk nonsense on the subject permanently.
Nonsense? I could say the same, each time you wave your wand and avoid the obvious.
I am not avoiding the obvious. I am showing you why it does not mean what you consider it obviously to mean. There are some very subtle issues involved, issues not one person in 1000 understands.
Do you think the questions and the answers are so clear cut and set in stone?
If they can be stated and understood as clearly as I understand them, they are clear cut and set in stone.
What is the difference you have in mind between the power to give and the power to take?
Now that IS obvious.
If I use my television station to brainwash your children while you plow your acre, or short corn, or play banjo, or whatever it is you prefer to do with your freedom -- have I given you something, or taken something from you?
Neither: I'm not even a participant in the transaction. You have given my children only an opportunity
to access your broadcasts, and have taken nothing from anyone (assuming you paid the market rent to the public treasury for the public airwaves you occupy). No one forces anyone to watch your station, and I have the option of not letting my children watch it, or of not having a TV in the house (which in fact I didn't for many years).
What's the purpose of this metaphor, and what are its limits?
It's not a metaphor. It is a literal description of concrete reality. While the power to give can be used for wrongful purposes, the power to take is inherently wrongful. And by reducing people's power to give, you reduce the amount
they give, impoverishing everyone.
In my case, the justification is the optimization of the value of freedom for all human beings.
Sounds like you want to decide what is optimum value for others...
Who's to say my kids have been brainwashed, and not educated or enlightened by your TV station? Maybe they learned how to spot deceit and manipulation by watching it.
Freedom, prosperity, humanity. Let's start there.
I'm all about freedom, properly understood. However, I notice you don't include justice
in your motto. No freedom, prosperity or humanity without justice -- and justice means rewards commensurate with contributions and penalties commensurate with deprivations.
Truth To Power wrote:Rousseau is factually wrong, because he doesn't understand the difference between the producer's power to give and the power of the privileged to take. In fact, he seems not to understand that there is even such a thing as production, and considers wealth to be purely a matter of who owns how much of it.
Back to this again -- I await your objective account of giving and taking.
Just find a willingness to know the relevant self-evident and indisputable facts of objective physical reality.
American Serf wrote:Beyond right proportion, wealth is tyranny.
Truth To Power wrote:And right proportion is in proportion to one's contribution to the production of wealth.
Well, at least we've found the spot where our views diverge. So far as that goes, it seems to me you haven't addressed my point so much as repeated your slogan at it several times. Why should anyone -- in a world like this! -- believe or hope that disparities of wealth won't tend toward disparities of power and liberty?
Of course disparities of wealth give rise to disparities of power, just as disparities of intelligence, beauty, etc. do, and just as legitimately -- assuming none have been unjustly deprived of theirs. There is nothing wrong with a woman being more beautiful than other women -- unless someone has taken
beauty from them (e.g., mutilated them to make them less beautiful). There is likewise nothing wrong with someone being more intelligent than others -- unless someone has taken
intelligence from the others (e.g., by depriving them of the opportunity to learn to read).
But only privilege
(or crime, of course) can create disparities in liberty, and if those who have the ability to allocate resources more productively are not enabled to do so through having possession and control of them, we all miss out on the resulting prosperity.
Metaphorical gestures about giving and taking don't satisfy me in this connection;
It's not metaphor. It is literal, physical fact. The landowner has PHYSICALLY TAKEN AWAY your liberty to use the land, which you would have if he did not remove it, while someone who owns what he produces PHYSICALLY GIVES it to those with whom he consensually trades, who would not have had it if he had not produced it.
I'm not sure there is any clearer, simpler way to explain that.
and it doesn't seem the sort of problem one solves with a calculator.
If you know what the calculation means
, it is.
Truth To Power wrote:No, excess concentration of wealth is an EFFECT of privilege. Ownership of the wealth one has produced, whatever its magnitude, does not and cannot abrogate anyone else's rights. It just adds to the wealth of the community.
Ok, so it seems the technical account I've asked from you might help to unpack the metaphor.
It is not metaphor. It is literal, physical fact.
You're saying that so long as the "privileges" you're concerned with are addressed once and for all, it won't ever be *possible* for wealth to be concentrated unequally. That's what you're saying?
Not at all. I'm saying that absent privilege, no one can legally be victimized
-- i.e., deprived of what they would otherwise have -- by others' wealth. Wealth would certainly be distributed unequally, and possibly even unjustly (people are free to give others wealth they don't deserve); but no one would have any grounds for complaint that they were being deprived
of what was rightly theirs.
Not just that "ownership of one's own fruits cannot abrogate another's rights", whatever that means -- but more specifically, given the absence of "privileges", one's real net worth (in money terms, or by what measure) cannot ever possibly grow much bigger than the net worth of others (in the same terms), even if one uses his freedom to devote his whole damn life to the maximization of his net worth while others use their freedom in other ways and do not aim to maximize net worth?
No, that is not what I am saying at all. Certainly, I believe that absent privilege, inequalities of wealth would be a small fraction of what they are today. But unlike you, I am not troubled by all
inequality of wealth. I see inequality everywhere -- it is an inescapable natural consequence of liberty -- and inequality of wealth has its rightful place, just as inequalities of intelligence, learning, beauty, etc. do.