In reference to What is Property? Dual Meanings from Punk Johnny Cash at Gonzo Times, where the author uses the artificial moral dilemma put forth by Proudhon, where a castaway arrives upon a Robinson Crusoe island and is left to die because there are not enough resources to keep two men alive.

Crusoe’s Single Man On An Island problem is a reductio argument. It is a false moral dilemma. It is an argument to extremes. Property is an argument to norms, not extremens.

In almost all most cases, an additional hand will dramatically increase production, so that the productivity of two is higher than the productivity of one. That’s why we have a division of labor. Because more hands make light work, we like increases in populations. because there is no way for any individual to know the limit of the land within some geography that is much more complex than a small island, the institution of property allows us to tell whether we can breed or not, based upon whether we can afford to support our offspring or not. That’s what property, money and prices do for us.

A more accurate example, is that there are many islands, and each island has evenly distributed spaces on it occupied by an individual. And that each increase in population means less space for others. If the land has a productive limit (all land does) then you have a maximum population. That is why there was an Irish Potato Famine. Irish land is capable of supporting one or two people per acre. Except that is, if you plant potatoes. So the peasants bred up to over a dozen people per acre, and when the blight arrived, they died in vast numbers because there was no substitute.

Property exists to regulate our behavior – including our breeding behavior. The fact that industrial productivity is so much higher, and the fact that our ability to capture and make use of hydrocarbons is so prolific, that we have been able to multiple the world population by six in over the past century, does not mask the reality, that we must at some point have productive land and resources, and a means by which we cooperate, plan and produce using the scarce resources at our disposal.

When someone breeds what they cannot support, they then steal by the most stealthy means possible, from everyone else who IS regulating their behavior. We already know that impulsivity among the less intelligent is an exceptional breeding strategy. That’s why the fertility of the proletariat tends to chase the productivity of the productive.

The only time that there is a conflict over property is when fertility exceeds productivity of the resources available. The real question is, why did the proletarian’s parents breed a child who could be kept off Crusoe’s island, when they were unable to provide for him? The only questions of property that arise are due to the excess of human population over the productivity of the technology at hand. Property is malthusian. At some point, on any bit of land, the productivity is no longer capable of supporting additional population without tradeoffs in deaths. Our vast population booms are due to increases in the productive technology that we make use of. Our impoverishment is due to a lack of property rights: that is, that those who breed but are unproductive, are stealing from those who breed but are productive.

In that sense, anti-propertarians are saying that the first right is the right to bring children into the world. Property, like money, and prices, is part of an information system by which we regulate our actions. And those societies that do not regulate them, are impoverished. Those societies that have poor property definitions, poor cultural contracts, and poor institutions for calculating the use of resources, remain poor.

That is the most likely reason why colder populations have higher IQ’s – the environment is more hostile to the fringe’s breeding.

What we have done since the beginning of the 20th century, is to subsidize overbreeding by the unproductive.

We have exchanged property rights which limit overpopulation for birthrights at the expense of property rights.

Why is it that it is acceptable to ask one set of people to do with less, so that others may breed? Why is that a moral position? Isn’t that the whole reason we have the problems of exploitation and over consumption that the left so often rails about?

Why is it immoral to require that people have the economic means of supporting children, before they can bear them? That’s the right question. Not whether we should respect property rights.

 

John Quiggin of Crooked Timber writes another misguided criticism of libertarian methodology in Keeping the state out of your bedroom.

A standard theme in (propertarian) libertarian thinking is that personal freedom in matters such as choice of sexual partners goes naturally with economic freedom, defined as the lack of state interference with property rights. To summarise this in a slogan, “If you want to keep the state out of your bedroom, you should support keeping it out of your (and others) business as well”. But this is not only a false equivalence, it’s self-contradictory, as can be seen by example.

Suppose A rents a house from B, who requires, as a condition that no-one in class C (wrong race, religion, or gender) should share the bedroom with A. Suppose that A signs the lease, but decides that this contractual condition is an unreasonable violation of personal freedom, and decides to ignore it. B discovers this, and seeks the assistance (or at least the acquiesence) of the state in evicting A. On a propertarian/contractual view, B is in the right, and is entitle to call in the state into the bedroom in question.

And, this is the fundamental problem. Is it A’s bedroom or B’s? If we understand the phrase in its normal sense, no-one including a landlord, has the right to tell you what to do in your own bedroom. But, from a propertarian viewpoint, C’s ownership rights over the bedroom, derived from and ultimately enforced by, the state, trump all other considerations.

If you really want personal freedom, you can achieve it only by constraining property rights.

THE PROPERTARIAN ARGUMENT

A propertarian would argue that A (renter) entered a contract with B (Owner), one of the terms of which was that no C (Undesirable) would cohabit access the property. And therefore it was a theft and fraud by A (renter) who tried to obtain a rental space at a discount through the use of deception.

A propertarian would argue that A(renter) should have and could have obtained an apartment elsewhere, and done so honestly, and either paid more for the privilege of having C (undesirables) on the property. (Or more likely lived in a lower caste area, or lower quality building.) Instead, A (renter) committed fraud and therefore theft, in order to obtain a better property or better caste area at a discount.

A propertarian would argue that the state is unnecessary, and that a private court (an insurance company for example) would serve the function as well as the state.

THE SIMPLICITY OF PROPERTARIAN ANALYSIS
There are no vague moral statements in Propertarianism that act as a cover for involuntary transfer from one individual or group to another. The only moral statement is that all transfers should be voluntary. Although most libertarians still use the older terminology: The Non-Aggression Principle. (Which I find, well, unclear or maybe just imprecise.)

Propertarians follow from one to three criteria:

      1) All libertarians follow the set of transfers in any interaction, to determine whether the transfers are voluntary or involuntary. Typically the transfers include, and are limited to a) Risks, b) Opportunities, c) Property, and d) Status Signals. Although it isn’t intuitive that property, is a broad category that can include things like affections and information
      2) Some of us also determine whether a hazard is created that also creates an involuntary transfer of risk (property) from one to the other, (Block and Rothbard disagree. I am on the side of the Christian “Market” Ethic, and Rothbard and Block on the nomadic “Bazaar” ethic which I have addressed elsewhere as the christian difference in the necessity of holding land.)
      3) And some others of us, determine whether knowledge is symmetrical, and as such whether the contracts is honest or a fraudulent attempt at involuntary transfer. (Block and Rothbard disagree. I disagree with them. I am on the side of the Market ethic again, because it is more likely to avoid violence and fraud, and focus efforts on honest market competition in the interest of consumers. )

So we follow the transfers we let the evidence speak for itself. If there are involuntary transfers it’s bad (immoral) and if there are not it’s good (moral). And the entirety of the human experience can be analyzed and understood using propertarian methodology, using the one criteria of voluntary transfer.

We follow the transfers because all human behavior is economic. Even emotions. Emotions are reflections of changes in state of property (including opportunity). Emotions are just the animal’s way of informing us about what is happening to our property (that which we acted on in order to accumulate) – whether that property was obtained voluntarily or by theft, violence or fraud.

YOUR BEDROOM
Your bedroom exists within whatever contract you’ve signed. If you own your property outright then you can do whatever you want in it, as long as it’s not visible or audible or evident to anyone else. If you obtain your SPACE (not property) conditionally, by a contract, then you don’t own it. And if you do something no one likes, then if it’s not in the contract, they cant add it later, they can only choose not to renew your lease.

This isn’t complicated. It’s basic. It’s easy. It also forces people who have impulsive or extraordinary behaviors to adhere to local norms, or seek areas with norms that appeal to them. And, for what it’s worth, people with impulsive behaviors are usually equally damaging to property, which is also an impulsive behavior.

That’s why lenders (owners) filter borrowers (renters): to protect themselves from unnecessary transfer of repair costs from lenders to borrowers.

So, quite the opposite of what John suggests, if you really want personal freedom, you can achieve it only by respecting property rights – which by definition means rejecting involuntary transfers, no matter whether they are contract violations, or violations of the contract you WOULD impose, if it were not that the state forced you to subsidize those people who are willing to violate contracts, or who are, because of impulsiveness, and high time preference, a high risk to your property, and consequential risk to those who have assisted you in collecting control over property by lending you money.

Property is universal to human societies, and must be, for an economy consisting of a division of labor to exist. Different societies determine who is a shareholder and what is a shareholder object and what is an individual object and all that lies in between, and those societies are usually prisoners of that Shareholder Agreement for good or bad. We call this Shareholder Agreement by the Archaic, and pre-propertarian name of ‘Cultural Values’. But that is what cultural values are: a Shareholder Agreement.

Curt

(From the backlog.)
(I have a backlog of something like a hundred postings to publish, and some are a bit long in the tooth, but I’m posting the useful ideas as part of the process of keeping record of what I write.)

 

A quote from Hans Hermann Hoppe:

Hoppe also condemned the French revolution as belonging in “the same category of vile revolutions as the Bolshevik revolution and the Nazi revolution,” because the French revolution led to “Regicide, Egalitarianism, democracy, socialism, hatred of all religion, terror measures, mass plundering, rape and murder, military draft and the total, ideologically motivated War.”

Let’s add to that a condemnation of French philosophers who twisted and then ruined the concept of English freedom by converting what had been a practical and empirical philosophy into an evangelical, ideological, verbally-empty absurdity which they used to justify taking power from and destroying both the monarchy and the catholic church — and by consequence they created the body of work that Marx would use to compose his irrational economic plague and pseudo-religion which in turn caused 160M deaths.

Hitler is laughing in his grave. The Deutch Mark simply had to dress in Euro clothing in order to accomplish in only 20 years, profitably, and without firing a shot, what he had hoped to accomplish with his expensive purges and war.

If you could to travel in time and kill only one religious philosopher in history at birth, it’s a tossup whether that should be Zoroaster, Abraham, Mohammed, Rousseau or Marx.

 

Today, Krugman yet again argues that there is a lack of demand.

Yes, there is a lack of demand, I agree.

There is a lack of demand because our lower classes are unproductive in comparison to their peers in the world. There is a lack of demand for their labor. Since there is a lack of demand for their labor, there is a lack of money for them to spend.

A state is merely one means of classifying people, and it’s a convenient one for statists, whose only purpose is to justify expansion of the state.

In a world of relatively free trade, people are citizens of their occupational sector.

The American upper classes have moved ahead with the rest of the world economy, and the American lower classes have not.

And the reason for that failure is state policy, and in particular, state policy on education.

State policy on education is more concerned with achieving political unity between disparate races and cultures than it is in creating productive citizens who can compete in the world market, and therefore create demand.

Harrison Bergeron writes for TheTimes.

 

Regarding Pinker’s new book on the decline in violence in the world over time.

I would argue that there are the following reasons for the worldwide decline in violence.

1. The Abstraction Of Property
Stated by an unnamed commenter on The Economist: Odd that no mention is made of the most obvious point: that when one can abstract wealth (for example, into bank accounts and physical property) violence declines proportionately. In some parts of Africa where wealth is largely a function of how many cattle one has, violence is quite prevalent. This is because wealth can be captured by violent means – the risk/reward ratio is favorable. But in the West, what can a mugger hope to get? A few pounds or euros or dollars. The victim’s wealth is largely inaccesible. So only the most desperate resort to violence – far better to become a Wall Street banker and steal billions quite legally without needing to use any physical force at all. The correlation between violence and the abstraction of wealth is well understood so the omission of this fact is quite surprising.

2. Increases In the Likelihood of Punishment.
Contrary to liberal desires, it turns out that longer, and harsher sentences are in fact a deterrent. That’s the data. That’s the fact. Plain and simple.

3. Increasing real wealth
Obviously a deterrent.

4. Cheap Entertainment
A bored male is a dangerous thing.

 

The worst genocides of the 20th Century (160 million killed)
- Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-61 and 1966-69, Tibet 1949-50) 49-78,000,000
- Jozef Stalin (USSR, 1932-39) 23,000,000 (the purges plus Ukraine’s famine)
- Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1939-1945) 12,000,000 (concentration camps and civilians WWII)
- Leopold II of Belgium (Congo, 1886-1908) 8,000,000
- Hideki Tojo (Japan, 1941-44) 5,000,000 (civilians in WWII)
- Ismail Enver (Turkey, 1915-20) 1,200,000 Armenians (1915) + 350,000 Greek Pontians and 480,000 Anatolian Greeks (1916-22) + 500,000 Assyrians (1915-20)
- Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-79) 1,700,000
- Kim Il Sung (North Korea, 1948-94) 1,600,000 (purges and concentration camps)
- Menghistu (Ethiopia, 1975-78) 1,500,000
- Yakubu Gowon (Biafra, 1967-1970) 1,000,000
- Leonid Brezhnev (Afghanistan, 1979-1982) 900,000
- Jean Kambanda (Rwanda, 1994) 800,000
- Saddam Hussein (Iran 1980-1990 and Kurdistan 1987-88) 600,000
- Tito (Yugoslavia, 1945-1987) 570,000
- Sukarno (Communists 1965-66) 500,000
- Fumimaro Konoe (Japan, 1937-39) 500,000? (Chinese civilians)
- Jonas Savimbi (Angola, 1975-2002) 400,000
- Mullah Omar – Taliban (Afghanistan, 1986-2001) 400,000
- Idi Amin (Uganda, 1969-1979) 300,000
- Yahya Khan (Pakistan, 1970-71) 300,000 (Bangladesh)
- Benito Mussolini (Ethiopia, 1936; Libya, 1934-45; Yugoslavia, WWII) 300,000
- Mobutu Sese Seko (Zaire, 1965-97) ?
= Charles Taylor (Liberia, 1989-1996) 220,000

 

Over On The Economist, an unnamed author writes that the Hondurans are sponsoring a libertarian experiment:

, libertarians have a real chance to implement their ideas. In addition to a big special development region, the Honduran government intends to approve two smaller zones. And two libertarian-leaning start-ups have already signed a preliminary memorandum of understanding with the Honduran government to develop them.

Then references this chart which lists other attempts at libertarian utopias.

But they only serve to illustrate the futility of these paradises.

The biggest problem for any libertarian venture, is that the cost of developing an economy on anything other than LAND that contains human beings who may act as consumers is simply too high for an economy to form. The sea is, so to speak, infertile soil. The cost of prohibiting rent-seeking is equally high.

Libertarianism states will be created by the application of violence against those who do not wish to possess freedom, and maintained only by the application of violence against those who would steal freedom.

Silly anarchic fantasies to the contrary.

Monarchy. Rule of the One-Law Under Common Law. Private government. Freedom.

Violence is the source of freedom. Do not surrender your violence without demanding freedom in exchange.

 

Over on Pravda, the popular, nationalistic and jingoistic Russian news agency, Fox News is attacked for it’s nationalist sentiments. I replied:

Fox news is not exactly a minority business. It’s the most popular cable news channel.

A better point of view, would be that Fox caters to the same audience that Pravda does: Nationalists. Just as Russians feel they are a threatened minority, so do white americans. And from that perspective, both the Jingoism of Pravda and Fox news serve the wants of their audiences.

FWIW: Americans were against communism, not Russians, or even a Russian empire. And frankly, if Russians would rebuild their empire, if for no other reason than to secure their borders, the world, and the west, would be a better place. However, forming an alliance of any sort that would assist Iran in becoming the core state of islam, by uniting Syra, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan into a military-political block, is not going to help either Russia or the west. Islam is a political system not just a religion, and it is naturally more despotic than even the byzantines.

 

On Economix at the NYT, Bruce Bartlett writes that it’s difficult to count who’s ‘rich’.

The first thing to know is that there is no formal definition of who is rich, middle class or poor. Of course, there is an official definition for the poverty rate, but that figure is just a back of the envelope calculation that has simply been increased by the inflation rate since the 1960s. There are many other ways of calculating the poverty rate that could either raise the poverty threshold or reduce it.

Another problem is that one’s social class is a function of both income and wealth. There are many among the elderly who have little income but may have fairly substantial wealth by, for example, owning a home free and clear. At the other end, there are those with high incomes who are, nevertheless, deeply in debt, perhaps even having a negative net worth.

It is certainly possible to calculate who is ‘rich’. The goal of every individual is to exit the market. Whether that individual studies hard to get a good (protected) job in big company, or works for the government which by definition is extra-market (and protected), or seeks a (protected) union job, or whether that person does none of that rent-seeking, and instead, exits the market through saving or investment.

“Rich” means ‘exiting the market’. To exit the market one needs roughly on hundred times the median income, or about 4.5-5M today. It used to be that a million dollars meant something meaningful, but it doesn’t. You can easily burn through it if you’re the kind of person that can make it in the first place.

Rich is a balance sheet calculation, not an income calculation. If a person’s balance sheet exceeds about one hundred times the median income (which is by definition, the 1%) then realistically, it doesn’t matter how much of their income you tax.

I suspect that the various means of calculating maximum utility taxation is closer to 60 or 65% based upon what I can find.

But if you tax the income of a small business person who is trying to exit the market, then we certainly have the right to wipe out social security, wipe out pension programs, fire federal workers and wipe out their savings. Because unless those assets are counted, the definition of ‘rich’ is asymmetrically used to punish people who participate in the market.

 

Greg Mankiw makes a case for graduate school education:

Apart from their bank accounts, Gallup finds education to be the greatest difference between the wealthiest 1% of Americans and everyone else. The Gallup analysis reveals that 72% of the wealthiest Americans have a college degree, compared with 31% of those in the lower 99 percentiles. Furthermore, nearly half of those in the wealthiest group have postgraduate education, versus 16% of all others.

But it’s not education that gets people into the 1%.

It’s IQ and hard work.

Education produces little more than signaling.

 
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