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How do we eliminate the paradox of poverty & privation amid plenty & abundance?

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Author Topic: How do we eliminate the paradox of poverty & privation amid plenty & abundance?  (Read 8156 times)
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« Reply #40 on: January 25, 2011, 01:20:17 pm »

It would be great if we lived in a world where those living in poverty were encouraged to start owning land, to create businesses and to build better lives for themselves.

The author of the above article seems to think that the primary reason why those living in poverty don’t “own” land already is not that they were forcibly dispossessed of all land by the overextension of law-made property, but the mere fact that no one ever “encouraged” them to purchase any.

That, of course, is no less ridiculous -- and no less arrogant -- than suggesting that the primary reason why so many Third World peasants fall prey to starvation is that no one ever “encouraged” them to purchase food when they’re hungry.  Roll Eyes

Thus, as far as I'm concerned, this is merely another subtle, condescending way of blaming the victims of ruling-class parasitism instead of the parasites themselves.

The fact is, it is precisely this institutionalized, aristocratic notion that a mere subset of the population can rightfully assert exclusive, unconditional “ownership” of the land on which all must live yet which none produced, that ultimately made so many people “poor” in the first place.

As Henry George put it:


"Place one hundred men on an island from which there is no escape, and whether you make one of these men the absolute owner of the other ninety-nine, or the absolute owner of the soil of the island, will make no difference either to him or to them.

"In the one case, as the other, the one will be the absolute master of the ninety-nine--his power extending even to life and death, for simply to refuse them permission to live upon the island would be to force them into the sea.

"Upon a larger scale, and through more complex relations, the same cause must operate in the same way and to the same end--the ultimate result, the enslavement of laborers, becoming apparent just as the pressure increases which compels them to live on and from land which is treated as the exclusive property of others. Take a country in which the soil is divided among a number of proprietors, instead of being in the hands of one, and in which, as in modern production, the capitalist has been specialized from the laborer, and manufacturers and exchange, in all their many branches, have been separated from agriculture. Though less direct and obvious, the relations between the owners of the soil and the laborers will, with the increase of population and the improvement of the arts, tend to the same absolute master on the one hand and the same abject helplessness on the other, as in the case of the island we have supposed. Rent will advance, while wages will fall."

-- Progress and Poverty, pp. 347-8


And as Albert Jay Nock put it:


"This imperfect policy of non-intervention, or laissez-faire, led straight to a most hideous and dreadful economic exploitation; starvation wages, slum dwelling, killing hours, pauperism, coffin-ships, child-labour -- nothing like it had ever been seen in modern times....People began to say, perhaps naturally, if this is what State absentation comes to, let us have some State intervention.

"But the State had intervened; that was the whole trouble. The State had established one monopoly, -- the landlord's monopoly of economic rent, -- thereby shutting off great hordes of people from free access to the only source of human subsistence, and driving them into the factories to work for whatever Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. Bottles chose to give them. The land of England, while by no means nearly all actually occupied, was all legally occupied; and this State-created monopoly enabled landlords to satisfy their needs and desires with little exertion or none, but it also removed the land from competition with industry in the labour market, thus creating a huge, constant and exigent labour-surplus." [Emphasis original]

-- Free Speech and Plain Language, pp. 320-1


Yet rather than acknowledge this cause-and-effect relationship, apologists for so-called “capitalism” (read: landlordism) prefer to turn reality on its head by suggesting or implying that world poverty persists in large part because the economic rent of land isn’t more privatized than it already is.

Bottom line: most of those living in acute poverty couldn’t become “owners” of land even if they wanted to, because the very fact that they’re poor means they lack the money with which to buy land. And why do they lack such money? For the most part, because of the parasitic rack-renting that those who already “own” all the land are allowed to engage in at the crippling expense of the landless.

The solution?

According to Austrian School “capitalists,” the only solution is to further entrench the very privilege-based land tenure system that gave rise to poverty-creating rack-renting in the first place.

According to Marxist “socialists,” the solution is first to agree with Austrian School “capitalists” that there’s no fundamental difference between the private ownership of capital goods (“capital” for short) and the private ownership of land, then to err in the opposite direction by insisting that both land and capital alike should be treated as “collective” property, and accordingly subjected to both heavy taxation and strict regulation.

At odds with both sides of this controlled-opposition debate are Georgists, who hold that the respective values of labor and capital should be treated as private property -- and accordingly exempted from taxation -- and that the value of land should be treated as common property -- and accordingly subjected to Henry George’s Single Tax.

Yet both “capitalists” and “socialists” alike -- despite being supposed “opposites” -- seem equally determined to keep the masses blissfully ignorant of the Georgist “Middle Way” approach to economic reform.

Hence the point I keep making that Democrat-vs.-Republican is not the only false paradigm within which countless people have allowed their minds and intellects to be literally enslaved via elite-funded propaganda campaigns.
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"For the first years of [Ludwig von] Mises’s life in the United States...he was almost totally dependent on annual research grants from the Rockefeller Foundation.” -- Richard M. Ebeling
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