Property and Economics: The Foundation of Politics

Both John Locke and Thomas Hobbes (and almost every other political philosopher) start their discussion from a state of nature. Locke’s state is one of liberty and love. Hobbes’ is a state of fear and war.

However, both opine that government is instituted in order to securitize property and peace. For Hobbes, the state of war that exists in the state of nature requires a Leviathan, an omnipotent entity, whom everyone else fears and to whom total sovereignty is granted in order that peace and security can exist.

For Locke, only if property is secure can human beings have the increased liberty that exists in a society to pursue further happiness and enjoy that liberty and life. And without a government established by consent of the majority that is able to secure life and property, one’s efforts are all spent trying to maintain what one has.

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“Too Big to Fail”

How often over the last six months have we heard the phrase? Bear Sterns wasn’t, but AIG is. Now the federal government is requesting expanded powers to take over these companies that are deemed by someone as being “too big to fail.” Although this¬†might theoretically be a better option for the taxpayer to have a supposed stake in these companies (by the government owning them instead of bailing out these corporations), the threat to liberty is likely greater. As companies are protected from the consequences of their bad behavior they will continue that manner of practicing business, destroying the economy. As the government sets a precedent of taking over businesses that “need to be protected” from failure, the tendency toward government ownership of the means of production may proceed unmitigated, with concerning fallout.

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Property: To What Extent?

John Locke is credited with being the most influential English writer on those who declared independence from Britian and put forth the goal to “form a more perfect union.” His Second Treatise on Government is, perhaps, the most powerful piece describing the concepts that the people are sovereign and that government can only be done by consent and that once those who are appointed to govern stray from the mandate given by the People, that sovereign body (the majority of the People) can recall them and reassert its power to govern.

In this book Locke also gives an explanation of property that is reasoned, reasonable, and not capitalistic. In fact, Locke is considered by many to be the father of liberal economics (today’s libertarian economic viewpoint) as his ideas laid the groundwork for Adam Smith’s descriptions of a free market, of Frederic Bastiat’s utopia of free exchange of goods and services, and of Ludwig von Mises’ explanation of subjective value and the natural laws of human action and choice.

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The Magic School Bus, The Environment, Frederic Bastiat, & The Economy

Originally posted by me at The Cause of Liberty

msbrainforest The Magic School Bus, The Environment, Frederic Bastiat, & The EconomyWhile driving last week, I overheard a video my children were watching (The Magic Schoolbus) about the critical interrelations that take place in the environment.

The story was about how putting artificial turf down (to keep the area clean) in a patch of rain forest resulted in the cocoa trees not making any cocoa beans. The artificial turf drove away the peccaries that were splashing mud onto the trees. The mud served as a habitat for the midge flies that pollenated the cocoa tree flowers allowing it to bear fruit.

So what do cocoa trees not being pollinated have to do with Frederic Bastiat?

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Worse than Socialism

Socialism is generally defined as holding in common the means of production and labor in an economy.

State socialism is when the government owns those means. This economic construct is laden with inefficiencies and lack of freedom and potential for oppression and force. Besides, it doesn’t work.

There is, however, a worse economic construct than socialism, and that is corporatism. Corporatism is the situation in which taxpayers support, via subsidy, private corporations and entities.

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