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Inequality is the enemy of growth. Discuss

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New Buddha, care to flesh out your claim I am ignorant of objectivist epistemology. Feel free to state an argument.

More likely is you do not understand. I have studied philosophy, politics, economics, finance at BA and MSc, getting a first and the highest result in my school. I mention this because it puts me in a small percentage of the population in terms of my familiarity with these subjects, my proficiency and ability to reason. I can and may be wrong - I'll take you seriously when you give me an argument about epistemology.

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Ironically in the previous thread Snerd said:

Jon, I see that you are from London, so maybe things are different?  I would say that the overwhelming majority of land in the States has been developed since the end of World War II and that land ow

The cause of the variance in land prices in an area is the variance in the past actions of the land owners in that area. If they built companies, tall buildings, infrastructure on their lands, the pri

New Buddha, care to flesh out your claim I am ignorant of objectivist epistemology. Feel free to state an argument.

More likely is you do not understand. I have studied philosophy, politics, economics, finance at BA and MSc, getting a first and the highest result in my school. I mention this because it puts me in a small percentage of the population in terms of my familiarity with these subjects, my proficiency and ability to reason. I can and may be wrong - I'll take you seriously when you give me an argument about epistemology.

Lol,

If you truly understood Objectivist Epistemology, then you would also understand that I could careless whether or not you take me seriously.

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Oh for God's sake.

 

I wasn't eliminating trade or inheritance as a means to title. The purpose of excluding them was to simplify the discussion. In order to trade there has to be first something to trade, in order to inherit, there has to be first something to inherit. I wanted to focus on how we come to own things - not what happens afterwards. Likening what I was saying to Scudder just reveals your completely mistaken judgment of me and the argument being put forward.

 

No - I am asking the general question - ignore land if you want. What is the origin of ownership if not the law of causality. No one has answered this question. It has been avoided by you all.

Wikipedia offers a section on the history of property rights. It is not very comprehensive, but may provide a starting point of sorts.

 

The Ayn Rand Lexicon offers a section on property rights. It is consistent with the notion that ownership is earned that I pointed out to you earlier.

 

In The Virtue of Selfishness: Rights of Man, Miss Rand adds:

Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.

 

In OPAR's Objectivity, Leonard Peikoff writes:

The right to property is a consequence of man's right to life; which right we can establish only if we know the nature and value of man's life; which conclusion presupposes, among other things, that objective value-judgments are possible; which presupposes that objective knowledge is possible; which depends on a certain relationship between man's mind and reality, i.e., between consciousness and existence. If a thinker does not know and count on this kind of structure, he can neither defend property rights nor define the concept nor apply it correctly.

 

Particularly relevant to the Atlas Shrugged passage of Scudder's (if you think my bringing it up was a mistaken judgment of you, it hadn't crossed my mind until you brought it to my attention) from The Cashing In: The Student "Rebellion" in For the New Intellectual (also cited in the Lexicon):

It is only on the basis of property rights that the sphere and application of individual rights can be defined in any given social situation. Without property rights, there is no way to solve or to avoid a hopeless chaos of clashing views, interests, demands, desires and whims.

 

One other relevant note that Rand did not mean the subtype of the law of causality you reference; man's causal efficacy, is revealed in her letter to Frank Lloyd Write of August 20, 1945 planning a month long vacation in New York with the intent of buying land for a Frank Lloyd Wright home of her own. - Given this, it's pretty clear to me when she wrote "All property and all forms of wealth are produced by man's mind and labor.", she did not mean simply the product of man's actions.

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As I pointed out earlier you are defining land as capital - this is to confuse distinct concepts. Capital is capital - A is A. Land is not capital - Land is not A. "A" cannot be both A and not A - you cannot have your cake and eat it. It is either or. If you make an improvement to land "A" and if Land is B, then you have A and B. If land cannot be owned then what you own of A and B is A.

When you say you own an object, that an object is your property, then it is a declaration of your rights. As Rand correctly states, those rights are not rights to an object. Not to an object. It is not a right to material values - be they atoms or otherwise. It is the right (of an individual) to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values IF, and this is the big IF - IF HE EARNS IT. By what means does he earn it? This is one of the premises - a condition of truth as regards to whether something called a person's property is in fact his property. It is the condition that makes a slave a person's property in title only, but not morally. It is this condition that we keep dancing around.

We agree on both the importance of property rights and their relationship to individual rights. What we disagree on is not the existence or moral legitimacy of property rights, but how one comes to have them. How does an individual morally, with virtue, where he is using his life as his standard of value, claim correctly that this is his, or that is his.

We seem to agree using our minds, and applying this to reality to create material values is one such means of earning our own property. Trading with others is another subsequent means - but that itself is dependent on the prior creation of values. You cannot consume more than you have produced.

We disagree on the status of what land is. Many here are confusing it with capital. They are merging A and B and calling it A, when they are exclusive categories. Either something has resulted from human exertion or not. It cannot be both. This is an application of the law of causality. Either we were the cause of something or we weren't. We were the cause of farmland, we were not the cause of the unimproved land. We can own farmland, we cannot own unimproved land. If we cannot own unimproved land, where it has a value then by what right can one person claim unearned income from it? If I put a fence around an unimproved patch of land and charge you if you want to use the wilderness, then this would go against the homesteading principle many here support. So it would follow that people here would not support that practice - of someone charging for use of uncultivated, unimproved land.

The conceptual confusion arises because you can have improved land which attracts value on both the improvements and the unimproved value of the land. It is difficult for people here to divorce the overall value into improved and unimproved (confusing (A and B) with A). When the land is rented or sold, part of what is rented may be for the unimproved value of the land "B". Charging someone rent for the unimproved value of the land is precisely the same principle as fencing some wilderness and then charging someone who wants to homestead it - in perpetuity if desired. This is as wrong when the land is improved as when not improved.

In practical terms having a title on land to show what is being used by whom is desirable for the avoidance of dispute. It is also desirable for people who want to use land to compete, so the highest bidder gets to use the land. This ensures it goes to the most productive. However as the landowner has no moral right to collect the value on the unimproved value of the land (just as someone who fences some wilderness and then charges a homesteader has no moral right to do so), taxing this economic rent is not a violation of his property rights. He cannot say someone is initiating force against him, when what people are taking possession of was never his to start with. That would be no different from a thief who complains someone has taken back his stolen property. It is not a violation of the thief's rights, nor is taxing the economic rent a violation of the landowner's rights.

It is what is then done with the economic rent which then becomes the main issue. If it is a restorative process, it should be given back to the locality - to those individuals that have caused unimproved land to have value. Funding the government via these means seems the most appropriate use as it solves the issue of government funding and means no other taxes are due. I don't know. But I cannot have a useful discussion about this until the above is accepted.

Edited by Jon Southall
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As I pointed out earlier you are defining land as capital - this is to confuse distinct concepts. Capital is capital - A is A. Land is not capital - Land is not A. "A" cannot be both A and not A - you cannot have your cake and eat it. It is either or. If you make an improvement to land "A" and if Land is B, then you have A and B. If land cannot be owned then what you own of A and B is A.

 

You can separate them conceptually, for analytic purposes, but you cannot separate them in practice.  To own a building is to own the land beneath it; you get to decide to what use that land is put and exclude others from using it for their own purposes.  If you decide to transfer your property rights in the building, whoever you sell them to or will them to will also need the ability to decide how to use the land beneath and to exclude others from using it.  Without this right, the building can be knocked down or removed from the land by anyone who wishes, as they have just as much right to the land underneath as you.  The two are literally inseparable.

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As I pointed out earlier you are defining land as capital - this is to confuse distinct concepts. Capital is capital - A is A. Land is not capital - Land is not A. "A" cannot be both A and not A - you cannot have your cake and eat it. It is either or. If you make an improvement to land "A" and if Land is B, then you have A and B. If land cannot be owned then what you own of A and B is A.

I don’t have an issue considering land as capital. Capital is a broader category into which many things fall.

 

When you say you own an object, that an object is your property, then it is a declaration of your rights. As Rand correctly states, those rights are not rights to an object. Not to an object. It is not a right to material values - be they atoms or otherwise. It is the right (of an individual) to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values IF, and this is the big IF - IF HE EARNS IT. By what means does he earn it? This is one of the premises - a condition of truth as regards to whether something called a person's property is in fact his property. It is the condition that makes a slave a person's property in title only, but not morally. It is this condition that we keep dancing around.

Slavery has only recently (historically) recognized as wrong.  How does that make the undeveloped property (land) entrusted to me wrong? Yes, I also consider it an asset, albeit not a very liquid asset.

 

We agree on both the importance of property rights and their relationship to individual rights. What we disagree on is not the existence or moral legitimacy of property rights, but how one comes to have them. How does an individual morally, with virtue, where he is using his life as his standard of value, claim correctly that this is his, or that is his.

Considering I don’t know much of the history of property rights, isn’t it a bit premature to state we disagree on how we came to have them?

We seem to agree using our minds, and applying this to reality to create material values is one such means of earning our own property. Trading with others is another subsequent means - but that itself is dependent on the prior creation of values. You cannot consume more than you have produced.

We disagree on the status of what land is. Many here are confusing it with capital. They are merging A and B and calling it A, when they are exclusive categories. Either something has resulted from human exertion or not. It cannot be both. This is an application of the law of causality. Either we were the cause of something or we weren't. We were the cause of farmland, we were not the cause of the unimproved land. We can own farmland, we cannot own unimproved land. If we cannot own unimproved land, where it has a value then by what right can one person claim unearned income from it? If I put a fence around an unimproved patch of land and charge you if you want to use the wilderness, then this would go against the homesteading principle many here support. So it would follow that people here would not support that practice - of someone charging for use of uncultivated, unimproved land.

 The result of human exertion is still only a subtype of the law of causality.

Again, the fact that I oversee a trust which contains the deed to unimproved land does not support your claim.

To go further, I could even charge for the use of this uncultivated, unimproved land if I could find someone willing to pay what I ask. As it is, people trespass on it and use it without paying, except when I’m there. When I'm there, once they see me, they tend to leave.

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Dante & Dream Weaver, you prove the point that you cannot divorce land and capital as distinct concepts. It is what I argued before was the reason you can't get to the same conclusion.

Dante,

You wrote:

"Without this right, the building can be knocked down or removed from the land by anyone who wishes, as they have just as much right to the land underneath as you."

Not true. Do you own any breathable air? If like me you don't, what is stopping someone from simply taking away the breathable air you depend on, and thus killing you? If they did, would this be an initiation of force against you?

No one can interfere with your capital in a way that will damage it. Your building can't be knocked down without destroying your building - no-one has a right to destroy your building apart from you. They could use the land provided it doesn't have an impact on your property - for instance laying cables far below it, or flying a plane at some height which is sufficient not to cause disturbance etc. As soon as your property is damaged, it is a violation. You don't need to own the land, just as you don't need to own breathable air.

Edited by Jon Southall
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What am I missing here?  Are we actually acting like undeveloped property has a different moral status than developed property, as far as political rights are concerned?  Because I've seen a lot of tangled thought exercises to try and excuse forcing yourself on someone else's life and property but that would be a new one.  

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"Are we actually acting like undeveloped property has a different moral status than developed property, as far as political rights are concerned?"

That begs the question. You are assuming undeveloped land, or unimproved land is property. That is what is being questioned. I am saying producing something it makes it property, so land, which is not produced by man, cannot fall into the class of property. Therefore we are discussing the distinction between property and non-property and what falls into each category.

Political rights are not being questioned.

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OK.  That helps shape the question - Thank you.

 

No assumption. It is.  Property is everything you own. The classic term of property better reflected that in that you owned a house but had property in it since you had the right to decide what to do with it.   All property is political since the purpose of politics is the protections of rights, including property since owning and disposing (having property in something) is necessary to live as a human. 

 

Whether I own a receipt to lumber, assembled lumber (home), or the dirt it is parked on is irrelevant. It's mine and I can claim use as I see fit.  Again, assuming moral system of rights.  

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"Whether I own a receipt to lumber, assembled lumber (home), or the dirt it is parked on is irrelevant. It's mine and I can claim use as I see fit. Again, assuming moral system of rights."

I completely agree all of that is your own property. I disagree that any of it is Land, as defined by George. If you have bought lumbar, it becomes part of your produced wealth. If you assemble your own home, it is then your capital. The dirt it is parked on is, loosely speaking, the foundations your home uses for structural soundness - it forms part of the structure so-to-speak.

Edited by Jon Southall
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Peter Morris,

 

"Even if it is, it's irrelevant. The point of human life is not the growth of the economy"

 

Yes I agree with you. The point of human life isn't the growth of the economy. However when people claim some of your production as their own (the tax man, the landowner), this diminishes the wealth you create that you can keep for your own ends and that is an attack on your life. When that attack impoverishes you and enriches others, that cause of inequality should be relevant.

 

The real issue is whether my keeping what I earned is justified or not regardless of any effect on the growth of the economy. The answer is yes, regardless of whether it does or does not slow down the growth of the economy by some metric. Don't fight them on their terms. You will lose if you play their game. The cause of equality or whether inequality has any effect on the economy is not the issue.

Edited by Peter Morris
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Land is Land.  It is  property. Whether you by a slab of land and look at it or build a nuclear power plant that is moot.   

 

OK - Let's reverse engineer this.  

 

Why do you want to stop me from owning land?  Why do you want to dispose of my land for me? 

 

Why do you want to control it instead?

 

What is the endgame here?   

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Not true. Do you own any breathable air? If like me you don't, what is stopping someone from simply taking away the breathable air you depend on, and thus killing you? If they did, would this be an initiation of force against you?

No one can interfere with your capital in a way that will damage it. Your building can't be knocked down without destroying your building - no-one has a right to destroy your building apart from you. They could use the land provided it doesn't have an impact on your property - for instance laying cables far below it, or flying a plane at some height which is sufficient not to cause disturbance etc. As soon as your property is damaged, it is a violation. You don't need to own the land, just as you don't need to own breathable air.

 

Air is almost perfectly non-excludable and non-rivalrous, and nearly impossible to assign private property rights over.  Land is not.

 

The examples you give for using the land without interfering do not use the land at all.  Laying cables far below my land is not using my land; nor is flying an airplane over it.  Owning a plot of land doesn't give you rights in an column of infinite height above and below your land.  It gives you ownership over a limited region above and below the surface and no further; the limitations are defined by whether use of those areas interferes with your use of the land on the surface (i.e. with your building).  Anything beyond that is simply not part of your property right in the land.

 

The truth is that there is no concrete way in which other people can be said to 'have a say' in how the land is used without interfering with your property right in the building.  Take two scenarios:

 

1) I own the building and the land beneath it.

2) I own the building but not the land.  However, no one is allowed to use the land for anything that impacts my building without my consent.

 

Name one thing that other people would be able to do with the land in 2) that they would not be able to do in 1).

 

If you defend an absolute property right over someone's use of a particular piece of land (a building or a farm), this is indistinguishable from defending their property right in the land itself.  Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, they are not separable.

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I completely agree all of that is your own property. I disagree that any of it is Land, as defined by George. If you have bought lumbar, it becomes part of your produced wealth. If you assemble your own home, it is then your capital. The dirt it is parked on is, loosely speaking, the foundations your home uses for structural soundness - it forms part of the structure so-to-speak.

 

Wow, I hadn't even read this when I posted my last post but it proves my point exactly.  I completely agree; owning the house inevitably gives you ownership of the dirt that it is on.  Now you're attempting to separate the dirt from the land... but the dirt is the land.  That's what land is.  Defending property rights in buildings, agricultural fields, roadways etc is defending property rights in the corresponding land; you cannot defend one without the other, as is clearly illustrated here (even if you don't admit it).

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I see now that this is logical positivism. Very perceptive of New Buddha to spot this a while ago.

 

From the Wikipedia entry on logical positivism:

"Theoretical laws would be reduced to empirical laws, while theoretical terms would garner meaning from observational terms via correspondence rules."

 

Here is what Rand said about logical positivism:

 

"Knowledge, they said, consists, not of facts, but of words, words unrelated to objects, words of an arbitrary social convention, as an irreducible primary; thus knowledge is merely a matter of manipulating language."

 

Now from George's chapter on definition of terms:

 

"The effect may be the same as an increase of capital. However, the increase in production is due to the increased power of labor, not capital. Increased velocity may give the impact of a cannon ball the same effect as increased weight. Nevertheless, weight is one thing and velocity another.

 

Therefore, capital must exclude everything that may be included as land or labor. This leaves only things that are neither land nor labor. These things have resulted from the union of the two original factors of production. In other words, nothing can be capital that is not wealth.

 

Many of the ambiguities about capital derive from ambiguities in the use of the inclusive term wealth. In common use, wealth means anything having an exchange value. When used as an economic term, however, it must be limited to a much more definite meaning.

 

If we take into account the concept of collective or general wealth, we see that many things we commonly call wealth are not so at all. Instead, they represent the power to obtain wealth in transactions between individuals (or groups). That is, they have an exchange value. However, their increase or decrease does not affect the sum of wealth in the community. Therefore, they are not truly wealth.

 

Some examples are stocks, bonds, mortgages, promissory notes, or other certificates for transferring wealth. Neither can slaves be considered wealth. Their economic value merely represents the power of one class to appropriate the earnings of another. Lands or other natural opportunities obtain exchange value only from consent to an exclusive right to use them. This merely represents the power given to landowners to demand a share of the wealth produced by those who use them.

 

Increase in the amount of bonds, mortgages, or notes cannot increase the wealth of the community, since that community includes those who pay as well as those who receive. Slavery does not increase the wealth of a people, for what the masters gain the enslaved lose. Rising land values do not increase the common wealth, as whatever landowners gain by higher prices, tenants or purchasers lose in paying them."

 

Finally we get to the following exchange in this thread:

 

Wow, I hadn't even read this when I posted my last post but it proves my point exactly.  I completely agree; owning the house inevitably gives you ownership of the dirt that it is on.  Now you're attempting to separate the dirt from the land... but the dirt is the land.  That's what land is.  Defending property rights in buildings, agricultural fields, roadways etc is defending property rights in the corresponding land; you cannot defend one without the other, as is clearly illustrated here (even if you don't admit it).

 

Or in other words, you can't separate the land from the dirt in reality. And I would add that it does not make any conceptual sense to do so.

 

See George's definition. I see no need to repeat them again.

 

To which Jon responds, 'but look at my definitions.'

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Just want to say that the Positivist theory of meaning is the closest thing to the Oist position on reduction to percepts that I know of. "Observation statements" are terms that denote perceptual experience. Jon does match Miss Rand's description of Positivism but not exactly the Positivist theory of meaning. This is on my list of things to start a thread on some time. The Positivist wanted to make sure that scientific language corresponded to observations. That is a good thing, whatever they messed up otherwise.(like excluding introspection from "observation")

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Reality is the context in which all words have meaning. Definitions define the existents which are being referred to. You are trying to make an argument by redefining the terms of my argument but end up begging the question.

Land is not capital - one simple distinction between them which proves this is that one is not man made, the other is. This is a matter of fact. It's a matter of reality.

Edited by Jon Southall
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Jon said:

Reality is the context in which all words have meaning. Definitions define the existents which are being referred to. You are trying to make an argument by redefining the terms of my argument but end up begging the question.

No, no one is "redefining the terms" of your argument. We are rejecting these invalid definitions as a basis for an argument. That is a very different thing.

Jon said:

Land is not capital - one simple distinction between them which proves this is that one is not man made, the other is. This is a matter of fact. It's a matter of reality.

As everyone keeps tell you, ALL man made products are constructed from metaphysically given materials.

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Who is arguing that man made products aren't?

The distinction is what you have and have not done. What you were the cause of or weren't. You lump capital and land together as one. This is to bastardise concepts. Does nature provide skyscrapers and factories? Does money grow on trees?

You can't ignore the role of causality. You have to downplay it in order to construct an argument in favour of claiming something which is not yours. Just abandon your faulty reasoning.

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Jon said:

Who is arguing that man made products aren't?

You are....

The distinction is what you have and have not done. What you were the cause of or weren't. You lump capital and land together as one. This is to bastardise concepts. Does nature provide skyscrapers and factories? Does money grow on trees?

Jon, you don't seem to understand genus and species relations. You are concrete bound by the symbols l-a-n-d and c-a-p-i-t-o-l.... Sure they are different concepts, like capitalism and socialism but that doesn't stop them both from being a species of the genus, economic-political theory. Or more importantly that doesn't stop land from being a species of the genus capital. You want to argue that they are mutually exclusive concepts and this has led you to absurdities.

Jon said:

You can't ignore the role of causality. You have to downplay it in order to construct an argument in favour of claiming something which is not yours. Just abandon your faulty reasoning.

No, I haven't ignored the role of causality. I constructed a reductio of your notion of cause in my sperm and egg example. You'r argument has failed and has been repeatedly refuted. You either don't have the ability or integrity to represent the refutations offered by others faithfully. Edited by Plasmatic
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Just want to say that the Positivist theory of meaning is the closest thing to the Oist position on reduction to percepts that I know of. "Observation statements" are terms that denote perceptual experience. Jon does match Miss Rand's description of Positivism but not exactly the Positivist theory of meaning. This is on my list of things to start a thread on some time. The Positivist wanted to make sure that scientific language corresponded to observations. That is a good thing, whatever they messed up otherwise.(like excluding introspection from "observation")

 

Doesn't the positivist theory of meaning arise out of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy? I look forward to your thread.

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