Originally Posted by joe
My Uncle makes a great argument that landowning is evil. Made me question my support of free market capitalism a little bit. I think in the end it's just an impossible question. This is what I mean.
Free market capitalism is a self-contradictory term as capitalism requires private ownership of land, which is always inherently a monopoly because of land's fixed supply and the role it plays in the economy.
Some people think landowning is perfect system. Some people think it's evil. Most people don't think about it.
Some people think it should be done THIS way. Some people think it should be done THIS way. Most with strong opinions on the topic have different ideas of how it should be done.
In the end, what can be done about it? You can become a philosopher and maybe in 200 years your ideas will start to show some sort of effect, but probably not. Other than that... you have no say.. this is just the systems humans have come out with.
I think property rights are natural to an extent however. I think people naturally claim property as their own, and I think it's unnatural to say, "this land is everyone's." I think the latter would almost always come about by force.
You should read 'Progress and Poverty' by Henry George. He makes a very compelling argument.
If you don't want to read the whole book, it's free online, you can at least read chapter 26 and chapter 27, which addresses what constitutes rightful property and how property in land enslaves others.
Here is an excerpt (the beginning) from chapter 27:
The Enslavement of Labor
AS CHATTEL SLAVERY, the owning of people, is unjust — so private ownership of land is unjust. Ownership of land always gives ownership of people. To what degree, is measured by the need for land. When starvation is the only alternative, the ownership of people involved in the ownership of land becomes absolute. This is simply the law of rent in different form.
Place one hundred people on an island from which there is no escape. Make one of them the absolute owner of the others — or the absolute owner of the soil. It will make no difference — either to owner or to the others — which one you choose. Either way, one individual will be the absolute master of the other ninety-nine. Denying permission to them to live on the island would force them into the sea.
The same cause must operate, in the same way and to the same end, even on a larger scale and through more complex relations. When people are compelled to live on — and from — land treated as the exclusive property of others, the ultimate result is the enslavement of workers. Though less direct and less obvious, relations will tend to the same state as on our hypothetical island. As population increases and productivity improves, we move toward the same absolute mastery of landlords and the same abject helplessness of labor. Rent will advance; wages will fall. Landowners continually increase their share of the total production, while labor's share constantly declines.
To the extent that moving to cheaper land becomes difficult or impossible, workers will be reduced to a bare living — no matter what they produce. Where land is monopolized, they will live as virtual slaves. Despite enormous increase in productive power, wages in the lower and wider layers of industry tend — everywhere — to the wages of slavery (i.e., just enough to maintain them in working condition).
There is nothing strange in this fact. Owning the land on which — and from which — people must live is virtually the same as owning the people themselves. In accepting the right of some individuals to the exclusive use and enjoyment of the earth, we condemn others to slavery. We do this as fully and as completely as though we had formally made them chattel slaves.