On Land and Work
You make the mistake of the proto-marxists of thinking that the sale of one's labor is different from the sale of finished goods, etc.
"Profit" is merely the money earned in excess of costs. A day laborer earns a "profit" just like a person who sells goods at a small shop, or a car manufacturer. If there is an excess money taken in that can be diverted away from the business to support his personal needs and desires, then that would be a profit.
Nobody is long content with food, clothing, and shelter. I know it is possible to eke out a bare subsistence living on the land, but nobody is satisfied with that. People desire to better themselves and their posterity. So they work, they save, they invest, and they try to obtain an interest in enterprises that will do more than just feed, clothe, and shelter them.
I certainly have no interest in living in a land where there is no accumulation of capital, investment, and the building of enterprises that can support people's needs and desires.
I do not agree with you that the "common people" seeks merely to "feed his family." There is almost NO ONE in our society who lives a life of bare subsistence. We want our cars, our air conditioning, our entertainment, etc, all of which are way above "bare subsistence."
It doesn't matter whether the workers have an "interest" in maintaining an enterprise. It takes more than an "interest" - more than hard work by the hourly employees. It takes capital and investment to keep such enterprises alive.
You are implying that the "capitalist" is selfish - but the worker is pure at heart. That is hogwash. Everybody is looking out for themselves and their family. Without the capitalist, there wouldn't be an enterprise that the wager earners could work at.
What you seem to want is for the capitalist to take all the risk, save the money, build the company - all of which he does for his own profit - and then you want him to be stuck there when the business is no longer profitable. I notice you don't suggest that the workers stay and work for less and less profit themselves.
In other words, you want the owners who put their money in business not to really own what they build, but to be forced to maintain it for the benefit of the employees even when it is no longer profitable. But you don't want the laborers to have to operate under the same constraints!
I thought, originally, that you were referring to land when you referred to property. But now I see that you are referring to the improvesments, the factories, the buildings, etc.
What you want is for people to walk right into possession of those things without having paid for them.
Without imposing a communist or national socialist system, how do you propose to force property owners and people who have accumulated capital to invest in the laborers rather than in their own best interests? What moral right do you see that allows you to appropriate the wealth of others to your own benefit?
To give the land to the workers, you'll have to steal it from the people that paid for it.
That is what the founders, and dare I say the Scriptures, are opposed to. It's called theft. You propose to steal what others have lawfully gained, because you believe you can arrange things to the better benefit of the "workers."
That is what we oppose when we say we support the protection of property. A man is entitled to possess what he has paid for, what he has purchased from another. It matters not whether it be a castle or a hovel, a small farm or a giant industry.
The idea that the land owners "don't want you to work" is ludicrous. You are not "entitled" to work - you have to provide something that is of value to someone with the money and interest to pay you for it.
Certain forms of honest labor just aren't valuable to very many people. It seems to me that you are implying that I should be forced to hire someone to work for me when they do not offer me anything I need, or their price is too great.
The idea that the land already belongs to the workers is just Marxist lunacy. Why should it belong to you if you didn't pay for it? That's what deeds and title are for - to prove ownership.
I agree that workers should be permitted to organize - but businessmen must also be free to negotiate with and hire whom they please as well. Workers have a right to strike, but they have no right to use force to stop others from working or crossing picket lines.
The AFP would deplore any sort of police action against peaceful strikers - but not against trespassers or those who would promote union violence against those who cross picket lines. I have no doubt that in the past (before 1930), big industry used its influence with the police to strong-arm unions and laborers, and that has been prohibited for two generations. On the other hand the Wagner Act is an iniquitous violation of property rights and liberty interests of business owners. The government has no right to compell owners to bargain with anybody. We believe in the right to free contract and free exchange of labor and money based upon the decisions of the businessmen and the workers reaching an agreement.
"I do not agree with you that the 'common people' seeks merely to 'feed his family.' There is almost NO ONE in our society who lives a life of bare subsistence. We want our cars, our air conditioning, our entertainment, etc, all of which are way above 'bare subsistence.'"
According to UNICEF, one out of every five children in the US is living on a dollar a day. [*1] By our own records, 18% of our children live below the poverty level. [*2] And even for those living above the federal poverty guidelines, food and undernourishment is still a significant concern. Twelve thousand dollars a year is the poverty level for a single mother, or only eight thousand dollars a year for an individual. Another 39% of our children live only marginally above the poverty level. [*3] Let's keep in mind, too, that these levels of poverty and homelessness were taken from before the recent recession.
We're talking about half or more of the country's children. Yet you politely refer to these people as "NO ONE." How can you expect to represent this country when you deny the existence of more than half of the people?
Even when the stock market moves confidently forward, in one of the nation's biggest upturns, [*4] it still leaves behind the teaming masses to wallow in poverty, misery, and unemployment. Here, I think we have a decent argument: the best businesses, operating perfectly according to their CEO's, have done nothing to create jobs or end poverty in America. The facts and statistics prove it. Free enterprise, at its best, did nothing for us, the workers. However, your argument is that poverty and unemployment exists because businesses are straddled with taxes. Can you really persist in this argument, when businesses have perfect conditions, and unemployment only grows?
I don't understand this phrase at all. Marx's argument was, and always has been, that labor does not differ from other trade commodities. From the second paragraph of "Wage Labour and Capital," he wrote, "Labour-power, then, is a commodity, no more, no less so than is the sugar. The first is measured by the clock, the other by the scales." [*5]
That's particularly odd. I don't remember saying this at all. When I stated that I wanted workers to manage industries, it was because the worker is the best person to make industrial decisions. Every worker is also a consumer, and must necessarily live with the choices they make. I couldn't imagine that American workers would suddenly do away with technological innovation altogether.
Where does capital and investment come from -- if not off of the backs of the hard-working laborer? Capital can't exist without labor. Factories, mines, and railroads are not natural, nor are they self-creating. They exist because someone labored to create them. Capital exists only because of labor, and for no other reason. You should just shorten your sentence to, "It takes more than hard work to run a business -- IT TAKES HARD WORK!!!" Adam Smith covered this very well in his book "The Wealth of Nations." Quoting one of the world's most significant economists: "It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all the wealth of the world was originally purchased..." [*6] So, naturally, I and the other economists of the world are going to disagree with your analysis that capital exists independent of labor.
Hogwash? I've heard people justify and legitimize the greed and selfishness of Capitalism; but, I have never heard someone completely deny it altogether. Again quoting Adam Smith, "Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is everywhere a most unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals." [*7] In every era, and every continent, the Capitalist class is in a conspiracy against the common people, to keep them miserably low poverty. A summary of the world's most respected economist.
But, so you don't think I'm poorly-read in economics, I'll point out a few other significant economists who agree. Thomas Malthus wrote, "The true cause of the advance in the price of labour is thus concealed, and the rich affect to grant it as an act of compassion and favour to the poor, in consideration of a year of scarcity, and, when plenty returns, indulge themselves in the most unreasonable of all complaints, that the price does not again fall, when a little rejection would shew them that it must have risen long before but from an unjust conspiracy of their own." [*8] Other economists who agreed: Josiah Child, [*9] Thomas Paine, [*10] James Steuart, [*11] J. C. L. Simonde de Sismondi, [*12] Nassau Senior, [*13] among many others.
There seems to be the question of "what grants someone the right to property?" John Locke, the Enlightenment philosopher, has clearly defined what grants someone the right to property: "He that is nourished by the acorns he picked up under an oak, or the apples he gathered from the trees in the wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself. No body can deny but the nourishment is his. I ask then, when did they begin to be his? when he digested? or when he eat? or when he boiled? or when he brought them home? or when he picked them up? and it is plain, if the first gathering made them not his, nothing else could. That labour put a distinction between them and common..." [*14]
It is labor that separates wealth from the common. So, it seems odd that industrialists and big businesses can invest in land with money and own it. After all, their money is the product of the workman's hands, and they provided nothing at all for it. Capital only exists because a laborer created it, and one necessarily concludes with Locke, that the laborer is the possessor of the property. It is the laborer who created capital, and pulled it out of nature. So, it must necessarily belong to the laborer. With Adam Smith, as well, and many other economists, we find that labor is the sole creator of wealth. The dividends that Capitalists live off of, then, are not created by them; they are the product of labor. They produce nothing, add nothing, contribute nothing. It is theft to steal someone's labor, and live off of it. Quoting the economist, J.C.L. Simonde de Sismonde, "...all wealth proceeds from labour..." [*15]
If workers produce all of the wealth in society, then it belongs to them! John Locke didn't dance around the issue of property, and neither did Rousseau or Adam Smith. It's not "Marxist lunacy" -- it's called the Enlightenment.
Those who add labor to wealth are its rightful possessor. Furthermore, if anyone's possession of wealth disenfranchises others, this too is theft. You love private property, but would you love private ownership of the world's oxygen? The entire question is so ludicrous, and yet, Capitalists own all of the world's land, and on the exact same arguments as one would claim the world's oxygen: because it is there and nobody has claimed it.
The workers make all of the wealth. The capital you speak of, also, was made by the workers. (Or did dams and canals suddenly appear, like Moses calling on god's miracles?) Every economist and philosopher seems to agree, that workers have a right to what they labor upon, and that necessarily means all of society's wealth. Also, I'd like you to respond to the massive poverty in the United States, which you seem to think affects "NO ONE." And how would we American voters expect you to represent them, when you deny that they exist?
*1. "Young child survival and development," by UNICEF, UNICEF Page .
Look, we're not socialists. We believe that socialism is immoral, because it does not respect private property. We believe that taking people's property is a sin.
I certainly don't accept government statistics on poverty in America. The government has to generate numbers to support the robber welfare state that takes my money and hands it to other people.
The idea that half the children are living at basic subsistence levels is simply ludicrous. It is rank socialist propaganda.
Your statement about the "best businesses" not creating any jobs is, again, crazy. All the people they employ are jobs they have created. Are you saying they aren't employing anybody.
Free enterprise hires everybody that has a job except those who are working for the government. Almost a hundred million jobs are paid for by private enterprise. Man, what are you thinking when you write such drivvel?
Businesses do not have perfect conditions. High taxes, an unstable currency, and runaway regulations are very deliterious to a good business environment.
You are so disconnected from reality in your statistics and views that it is difficult to engage you.
In the final analysis though, the protection of private property ownership does not rest on economic theories, or statistics. It rests on a fundamental moral opposition to theft. Socialism is rare, naked theft of the property of others.
Even if free enterprise was not the greatest good to society (which it is), I'd still support it because it is the only moral option available - people's property must not be stolen from them by the state or by the mob.
John Pittman Hey
I completely agree with you, but it seems we disagree on who owns the property. Tracing back all of the landed estates of Europe, one finds it all goes back to Serfdom, where the common laborers were slaves. Are you going to seriously suggest that this land, which was taken from the people, now belongs to the thieves -- that is, the Capitalist class?
It is likewise in the United States. We're talking about a history of slavery, of union prohibition. Even just a few years ago, President Bush threatened strikers with imprisonment and prosecution unless they went back to work. [*1] Are you going to tell me that Capitalists in America own the property they possess? Even when this property was created by American laborers, who were under the threat of violence, coercion, and jail? It doesn't sound like Free Enterprise; it sounds like all of the wealth in this country was made by the workers, we always fought to gain it, and the law was always used against us in giving it to Capitalism.
In the documentary, "Harlan County, USA," for instance, there is footage of scabs and police firing live ammunition on non-violent workers and journalists. Not so much as a warrant for anyone's arrest, let alone prosecution. When an attempted murder charge is completely ignored -- does this sound like Democracy, or does it sound like the courts are OWNED by the Capitalist system?
If you believe in the right to property, then give to the workers what belongs to us! Either that, or you will have to justify slavery and violence as part of "free trade."
What makes you think that they're not making up the national debt, too? All that welfare might just be some big hoax! After all, they need patriotic Americans who think their country is being taken over by Commies.
I provided statistics from the United States government and from the United Nations. Can you tell me where I should be looking up economic and poverty statistics? Just a hint will be fine.
No, I work -- so, I know they're employing somebody. But the jobs we have aren't "created for us." All business is economic -- it is based on the accumulation of wealth. As I thoroughly demonstrated in the last letter, wealth cannot exist without labor. The job wasn't created by some Capitalist; it exists because labor can create value out of the raw materials provided. And those raw materials? Yeah, they exist only because of another laborer, too.
Duuuude-man.... Thirty million Americans can't find jobs. That's an unemployment rate of 18.7%. [*2] Free enterprise hires everybody? Why don't you tell that to the millions of homeless, poor, and impoverished? Oh, wait... they don't exist, right?
I was speaking about the economic conditions for business when these statistics for child poverty were taken. For instance, examine Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party in the 80's. Upon coming to office, Reagan cut taxes for business, sending the national deficit from $700 billion to $3 trillion. [*3] Significant reduction of business taxes, even if it sends the deficit through the roof -- is this not what you were talking about when you mentioned removing the taxes that suffocate business? If it isn't, then please tell me what you mean by removing business taxes. And if it is, then it completely failed in addressing child poverty, homelessness, and unemployment... unless, of course, all of these statistics were fabricated to control my opinion.
*1. "Bush orders 'cooling off' period at United," United Press International, Jan 21, 2002, High Beam Article .
I don't agree the property was "taken" from the workers. You might argue it was taken from the Indians, and in some cases it was. But the property has been transferred many many times, so that the person who now holds it didn't "take" it from anybody - he bought it.
The president "ordering" people back to work is an outgrowth of the Wagner Act and its progeny. Remember, we oppose that. It gives unions too much power - and then tries to "balance" that illegal power by creating "cooling off" times, etc.
If we abolished all those iniquitous laws, people could organize like they wished, and people could negotiate like they wished, and people could contract with others when and if they reached an agreement. People could strike, and they could be fired.
In fact, in every socialist system, the government always ends up forcing people to work, and breaks strikes. That's because, contrary to the socialist fiction, the actual "owners" of the businesses and property under socialism is the government, not the workers. And the government cannot permit the "workers" to defy the "owner" - which is the government.
Property held by businesses is most certainly owned by those businesses, assuming that title exists, etc. The Laborers most certainly did not "create" the property. They have no ownership interest in the property, because they were paid for their labor.
Look, if you build me a house, and I pay you for it, are you saying that you still "own" my house, because you "created" it? I hope not.
The same logic applies to employees of business. They may work, they may create products which produce a profit, which the business uses to build up the enterprise and accumulate as capital, but that doesn't mean that the laborers "own" the property derived from their labor. They were paid for their labor, and there was no agreement granting them part title to the property being built or accumulated.
Wealth is not created alone by the workers. The labor is one ingredient, but there are many other ingredients as well. The labor is paid for. A laborer has no more ownership in, say, a factory that his productivity helped finance than the steel mill that made the steel for the building has. The business owners pay for the labor, the supplies, the designs, the materials, etc., so they end up owning the property when it's finished.
I'm not justifying shooting anybody. Just because somebody shot at somebody during a labor dispute, that doesn't mean that labor "owns" the business. What it means is that a violent crime was committed and should have been prosecuted.
I'm sure you can also find photos of laborers burning down businesses, vandalizing businesses, assaulting "scabs" who cross the picket line, etc. All that means is that more violent crimes were committed and the laborers should have been arrested and prosecuted.
I have no doubt the national debt is much larger than the government reports.
I know that there is too much welfare because I see the checks, the food stamp cards, the medicaid cards, etc.
The problem with the statistics is not that the income figures are wrong - it's that the government's definition of "poverty" is bogus.
Your statistics are just all screwed up. Again, it is impossible that half the children in America are living at subsistence levels. You need to check them again. I live in one of the poorest areas in the country, with over half the population on welfare, and almost none of the children live at subsistence levels.
Businesses create jobs by hiring people. Of course it takes "income" to pay the wages, and labor is an input into that income. But it is the business that hires the employees and pays the workers.
I said that free enterprise hires everybody that has a job except for government workers. When taxes and regulations and unstable currency undermines the business climate, business contracts and jobs become more scarce.
It does little good to cut taxes on business if you then create a huge budget deficit which has to be financed by debt instruments or printing money. Floating debt or printing money is just another tax. Where Reagan failed was allowing the deficit to balloon.
The AFP advocates cutting the federal government down to Constitutional limits, which would no doubt put the entire budget somewhere below $800 billion a year, and would permit the abolition of almost all taxation. That would cut free enterprise loose to really grow and create tens of millions of new jobs.
Also, we must rid ourselves of the minimum wage and welfare/transfer payments, which increase unemployment.