User:FOIA/Archive 5

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[The Peloponnesians] devote a very small fraction of the time to the consideration of any public object, most of it to the prosecution of their own objects. Meanwhile each fancies that no harm will come of his neglect, that it is the business of somebody else to look after this or that for him; and so, by the same notion being entertained by all separately, the common cause imperceptibly decays.
-Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (ca. 460 B.C.-ca. 395 BC; tr. Richard Crawley, London: J. M. Dent & Sons; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1910; reprint: Forgotten Books, 1954), p. 70

[S]hould the citizens of the perfect state have their possessions in common or not? ... [M]ay there not be an advantage in having and using possessions in common?

...If [husbandmen] do not share equally enjoyments and toils, those who labor much and get little will necessarily complain of those who labor little and receive or consume much. But indeed there is always a difficulty in men living together and having all human relations in common, but especially in their having common property.... [W]hen everyone has a distinct interest, men will not complain of one another, and they will make more progress, because every one will be attending to his own business.... [H]ow immeasurably greater is the pleasure, when a man feels a thing to be his own; for surely the love of self is a feeling implanted by nature and not given in vain.... And further, there is the greatest pleasure in doing a kindness or service to friends or guests or companions, which can only be rendered when a man has private property..... No one, when men have all things in common, will any longer set an example of liberality or do any liberal action; for liberality consists in the use which is made of property. Such legislation may have a specious appearance of benevolence; men readily listen to it, and are easily induced to believe that in some wonderful manner everybody will become everybody's friend, especially when some one is heard denouncing the evils now existing in states, suits about contracts, convictions for perjury, flatteries of rich men and the like, which are said to arise out of the possession of private property. These evils, however, are due to a very different cause -- the wickedness of human nature. Indeed, we see that there is much more quarrelling among those who have all things in common....

-Aristotle, Politics (ca. 335-323 BC; tr. Benjamin Jowett, Oxford University Press, 1895; reprint: Publishing, 2005) ISBN 1420926020, p. 20

[E]ven if one prescribed a moderate property for all, it would be of no avail, since it is more needful to level men's desires than their properties.
-Aristotle, Politics (ca. 335-323 BC; tr. H. Rackham; London: William Heinemann LTD.; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1932; 1959 ed.), p. 113

[T]hat which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual. For besides other considerations, everybody is more inclined to neglect the duty which he expects another to fulfill; as in families many attendants are often less useful than a few. Each citizen will have a thousand sons who will not be his sons individually but anybody will be equally the son of anybody, and will therefore be neglected by all alike. Further, upon this principle, every one will use the word 'mine' of one who is prospering or the reverse, however small a fraction he may himself be of the whole number.
-Aristotle, Politics Book II (ca. 335-323 BC; tr. Benjamin Jowett, Oxford University Press, 1895; reprint: Courier Dover Publications, 2000, ISBN 0486414248), p. 120

If the poor, for example, because they are more in number, divide among themselves the property of the rich—is not this unjust? No, by heaven (will be the reply), for the supreme authority justly willed it. But if this is not injustice, pray what is? Again, when in the first division all has been taken, and the majority divide anew the property of the minority, is it not evident, if this goes on, that they will ruin the state? Yet surely, virtue is not the ruin of those who possess her, nor is justice destructive of a state; and therefore this law of confiscation clearly cannot be just. If it were, all the acts of a tyrant must of necessity be just; for he only coerces other men by superior power, just as the multitude coerce the rich.
-Aristotle, Politics Book III (ca. 335-323 BC; tr. Benjamin Jowett, Oxford University Press, 1895; reprint: Courier Dover Publications, 2000, ISBN 0486414248), p. 120

[M]en cannot live conveniently where all things are common. How can there be any plenty where every man will excuse himself from labour? for as the hope of gain doth not excite him, so the confidence that he has in other men’s industry may make him slothful. If people come to be pinched with want, and yet cannot dispose of anything as their own, what can follow upon this but perpetual sedition and bloodshed....
-Thomas Moore, Utopia (1516; tr. Gilbert Burnet, 1684; ed. Henry Morely, Cassell & Co Ltd., 1909), pp. 64-65.

When our people were fed out of the common store, and laboured jointly together, glad was he could slip from his labour, or slumber over his taske he cared not how, nay, the most honest among them would hardly take so much true paines in a weeke, as now for themselves they will doe in a day, neither cared they for the increase, presuming that howsoever the harvest prospered, the generall store must maintaine them, so that wee reaped not so much Corne from the labours of thirtie as now three or foure doe provide for themselves. To prevent which, Sir Thomas Dale hath allotted every man three Acres of cleare ground, in the nature of Farmes....
-John Smith, The generall historie of Virginia, New England & the Summer Isles, together with The true travels, adventures and observations, and A sea grammar - Volume 1 (1614), p. 222

...the 2. agents sent from Leyden.... presumed to conclude with the marchants on those termes....
...all profits and benifits that are gott by trade, traffick, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means of any person or persons, remaine still in the commone stock untill the division....
That all such persons as are of this collonie, are to have their meate, drink, apparell, and all provissions out of the common stock and goods of the said collonie....
...that which was most sadd & lamentable was, that in 2. or 3. moneths time halfe of their company dyed....
...famine began now to pinch them sore....
Now ye welcome time of harvest approached, in which all had their hungry bellies filled. But it arose to a little, in comparison of a full years supply.... So as it well appeared that ye famine must still insue ye next year allso....
So they begane to thinke how they might raise as much corne as they could, and obtaine a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in miserie. At length, after much debate of things, the Govr (with ye advise of ye cheefest amongest them) gave way that they should set corne every man for his owne perticuler, and in that regard trust to them selves....
And so assigned to every family a parcell of land.... This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corne was planted then other waise would have bene by any means ye Govr or any other could use, and saved him a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better contente. The women now wente willingly into ye feild, and tooke their litle-ons with them to set corne, which before would aledg weaknes, and inabilitie; whom to have compelled would have bene thought great tiranie and oppression.
The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos and other ancients, applauded by some of later times; -that ye taking away of propertie, and bringing in communitie into a comone wealth, would make them happy and florishing; as if they were wiser then God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For ye yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and servise did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompence. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in devission of victails and cloaths, then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter ye other could; this was thought injuestice.... and so, if it did not cut of those relations that God hath set amongest men, yet it did at least much diminish and take of ye mutuall respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have bene worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none objecte this is mens corruption, and nothing to ye course it selfe. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdome saw another course fiter for them....
By this time harvest was come, and in stead of famine, now God gave them plentie, and ye face of things was changed, to ye rejoysing of ye harts of many, for which they blessed God. And ye effect of their particuler planting was well seene, for all had, one way and other, pretty well to bring ye year aboute, and some of ye abler sorte and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, so as any generall wante or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.
-William Bradford (Charles Deane,ed.), History of Plymouth plantation (ca. 1620-23; published by Little, Brown & Co., 1856), pp. 45-46, 91, 126, 134-136, 147

[T]o every individual in nature is given an individual propriety by nature, not to be invaded or usurped by any... for every one... hath a self propriety... and on this no second may presume without consent; and by natural birth all men are equal, and alike born to like propriety and freedom.
-Richard Overton, An Arrow Against All Tyrants (London 1646), pp. 3-4

[T]his Conceit of Levelling of Propriety... is so ridiculous and foolish an opinion, as no man of braines, reason or ingenuitie can be imagined such a sot as to maintaine such a principle, because it would, if practiced destroy not only any industry in the world, but raze the very foundation of generation, and of subsistence or being of one man by another. For as for industry and valour by which the societies of mankind are maintained and preserved, who will take the pains for that which when he hath gotten is not his own, but must be equally shared in, by every lazy, simple, dronish sot? Or who will fight for that, wherein he hath no other interest, but such as must be subject to the will and pleasure of another, yea of every coward and base low spirited fellow, that in his sitting still must share in common with a valiant man in all his brave and noble achievement? The ancient encouragement to men that were to defend their Countrie was this: that they were to hazard their persons for that which was their owne, to wit, their owne wives, their owne children, their owne Estates.
-John Lilburn, Apologetical Narration (Amsterdam, 1652), pp. 68-69

We call capitalism or market economy that form of social cooperation which is based on private ownership of the means of production.

Socialism, communism, or planned economy, on the other hand, is the form of social cooperation which is based on public ownership of the means of production. The terms state capitalism and authoritarian economy have essentially the same meaning.

It is frequently asserted that a third form of social cooperation is feasible as a permanent form of economic organization, namely a system of private ownership of the means of production in which the government intervenes, by orders and prohibitions, in the exercise of ownership. This third system is called interventionism. All governments which do not openly profess socialism tend to be interventionist nowadays, and all political parties recommend at least some degree of interventionism.[1] It is claimed that this system of interventionism is as far from socialism as it is from capitalism, that as a third solution to the social problem it stands midway between the two systems, and that while retaining the advantages of both it avoids the disadvantages inherent in both. ...

Interventionism is not an economic system, that is, it is not a method which enables people to achieve their aims. It is merely a system of procedures which disturb and eventually destroy the market economy. It hampers production and impairs satisfaction of needs. It does not make people richer; it makes people poorer.

Concededly, the interventionist measures may give certain individuals or certain groups of individuals advantages at the expense of others. Minorities may obtain privileges which enrich them at the expense of their fellow citizens. But the majority, or the whole nation, stands only to lose by interventionism. ...

Not only do they divert production from the ways which lead to the best and most efficient satisfaction of the consumers’ demand; they cause waste of both capital and labor; they create permanent mass unemployment. They may bring about the artificial boom, but with it they bring in its wake a depression. They change the market economy into chaos.

Popular opinion ascribes all these evils to the capitalistic system. As a remedy for the undesirable effects of interventionism they ask for still more interventionism. They blame capitalism for the effects of the actions of governments which pursue an anti-capitalistic policy.

-Ludwig Von Mises (Bettina Bien Greaves, ed.), Interventionism: an economic analysis (Foundation for Economic Analysis, 1940), pp. 1, 77-78.
  1. The orthodox Marxists, however, recommend interventionism in full recognition of the fact that it paralyzes and destroys the capitalistic market economy and, thus, in their opinion, leads to socialism. This was the argument advanced as long as a century ago by Friedrich Engels.

When I was editor of The Journal of Law and Economics, we published a whole series of studies of regulation and its effects. Almost all the studies--perhaps all the studies--suggested that the results of regulation had been bad, that the prices were higher, that the product was worse adapted to the needs of consumers, than it otherwise would have been. I was not willing to accept the view that all regulation was bound to produce these results. Therefore, what was my explanation for the results we had? I argued that the most probable explanation was that the government now operates on such a massive scale that it had reached the stage of what economists call negative marginal returns. Anything additional it does, it messes up. But that doesn't mean that if we reduce the size of government considerably, we wouldn't find then that there were some activities it did well. Until we reduce the size of government, we won't know what they are. ... I can't remember one that's good. Regulation of transport, regulation of agriculture-- agriculture is a, zoning is z. You know, you go from a to z, they are all bad. There were so many studies, and the result was quite universal: The effects were bad.
-Ronald Coase, quoted in Thomas W. Hazlitt, "Looking for Results," Reason, January 1997
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