The Myth of Common Property

An Observation by L.A. Repucci

It has been proposed that there exists a state in which property — whether defined in the physical sense such as objects, products, buildings, roads, etc, or financial instruments such as monetary instruments, corporate title, or deed to land ownership — may be owned or possessed in common; that is to say, that property may be possessed of multiple rightful claimants simultaneously.  This suggestion, when examined rationally and exhaustively, is untenable from the perspective of any logical school of economic, social, and indeed physical school of thought, and balks at simple scrutiny.

In law, Property may be defined as the tangible product of enterprise and resources, or the gain of capital wealth which it may create.  To ‘hold’ Property, a Party, or private, sentient entity, must have rightful claim to it and be capable of using it freely as they see fit, in keeping with natural law.

Natural resources, including land, are said to be owned either jurisdictionally by State, privately by party, or in common to the natural world.  If property may be legally defined only as a product, then natural resources may be excluded from all laws pertaining to legal property.  If property also may be further defined by the ability of it’s owner to use it as they see fit, in keeping with Ius Naturale, then any property claimed jurisdictionally by the State and said to be held in common amongst the citizenry must meet the article of usage to be legally owned.  Consider Hardin’s tragedy of the commons as an argument for the conservation of private property over a state of nature, rather than an appeal to the economic law of scarcity or an appeal to the second law of thermodynamics ,

In Physics:  Property may be defined as either an observable state of physical being.  The universe of Einstein, Kepler, and Newton rests soundly on the tenet that physical bodies cannot occupy multiple physical locations simultaneously.  The laws that govern the macro-physical world do not operate in the same way on the quantum level.  At that comparatively tiny level, the rules of our known universe break down, and matter may exhibit the observed property of being at multiple locations simultaneously — bully and chalk 1 point for common property on the theoretically-quantum scale.

Currency:  The attempt to simultaneously possess and use currency as defined above would result in praxeologic market-hilarity in the best case, and imprisonment or physical injury in the worst.  Observe: Two friends in common possession of 1$ walk into a corner shop to buy a pack of chewing gum, which costs 1$.  They each place a pack on the counter, and present the cashier with their single dollar bill.  “It’s both of ours!  We earned it in business together!” they beam as the cashier calls the cops and racks a shotgun under the register…

The two friends above may not use the paper currency simultaneously — while the concept of a dollar representing two, exclusively owned fifty-percent equity shares may be widely and innately understood — the single bill is represented in specie among the parties would still be 2 pairs of quarters.  While they could pool their resources and ‘both’ purchase a single pack of gum, they would continue to own a 50% equity share in the pack — resulting in a division yet again of title equally between the dozen-or-so sticks of gum contained therein.  This reduction and division of ownership can proceed ad quantum.

This simple reason is applicable within and demonstrated by current and universal economic realities, including all claims of joint title, common property law, jurisdictional issues, corporate law, and financial liability.  A joint bank account is simply the sum of the parties’ individual interest in that account — claims to hold legal property in common are bunk.

The human condition is marked by the sovereignty, independence and isolation of one’s own thought.  Praxeological thought-experiments like John Searle’s Chinese Room Argument and Alan Turing’s Test would not be possible to pose in a human reality that was other than a state of individual mental separation.  As we are alone in our thoughts, our experience of reality can only be communicated to one another.  It is therefore not possible to ever ‘share’ an experience with any other sentient being, because it is not possible to perceive reality as another person…even if the technology should develop such that multiple individuals can network and share the information within their minds, that information must still filter through another individual consciousness in order to be experienced simultaneously.  The physical separation of two minds is reinforced by the rationally-necessary separation of distinct individuals.  There may exist a potential hive-mind collectivist state, but it would require such a radical change to that which constitutes the human condition, that it would violate the tenets of what it is to be human.

In conclusion, logically, the most plausible circumstance in which property could exist in common would be on the quantum level within a hive-minded non-human collective, and the laws that govern men are and should be an accurate extension of the laws that govern nature — not through Social Darwinism, but rather anthropology.  Humans, as an adaptation, work interdependently to thrive, which often includes the voluntary sharing and trading of resources and property…none of which are held in common.

Ad Quantum,

L.A. Repucci

Debunking the Wage Slavery Myth

By Adam Magoon

It is often stated by those who are ignorant of economics that work is not a voluntary endeavor even when a wage is agreed upon voluntarily by both parties.  The rationale behind this claim is that a human being must eat, drink, and have shelter and therefore the employer has this leverage to use in order to strangle wealth from the poor worker.  In order to examine this erroneous belief we must start as we do with all economic examination with the Robinson Crusoe scenario.

Assume a shipwrecked sailor (Tobias) on an island with no resources but his own two hands and his ingenuity.  To survive he has a number of options:  He can gather fruit/berries for a return of 3 pounds of berries per day, he can fish in the shallows(without tools) for a return of 2 pounds of fish per day, or he can hunt wildlife(without tools) for a return of 3 pounds of meat per day.

wageslavery1

Tobias requires 2 pounds of consumer goods per day to survive.  On this island consumer goods are either Berries, Meat, or Fish and given Tobias’ productive capacity of either 2 pounds of berries or 3 pounds of the other two consumer goods any intake of resources allows him to maintain his existence (subsistence).  It is at this point we must examine whether Tobias’ work is slave labor.

The definition [1] of a slave is:

1.

a person legally owned by another and having no freedom of action or right to property

2.

a person who is forced to work for another against his will

In our scenario is Tobias the property of anyone other than himself?  The answer is clearly “no” since Tobias is quite literally the only person on this island.  While he is “forced” to work due to his innate need for sustenance it would be counter-factual to claim he is somehow a slave to himself since the definitions of slave-master and slave are incompatible with another [2].  It is also absurd to say that because they provide his method of survival that Tobias is somehow slave to the ocean or the land [3].  So as we can see; when Tobias is alone on the island working to survive he is a slave to no one.

To this point we have been dealing with Tobias merely using his nature given resources to obtain and consume consumer goods.  However by collecting berries or hunting for two days (6pounds collected – 4 pounds consumed) he obtains 2 pounds of excess goods he can save.  Through this method of saving and then consuming the saved goods on the third day he can then use that time to create capital goods.  This means that on the third day, instead of hunting he can fashion himself a spear from collected wood.  The spear allows him to take on larger game and thus increases his collection of meat to 6 pounds per day.

 wageslavery2

At this point we need to examine two things.  First, at this point it would be foolish for Tobias to do anything other than hunt.  He has a decisive gain in resources due to his construction of the Spear and can use the vast amount of saved food to create even more goods (extra spears, traps, shelter, etc…).  As foolish as it may be objectively that diagnosis ignores his subjective valuations; perhaps he finds it distasteful to kill animals even in his situation, or simply prefers to pick berries due to the relative safety.  The reasons are irrelevant, just keep in mind that despite the obvious advantage of hunting in this scenario he can always choose not to.

The second thing we need to examine is whether Tobias is now a slave.  All of the evidence from the previous examination applies; he is still not a slave to himself.  The only thing that has changed is the creation of a spear from the saving of consumer goods.  It is clear that Tobias cannot be a slave to either the spear or his own saved consumer goods, again due to their nature as objects.  So we have seen that a worker working, both with and without capital goods, is a slave to no one.

Now here is where the hypothesis comes into question.  Let us assume a second person becomes stranded on the island; except this person (let’s call him Andrew) has been able to scavenge from his wrecked ship a small life boat and netting that is suitable for fishing.  Using his tools while alone Andrew can Hunt for 1 pound of meat, gather 1 pound of berries, or gain 10 pounds of fish.

 wageslavery3

In this economy Tobias will gain the most by hunting and Andrew will gain the most by fishing and they both are likely to pursue those activities [4].  Now we must again identify if this change in circumstance has resulted in slavery.  Tobias’ situation has not changed at all, so he is not a slave to anyone.  Andrew is not interacting with Tobias in any way, he cannot be a slave to his boat, his net, the ocean, or himself so he is also obviously a slave to no one either.

However Andrew soon comes to believe that if he had someone to operate the net while he piloted the boat he could obtain 20 pounds of fish per day, this may be an erroneous prediction but that is the entrepreneurial risk Andrew must take to earn a profit.  For the sake of this examination we will assume that Andrew is an amazing entrepreneur and his prediction is exactly right; but to obtain the 20 pounds of fish Andrew needs an employee.

Here we reach the concept of wages.  In the economy where both Andrew and Tobias work alone they obtain 10 pounds and  6 pounds of consumer goods respectively for a total of 16 pounds.  Andrew, as an entrepreneur, sees that if he employed Tobias they would obtain 20 pounds of total consumer goods which is an increase in the size of their economy by 4 pounds of consumer goods.    At this point Andrew needs to hire Tobias.

If you remember; the subsistence level for Tobias is 2 pounds of consumer goods per day; so any attempt to hire Tobias for less than that will be ignored since he could not survive at that wage.  Currently though Tobias is producing 6 pounds of meat using just his own intelligence and skill so any attempt to hire Tobias below that rate will also be denied.

Andrew would obtain 10 pounds of goods without Tobias’ help so he would be amiss in paying Tobias more than that since then Andrew would then be taking a loss.  Using our final profit of 20 pounds if Tobias agrees to work for Andrew the wage rate must be between 6 and 10 pounds of goods per day.

In this scenario let’s assume Andrew offers to pay Tobias 7 pounds of goods in exchange for his work operating the net [5].   Tobias would then be gaining 1 pound of goods over his efforts if he worked alone.  Andrew would be gaining 3 pounds of goods compared to his work alone.  Tobias agrees to this arrangement and both parties are better off.  Here is where the proponent of wage slavery points to the fact that Tobias is seemingly generating 10 pounds of goods but only obtaining 7 pounds and thus he is being exploited by the capitalist-pig Andrew but let’s examine whether there is a master-slave arrangement here.

Andrew has freely chosen to hire Tobias at the cost of 7 pounds of consumer goods with the expectation of gaining 13 pounds for his own use.  He is free to terminate this agreement at any time.   Tobias is in a voluntary agreement to help Andrew obtain a total of 20 pounds of consumer goods in exchange for a payment of 7 pounds of goods.  He is free to leave at any time if the agreement becomes unsatisfactory and hunt for himself, though he would suffer a net loss of 1 pound of consumer goods to do so.

There is nothing here that fits the definition of slavery, Tobias is not forced to work against his will and Andrew is not forced to hire him.  Both parties own their own property and neither owns the other in part or in whole.  Even though Tobias would be taking a loss by leaving Andrew’s employment the loss to Andrew would be even greater!  Andrew would be losing 3 pounds of profit and Tobias would only be losing 1 pound.  Therefore despite Tobias’ innate need to work this does not cause a master-slave arrangement or “exploitation”.  It is true Tobias has to work to survive but he does not need to work for Andrew; but he voluntarily will continue to do so as long as it benefits him.

Finally, what of the “missing” 3 pounds of goods that Tobias is somehow losing?  The answer is obvious; it is the price put on Tobias’ use of Andrew’s capital goods which in this scenario are his boat and net.  Without these capital goods Tobias would not be able to generate 10 pounds of consumer goods and therefore there is a premium placed upon them by Andrew; after all they are his property and he must maintain them.  If Andrew’s boat was to spring a leak or his net tear Tobias would not have any responsibility to fix them and could happily take his 1 pound loss and go back to hunting while Andrew (if he had not achieved some profit) would suffer the far greater loss of both his 3 pounds of goods and the destruction of his capital goods.

It is worthwhile to note how this scenario compares to the classic opinion that people born into wealth have somehow acquired it illegitimately.  In our scenario Andrew did not need to save consumer goods like Tobias did in order to obtain capital goods, he simply has them due to luck, or fate, or what-have-you.  This does not change the fact that he does indeed own them and can utilize them how he wishes and that utilization is totally legitimate.  Would anyone scoff if Tobias handed down the hunting spear to a future son for his protection and livelihood?  To remain consistent we cannot then harry Andrew for passing down his fishing equipment for the sole reason that it would give his own heirs an “unfair competitive advantage”.

It is evident by now that the entire concept of wage slavery is simply a misunderstanding of economic principles.  Even the myth that somehow the wage earner does not get “his fair share” has been debunked.  The simple reason why so many find these concepts hard to extrapolate in the real world is due to the hundreds of years of savings, production of capital goods, and the highly specialized division of labor that has made worker productivity increase to such an extent that the fall to subsistence seems unfathomable.

The productivity of the workers in the industrialized world has become so great that any work outside of this world, such as gathering berries or fishing to feed an entire family, would require a massive drop in quality of life.  This is somehow turned around to be a slight on employers when they are the ones who have made this increase in the quality of life possible.

If we had replaced Andrew’s life boat in our scenario with a commercial fishing trawler that allowed Tobias to obtain 500 pounds of fish per day would we then say he is Andrew’s slave because he would be “forced” to return to hunting only 6 pounds of meat per day should he choose to leave?  Would Andrew be a villain for hiring Tobias and paying him such a vast increase over the wage he could obtain by working alone?  No! Of course not! It doesn’t logically follow!  Yet that is the accusation from the proponents of wage-slavery and it is clearly absurd.

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/slave?s=t

[2]  It is true that a slave could himself be the master of a third slave, but a slave master logically cannot be a slave to his own slave since either one slave or the other would end his own involuntary servitude.

[3] By their nature as objects they cannot own other objects.

[4] Whether they actually trade goods at this point is irrelevant because both parties are satisfying their base needs through their own effort.

[5] We are also assuming that the number of hours worked are the same and subjective preferences of hunting over fishing or vice versa are non-existent.