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Help! I'm debating a communist friend on property rights

I am debating a communist friend of mine on property rights. I explained to him in very general terms the libertarian theory of property rights. I basically said that each individual inherently owns himself, his faculties, and his actions. Therefore, each individual has a right acquire property previously unowned and voluntarily exchange property with others.

My friend gave a completely improbable (but still possible, as far as I can tell) scenario. He said that assume that one family, over several generations, has acquired a massive amount of wealth. Then, that family goes about purchasing every single piece of "land" available in the private market. The family does this by offering land sellers money that is above equilibrium price, thus bidding land prices well above market equilibrium. In a way, the family serves as a monopolistic consumer in the land sector. Because of the family's massive amount of wealth, they are able to sustain this continued practice of buying high priced homes. And since they have so much wealth, they can provide low-cost rental housing to individuals, making renting seem more economical then owning a home. This encourages people to rent from this wealthy family rather than buy a home/land or hold on to their current home/land. Thus, people will sell their houses and land to the family and, instead, rent from them. He says that eventually, this one family will own most of the land on the earth and will be renting housing out to most of the world's inhabitants. Now I know this is highly implausible, but my friend still asserts that it is possible. He than says that the wealthy family could simply tell individuals, once their rental contracts expire, "get off my property!". Well the only way to get off the family's property would be to leave earth and, essentially, die in outer space. My friend than suggests, "Is this really a good theory if the end consequence could be such a negative result?" He also says that since individuals have a right to self-ownership (which my friend agrees with, oddly enough), but they also have other property rights (under libertarian theory), than how could this family "force" individuals to leave the earth? Because doing so would, undoubtedly, "rob" them of their lives (their property). In other words, in order to uphold the property rights of the wealthy family, the property rights of self-ownership of the individuals would have to be sacrificed, thus providing an inconsistency in the theory of libertarian private property. Can anyone help me refute this?

Lastly, my friend's alternative theory of property is that people have a right to self ownership, but no one has a right to more than they "need". Every individual who has "more" also has an obligation to give his/her property to someone who has "less", since the person who has more has excess goods but the person who has less has unfulfilled "needs". Can anyone help me refute this too? Any help would be greatly appreciated.




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Faulty Hypothesis.

your friend is using a faulty premise. Give this Family a name , = Rothschilde, with a network of bank branches. Instead of becoming visible land-owners these people are secretive money-lenders.
So instead of earning rent on land/property these wizards collect interest by lending money ,= to those folks who want to buy/ 'own' a house. This way the lender /bankster does not have to take care of the property, nor pay property taxes, but is the de-jure title holder till the Mort-Gaged is not cleared, = full payment of the loan plus % interest which increases the amount due. see dictionary for de-facto & de-jure.

Communism is bad, immoral & unjust, U$ury is many times worse.

As far as monopolies are concerned,

in the US back at the turn of the 19th century, nearly all the industries set up cartels to try to eliminate competition. Not one of them succeeded. It was not until they learned to utilize the force of the government that they were successful.

Professed communists and socialists have inconceivable ignorance when it comes to simple economic theory. It is hard to argue with them until they learn some basic economics.

The point I would make to the person is that communism and capitalism are economic systems. He is more than welcomed to get a group of friends to live a communistic lifestyle. If you prefer not to, why should he force you to participate in his system? Is this not tyranny? The theory of communism, before it was tried in the 20th century, was known to have one big fault - motivation. So they got government to force it. It was ugly. Marx never envisioned an all powerful vanguard party to enforce his ideas. His theory was a stepping stone for new ideas - good and bad. He was an anarchist in his own right. He did not believe in the State. I see the State as the problem. Without a monopoly on force how could the communists force you to give up what you have worked for?

As to your third paragraph

It sounds like a perfectly logical argument, until you ask: "who defines the term 'need'?" Is 'need' defined by the poor? By a rich bureaucrat? By a 50% democratic vote of the people?

In the end, 'need' is not going to be defined equitably. Some people will feel they 'need' more than others, and some less. The end result will be a definition defined by the State. This will be especially exacerbated in an economy with a shrinking resource base, as most communist economies tend to be. What may be your 'needs' today may be defined as 'wants' tomorrow and taken away from you.

Secondly, if your definition of "need" differs from that of the State, it must inevitably resort to force to take it away from you. This is form of taxation, and is a dangerous power to allow to grow in any sort of government. Add in any level of corruption and suddenly there may be groups within a society who 'need' your things more than you do.

The only system which solves the problem of government force being required to redistribute wealth is unrestricted capitalism. By allowing all citizens to own their private property and all the fruits of the labours, you allow the wealth of society to increase at the fastest possible rate. This, in combination with a sound supply of money, will make the currency worth more for everyone in this society, thus making us all richer, even the poorest among us. As mentioned in my previous post, it is the only way to ensure abundance.

The issue with communism is that many people who have the best of intentions flock to it because it directly helps the most poor and needy via government subsidy. On the other hand, capitalism seems cold, indirect and impersonal, despite the net benefit to society being far far higher. Thus we will always have those among us who advocate more state assistance to the poor. Not everyone wants to understand the complexities of a real, functioning, non-directed economy. They want people to be "fair", even at the expense of their own property and autonomy.

Land is a commodity

Land is a commodity, just like every other natural resource. Just like gold, for instance.

If you try to buy it all, you are going to reduce the supply, this makes the value of it increase. Taken to the logical conclusion, the last person on earth who would sell land to this "family" would be at a significant advantage.

Knowing that the "family" wanted a monopoly on the land, he or she would be able to demand any price he/she wished. Knowing he has the last available land not owned by the "family" he/she would be able to market it as an "alternative" to the "family" megacorp and reap the profits of market pressure, even if he was forced to charge more for the use of his/her land.

In reality, this market force would prevent the "family" from gaining a monopoly on land far sooner than the last private owner on earth. The value of the currency used by the "family" would drop to a point where it would no longer be useful to buy any more land before they even got close to owning most of anything.

Ask your communist friend what would happen if a gazillionaire tried to buy up all the world's gold. Once the gazillionaire owns half the supply, the rest of the gold in circulation has (at least) doubled in value. Buy half again, and the remainder has again doubled in value. Repeat ad nauseam. Eventually the last grain of private gold in the world will be worth an infinite amount, and be impossible to buy; that is, unless you beat the owner over the head and take it. It's the same principle with any other commodity.

Only abundance makes things cheap and capitalism is the only way to ensure abundance.

Cyril's picture

Assuming your friend has an IQ greater than 20...

This is tiring, but assuming your friend as an IQ greater than 20, and can read simple English :

http://www.dailypaul.com/262535/there-is-nothing-wrong-with-...

I know. I promise myself every time I won't make such refutation again, but I can't help because gross and arrogant ignorance is just too much revolting on that topic.

I must be a masochist somehow.

Or I care too much maybe.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Wouldn't competition be the answer?

In this scenario, we are assuming that family buying up land is trying to turn a profit or they will exhaust all their wealth before completely purchasing all the lands on the private market. Others would see this as a profitable venture and start buying property as well. If this were a sustainable business model, many others would join in and a monopoly wouldn't exist.

This already happens

This already happens, if you view the "government" as a family;)

On a more serious note, his idea of people not getting more than they "need" is noble enough, but who decides what each person "needs"? It certainly won't be the same for each person. How will we determine who really "needs" more and who just wants more? How will we make those have have more than they need give to those that do not? Force them at gunpoint? That's pretty much theft.

Communism sounds good on paper until you start trying to fill in the logistical details of it and realize that it'd only work if there was an overarching government body that had a monopoly on force to carry it out, and at that point you are living under tyranny.

Are they a practicing communist?

Will they give everything to you? The very shirt of their back if you ask.

Everything in exchange for nothing.

Where does their idea of personal property begin, if ever? Is it whatever can be hidden for the Gatherers?

As a believer in voluntary exchange, I have no problem if he volunteers all his stuff.

I see no way to justify the use of force in taking his stuff. Can a majority take stuff by force or fraud from a minority? What if its a minority of One.

Freedom or serfdom? Is there really a choice!

Free includes debt-free!

Bastiat's "The Law"

You need to read the book Dr. Paul recommended over every book (except the Bible). That is Frederic Bastiat's "The Law". It's very short and explains why government should ONLY protect our God-given rights. When a government uses force for anything, it is a perversion of the law. To take the fruits of your labor by force to give them to someone else, that is stealing (force by a government). It is injustice; unlawful plunder. "We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life - physical, intellectual, and moral life. But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties...". But when a government begins to plunder the people under a pretense of some moral justification, who is it that is making that moral decision? One individual's or even a collective group of peoples' moral judgment may not be the same as the next person's. Charity and legal plunder are not the same. And once the plunder is being handed out to others (supposedly in need), then there will always be someone who thinks they should have more or something else and that everyone is entitled to it. But who is it to decide those things that everyone needs? It goes on and on and on. It gives legislators (many times unelected) the power to force morality, equalization, philanthropy, etc and there are no limits. It leads to those attempting to seize power for more power. It never stops. Your friend is giving an example of the type of people who would seize power in a socialist/communist "utopia" and doesn't even realize it. In a free society, people are given the liberty to make choices (good and bad). The world wouldn't revolve around just one family (even if he thinks that's the case). People are interconnected and make choices that affect each other. When given the opportunity to do the right things, many choose that. There are always going to be those who attempt to manipulate others, become richer (even in the communist society), want more power, whatever...but in a capitalistic free society, everyone has equal opportunity and individual rights. We all have the opportunity to do well. We also are left to make mistakes. And we can do with our money what we want and that's about God's gift of responsibility and charity to others. In a Communist society, you don't have the choice to be charitable. It is force which is not freedom. Bastiat also mentions how socialists ignore facts and it would be futile to continue arguing if your friend just won't get it. I'd suggest you read Bastiat's book and it will help you convince others. Great read.

Cyril's picture

+1 Exactly right.

+1 Exactly right.

I coincidentally posted about it a while ago :

http://www.dailypaul.com/255116/frederic-bastiats-the-law-le...

Oh, and also relevant :

Positivity-ended :

http://www.dailypaul.com/249170/liberty-vs-socialism

http://www.dailypaul.com/256871/the-stunning-foresight-of-ay...

Negativity-ended :

http://www.dailypaul.com/256525/a-pretty-good-analysis-of-ob...

http://www.dailypaul.com/253314/democide-death-by-government

'HTH,

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Cyril's picture

Dear OP, no offense to you

Dear OP, no offense to you personally, but...

you're just wasting your time debating a communist.

They have NO MORE excuse for their GROSS, ARROGANT, IRRESPONSIBLE ignorance.

PROOF ?

http://www.w3.org/History/1989/proposal.html

They don't want to learn. They don't want to read. They don't want to even think for themselves.

They are lazy idiots in regard to knowledge acquisition.

They would probably call me a rich capitalist abuser.

They wouldn't even bother to check YOUR record or mine before lessoning you with their nonsense debunked as early as the mid 1920s by all the victims of the soviet GOULAGS.

Bear.

And Peace.

'HTH,

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

If that is the best argument for communism this person has

they've lost already.

Ask them to show you where this has happened in history. Making up an impossible and yes it's impossible scenario to bolster your argument is a sign that they fear they have no basis in reality to argue with.

"Well what if" LOL

Tell them that would never happen and they know it so stop making up silly ass arguments.

If they want to start a commune, tell them to get off of their lazy socialist ass and buy a farm and move people there where they can play "We hate capitalism" the board game all day long while sharing some pine needle tea with their fellow commune members.

They are free to do and think stupid things if they want to, just don't try and make everyone else follow.

Patriot Cell #345,168
I don't respond to emails or pm's.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=qo8CmO...
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution, inevitable.

He pulled the "obligation"

He pulled the "obligation" social contract card. Conversation should have ended there.

Southern Agrarian

Actually, it's real simple.

Commie Friend is worried about monopoly power. Rightly so.

In this case, it is monopoly of land ownership and what could happen in such a scenario.

But what Commie Friend fails to realize is that monopolies can only exist long-term where government force enforces it.

In the USSR, Cuba, etc. the government owns and controls the means of production and the land. The people there are serfs on the land. This is precisely the scenario Commie Friend is saying would be a problem in a capitalist society.

But Commie Friend ignores that, according to history, such situations only occur when one party has a monopoly on force (i.e. government).

Really great answer.

If you look at history, the most equitable distribution of wealth occurs during periods of greater freedom, and skewed distributions of wealth occur during periods of less freedom. A large middle class is characteristic of free societies. A large under class with little wealth, small middle class, and most of the wealth in the hands of a small upper class are characteristic of slave societies.

So if we own ourselves, property rights exist, and our markets lack coercion from government, then monopolies are not a problem, and the market distributes wealth in a bell curve fashion.

"Bend over and grab your ankles" should be etched in stone at the entrance to every government building and every government office.

Do men own the earth, or does

Do men own the earth, or does the earth own men?
That hypothetical family does exist, and they claim ownership of all the land already. They allow us to dicker over tiny patches of it in the guise of "buying and selling" and even give the carrot of "ownership" and yet.... We all know what happens if you cease to pay your homage to The Family. They also have claimed the right to just come take it even if you pay - "eminent domain."
Next, they draw imaginary lines cross their land, and divide us into tax slaves. They call these lines "boundaries" and stake claim to their herd of tax chattel by planting different strips of colored cloth above each farm. The inhabitants of the farms are taught to fear and hate the inhabitants of other farms, that way the herd stay at endless war with each other and never learn to stop falling for the Big Lie.... What is The Big Lie? That "The Family" is hypothetical.
The reason you cannot refute your friend is because he lingers at the edge of a deep truth, and you linger there also. Rather than seeking to uphold either of your beliefs, dig for the common truth, and you both will be wiser for the effort.

Personal property rights apply to my person and the things I create with resources I obtain. The earth owns us. Land ownership is the delusion that leads to war.

This is the article that got my posting privileges revoked:
http://bklim.newsvine.com/_news/2013/05/12/18212165-dr-stan-...

Personally I agree property in "Land" is morally indefensible.

The economic concept of "Land" is all physical land plus all natural resources, all prey animals, domestic food animals and crops of all kinds. These are a gift to us, not to own but to look after and use for our benefit and the benefit of the community at large. This is the basis of the moral argument against private property in "Land". The most egregious modern assault on this principle is the "manufacture" of genetically modified seeds that produce only one crop and must be purchased every year. Everyone recognises the predatory nature of this practice and therefore we all understand intuitively the principle at stake.

From that point it is necessary to recognise that we each have a stewardship responsibility for the "Land" we contract to take care of. Secure tenancy laws can provide the same protections as private ownership laws perhaps even better since there is no speculation in "Land" possible. The community interest in the "Land" may be recognised in the form of a "Land value tax" or tithe which replaces all other taxes such as income tax and corporate tax.

Land Value Taxes are not paid to the government but into a Community Land Trust (CLT) which safeguards the title to the "Land" bequeathed in perpetuity to the nation within its national boundaries which extend to the portion of the seas surrounding it. A portion of these taxes is then allocated to the government to care for the provision of national infrastructure and the remainder is divided equally and distributed to each beneficiary of the CLT from birth to death. Beneficiaries register voluntarily to receive this monthly stipend and must meet certain national citizenship criteria to be so registered. Every beneficiary is an equal shareholder in the CLT with equal voting rights.

There are no other welfare benefits and everyone is responsible to provide for the education of their children and the health of their families from the monthly citizen's stipend and their own resources.

This is one way in which the "Collectivist" and "Individualist" philosophies may be reconciled providing a degree of security for the individual within the community and the recognition of the benefits accruing to the community from individual liberty. There are many other facets to this way of thinking but the book "Progress and Poverty" by Henry George provides a starting point and the economic laws found in the Bible form the framework of any healthy society recognising this principle.

"Jesus answered them: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'" (John 8:34-36)

I hope the OP considers this reply carefully.

I hope other people read this reply, too. I've never read that book, guess I'll have a look - but as is so often the case, it will be a bit of "preaching to the choir." (See my reply above, posted before I read yours.) It is the OP who who might benefit most from the lesson.

This is the article that got my posting privileges revoked:
http://bklim.newsvine.com/_news/2013/05/12/18212165-dr-stan-...

If you are looking for a good edition.

It appears to me that this Kindle version may be the best buy:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Progress-and-Poverty-ebook/dp/B004HY...

It is on the UK Amazon but since it is Kindle it doesn't matter. BTW you can download a Kindle reader free to your computer. Read the review on this website to get an idea of what the book is about. There are other editions but stay away from edited and abridged versions. I have a very old second hand book published in 1925 that I bought some years ago. I have read it several times and keep it for reference. He was a journalist so the book is very readable and yet quite erudite, very thorough and perfectly logical.

Here is a quote from the review:

"Men like Henry George are rare, unfortunately. One cannot imagine a more beautiful combination of intellectual keeness, artistic form, and fervent love of justice. " Albert Einstein.

"Jesus answered them: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'" (John 8:34-36)

sounds like what the gov.

is doing with fannie and freddie.

does your friend live in a mud hut?
there's plenty of others that do.
sounds like he may have some property to distribute.

"The two weakest arguments for any issue on the House floor are moral and constitutional"
Ron Paul

You should read more Benjamin

You should read more Benjamin Tucker or polish up your Lockean arguments, because his argument could be more polished as well. We have to understand some things out of our little box of biases. For example, Molyneux doesn't even use homesteading principles and believes any of those theories are not necessary...just something like UPB ethics(another fail imo, but still, a theory worth understanding).

Under Communism a handful of

Under communism a handful of sociopaths who have clawed their way to the top of the government have precisely the monopolistic control over all the land in the country as the purely hypothetical wealthy property owner that your communist friend imagines. But communism is not hypothetical - tens of millions of people have been murdered outright, starved to death, or worked to death in slave camps under the communist regimes of the 20th century.

Even if, like myself, you are not a pure libertarian, and see some government rules and regulations as being necessary, you should understand that the absolute control over people's lives that is communism leads to absolute evil.

Do you trust politicians?

If not, that's who you would be handing over property rights to. As far as the massive amount of wealth issue - it was almost assuredly gained by fraud. Learn the law and see that they are brought to justice... that's the lawful way to redistribute their ill-gotten wealth.

ridiculous

he's assuming property owners are idiots. a land owner would sell land for a high price, just to buy different land at a high price? where's the incentive to sell? if there's nothing cheap to put the money into-- no profit because all land is now priced very high-- why would they leave their highly valued property? (i'm leaving the taxes out, for now, but it's a whole other reason not to sell if there's nothing cheap to buy.)

it's a moot argument. this would never happen in a free society. it could really only happen through eminent domain. there are people who won't move even when a volcano explodes on their mountain! and he thinks everybody's gonna take the money? why? does he think money is the only motivating factor for people? he doesn't understand humanity and all the unknown, various factors that go into their daily decisions.

and he needs to realize that he never will.

Forget all the intellectual stuff man

Just send him this:

My Son the Communist
http://www.dailypaul.com/262438/my-son-the-communist#comment...

If he still doesn't get it, give up.

Tell him you'll come to pick up his car keys Tuesday morning...

... and that you'll be letting 6 other people use it each for one day and then return it the following Monday so he could use it. Since they can't afford a car of their own and he has more car than he needs, it's only fair that he be forced to share his "property". You know...because one whole car is more than he needs.

Of course your communist friend's argument of the amount of property an individual "needs" is arbitrary and subjective. Little does he know that to many people that he may the "rich" man. After all, he can afford to pay for the car note, insurance and gas.

=====================================

"The greatest mystery of all is truth." - Me, 2009

Yeah, you can't tell them anything, you have to show them

.

Patriot Cell #345,168
I don't respond to emails or pm's.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=qo8CmO...
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution, inevitable.

I'll address your 2nd

I'll address your 2nd scenario first. Ask him who these angels are in our society that are going to decide how much someone needs? Is it the corrupt politicans in Washington,D.C.? He wants them deciding what you need? And he throws the word "obligation" around rather carelessly. Sure, many of us feel an obligation to give to those that are less fortunate and it happens all the time. However, force and theft are involved in his redistribution of goods theory which are morally wrong.

As to the one person buying up all the land and kicking everyone out of the earth. I guess i'd ask him to point to one industry that is a monopoly without government assistance. Competition would simply never allow someone to buy up all of the land without the helping hand of the use of force of government or some other forceful entity.

It's frustrating when people take the libertarian philosophy to the absolute extreme in order to try to prove it wrong. It reminds me of having a debate on marijuana when someone immediately jumps to heroin. Or debating the right to bear arms and someone will say do you have the right to nukes? All we have to do to debunk their philosophy is point to the use of force and theft in an everyday occurence in our government. Tell your friend the bottom line is that the pendulum has swung way too far towards tyranny, and i'm sure his socialist friends will stop the pendulum long before one person owns all of the earth. In fact, a more likely scenario that you could use to counterhis theory, is what if the government uses eminent domain to buy all land and rent it out to people. But the government charges higher rates to the rich minority, and the poor get to live rent free. Then his democracy of poor enslave him.

"Where liberty is, there is my country." -Benjamin Franklin

So ask your friend

What if the family wasn't related, but was still bound, by something like oaths to the constitution, a constitution they no longer believe in? What if this family became your government? Would it be OK for them to say, "Get off our land in the name of the people?"

There are wealthy families that own land, yet, our federal government owns even more, which they are willing to sell to other nations, like Communist China.

As for equality, people are not all created equal.. should everyone have one kidney because that's all a person needs? One eye ok just to be fair to everyone? Should all people shave their head to give the bald folks an illusion of equality?

The simple point being that

The simple point being that in a true anarcho-capitalist society, if the rich family does such a thing, their free-men will bind together and win through use of force. That is part of an anarcho-capitalist society; looking at all possible consequences for potential actions.

Plan for eliminating the national debt in 10-20 years:

Overview: http://rolexian.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/my-plan-for-reducin...

Specific cuts; defense spending: http://rolexian.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/more-detailed-look-a