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June 22, 2007

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Mr. Econotarian

Corrupt governments which do not properly enforce property rights can lead to a politically-connected group of landowners owning much of the land.

Currently in many areas of China, poor people are having their land taken away by developers with the full backing of the government.

Whether this is a cause of lack of growth, or simply a symptom of lack of property rights enforcement and therefore general lack of economic freedom remains to be seen.

Those who support redistribution should point to any benefits of the redistributionist process, not the benefits of equality in general, because one is a direct result of redistribution and the other could come from a range of causes.

History is full of examples of horrific economics results from land redistribution (such as in Zimbabwe).

dearieme

The answer to your final question, Mr D, depends on whether you think the main threats to liberty come from
(1) Mexican irredentism
(2) Mad mullahs
(3) Social Democrats, New Labour, Old Labour, Liberal Democrats, Neoconservatives, Compassionate Conservatives and suchlike indigenous menaces.

Mark Wadsworth

Causality, my friend, causality.

Let's imagine a kleptocracy/absolute monarchy/malevolent dictatorship, where rulers screw the peasants/slaves for every penny, doesn't pay for transport, education, health and so on. Of course such countries have lower growth rates, but the low rate is the RESULT of the inequality.

Conversely, imagine a free-market idealised Western economy. As it grows, those at the top will benefit more (in % terms) than those at the bottom, but those at the bottom will still benefit. So in this case, the high rate is the CAUSE of the inequality.

But I am not one who is too fussed about relative poverty/inequality, I am only worried about helping those at the bottom, those at the top can look after themselves.

dearieme

So if it proved possible to make England as egalitarian as Scotland, it could become as prosperous?

emmanuelgoldstein

[History is full of examples of horrific economics results from land redistribution (such as in Zimbabwe)]

An autocrat is transferring land (and other resources) from one group of his supporting oligarchs to another isn't redistribution in the sense relvant to Chris' argument.

dearieme

Ah but, emmanuel, it is actual, existing redistribution.

John F.

What is "growth?" What are its components? If the value of the economy as measured by some currency increases because there are more infirmeries, medicines, water treatment plants, prisons, and security infrastructure, is the society "growing?" Or, is it just getting sicker, more polluted, crime-ridden, and fearful?

Nigel Sedgwick

For what reason have you drawn (or favoured repeating) a linear fit to some data points that (at least to my eye) struggle to justify that assumption?

Best regards

emmanuelgoldstein

[Ah but, emmanuel, it is actual, existing redistribution.]

Only if the Russia economy c.1991-98 counts as actual, existing, free-market capitalism

dearieme

All that the Russian economy of c.1991-98 proves is that Socialism prepares one for criminality not for capitalism.

emmanuelgoldstein

[All that the Russian economy of c.1991-98 proves is that Socialism prepares one for criminality not for capitalism.]

(1) All that Zimbawe c. 2001-07 proves is that the actions of psychotic Marxists != redistribution.

(2) Get off the tu quoque roundabout.

tom s.

"Corrupt governments which do not properly enforce property rights can lead to a politically-connected group of landowners owning much of the land."

True, but a politically-connected group of landowners owning much of the land can lead to corrupt governments which nevertheless properly enforce property rights, because they have all the property.

Kevin Carson

Econotarian,

What tom s. said. "Politically-connected landowners" sounds like a pretty good description of Latin American latifundistas and other landed oligarchies throughout the Third World. And a chief aim of U.S. foreign policy over the past century has been to protect the "property rights" of these quasi-feudal landed elites from redistribution.

Libertarianism doesn't mean the defense of anything that's called property--including the property of the thief. Libertarianism means defending justly acquired property. Murray Rothbard had it right: in most cases in the Third World, the rightful owners are the peasants working the land. The people who hold state title are just another form of tax collector, exacting tribute based on their ancestors having conquered the land on horseback.

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