« Syria Bans Facebook | Main | Conrad Black Retires from The Board at Hudson »

December 30, 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Speaking of think tanks, I was trying to learn something about how the issue of theft figures in to theories of property. Google was not being very helpful. It seems like most of what has been written about the theory of property is from the seventeenth century.

As I'm skimming through it, the thought occurs that none of these theories really deal with the issues of theft. How many holders of wealth can demonstrate that it does not largely originate in a theft of a con at some level? Google is also helpful with many references to the much repeated nugget, "property is theft". If the present state of possession is simply taken as given, I hardly think you have provided a foundation based on natural rights or justice.

If anyone has any good references to work on the relationship of property rights theory and the issues of crime and corruption. Given that the rules of property transfer and financial transactions further effect the cumulative and future distribution of wealth, if those setting and enforcing the rules are also corrupt then there is no longer any moral foundation for any of it.

If the systems of order cannot be defended against systematic corruption, we are all in for a very bad ride.


You might find Kevin Phillips work interesting. Here is a precis of one book.


Yes, I remember reading some of his stuff.

I was hoping for some more foundational theory references, or confirmation of my suspicion that it is one of those surprisingly unstudied areas. Taboo to even mention it, like ponerology.


John Locke's Treatise may be a starting point.


Yes, I think I will have to spend some time studying this foundation, but it is sad to think that no one has done any significant work on this theory from that time onward. You have the formations from and around Marx, but you would think Marx' critique would have produced a vigorous debate on foundations. Perhaps it was Marx himself who put this debate on a more or less polemic basis, or maybe it cannot help but be so.


Read any Milton Friedman or Hayek? I am reading Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein and finding it depressing but illuminating.


No, do they even deal with the issue of damage in any way? Or do they hold to the idea that when a vandal breaks a window, there is a resultant positive impact on the economy as indicated in the GDP? Marx just changes the logic of who is in control, but does not address this topic of changing the size of the common pie negatively through hording and/or destruction of resources.

This relates directly to the Shock Doctrine. If someone is able to profit from the destruction of common resources, that is surely a path to ruin if the profit motive operates unrestrained. All common assets will be transferred to the landfill in an orgy of profit taking. If we devise the means to bill each enterprise directly for the damage they do, it will end quickly.


In Pinochet-style Capitalism delivering the bill might not be in your self-interest. The counter push from the masses who have been betrayed has been anticipated and the laws are now conducive to repression of those who threaten Friedman's concept of Economic Freedom and Ordered Political Liberty. Corporate Oligarchs do not give their stuff back just because some loser sends a bill. You still have to collect.


Still, the public and collective acts of assessing and itemizing the bill must be done. It is a necessary counter to market based rhetoric and a devastating blow to market fundamentalism. Let's draw it up first and then worry about who will deliver it. The bits that record their Cayman accounts don't mean much without a polity willing to lay down for their abuse. The case has to be made.


Carbon offset trading? Injustice Vouchers? How do you literally bill those who quite legally have stripped the commons and exported their waste into it?

Antoine Möeller

PBS' Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy

can be viewed in its entirety online now (until recently only DVD.)

Low Bandwidth
(w/choice of media players)

(requires Quicktime plug-in and a bit more hardware horsepower to play smoothly)

From Episode One: The Battle of Ideas

A global economy, energized by technological change and unprecedented flows of people and money, collapses in the wake of a terrorist attack .... The year is 1914.

Worldwide war results, exhausting the resources of the great powers and convincing many that the economic system itself is to blame. From the ashes of the catastrophe, an intellectual and political struggle ignites between the powers of government and the forces of the marketplace, each determined to reinvent the world's economic order.

Two individuals emerge whose ideas, shaped by very different experiences, will inform this debate and carry it forward. One is a brilliant, unconventional Englishman named John Maynard Keynes. The other is an outspoken émigré from ravaged Austria, Friedrich von Hayek.

But a worldwide depression holds the capitalist nations in its grip. In opposition to both Keynes and Hayek stand not only Hitler's Third Reich but Stalin's Soviet Union, schooled in the communist ideologies of Marx and Lenin and bent on obliterating the capitalist system altogether.

For more than half a century the battle of ideas will rage. From the totalitarian socialist systems to the fascist states, from the independent nations of the developing world to the mixed economies of Europe, and the regulated capitalism of the United States, government planning will gradually take over the commanding heights.

But in the 1970s, with Keynesian theory at its height and communism fully entrenched, economic stagnation sets in on all sides. When a British grocer's daughter and a former Hollywood actor become heads of state, they join forces around the ideas of Hayek, and new political and economic policies begin to transform the world.

Hayek and Friedman begin dating pretty early on...


Yes, Pinochet built shopping malls over torture cells and called it Freedom. Thus are the commanding heights seized.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


Wealth Bondage Premium Content

  • Castle by the Sea
    Provided as a professional courtesy at no extra charge to those with net worth of $25 million or more and/or family income of $500,000 a year or more, and to their Serving Professionals of all genders.