Saturday, October 15, 2011

Out where?

I can't seem to leave other people's observations alone. (I'm the "DBO", just a pedestrian commenting on this way through life and the guy who's about to kick the football his big brother is holding.)
A pretty easonable observer penned a great profile of the mind-set of a person that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has the august opportunity to save from academia and plop into a US Senate seat.

Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts candidate for the US Senate, says, "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody." And so she is said to reject that it is possible for Americans to become wealthy "in isolation." (As if someone defended that silly idea!)

(DBO - {From below) "She's not going insane trying to draw out the creativity of future contributors to the arts, nor creating matrices to further the minds of mathematicians, nor explaining the sovereignty of nature's laws {I'll pass on the slide-rule comparison of understanding real numbers} {as a self-confronting fiscal eight-ball, I won't qualify to comment}; she muses about the work of those who teach as she squats among those who leach.")

So she sounds off about this, with evident righteousness, as follows:
"You built a factory out there? Good for you ... But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did." And she goes on to declare, "Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."

(dbo - I hate to edit a good observer, but Dr. Tabor might have introduced out subject as: "Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts (Democrat) candidate for the US Senate.")

First of all, nothing at all follows from any of this about how Ms. Warren has any authority at all to rearrange the world her way. My nose and ears and kidneys and eyes weren't created on my own but none of that implies for a second that Elizabeth Warren is entitled to start invading my body and decide how its parts ought to be used. Nor even that my parents actually own me!
Of course, property rights start simple enough and then become complex. But that is just why a free country has a law of property instead of Ms. Warren as a tyrant who orders us all to do as she wishes.

(DBO - Let's look at Liz' Weltanshauung: ""You built a factory out there?": "out there". Even in a debate arguments are generated from common ground; references and examples should be somewhat valid, if not for the opponent, but for those judging. And does"out there" suggests that building a factory, sweating over a ditch, pounding a beat, (musically or municipally), entering code, or abiding boredom behind a store counter is only a concept (Lego or mortar)? (And this Amazon comes to us out of an age when "feelings", and most critically "empathy", for another, not just like us, is politically correct.)

It is necessary to be careful about how property is properly allocated, with close attention to original and subsequent creation, with what has been voluntarily shared, given away, earned through work and exchange, etc. Why?
Well, from the time of Aristotle it has been clear to quite a few political theorists and economists that common ownership sucks. As the ancient Greek sage put the point:
"That all persons call the same thing mine in the sense in which each does so may be a fine thing, but it is impracticable; or if the words are taken in the other sense, such a unity in no way conduces to harmony. And there is another objection to the proposal. For that 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." (Politics, 1262a30-37).
Then there was Thucydides on the commons, noting that "they 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 to 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, The History of the Peloponnesian War, bk. I, sec. 141).
So John Locke came along, who didn't even deny that to start with property is commonly owned but that it is best to create a system of private property so that property will be taken good care of and because those who work hard to improve it are justified in benefiting from it and make use of it as they see fit.
So not only is Ms. Warren way off with her idea that the state gets to decide what happens to property and that there is some kind of unwritten – i.e., not consented to – social contract that obligates us all to give to the state. But it is a wasteful and bad idea, as the Soviets and other socialists who disallow private property in their realm have found out to everyone's despair.

(DBO - Obviously, Warren reflects the dictatorship of institutions, where tenure is the principle power. It's one of the steps of secular deification - (From which one may make forays and return to the safety of the 'keep' {as in 'kept'}). (She's almost as safe as the civil servant - who held back from speaking out on the obvious - 'go along to get along' - until retirement was vested - then Behear you! The outrage!) From her own perspective, she may be telling more truth about the AAA -Academic Amazon Ascendancy. Surely she didn't create her status: it was either legislated or presumed upon society by mood. {Professor Woody Allen may have been her advocate; {She Just showed up}}. But, that's only fitting for her realm and place compared to others who truly labor and work academics. She's not going insane trying to draw out the creativity of future contributors to the arts, nor creating matrices to further the minds of mathematicians, nor explaining the sovereignty of nature's laws, explaining Samuelson's "guns and butter", and the conversion of metal into products and employment yielding dynamics {I'll pass on the slide-rule comparison of understanding real numbers}{as a self-confronting fiscal eight-ball, I won't qualify to comment} ; she muses about the work of those who teach as she squats among those who leach.)

But of course it is not going to be easy to get agreement to statist redistribution policies if all this is admitted. So Warren needs to attempt the impossible and show that she, not you and I, gets to say what happens to what we own because how we obtained it involved other people! Again, it doesn't follow!