Post by Todd Walton Post by Lan Barnes
One of the more interesting economic moments was 1492 when the amount of
available land to Europeans more than -- what? -- quadrupled? At the
time, the fact that people already lived in the Americas didn't matter
much because (1) they were heathens (2) they had tinted skin (actually,
everybody does, but they were _different_), and (3) they didn't have
firearms. Really, (3) was the biggie.
In defense of those people, a thought experiment. There are plenty of
tinted skin people with no firearms today, and we don't seem to be
invading their lands in a rush to populate it with gun-wielding white
people. World opinion, the UN, powerful allies, etc, stop most
nations. Conversely, there *are* plenty of tinted skin people who
*do* have guns and it hasn't stopped us from the regime-change
Nope. I grant you there are plenty of examples of conflict between
peoples who had equality of arms at the time. However, there are other
examples of conflicts with great disparity of arms, this being one
(obsidian swords -- I mean, _really_), and these always end up with the
technologically inferior side being conquered quickly and easily.
This does not address conflicts in which one side has a superiority in
tactics or strategy. That is another matter, not to be confused.
Want me to cite examples where there was no meaningful disparity of
arms, and one side went into it thinking the heathen/tinted skin thing
meant anything? Like maybe Vietnam (twice stupid, the French and then
us, disparaging the French effort). The Boer War. The American Indian
Wars whenever the Indians were well armed. The Suez Crisis. Yup,
underestimating tinted heathens with good arms is a hell of a wake-up
call ... but evidently not one that wakes everybody up.
Post by Todd Walton
Number 1 is probably the closest, in that the "heathens" had lots of
wide open spaces, and didn't seem to be claiming it as property.
Europeans couldn't understand property that wasn't closely and
jealously guarded with fences, deeds, and a gun-wielding white person
standing on it.
Had the Indians had muskets and the Europeans obsidian swords, not only
would modern America look and think like the indigenous tribes, but
Europe might be a lot different.
The availability of open spaces didn't make Russia any easier for Hitler
or Napoleon to conquer. And heathens always lose because the winner gets
to define what a heathen is.
Post by Todd Walton
That explains the beginning at least.
Post by Lan Barnes
We like to congratulate ourselves on how uniquely wonderful
American can-do spirit is, but really, it was ever expanding access to
cheap land that made this country so rich.
You say that, but then you provide your own counter-argument. The
South of this hemisphere was overrun by Spaniards and they haven't
turned out so rich. You give the reason as their habit of making
large estates. Well, isn't the non-habit part and parcel of a can-do
spirit that rewards those who can? That treats people on a more
individualistic basis instead of by their class? It's hard to be
can-do when the plantation owner can-take it all.
It is the same argument. The southern hemisphere did not have cheap land
because they, through law and naked force, immediately created an
Post by Todd Walton Post by Lan Barnes
In the English model, there was less control, no enforcement, and lots
of common law land ownership. If you couldn't find work where you were,
you drifted west and laid claim to a homestead.
Post by Lan Barnes
Used to be a man could at least dream of designing the killer app ...
not as unlikely as winning the Lotto. Now with software patents and
"intellectual property" ...
You guys still sure that old 40 hour week and those 10 vacation days are
so secure? When Ramaganavisna is offering to do your job for 60% of what
you're getting and you're offered the choice between longer hours for
less money, or no job at all, which way you gonna jump?
Across the apparent non-sequitir?
Apparent to you, perhaps. This thread started with a discussion of
economic implications of various tax models, but it has also included a
discussion of the institutionalized perversion of the labor market.
So here is a thesis to tie it together. Monopoly drives the acquisition
of great wealth. Monopoly can be real, or it can be artificial (patent,
intellectual property, the commercialization of basic science), but in
every case it is permitted, enforced, and often encouraged by
government. Finally, the critical factor in the perversion of the labor
market is the monopoly of land, because this cuts labor off from
developing alternatives to working for the larger interests who keep
salaries down. And the perversion of the labor market is what makes us
all wage slaves.
If you want to see this in action, read a newspaper (even the SD Union).
Here's how it works:
1. corporations and people who profit obscenely when corporations make
obscene profits make hundreds of millions of dollars of campaign
contributions each year, almost (but not quite) exclusively to
Republicans, with the historically correct anticipation that the elected
officials will pass laws encouraging the acquisition of monopoly power
2. such laws are passed after pious pronouncements on how they will
benefit the common man (or just without discussion). hardly even a wink
and a nudge anymore
3. monopolies ensue. the patent office stamps their approval on every
leaf that blows in on their desk (as long as it's from a big
corporation), free trade treaties are actually international
protectionistic schemes criminalizing competition, copyright is extended
infinitely and fair use is criminalized, newspapers and broadcast
stations are deregulated (in return for government-favorable news slants
-- we've outsourced the Ministry of Propaganda); guest workers are
imported from less affluent countries to depress domestic wages; and
economic policies are shaped to keep 4% - 8% of the population
unemployed, just to keep the rest of us from, you know, asking for a
And then there's land. The broadcast spectrum, which used to be
considered a public trust to be licensed and regulated, is auctioned off
like the family silver for what it can get (one time ... now it's
"property" forever, never to produce another dime of public funds), and
the physical-dirt land is falling into fewer and fewer hands, while the
remaining family farmers and the shrinking middle class desperately
cling to the small percentage of (highly mortgaged) land that they
control. Hey, about half my income goes to my rather modest mortgage;
when I was a young man, it was more like 30%; my father's generation
would have been shocked at anyone paying more than 25% of their income
for rent or mortgage. That's percentage of income and has nothing to do
Do you wonder why I take time out from my long weekend to write these
long posts, Todd? Do you imagine that I'm so obsessed with proving I'm
right or smart or something that I would willing give up my spare time?
Not so. I post this stuff because I'm scared about the future, and I'm
trying to do what little I can to prevent disaster. For me, for my
children, for you, for everybody in the world.
For at least 35 years, Americans have very gradually been seduced into
voting for and supporting a destructive and dangerous cabal, no, an
ideology promoted by a cabal. None of this shit, from withdrawing from
the Kyoto treaty, to the shameful disaster in Iraq, to the nurses guest
worker program, is isolated or accidental. We have been watching an
orchestrated and largely successful campaign to turn the United States
from a free country based on the rule of law and economic freedom and
competition into a fascist (corporatist) state with only the illusion of
I'm not belting this stuff out for Neil and the others who I know
already substantively agree with me. I'd rather be out having my
I take the time to post these things because I figure if I can open the
eyes of just a few people who are presently going along to get along, or
who buy the whole package and think everything's great, then maybe we
can all get out of this alive and free without having to take to the
streets. And I'm not optimistic, Todd. I read the posts that come back
from you, Mike Marion, Alan, Legatus, sometimes Tracy (just a few
examples, and not meant to disparage or embarrass anyone); I *KNOW*
you're all intelligent and well intentioned. And I'm baffled as to why
you can, for example, accept that it's OK for the government to import
cheap foreign labor to keep your salary artificially depressed at a time
when they are proclaiming that we have to close our borders to aliens.
Do you not see that this is the case? Why doesn't it piss you off?
Lan Barnes ***@falleagle.net
Linux Guy, SCM Specialist 858-354-0616