LvM L&Sa - I.1.Ownership (1)
Regarded as a sociological category ownership appears as the power to use economic goods. An owner is he who disposes of an economic good.
This is factually correct, but in practice misleading. An owner is correctly defined as he who may exclusively destroyi an economic good.
Thus, the employer may dispose of the labour of his employees, but he does not own such. Should he be able to destroy their ability to labour, and furthermore be the only one with such an ability then and only then would we be able to say he's the owner of their labour. It is true that in many cases the employer can destroy the fruits of their labour, but only after the fact, once it's been purchased as labour. To better understand this, consider what would happen should the employer declare that his employees are to spend tomorrow alternatively digging and filling ditches. Clearly this is labour, clearly they are his employees. Nevertheless, I find it hard to imagine that the only reason upstate New York isn't and hasn't at any point in the past been used as a space for this fool's errand is simply that the thought never occured to any employer.
It is the bane of later days that encroaching socialism has drastically diluted property rights as they are both understood and enforced, to the degree that Mises' fundamental understanding of property strikes me - and would equally strike those thinkers born before socialism became a world religion, should they have had to confront its spread - as perfectly red. Consider that buying artwork at auction does not ordinarily grant you the right to light your cigars with it, even though you've paid. Purchasing "historic" buildings does not grant you the right to tear them down, even though you've paid. It'd seem your moneys were not exchanged for property rights over the items in question, but for mere license to use in specified manner, and that license is of course written (and changed, even after the fact of your purchase, and always without compensation) by "the public" as more or less represented. In spite of the public not being any sort of party to the contract in the first place.ii
I do believe that Mises did intend destruction to be included in the more general "disposition", as a subcase of it. However, this point, which'd have been obvious if banal (and so not worth the mention) to the original author a century ago is the very point of contention today, the clou as they say. Which is the problem with written text interpreted at later time by illiterate "thinkers", as better illustrated by the many and varied indignities the US Constitution has been made to suffer through.
The Law recognizes owners and possessors who lack this natural having, owners who do not have, but ought to have.
This is actually true, and in that incredibly dangerous. Indeed a majority of any well written Constitution of any place worth living in will exhaustively limit the manners in which that "ought" may progress. That the man from whom a cup was stolen should have the cup, whereas the thief should not have it I could perhaps see. That the nigger should have food on the table and the middle class should pay taxes for it, that the nigger should have house and the middle class should lose its savings for it, that I can never see nor indeed can it ever be seen.
The peculiarity of land as a means of production is, partly, what gives the ownership of real property its special position in the Law.
I would wager the observation that the difference in position between real estate and chattels is strictly due the fact that up until the revolution of GPG contracts we have not had any serious reexamination of law since the day it was born, in feudalism's death throes. It is, in other words, a simple accident : that since about 1300 or so there haven't really been any men manly enough to adjust the fitting of the cape.
In this sense, the owner of a room is he who inhabits it at the time in question; the owners of the Matterhorn, as far as it is part of a natural park, are those who set foot on it to enjoy the landscape
They are indisputably the users, but this does not make them owners any more than adultery makes one married.
It is the ability to serve thus indirectly for the satisfaction of wants which qualifies a thing as a production good.
This classification of "orders" of goods was arguably never useful to any purpose, and moreover is completely meanginless today, or more accurately its utter meaninglessness has been rendered obvious by the ulterior development of economy as we have it today. For instance, my computer. What order of goods is it ? Production, consumption, lasting use ? Hogwash, that entire classification.
Several people may simultaneously look at a picture, even though the proximity of others, who perhaps keep him from the most favorable viewpoint, may disturb the enjoyment of any individual in the group; but a coat cannot be worn simultaneously by two people.
If one of the people is a man, and the other of the people is a woman, and especially should she be young, and otherwise nude and certainly fetching, indeed a coat can be very well worn by two people, and even better than by one alone. Which further shows just how nonsensical the attempt at classification entertained by the author actually is.
In the natural sense consumption goods cannot be the joint property of several or the common property of all.
Air is consumed and yet the common property of all.
In the case of consumption goods, that which one usually calls joint property has to be shared before consumption. The joint ownership ceases at the moment a commodity is used up or employed. The having of the consumer must be exclusive. Joint property can never be more than a basis for the appropriation of goods out of a common stock.
That property ceases at the time of the good's destruction is hardly any sort of argument in any discussion. That the joint property then has to be resolved at a time before the destruction of the good flows from it, but also inherits the respective weakness. In point of fact, consumables can be the common property of all.
Consider the situation of a herd of cows, living sovereign and alone. Is it true that the pasture is the cows' ? Certainly. Is any fragment of it any one cow's in particular ? Certainly not, inasmuch as cows don't use either topography or propriety in the sense the question implies. Does the pasture consist of blades of grass, as far as its utility to cows flows ? Sure, especially if they're hoovercows with no hooves. And yet, there's no guarantee that any blade of grass can only end up in one of the stomachs of one of the cows. For all we know, one cow can bite a portion of it, and later on another could bite another portion. Inasmuch as grass isn't an element, like iron or magnesium (and even if it were, to the degree Heisenberg's principle holds) we can't definitively predicate such an unequivocal good-consumer relation as the author would wish, and more importantly I can't for the life of me see why we would want to. What difference does it make ?
Joint property restricts itself, like all other reforms which stop short at consumption goods, to effecting a different distribution of the existing stock of consumption goods. When this stock is exhausted its work is done. It cannot refill the empty storehouses. Only those who direct the disposal of production goods and labour can do this. If they are not satisfied with what they are offered, the flow of goods which is to replenish stocks ceases.
If all the foregoing nonsense was intended as some sort of subtle rebuttal of the kolhoz it behooves me to observe that on one hand we don't need such idle refinement, as the arguments against the kolhoz are quite plain and otherwise obvious, and on the other hand the entire thing is painful to watch, dear god!
The having of non-durable production goods cannot be shared. The having of durable production goods can be shared according to the divisibility of the services they provide. Only one person can have a given quantity of grain, but several may have a hammer successively; a river may drive more than one water wheel.
Well the trouble here is that Mises just managed to contradict himself. So, suppose I take six pretty young girls for a picnic. We together buy one bucket of strawberries for eating on the riverside, which according to Mises merely means that each of us has in fact bought a seventh of the bucket, notwithstanding that he can't say aforehand whether the total count of strawberries is even divisible to seven, nor whether the girls actually bother to count my strawberriesiii, nor whether I end up licking the drip off alabaster bosoms. But then, should we all go into the river, suddenly the river washes us all equally. It's not a case that the river has a finite washing power, which we must divide among ourselves in the same manner we divided the bucket, and thus we each enjoy a seventh of the river. Why ?
Because if the girls hold their eyes closed while I enter them they can't end up pregnant, that's why. And just so, if Mises isn't thinking about it then the thing absolutely doesn't exist.
So far, there is no peculiarity about the having of production goods. But in the case of production with division of labour there is a two-fold having of such goods. Here in fact the having is always two-fold: there is a physical having (direct), and a social having (indirect). The physical having is his who holds the commodity physically and uses it productively; the social having belongs to him who, unable to dispose physically or legally of the commodity, may yet dispose indirectly of the effects of its use, i.e. he who can barter or buy its products or the services which it provides.
So by this argument, this blog is owned directly by me, who can write words according to my mood or inclination, and indirectly by you, dear reader, who can read it or not read it. And furthermore, a woman is owned directly by her husband, whose socks she darns and whose children she bears and feeds, but also indirectly by all the unwed boys in the street, who may... what exactly, meet and agree that she's a whore ? (Have you seen Malena, incidentally ?) This is patent nonsense, the ownership rights of you, my dear reader, are strictly limited to liking what I write whether you like it or not. Painfully limiting to your delusions of self importance as that may sound, it's still the fact of the matter, and believe me when I say the world is better off for it.
The farmer who lives self-sufficiently outside exchange society can call his fields, his plough, his draught animals his own, in the sense that they serve only him. But the farmer whose enterprise is concerned with trade, who produces for and buys in the market, is owner of the means of production in quite a different sense.
It's not only a different sense, that elides the point. It's a most pernicious sense, as displayed by the press which writes for "the public", which is to say the lowest common denominator of the public. Pretty much all postmodern decay stems from this mistaken view that people who aren't owners may be afforded a share in ownership. This is nonsense, whether you want to lend people money they can't repay to buy houses they can't afford or whether you want to pretend like you're polite to your reader and will consider his needs, wishes and expectations when you write. Fuck you, dear reader, if I cared what you thought on any point I'd be reading you.———
- Destruction as the fundamental measure of ownership is essential in that once the owner is the only one able to destroy the good, his refrain from destruction then entitles him to demand the full price in exchange. This view resolves a number of otherwise insoluble problems. For instance, consider the case of various food riots as have occurred over the years. During each of these the assembled consumers of food, rioting, took to destroying the goods in question, much to the protestation of their purported owners, who'd occasionally take space in the newspapers to stress that "the destruction of an article never yielded a decrease in its price", as one famously put it. Indeed, it does, through the same avenue : forcibly proving to the "owner" that he is not in fact possessed of a monopoly on the item's destruction significantly weakens his bargaining position. While this may not lower the nominal price, it will certainly lower the actual exchange value of the item in question. [↩]
- It is I think worthy to consider how exactly Bitcoin changes all this :
Despite our forum clashes, I humbly and with goodwill ask:
Would you mind de-listing S.DICE temporarily to encourage shareholders to put pressure on the site operators to stop taking advantage of the block chain during this critical stage of Bitcoin growth? I know this might go against your short term financial interests but really if you stop to think about it, the "startup capital" of the Bitcoin network (gmaxwell's terminology for the currently unused space in each block) is going to unproductive activity which does not grow the Bitcoin economy.
If nothing is done about SD transaction spam (economically unspendable outputs which can't be pruned), transaction fees will be driven higher and every miner will bear the cost of forever storing these unprunable tx in their copies of the blockchain. In the long run, increased fees are not a problem but at the early stage we are in, it could dampen Bitcoin adoption or possibly kill it.
The approach proposed is fundamentally flawed in multiple places.
First and foremost, the only reasonable authority in Bitcoin is derived through the working of contracts. Put another way this states that the power of "a collective", ie a group of users no matter how large to dispose for the future is nil. Put in yet another way, Bitcoin is not a democracy, but a republic.
Consequently, to propose that MPEx breach its contract with SatoshiDICE because you would like me to is a waste of breath : you are not a party to that contract, and consequently you have no standing whatsoever in that relationship. The contract specifies clearly how it works, and it will work as such.
- I'm definitely counting theirs. With my fingers. [↩]
Monday, 11 November 2013
You're reading me bitch
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
Wait. What ?!