Either, I am total owner of my body, my talents, and I have a right to the employment of both in work (which requires exclusive room to move in time and space), or someone else is at least part owner. To the degree that someone else is part owner of my body, my talents and my movement I am a slave to that owner.
This truth is deep. And it leads in two directions. The directions appear disconnected but they are deeply connected. I stand on a precipice and cannot give full articulation, but what I can I will.
The possibility of self-development (development by me of me) depends on the fundamental ownership of the me that is developed. Else, it is someone else’s (the material, the skill or talent, the choice). Either I become virtuous or someone else makes me virtuous. Either I am free or slave. Either I must ask permission and may be denied, or I do not need ask permission.
The possibility of social and economic development implies the same ownership of property. Either I have right to exclusive use of my body, my talent and my movement, or I do not. What I make of it is mine or it is not. Either I must ask permission, and may be denied, or I do not need ask permission.
Ethics and economics have been separated for some time as if they deal with different topics. The possibility of unity of science would depend on their unity. Property rights are at the core. There is analogy, to my mind, between the activity of soul that produces virtue and the economic activity that produces material prosperity. Property rights are at the core of both.
To ignore the essentiality of these property rights is to live in a time of excess, a time where an extension of the liberty that is made possible by body+talent+room to move has produced great ease. Where there is great ease that work demanded of the slave, the way in which he is coerced, the command over his total being, is to some degree born with. Must it not be born with? But it makes it no less slavery.
And it may be bearable now in the time of excess. But the wind blows and no one knows where it comes from or where it goes to. What will it be like to be slave when the good times are over. Same status, new environment. Oh twentieth century! The excess produce and the forgetfulness induced. How we have lost the significance of property rights.
If the god changes me, then the change is not mine, and I do not become virtuous or vicious. I, in the sense of an active agent, am not good or bad. The god is good or bad. I am nothing. If my work is under coercion or threat of violence (threat of aggression against property), then I am again passed over as a being with value and rights, and used as the property of another.
What about when the majority decides to extract the rightful property (that which was voluntarily produced or traded) from some minority? Is this not a taking by aggression and force, against the will of some, by others? It amounts, at least, to theft, and if it becomes regular, the thief who lives off the regular prowling of the community, then it amounts to something approaching the use of the community involuntarily. Mill called this the tyranny of the majority.
What about when the government issues a proclamation that some will support (charitably?) others by force and not by voluntary contract between the two parties? It is at least the arbitrary preference of the one over the other, and the demand that one serve the other, bias. In addition, it is the taking by force from one, theft. If it becomes the regular and normalized use of the one by the other through the coercive power of the third it amounts to a king of involuntary servitude that amounts to enslavement, and the enslaver becomes a parasite living off of its host.
And lest you think I speak primarily of the impoverished or the corporation (both of which can become welfare dependents) that receives government funded bailout through either the debasement of the currency by printing new dollars or the support made available through the taxation you are forgetting the main parasite–government itself as a monopoly of coercion.
Coercion can only prevent production or prevent harm to production. Where it goes beyond preventing harm to production it trespasses and abuses its power. If you have looked at the charts that show increase in entitlement spending as a percentage of GDP you will see the growth of government, its unwillingness to be virtuously self-restrained, and the ease with which it is willing to encroach on production and so property and freedom. I leave you with a picture. It is not Democrat or Republican. It is the United States government growing itself as a parasite on the productivity of American citizen. It is not he who is the receiver of stolen goods that is the thief immediately, it is not he who receives the goods produced by enslavement that is the enslaver, in the economic and political arena we can turn to the government that is the primary farce.
The first chart is debt held by the public. The “projection” portion may be wrong, but it was made prior to the corona virus spending binge.
The second chart is entitlement spending as portion of GDP. From 1% to 18% in a hundred years. Does it look to be slowing?