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Friday, September 11, 2009

Did My Wealth Come From Force?

Dave Schwab, I assume you mean <i>initiation</i> of force, since of course I believe that my wealth at all times depends on potential thieves being afraid of justified <i>defensive</i> or <i>retaliatory</i> force.

As a geolibertarian, I definitely believe that a large fraction of society's wealth (land) and income (geo-rent, polluting production, resource extraction) involves unjust appropriation.  That's why I think there is so much room for resonance between greens and eco/geo-libertarians.

I put myself through college and then took jobs in Silicon Valley that have made me modestly wealthy -- even though American governments have taken from me about half of all that I have ever earned.  Yes, I drive on government roads and attended monopoly government schools etc., but I vehemently reject the notion that past government "investments" of stolen money into such projects can justify present or future thievery against my body, labor, peaceful production, or voluntary exchanges. All I will concede is that government investments and services often get capitalized into land value, and so I will tolerate that government replace all its claims on my clean work and peaceful trade with a claim on the geo-rent of the land from which I exclude other people.  That way, government can't grow beyond the value that the community (through local land markets) places on government's services.

Past injustice can never justify present or future injustice.  Claims for damages and reparations should be settled by judges and juries, not by demagogues and voting mobs.  The mob's appetite to steal from our labor, peaceful production, and voluntary exchanges is effectively insatiable.  If you believe that a voting majority can ever make a moral claim to a non-zero share of my labor, peaceful production, and voluntary exchanges, then tell us: how much can the majority demand before the claim becomes immoral?  How can we know when that line has been crossed?  Do you even admit that such a line must exist at least in principle?