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Globalisation and the rise of the “1.0 Percenters”

“Those soaring incomes of the top 0.01% are only going to apply to those very few indeed who can make that leap from performing on the national to the global stage. And there’s really not enough of such people that I think it’s something that we’ve got to worry about. 0.01% of the US population is, for example, 3,000 people. Seriously, what does it actually matter to the rest of us what they earn? Especially as they’re not earning it by moving from taking 10 cents each to a $1 each off each of us 300 million, they’re doing it by moving from taking that same 10 cents each of each of us and then making up the other 90 cents by taking fractions off the other 7 billion people on the planet. As I say, this isn’t a foolproof, watertight, explanation of what’s going on. But now we’re seeing that it is the top 0.01% taking that extra income the evidence is at least consistent with my explanation. That it’s all being driven by globalisation: and as such there’s not a dang thing we want to do about it.”

- Tim Worstall. Yes, you may have noticed that I spell globalisation with an s, not a z. Pax Americana hasn’t yet spread to my London-based laptop.

36 comments to Globalisation and the rise of the “1.0 Percenters”

  • Paul Marks

    The person who pushed talking about the “0.01%” rather than “the 1%” (which was stupid enough) was Mr Putin’s Max Keiser – who I am told is not important.

    As for the cause of it (the spectacular incomes of certain people who produce bugger all) – for once Max tells the truth, the cause is the wild monetary expansion of the Federal Reserve and other Central Banks.

    However, this is not exactly a new discovery……

    Richard Cantillon showed how credit money expansion tends to benefit a few ultra rich people (at the expense of every one else) as a far back as the 1700s.

    Someone like Jon Huntsman who builds a great chemical company – is an example of “capitalism” as it should be.

    Mr X of the financial house “Grab It, Grab It, And Run” slopping up billions from the Fed, is an example of something rather different.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Paul, I don’t think the monetary expansion is the only cause, as your post seems to suggest, although it is undoubtedly correct that, depending on the sectors concerned, massive money printing does and can have distributional impacts on wealth of a sort that the Left, with its unthinking admiration for Keynesianism, might do well to note.

    The broad mass of the middle class that requires stable money is clearly harmed; it could even be the case that inasmuch as there is any truth to the idea of a “stagnant” middle class, the debasement of Western currencies is partly to blame. Consider: since 1971, when Nixon severed the gold link to the dollar (although in fact the link was more or less dead anyway before), the dollar has lost over 85 per cent of its purchasing power. As for sterling…

    But globalisation, and the rewards to be had in an economy with an unbridled division of labour, has its effects with or without central bank legerdemain. And Worstall’s point makes a lot of sense to me.

    Of course, some people regard “globalisation” as evil; there are even so-called libertarians who condemn things such as government-sponsored free trade deals, roads, statutory limited liability, statutory intellectual property rights, and policing of the high seas, and do so for thereby undermining local markets (Kevin Carson and his lot). But even in a world without governments, what such “localists” forget is that the benefits of an international division of labour and specialisation would be irresistable; and remove the shackles of government anti-trust powers, licencing, etc, and we’d arguably get even more of it. (I should add that the arguments for and against things such as state-enforced IP, or building of roads, or international policing of shipping lanes, should not always depending on utilitarian arguments about whether they retard or encourage global trade. FWIW, I support things such as naval protection of the High Seas against pirates because the benefits of free, flourishing trade are so great.)

    What we should be really concerned about is ensuring upward mobility, and ensuring that the world’s poor, in places such as Africa, LatAm and Asia, are able to propertise their resources in the way that de Soto has argued in the Mystery of Capital.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes indeed J.P. but monetary expansion is not the way to improve living standards.

    If it were Latin America would be a collection of highly prosperous nations in which children would have a good chance in life.

    If Britain and the United States want to end up like Brazil – they should continue the monetary policies that have followed for quite some time now.

  • Paul Marks writes:

    Yes indeed J.P. but monetary expansion is not the way to improve living standards.

    Surely here, as with many things, a modest and appropriate level (of monetary expansion) is what is best for improving living standards (and many other things). That is obviously a vastly lower level and is common practice in several South American countries.

    The best thing, IMHO, is for monetary expansion to happen through natural economic mechanisms. Primary ones being the creation of more wealth (though exploitation of natural resources and labour) combined with prudent fractional reserve banking: a lower reserve requirement being appropriate for better securing of loans using some of the created wealth.

    Without some monetary expansion, greater levels of economic activity would be inhibited – leading to reduced living standards, especially if there was (as there still is) population growth too. And, in particular, there would be a lower level of technological advance (through lower investment), leading to a lower level of future efficiency in the use of labour, resources and land.

    Best regards

  • Paul Marks

    Nigel you are wrong.

  • RRS

    Whilst the full text of his Forbes article speaks in other terms about “earning,” it is surprising that the usual commentators here have not picked up on the inferences in the concluding paragraph;to-wit:

    . . . they’re not earning it by moving from taking 10 cents each to a $1 each off each of us 300 million, they’re doing it by moving from taking that same 10 cents each of each of us and then making up the other 90 cents by taking fractions off the other 7 billion people on the planet.

    But now we’re seeing that it is the top 0.01% taking that extra income the evidence is at least consistent with my explanation. That it’s all being driven by globalisation: and as such there’s not a dang thing we want to do about it.”

    a better reference should have been to the common statistical inferences, rather than to the mode of earning being described as a form of taking. However, manners of articulation often reveal manners of underlying thinking.

  • Laird

    I have a number of problems with this. First, I don’t think the quote you selected is really the central point of Worstall’s article. I think that was expressed in the opening paragraph: notwithstanding the growth in income of the top 0.01% (which he plausibly asserts is due to globalization), “the other effects of globalisation are so beneficial that we really don’t want to stop it, [and] if globalisation is indeed the cause then it’s a problem that is self-correcting, in time.” I think that’s true. (Note that Worstall himself spells the word with an “s”, not a “z”, even though it’s in an American publication. That’s fine with me, although I would never do it myself. Reading it spelled that way makes me feel all worldly and sophisticated!)

    In the quote you selected, Worstall talks about “taking 10 cents each to a $1 each off each of us” (and so forth) to explain how the globalization* of these uber-rich doesn’t really affect us. I understand (and mostly agree with) his point, but it’s a very poor example as it strongly implies that economics is a zero*-sum game. That is clearly not true, and I’m certain that Worstall knows it’s not true and is merely using a shortcut to express his point, but there are plenty of people out there who believe that it is true. Many of them are undoubtedly among those whom he desires to convince with this article. The sloppy mode of expression does nothing to advance his cause.

    Finally, and primarily, Worstall has made the common (but, for an economist, unforgiveable) error of conflating wealth with income. In this article he is talking almost exclusively about income (where his globalization* point makes sense), but the chart he uses and the article from which it was taken both are speaking about wealth. Income changes; people rise into and fall out of income brackets at various times in their lives. Wealth, however, has a tendency to persist. It is the large and growing wealth (not income) disparity between the uber-rich and the rest of us which I (and others) find troubling, and which Worstall is glossing over here in a sort of literary sleight of hand. And it is precisely this disparity which is exacerbated, if not wholly created, by the monetary expansion Paul spoke about. Monetary expansion, not globalization, is the preeminent cause of this widening of the wealth gap. Paul is correct.

    *Note the “z”!

  • RRS

    @ Paul Marks,

    would you agree that improvements in living standards (other than those created by improvements in the qualities of goods) occur as a result of improvements in the distribution of goods and services?

    Would you agree that in a “money economy” a principal function of “money” (including credit as money) is the facilitation of the distribution of goods and services, principally, but not exclusively, through commutative exchanges?

    If there is to be an increase in the standard of living, would you agree that would require an increase in availability of goods and services, requiring an increase in their distribution, and some proportionate increase in money (or credit) to facilitate that increase in distribution?

    Cannot the same inferences be drawn with respect to the uses of money and credit in increasing production to provide for the increases in distribution?

    Is the analogy of a large body of interconnected machinery, which turns out the goods and services and provides for their distribution, speeds up, engages additional active parts, all of which require the lubrication of “money” and thus more lubricant at higher speeds and with more segments of the machinery in operation – is that too far-fetched?

  • Fraser Orr

    @Johnathan, your criticism of certain localist libertarians seems to mix a lot of different things:

    > government-sponsored free trade deals,

    As with all government sponsored deals, the label “free trade” frequently doesn’t reflect toe contents of the document. Sometimes the cost of the free trade is very high indeed. For example the cost of the EU free trade zone is the EU itself. I’m not sure that is such a big win.

    > roads,

    To me roads would obviously be better private, or at the very least more locally controlled. It has been a while but I used to drive the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh almost every day. I can’t remember a single time when there wasn’t a massive traffic jam caused by construction, I mean road work, or some other thing. Many times in my frustration I would estimate the number of hours this wasted, multiplied by the average wage of the people in all those cars, and then ask the question — who pays? The number is massive. ten thousand hours every day? Half a million pounds every day? It is an externality, a cost that the people causing the traffic jam don’t have to pay, meaning they have little motive to get the job done quickly. How often do you get stuck in a traffic jam only to find the cause is several lanes closed, and nary a worker to be seen? Next time you do, blame the road monopolies.

    > statutory limited liability,

    This one I am with you on. If you know my corporation runs under the rules of limited liability then you can freely make the choice to trade with more or not. Of course there is a sunshine requirement, but statutory law seems to do a good job with this.

    > statutory intellectual property rights,

    Patents are a nightmare. They have exactly the opposite effect that they are supposed to have, which is to say the suppress innovation. Perhaps we disguise their historical purpose with high sounding words, but the reality is that it is the raw exercise of power for rent seeking corporations. Despite their reputation, the vast majority of patents are issued to big corporations, and used either to waste resources fighting each other, or squash uppity little competitors trying to make it big. They are dreadful. Copyright and trademarks are very different animals though.

    > and policing of the high seas,

    If companies want to ply the high seas with their wares let them pay for their own policing. Really, of all things this is about the easiest type of private policing that exists. The fact that we are sending the Royal Navy and the US Navy to police the seas off Somalia is utterly crazy, when exactly the same effect could by had by putting a couple of security guards and some 50 cal machine guns on each ship passing through there. This is classic government thinking. Better to keep a 10 million pounds a day frigate on station than allow people to take responsibility for themselves, and defend themselves at a cost of one thousand pounds a day. Once again, the true cost of international trade is partly externalized through tax payer subsidies for their protection.

  • RRS

    Laird,

    Your point on the distinction between incomes and aggregating wealth is well taken.

    In examining the potential effects of that aggregation, consideration should be given to comparative distributions of consumption.

    Over the same periods of increasing aggregations of wealth, there have been ever broadening patterns and participations in the distribution of goods and services for consumption.

    The forms of consumption have included increases in quality and quantities, as well as variations for particular needs, wants and preferences.

    With no claim to supporting scholarship, I submit that the patterns of consumption have been, and continue to be, the “driving force” in the aggregations of wealth.

  • Richard Thomas

    would you agree that would require an increase in availability of goods and services, requiring an increase in their distribution, and some proportionate increase in money (or credit) to facilitate that increase in distribution?

    Yes, yes, no.

    Whilst it might be reasonable to say that it would be “fairer” to increase the money supply with economic growth (but who is to judge and who are the recipients and what is “fair” anyway?), it is by no means a requirement. Deflation, particularly low-level deflation, is not the demon it has been made out to be by those who would like to help themselves to your wealth.

  • Richard Thomas

    Quote fail.

  • However sound Mr. Worstall’s argument, his arithmetic is off. There are slightly over 300 million Americans. One percent of that is 3 million, and 0.01% is 30,000, not 3000.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Richard Thomas, heh? You saying the link is broken? Or that the quote is wrong, or somesuch? Enlighten me.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Fraser: Oh I know that not all free trade deals as described by politicians are the same. I did not say that. In the broadest terms, though, since the end of the Cold War, trade has been freer than before. Alas, there will always be distortions.

    To me roads would obviously be better private, or at the very least more locally controlled.

    Agree; Then again, the purists would argue against eminent domain powers to build them at all. But I know – Kevin Carson is one such – who argue that in a world without either state-financed roads or eminent domain, we would have to operate a much more “local” economy; ie, a far less globalised one. That involves costs as well as benefits.

    Patents are a nightmare. They have exactly the opposite effect that they are supposed to have, which is to say the suppress innovation. Perhaps we disguise their historical purpose with high sounding words, but the reality is that it is the raw exercise of power for rent seeking corporations. Despite their reputation, the vast majority of patents are issued to big corporations, and used either to waste resources fighting each other, or squash uppity little competitors trying to make it big. They are dreadful. Copyright and trademarks are very different animals though.

    I am not going to reprise a long debate about IP (we have kicked this around Samizdata a lot in the past). Suffice to say that statutory IP is deeply controversial among free marketers; some are passionately against; some, particularly those who don’t justify property purely on the grounds of resolving scarcity disputes, and who value creation and production, are more pro. I don’t actually know whether, on balance, patents are more biased to firms than individuals; it could be argued that without patents, firms would have to protect their ideas more through keeping ideas secret and impose all kinds of restrictive covenants on staff, although this would be hard to enforce. In the end, the current patent system as it stands has a lot of problems; whether it should be abolished in general is another matter.

    “If companies want to ply the high seas with their wares let them pay for their own policing. Really, of all things this is about the easiest type of private policing that exists. The fact that we are sending the Royal Navy and the US Navy to police the seas off Somalia is utterly crazy, when exactly the same effect could by had by putting a couple of security guards and some 50 cal machine guns on each ship passing through there. This is classic government thinking. Better to keep a 10 million pounds a day frigate on station than allow people to take responsibility for themselves, and defend themselves at a cost of one thousand pounds a day. Once again, the true cost of international trade is partly externalized through tax payer subsidies for their protection.”

    Well, in that case let the states that presume to own the seas allow those who travel on it to provide for their own defence with the ability to use deadly force if need be. The issue then arises when conflicts lead to unlawful killings, etc. Who gets to adjudicate, etc? Just as a purely libertarian order will still need police and defence (albeit privately owned), there will still be a need for some sort of naval forces, say, but not necessarily run by a state.

  • RRS

    Richard Thomas,

    Then how is the required increase in distribution to be facilitated in a “money economy?”

    Your:

    Deflation, particularly low-level deflation, is not the demon it has been made out to be by those who would like to help themselves to your wealth.

    does not really seem to be connected to the issue of facilitating distribution; except, perhaps, by the analogy of money and credit as a lubricant whose reduction can cause a slowing down of the overall machinery and the possible necessary disengagement of some of its operating parts.

    Of course excess lubricants may only burn or gum up the machinery.

  • Paul Marks

    RRS I agree that it is possible for there to be too little money – for practical reasons.

    For example if by some weird event of quantum physics all gold bar one atom vanished gold would no longer be useful as a money.

    However, the vast amounts of currency that exist mean that a shortage is not a practical problem.

    There is no reason (none whatever) to increase the money supply under present conditions.

    The idea that a gradually falling “price level” means that the money supply should be increased was the most harmful fallacy of Irving Fisher.

    Even as a child (many years ago for me now) Milton Friedman’s admiration for Irving Fisher (and Milton Friedman’s admiration of Benjamin Strong) struck me as a terrible mistake.

  • Richard Thomas

    Jonathon, I mistakenly used quote tags instead of blockquote in my attempted quotation of RRS.

    RRS, it’s simple, things simple become “cheaper”. Which is to say they cost less of whatever monetary unit you happen to prefer. Of course, you’ll still be able to effectively exchange two mars-bars for a sheep or whatever (subject to regular market forces).

    The only issue is when your smallest unit of money becomes too valuable to be effective. Those of us who remember the half-penny can easily envision the solution there.

  • Richard Thomas

    Name fail that time. My apologies, Jonathan. I fear it’s not the first time either.

  • Richard Thomas

    And again. If it’s wrong this time, I’ll leave it and bow my head in shame, Johnathan. Or maybe just refer to you as Mr Pearce (You are, in fact, a Mr, right?)

  • Mr Ed

    subject to regular market forces

    There are no market forces, the phrase is an oxymoron, there are market choices, which may be Hobson’s choice, but that situation is always transient and the alternative is to cease to act.

  • RRS

    Query:

    would you agree that would require an increase in availability of goods and services, requiring an increase in their distribution, and some proportionate increase in money (or credit) to facilitate that increase in distribution?

    RT:

    Yes, yes, no.

    RRS:

    Then how is the required increase in distribution to be facilitated in a “money economy?”

    RT:

    . . . it’s simple, things simpl[y] become “cheaper”. Which is to say they cost less of whatever monetary unit you happen to prefer.

    What are you assuming happens such that “things simply become ‘cheaper’”? Why would they “cost less”?
    Is that just a re-statement of prices?

    If there is an argument that reducing prices can facilitate distribution, then why don’t price controls work?

    Something seems missing in that reasoning.

  • SC

    >0.01% of the US population is, for example, 3,000 people.

    Isn’t it 30 000 people, not 3000?

  • Fraser Orr

    @Johnathan Pearce
    Just a couple of things — I can’t think of anything less libertarian than eminent domain. Eminent domain is, after all, just a price mechanism where the buyer can force the seller to accept a price lower than they want (except in some extreme cases when alternatives are available.) I’m not in favor of the government, or worse, private industry, to be able to force people to sell below what they want to sell for. It is just theft, plain and simple.

    I am not at all sure that privatized roads would cause a more localized economy, but there are always costs both for and against. The cost of the road monopoly was evident every morning on the M8, for those who had eyes to see.
    As to patents, I will indeed leave it lie, but with this comment: the modern principle underlying patents — that patents are stimulative to innovation — seems to have nothing to back it up. Given the huge industry that patent law is, one would thing that there would be lots of quality studies to demonstrate that patents really do stimulate innovation. To the best of my knowledge they don’t exist. In fact there are are few the demonstrate the exact opposite. If a libertarian is to justify coercive action against individuals, it seems to me that they had better have some damn good metrics to support their case.

  • Richard Thomas

    RRS, the problem is that “price controls” are, more correctly “value controls”. Price, in money terms, is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if a mars bar is three or five shekels if a sheep is, correspondingly, six or ten shekels respectively. Two mars bars gets you a sheep. The problem comes when the government decides “a sheep in every pot” and fixes the “price” which incorrectly represents the value of the sheep. Suddenly, your single mars bar (whether three or five shekels) gets you a sheep but the man who breeds the sheep feels his effort is worth more than a single mars bar is worth and suddenly the market is screwed up, sheep shortages abound, you know the drill.

    So barring out-of-control hyper-deflation (or hyper-inflation), things are pretty OK. Deflation tends to reward savers. This is a good thing. By withholding claims on resources, savers allow those resources to be used to grow the economy (or not). When those savers feel they can get a better return on their money by investing, they are free to do so because it is the decision in their best interest and not because the government is stealing their wealth through counterfeiting if they don’t.

    The point is that money is just a marker. Its own value can change, (just visit a Forex site to see that) and the market can deal with it. The problem with inflation is that almost any way it is done, it takes value from money holders and distributes it to someone else. Most usually chums of those in power. This is not only not good for the economy, it is just flat out wrong.

    Mr Ed, I would not say that “market forces” is an oxymoron. It is perhaps more of a euphemism or metaphor. If I need your sheep and you are not overly fond of mars bars, I might throw in a kit-kat to sweeten the deal. Your wants and needs have “forced” the apparent price up. If a new sheep breeder shows up, the price might similarly be forced down.

  • Richard Thomas

    What are you assuming happens such that “things simply become ‘cheaper’”? Why would they “cost less”?
    Is that just a re-statement of prices?

    And just to explicitly answer this, things become cheaper because there is a greater demand for the money and thus its “value” relative to other goods increases. The other goods value relative to each other is unaffected by this, of course (though this will fluctuate naturally).

    Of course you’ve begged the question that unrelenting economic growth is necessarily a good thing. I put it to you that at the least, there are times when it is not.

  • RRS

    RT:

    Of course you’ve begged the question that unrelenting economic growth is necessarily a good thing. I put it to you that at the least, there are times when it is not.

    No. The discussion began with consideration of requirements for improvements in living standards.

    To which it appeared that you agreed to all but the one that might indicate a need (in a money economy) for a proportional increase in money supply to facilitate improved distribution.

    No issue was made of the need for any particular rate of, or indeed any need for, improvements in living standards.

    The issue as you originally addressed it was: what are the requirements (in a money economy) to attain improvements in living standards?

    Plausible arguments are made by economists (and others) that “economic growth” (macro-economic measures, “GDP” increases, etc.) does not necessarily result in improvements in living standards within an economy. Discussion of that issue would be affected by the intended meaning of “economic growth.”

    A response to your explicit answer will be given below.

  • RRS

    RT:

    And just to explicitly answer this*, things become cheaper because there is a greater demand for the money and thus its “value” relative to other goods increases

    *What are you assuming happens such that “things simply become ‘cheaper’”? Why would they “cost less”?

    What is the basis for assuming “there is a greater demand for the money”? What generates the demand?

    There is no quarrel with your point that prices, in a money economy, result from the relative “values” established by the participants (which include some not involved in actual exchanges, but other forms of influences) in that economy, based on their particular objectives and limited information. At least, that is what is indicated by your comments.

    However, particularly in view of the histories of money economies, it is difficult to understand how constraints or limitations in the availability of mediums of exchange (money and credit) can facilitate improvements in the distribution of goods and services which would be necessary to improvements in living standards.

  • Richard Thomas

    It’s basically an inverse relationship between goods and money (which is basically another good). More money = greater demand for goods -> prices increase. More goods = greater demand for money -> prices decrease.

    Of course, there is a tweak that might be a hard pill to swallow. In a deflationary economy, wages would be expected to decrease over time. For many, this might be hidden somewhat by raises related to an increase in their value proposition but for sure it would be an adjustment for many.

    I apologise for misinterpreting your suggestion that improved living standards requiring an increase in availability and distribution of goods and services as implying economic growth. Though I do feel that pushes to issues elsewhere in the passage. That is somewhat less relevant to my point, however. That is that the overall quantity of money is somewhat irrelevant as long as it can be divided into small enough quantities (amongst a few other requirements). Thus inflationary policy is a rationalization, not a reason.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Fraser writes: “I can’t think of anything less libertarian than eminent domain. Eminent domain is, after all, just a price mechanism where the buyer can force the seller to accept a price lower than they want (except in some extreme cases when alternatives are available.) I’m not in favor of the government, or worse, private industry, to be able to force people to sell below what they want to sell for. It is just theft, plain and simple.”

    In 99 per cent of cases, you are right. Originally, ED powers were for things considered to be over clear public importance and necessity, such as docks for warships, etc. I don’t demur that the whole concept has become an evil. But some critics of ED have argued that it is evil not just for the reasons stated but because it encourages the sort of global economy they hate.

    I am not at all sure that privatized roads would cause a more localized economy, but there are always costs both for and against. The cost of the road monopoly was evident every morning on the M8, for those who had eyes to see.

    As to patents, I will indeed leave it lie, but with this comment: the modern principle underlying patents — that patents are stimulative to innovation — seems to have nothing to back it up. Given the huge industry that patent law is, one would thing that there would be lots of quality studies to demonstrate that patents really do stimulate innovation. To the best of my knowledge they don’t exist. In fact there are are few the demonstrate the exact opposite. If a libertarian is to justify coercive action against individuals, it seems to me that they had better have some damn good metrics to support their case.

    There is actually quite a large body of data to suggest that in some industries, where R&D costs are huge (pharma) an absence of some form of IP protection for a period would have devastating results. Even some of the more anti-IP folk I see making arguments about it will concede that (through gritted teeth.) And defenders of patents would not say they are “coercive” any more than a person who is the first to homestead a large wilderness and deny it to others is being coercive. For an example of how there are arguments about this, see here.

  • Laird

    “That is that the overall quantity of money is somewhat irrelevant as long as it can be divided into small enough quantities (amongst a few other requirements). Thus inflationary policy is a rationalization, not a reason.”

    Absolutely correct.

  • Paul Marks

    Agreed.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Fraser, you are right that the doctrine of Eminent Domain is a scourge. Not only for the economic thievery it enables but also because people’s property tends to be important to them; they value it beyond its mere economic (exchange) value. Often this is called “sentimental value,” although that phrase tends to trivialize the extent of our involvement with our property.

    Psychologically, humans tend to “identify with” their stuff. We “bond” with it. It is some part of an expression of our very selves; and the more so as it has supported and sustained us through the ups and downs of our lives. (See Kelo vs. City of New London. One of the most insensitive and stupid arguments I ever heard was that the arguer didn’t see what Suzette Kelo was so upset about: hadn’t she been offered enough to buy herself a much nicer place on the beach?)

    I will reluctantly, VERY reluctantly, make a stringently-defined exception when the Taking is required by the exigencies of national defense, when there is a (defensive) war on, and with a contract from the Govt. that the original owner will have an option to buy the property back at the original sale price (adjusted for inflation or deflation), less any expenses necessary to return the property to its original condition, if the original owner so desires. (This was the case when farmland in N. Illinois was purchased under Eminent Domain for the purpose of national defense during WW II.)

  • Paul Marks

    Agreed.

    Eminent Domain is an obscenity – and it is not economically justified.

    For example is one wants to build a railway and some farmer will not sell – build a diversion (it is his loss – loss of the money you would have paid for the land).

    There is one exception – war.

    Not stealing land with war as an EXCUSE – but the real needs of war.

    For defence is the supreme law.

    Not my personal survival – cowardice is one vice that even I do not have (if I die fair enough – it is not worth violating property rights to save my life), but the survival of the people we are sworn to protect.

    And if that means putting an artillery position on a hill against the will of the owner (or whatever) then it must be – for the violation of property rights by having the population wiped out is greater than the loss of property rights of the hill owner.

    It is evil (YES) – but the lesser evil.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Not a Pareto Improvement, Paul. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

    Although to be fair (do I HAVE to be fair? –Oh, very well then), almost everything I know about Vilfred (sp) Pareto other than his first name I learned from Richard Epstein. I did read the Wikip article, but not much of it stuck. Except the man’s first name, of course. Well, sort of.

    So I have no idea of the particulars of his theory. I will (RELUCTANTLY)allow temporary E.D. in the case of dire need arising from defensive war. Maybe V.P. does the same.

    But per Prof. Epstein, there is a Pareto Improvement if at least one person is made better off and no one is made worse off. This sounds very nice, who could argue with that. –Well, I can, for one. Because “worse off” is in the eye of the only person whose judgment matters.

    And neither Prof. Epstein nor the blessed V.P. himself can tell me whether I’m made worse off by the fact that the guy selling real Rolexes out of the back of his truck will sell me one at a mere 20% of going retail value.

  • Paul Marks

    Julie – as you know the Italian Pareto set an impossible standard.

    After all economic value is subjective – and some people regard any reduction of statism as bad (it hurts them – they feel mental pain at the reduction of their POWER).

    Some people love power for its own sake so any reduction of statism “makes them worse of” (because their beloved power is reduced).

    Barack Obama is one of these people – Professor Epstein actually knew him in Chicago, but did not grasp this essential feature of Barack Obama (and many other people).

    I suspect this (this failure to really understand Mr Obama – and so many other people) is because Professor Epstein is a good person.

    It probably says all sorts of bad things about me that I can recognise someone who loves power (for its own sake) after listening to them for a matter of a few seconds.

    Explaining to such a person why such-and-such a free market policy will make most people better off is a waste of time (an utter and complete waste of time).

    After all it will not make THEM better off – on the contrary it will make them WORSE off (by causing them the mental anguish of loss of POWER).