Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Property Wrongs

The NYT Op-Ed section runs a series called The Stone, "a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless." I have rubbished previous articles in the Stone, for failing to understand the structure of certain problems, and another mistaking self reference for paradox.

The most recent offering deepens the pile.

In This Land Is Your Land. Or Is It? Prof. McBrayer tries to demonstrate that the whole concept of private property is — what's the in term these days? Oh, right — problematic. At some level, of course, private property is problematic. It is, after all a human concept,* and one would be hard pressed to find any human concept that isn't problematic in some regard.

Unfortunately, Prof McBrayer goons up basic concepts so badly as to have hit the rocks long before getting anywhere worthwhile.

Since last weekend, armed men have been in control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Incensed by the sentencing of local ranchers to jail time for burning public lands†, the protesters want the federal government out of the land business. Their stated goal is to return the refuge to the locals so that “people can reclaim their resources.” But this raises an important question: Why does justice demand that the land and resources belong to the locals instead of the commons? What makes property private?

This is not a question germane only to a standoff in Oregon. It’s a question that applies to each and every one of us. If you’re reading this, you probably own a smartphone. You think you justly own your phone and that it’s wrong for the government or anyone else to take it from you. But why is your phone your private property? You might say that you are entitled to it because the law says that you are entitled to it. But that’s a bad answer.

Whereupon the good professor presents the paramount example of legal but unjust private property: slaves. When the 13th Amendment passed, a whole category of private property was eliminated with the stroke of a pen. So, following the easy, hence overused, philosophical chain of reasoning, he poses another example to show how our thinking isn't on firm ground. We all presume to own our cellphones (or any other item we call "our own", like, say, guns), because we paid for them with our own money. Clearly, the government could, just as with slavery, outlaw phones, or, if the NYT, Obama and Harry were to have their way, guns.

So far, so good. However, here is where the train of thought starts to leave the rails.

First, he flattens a straw man: "An idea common among conservatives — and surely an assumption of the protesters in Oregon — is that the past fully explains private property."

I've never heard of anyone thinking that. Now, that could be my ignorance rearing once again its ugly, unshaven head, but tossing the word "fully" in there almost guarantees the impending sacrifice of another straw man. Almost nothing, ever, fully explains anything. Which is why I'll bet that a search for said conservatives would yield a null result.

There's another sure sign of a strawman being put to the torch: the effortless refutation of the presumed assertion:

But is that true? Suppose I steal your car and sell it to my friend Dugald. Is Dugald entitled to the car because he paid for it? You probably want to say “no.” Buying something doesn’t give you entitlement unless the seller was entitled to the thing first. So a transfer of property from one person to another is rendered illegitimate if the seller got the property through unjust means.

Well, duh.

But wait, there's more.

But now think back to your smartphone. What are the chances that the money you used to buy your phone can be traced backward through your employer, your employer’s customers, and so on back through history without passing through the hands of a serious injustice? Slim to none.

Clearly, Prof McBrayer is completely unclear on one of the two concepts fundamental to his argument. Money is not property in the sense that cellphones, guns, or land are. Money is a universal medium of exchange; money is dimensionless and timeless, all its units are identical, and, anymore, is rarely exchanged in its physical manifestation. To be quite blunt, the concept of tracking numbers back through history is so ridiculous as to make quite certain that the requirements to become a philosophy professor (or the editor the NYT Op-Ed page) do not include any particular grounding in reality.

Sure, one can steal a quantity of cash, or, through identity theft, units of money. But it is the means which taints the quantity gained, not the units themselves.

It is with the other fundamental concept that he demonstrates the need for extensive idea safety training, because it is here where he metaphorically blows his other logical foot off at the hip:

And, as the situation in Oregon makes clear, deciphering the boundaries of private property for real estate is even more troubled. Eastern Oregon was once populated by the Northern Paiute tribe. Like the history of your smartphone, the shift of property from the Paiutes to the white settlers is surely marred with various injustices. And if injustices render a transfer of private property illegitimate, then the protesters in Oregon have little to complain about.

If memory serves, this step, or rather, stumble, is an example of reductio ad absurdum: mode of argumentation that seeks to establish a contention by deriving an absurdity from its denial, thus arguing that a thesis must be accepted because its rejection would be untenable.

Unfortunately, Prof MCBrayer is one reductio shy of fully absurd. Yes, the Northern Paiute Tribe once populated Eastern Oregon. But why them, and not another tribe? Indeed, it is as certain as it can be that there was yet another group before them, and the Paiute's themselves obtained, and held, Eastern Oregon by force. Indeed, all ownership of all land is irrevocably tainted. No, wait, he has hurdled that reductio:

And if our property isn’t legitimately private, it’s hard to see how it’s unjust for the government or anyone else to take it from us.

No, professor, that isn't at all hard to see: it makes slaves of us all — remember that unjust property you mentioned above? — and leads directly to parades of horribles so bloody and awful that one would think that any philosophising that ends up here is its own indictment.

Either the ranchers, and all the rest of us, aren't entitled to our titles, or at some point the past is, indeed, past, and ownership is established by a significantly lengthy string of legal transfers.

"… if history explains private property, how does anyone come to be entitled to previously unowned stuff in the first place?"

Really, Scarlett, who gives a damn?

And, I beg to differ, it isn't a hard question to answer. The first person to be able to exert sufficient force to exclude all other claimants was the one entitled to own the stuff in the first place. This is where that asterisk above comes in. Prof McBrayer is missing another clue. Private property is not just a human concept. Almost all animals at some level aim to exert a sole claim to some resource or another, whether it is territory, the female of the species, or a recent kill. And they do it the same way private property is acquired and its ownership maintained: through the threat of force, or if that fails, the real thing.

So, contra Prof McBrayer, we don't need some holy grail of a theory of private property that makes sense. We already have one: reality.

Obviously, such a red in tooth and claw explanation for private property is an exercise in self-justification. It doesn't begin to touch on how in many countries, Brazil, for instance, the initial establishment of ownership led to concentrating so much land in so few hands as to create a situation that should at least disturb the morally sentient, even while causing despair for finding a solution.

In addition to dragging whatever fell to hand in pursuit of pre-conceived conclusion, Prof McBrayer is also extraordinarily economical with the facts.






102 comments:

Bret said...

Well, if nothing else, I appreciate this post for the link to the National Review article describing the plight of the ranchers. I have this constant feeling that something like that is hanging over my head; that the government is gonna come after me for something and I have no idea what it'll be - just like the ranchers had no idea a couple of decades back. That's why I feel like a serf instead of citizen.

Ultimately, the property is "owned" by force, as you say, and the government has a monopoly on force so really, truly, it owns everything and only by its grace are we allowed a pretense of ownership of some stuff.

Clovis e Adri said...

It is a bit amusing, from my far away point of view, to watch a dispute about land in the USA.

Wealth - of the formerly unimaginable kind the US now enjoys - came through the transition from the land based (hence force centered) wealth to knowledge/know-how based one, bringing a less violent framework too.

No rancher in Brazil is ever taxed (much less jailed!) for taking advantadge of free grass on public lands. The first federal employee who ever tries to extract that money from them will be a dead man. No Second Amendment needed.

Bret said...

Perhaps it's because knowledge workers are so much harder to go after that the government agencies like to focus on sitting ducks like ranchers?

erp said...

Once all the chips are in place in our heads, you knowledge-based workers will be sitting ducks too. It's truly scary that all those old science fiction stories I read as a kid are coming true.

Clovis, another huge difference between our countries is that ordinary people through great effort and hardship claimed and tamed the wilderness for themselves. They didn't receive land grants from a distant kings who sent armies to defend them.

The aborigines here when we arrived had no more legal right to the land than the arrivistas.

Without one scintilla of fact to back this up, I believe that the administration is making an example of these guys in Oregon, so that when they start taking more and more land for "conservation," there will be little or no opposition.

I can't tell you how I admire them for voluntarily going to prison for their convictions. These are the kind of guys of made the U.S. great and they are a dying breed.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

When I read about pre-civil war US South, I get the impression only the upper half of your country was that much different from Brazil then.

Bret,

I don't know why you think knowledge workers are "so much harder to go after". I think it is quite the contrary. You guys never take arms if the govt introduces some new tax - even a tiny one returns far more money to govt than the grass they charge the ranchers.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: 'I don't know why you think knowledge workers are "so much harder to go after".'

Because, in the end, if things get too onerous, we can always renounce citizenship and move elsewhere and take our knowledge with us (for example, you worked in Europe for a while, no?). It's much harder to take your ranch with you.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

And I disagree again.

It may be even easier for a rancher to sell it all and try something else than for you to sell your company and try something else.

And ultimately, he can give up making money of his cattle and just live by what he gets from his own land. Can you?

Bret said...

Clovis,

The ranchers are being forced off their land. They now have no land to live off of.

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] Ultimately, the property is "owned" by force, as you say, and the government has a monopoly on force so really, truly, it owns everything and only by its grace are we allowed a pretense of ownership of some stuff.

That is simplistic.

Of course, since the government has a monopoly on force, we only own anything (save our own labor) through the government's acquiescence. The question your statement begs is: Why, then, instead of enforcing property rights, just take it all?

Fukuyama's "End of History" (maybe 20 minutes to read) answers that question.

---

In rubbishing this article, I completely neglected to mention yet another fundamental concept about which at least this philosopher is unfamiliar with: time.

Take it as given that Europeans stole the indigenous Americans' land. Since everyone of them is beyond the reach of even the most generous restitution, including giving it all back, relying upon them to vitiate the concept of private property means he has reached his conclusion upon the backs of the non-existent.

I was under the impression philosophy required rigorous thinking.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

What?

They are not being forced out, some just got into problems due to the use of nearby public land. Somehow like you would be if you neglected to pay your taxes.

You can give up your business and hence not to pay its taxes, that won't give you trouble. The inverse order not so much.

Bret said...

Clovis,

I guess we're just interpreting it a little differently. For example, consider the following from the National Review article:

'Protesters allege that when private landowners refused to sell, the federal government got aggressive, diverting water during the 1980s into the “rising Malheur lakes.” Eventually, the lakes flooded “homes, corrals, barns, and graze-land.” Ranchers who were “broke and destroyed” then “begged” the government to buy their “useless ranches.”'

I interpret that as being "forced out." Given that you consider that "just got into problems due to the use of nearby public land" that would be the basis for our disagreement.

Nonetheless, even if in this case you don't consider it "forced out" there clearly is a case where they could be. For example, if the government instituted a rancher tax of 50% of the land value per year. Or 100%. It's majority rule after all and, even worse, mostly rule by bureaucratic fiat these days.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

I did not read the NR article and was not aware of that example. I agree with your characterization as being forced out.


Gee, such things in America? I start to believe Erp, pretty much everything I think I know abou the USA, is wrong.

erp said...

Skipper, Take it as given that Europeans stole the indigenous Americans' land. To go back to the argument, that the indigenous people Europeans found here took the land from the previous inhabitants and so on through to the big bang, isn't it a given that one can't steal something from someone who had previously stolen ...

Clovis, I don't understand what or whom you are referencing when you say the "upper half" of the pre-civil war U.S. south??

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Sorry, I've meant the upper half of the country (i.e. the North).

Hey Skipper said...

Clovis:

I think that is much more the exception than the rule. What astonishes me is the nearly complete disregard the MSM has for the facts, focusing instead on theater.

Hey Skipper said...

To go back to the argument, that the indigenous people Europeans found here took the land from the previous inhabitants and so on through to the big bang ...

At some point, there were original inhabitants from whom there wasn't anyone to take anything.

(I'm not making any promises regarding grammar and that sentence, btw.)

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

I've read other descriptions where the Feds zealous pursuit of the ranchers were ascribed to their belief the fires had been done to cover their grazing of public land.

Hence my take in the above exchanges with Bret.

But if this fits a pattern of trying to expel the ranchers from the area... well, I don't think that's much different from anything communists were fond of, but writ smaller.

erp said...

In what way were they different other than climate?

Clovis e Adri said...

I am certainly not fit to give you any history class on your own country, Erp. But descriptions abound:

----
Professionals in the South were little interested in becoming investors in the economy in general. Instead of becoming Yankee-like, they dreamed of buying land and a few slaves and retiring as a Southern gentleman on their small plantation. Only 25 percent of Southerners owned slaves. Most slave owners owned fewer than five slaves, and only 12 percent of Southerners had twenty or more slaves. Many whites who had no slaves looked with envy upon the wealthy, and to a degree admired them. The poor scraped hard on little plots of land for subsistence. They knew how hard the plantation slaves were driven, and there was sympathy for the slave in this regard, but they did not want to see the slaves freed. Similar to most Northerners, they saw themselves as superior to black people, and the Southern poor drew some comfort from their belief that they were not on the bottom of society's hierarchies. And with large numbers of slaves nearby, the Southern poor feared that if the slaves were freed they would overrun, steal from and perhaps murder them.
----

They could as well be talking about Brazil.

erp said...

Skipper, no doubt there were original inhabitants, but they aren't around to complain, so where's the legitimacy of the claim the descendants of the indigenous peoples found by Europeans are making. It was an overbearing government that herded these people into reservations. Left to their own devices, the two peoples might have settled (pun intended) things differently and learned from each other.

erp said...

Clovis, I looked at your link. When I have time, I'll send your my opinion, but if this is where you get your information, it's not surprising that, as I said months ago, ... is wrong.

Here's a question as pertinent in today's world as it was back when: Why didn't the people in the south and the people in Brazil and the people worldwide, do the same thing the people in New England did (and can still do) to make their lives easier and better instead of lazing around bemoaning their fate?

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I remember posts here at GG (by Howard, though I can't remember which post) with nearly the same points - a description by a North man of the differences he saw when he crossed the Mississipi river. I guess the north/south cultural differences are well documented and not much of a polemic.

---
Here's a question as pertinent in today's world as it was back when: Why didn't the people in the south and the people in Brazil and the people worldwide, do the same thing the people in New England did (and can still do) to make their lives easier and better instead of lazing around bemoaning their fate?
---

You may not believe it, but many do, Erp. Many more than you'll ever know.

erp said...

I don't understand your answer, except if you mean there were some everywhere who were ambitious, adventurous, etc. Yes, there were and are and a whole lot of them came here to be part of We, the People.

Yet some how, we're faulted for overcoming our obstacles and inventing lemonade.

Go figure.

Clovis e Adri said...

Faulted by whom?

Barry Meislin said...

Rather apt name for a philosopher of this ilk, McBrayer.

Speaking of names, they really ought to change "The Stone" to "The Stoned".

Lest people get the wrong idea...

erp said...

Faulted by the entire lefty world.

Clovis e Adri said...

It looks like you've got their appeal for victimization, Erp.

I am so sorry for your suffering...

erp said...

You misinterpret Clovis. That's their take, not ours. Zero sum is the only way they know to calculate.

Susan's Husband said...

erp;

Why didn't the people in the south and the people in Brazil and the people worldwide, do the same thing the people in New England did (and can still do) to make their lives easier and better instead of lazing around bemoaning their fate?

To a large extent because of lack of private property. If the government (or an appartchik member of it) can simply take your land / business / stock on basically a whim, only a fool would add value to any of those. My view is that such lack, more than anything else, retards economic advancement in such lands. An excellent book on this point is "The Bell Jar" by Hernando De Soto.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
To a large extent because of lack of private property.
---
Anyone trying a single factor for that answer should take care with his oversimplifications.

But for the sake of the argument, let's assume your answer is the most precise possible in such a short sentence. It leads to the follow-up question: Why is it those societies lack private property?

erp said...

SH ... We invented private property.

erp said...

Don't mean to be glib, but the difference is the mindset of the people. Our early settlers weren't Latin based and IMO that's why we developed as we did. The king and aristos tried to rule them, but they wouldn't be enslaved. Again, IMO that's due to the Catholic clergy mostly Jesuits who preached about the rewards of heaven, not earth both north and south of us.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Did you invent private property before or after you took the ones below the Indians you found when arriving in what you now call America?

And perhaps, when you travelled abroad - for example Spain and Mexico, since you mention Latin countries - did you ever notice anyone around holding a private property who happened to not be a king or aristocrat?

If you don't mean to be glib, please, don't be.

Peter said...

SH ... We invented private property.

If by we you mean "We, the People", that is absurd.

erp said...

Peter, We, the people came later.

We are on a round robin of doctors' appts now and I'm using the infernal I-Pad while we wait for quack #1, so f anyone cares! I'll elaborate later.

Hint: Clovis got the idea, but drew the wrong conclusion.

Susan's Husband said...

Clovis;

"Anyone trying a single factor for that answer should take care with his oversimplifications". Quite - which is perhaps why I used "to a large extent" rather than "entirely because of".

I think the more interesting question is why Anglo-American culture developed a strong form of what (as a dedicated libertarian) I should really call) several property. The De Soto book referenced above has a lot of excellent background on this. One aspect of the answer is the several property benefits the masses but not the ruling class and therefore must be instituted against the opposition of the elites. That's rather difficult.

Clovis e Adri said...

SH,

---
I think the more interesting question is why Anglo-American culture developed a strong form of [...] several property.
---

Well, since you posed the question, you may as well try an answer. Why? What diffrentiated the Anglos from other people at that?

erp said...

Anglos broke away from the Catholic church.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

So ultimately you place all your country' success and wealth on Henry VIII's lust? Pretty amazing.

erp said...

Clovis, I place our success and wealth on our people most of whom came here with little more than the clothes on their backs and their brains, strength, ambition, determination and audaciousness and through their own efforts built a nation of law.

Do you think there was some magic trick involved or perhaps aliens ala "Chariots of the Gods" or some other advantage to which others have no access. Sorry no, it's just plain old working smarter, not just harder, taking advantage of opportunities, making good choices, investing wisely, etc.

Peter, why is my contention that we invented private property absurd? What other civilization or society was there where us individual little guys, not the collective tribe, clan, etc. could, by law, own, buy and sell our own homes and land that we could pass on to our own children and build upon to please ourselves ...?

It's a pretty heady concept.

Bret said...

Clovis asks: "So ultimately you place all your country' success and wealth on Henry VIII's lust?"

Interestingly, in her book THE DISCOVERY OF FREEDOM, Rose Wilder Lane does attribute part of the advances in the economic and other freedoms of the non-aristocracy in the Anglosphere on the dismal, petty and utterly incompetent British ruling class during much of the last couple millennia (Henry VIII is one of those).

She says that they were so busy with their petty squabbles with each other, that the upper nobility just couldn't be bothered to actually rule. So they just didn't really get involved enabling lower nobles and even non-nobles to do things much, much more independently than was allowed in the rest of Europe and the world. Such as forming giant trading companies that moved goods all over the world.

The royals and nobles then realized they could just sit back and tax whatever the neglected populous produced while concentrating on their intrigues and then it evolved from there.

She contrasts this with France where the rulers were much more meticulous and tyrannical and ensured everyone did exactly as they said wherever possible.

Peter said...

Bret, that makes it sound like the British aristocracy were so distracted taking snuff at the gambling tables that the lower classes sneaked in new-fangled ideas of property rights and individual freedom while they weren't looking.

There is no need to indulge in anti-intellectual, simplicities or invent straightline historical trends where none existed. The whole story of the triumph of individual freedom and property rights leading to the American Revolution and Constitution is a very complex tale with several sources and much happenstance. It's basically a triumph of the middle and commercial classes. Dissident Protestant religion, the English Civil War, decentralized feudalism, colonialism, dynastic feuds, the English legal system, the existence of Parliament and much localized British and colonial economics and politics all played a role, and it's certainly possible to imagine how the whole project would have been stillborn if this or that battle had gone the other way. It's a glorious tale, but it can't be explained seriously through some sort of inevitable Hollywood-style triumphalism and there is no need to lean on anti-historical simplicities like how we invented private property, a concept well-established in ancient Rome.

Barry Meislin said...

Sorry, I blame everything---and that means, everything---on the Protestant work ethic (and that includes those non-Protestants who were bitten by the bug).

(Is that too much of a simplification? Oh, well, my apologies....)

And the crux: They protest. (Well, at least, at first. Well, at least some of them...)

That is, they innovate. As in, "There has got to be a better way...."

File under: Say it ain't so.

erp said...

Barry, I like your style. Short, sweet and way simplistic. However IMO and at the risk of being found out as a jingoist (or worse), the protestant work ethic transmogrified into "Good Old American Ingenuity."

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

A very interesting reference, thanks. Though I doubt her premises - the British Royals and Nobles were not so uninterested in practical aspects of life as implied. By the contrary, many were very down to Earth and, more importantly, the British system envisioned ways to select and give incentive to their best among the commons: the introduction of the title of "Sir" was a pretty smart move.


Erp,

I hate to pop your ballon, but Ingenuity happened to be present in other nations too. Let's take the Protestant work ethic as a definitely helping trait: what then explains the US surpassing other Protestant nations?

My guess? War and geography. If those other Protestant nations in Europe weren't so invested in destroying each other, I don't think it was certain the US would take their lead.

erp said...

Europe was and is old world, burdened with kings and emperors, fighting each other with very old hatreds, etc.

Our secret weapon is our people. In other countries, there are people with the extraordinary talents, it's just our luck so many of them came here to try their hand at a new way of life, so we had more concentrated talent -- people of all races and ethnicities working together as Americans. In fact, so many Scots came here, that the genius of their engineering was practically wiped out.

I don't know why this is such a hard concept to understand.

Peter said...

I blame everything---and that means, everything---on the Protestant work ethic

I dunno, Barry, at the beginning they were too preoccupied with things like the elect, burning papists and witches, imposing theocracy, etc. to worry much about property and individual freedom. But once they made an alliance with Jewish mothers, the rest of the world hadn't a chance.

erp said...

Peter, who're they.?

Harry Eagar said...

Protestant work ethic: It's hot. I don't want to chop that cotton. Here's a bag of gold. Buy me some slaves

Susan's Husband said...

Clovis;

"My guess? War and geography. If those other Protestant nations in Europe weren't so invested in destroying each other, I don't think it was certain the US would take their lead"

That makes the British Empire somewhat hard to explain, as it rose to world dominance before the USA. Geography seems more significant to me - I think the USA surpassing the UK is more due to that than the European wars. Given the similarity of cultures I think of the USA as what the UK would have been had it had an entire continent.

erp said...

Wow Harry. That's all ya got?

Clovis e Adri said...

SH,

---
That makes the British Empire somewhat hard to explain, as it rose to world dominance before the USA.
---
I think it explains very well: the British were too a Prostestant country, and their geography protected them a bit more from the constant wars in the Continent. Yet, that was not protection enough when those wars got too big and too bitter - like WWI and WWII - and, no coincidence at all, that's when the USA takes their lead.

As for size, sure the US size counted a lot, but the British weren't only that little Island, their conquered territory covered land enough.

Harry Eagar said...

No, not all. My sensibilities were too delicate to mention potty training.

That Weber, what a card!

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

Well, I think Weber had a point.

But you could as well give us your take on what made the USA different somehow.

Barry Meislin said...

Ah, Peter... But they evolved ("They"? Yes, I suppose, they....).

They changed. They found better ways (more profitible ways?---Oops, the "P" word...)

Indeed they did (see the profound: "I don't want to chop that cotton. Here's a bag of gold. Buy me some slaves..."). How's that for innovation?

(Actually, some posit that it was "Yankee ingenuity"---in the form of the "cotton gin" that continued to make cotton profitable and which, hence, extended the South's "peculiar institution" for several more decades....)

Be that as it may, some forms of Protestantism have evolved into the religious equivalent of petrified wood; while others have progressed right into, practically, institutionalized agnosticism (albeit with funny clothes and occasionally decent music).

(And shall we talk about that bastion of European "Protestantism": Eu-soc? (The Catholics---"catholics"?---haven't done too badly from it either, nor have the Greek Orthos, well, if we overlook the past three years or so.)

But perhaps I doth protest too much.

File under: Change, baby, change AKA "everything old becomes new again"...(and vice-versa?)

erp said...

Bret, I've been distracted by boring life stuff and just remembered that I didn't reply to a comment you made about the little island out at the edge of the world, a comment which made my point about the reason we were and might be again successful, innovative, creative ...

We had an influx of those from all over the world willing to jump into the melting pot. England also had an influx, albiet of unwanted invaders from many different and diverse cultures who added their blood lines to the locals and quite a few of whom settled in for good while most of the rest of Europe were mired in a homogeneous population with little or no outside influences.

Harry, I also forgot to ask you the BURNING question. Where did those lazy protestant ethicists get pots of gold and to whom did they give the order to "go buy some slaves" ????

I eagerly await your answer

Hey Skipper said...

Oh, I forget this gem: It’s a question that applies to each and every one of us.

A philosophy professor penned that assault on English? Hmmm ...

Hey Skipper said...

And the editors at the NYT Op-Ed page thought it OK?

Harry Eagar said...

Good idiomatic English, in use for centuries.

The disproof of Weber was right in front of his eyes: No country was more Protestant than Sweden, yet it was the poorest country in Europe till the middle of the 19th c. Then it went very rapidly from worst to first, shedding Lutheranism in more or less proportion as it went.

erp, by exploiting peasants and hiring Catholic slave hunters.

Clovis, as I said earlier, the breakout of the West was due to Valla. I am not inclined to unifactorial explanations. Among the advantages of the US were open lands so that breakup of big estates was not an issue to be overcome; plenty of water power and early adoption of steam; and a rapacious citizenry that was ready to impoverish its children for immediate gain.

I doubt anyone here can name the leading American exports in the early years of expansion (it wasn't cotton).

It helped that, thanks to the subsidy by Britain of the US national defense, very little capital had to be wasted on the army and navy.

And, unlike almost everywhere else, the dead hand of religion was not holding down innovation.

erp said...

Harry, which peasants had pots of gold and who did the exploiting, where and when -- I am second to none in my disdain for Catholicism, but slavers? They were black Africans who sold them to Arabs who sold them at the slave markets in England. Nary a Catholic among them????

How about explaining yourself clearly? These hit-and-run forays might work in a newspaper column where readers are clueless, but we have a working knowledge of what it is of which we speak.

erp said...

Harry, perhaps the influsion of latin blood woke up the Swedes.

Harry Eagar said...

Actually, erp, because of your contempt for scholarship, you do not know anything about slavery. Catholics organized most of the trade.

You want to read Hugh Thomas, "The Slave Trade"

erp said...

Scholarship?

Why not tell us which Catholics and how they went about organizing it. I doubt the Arab slavers shared their bounty. Wait a sec. Just for the fun of it -- I just completed a complicated bit of library archiving and I'm tired of facts and figures, so, I googled Scholar Thomas.

One of the first hits up is a blurb in the NYT to wit: Hugh Thomas stakes a claim for one more: an obscure 1559 peace treaty between Philip II, the Hapsburg king of Spain, ...

The word, obscure jumped out at me and made me laugh out loud. Even the grey lady has your number, Harry.

Harry Eagar said...

Cateau-Cambresis would be one of the 2 or 3 most famous and significant treaties of the Renaissance. It is moderately surprising that the Times editor let that past, not surprising at all that erp never head of it.

Another famous agreement (not a treaty as such) would be the sale of the asiento to the Royal African Company. So there's part of your answer about Catholics.

I am sure you never heard of the asiento, as your remarks here and earlier make clear you know nothing of the subject of the slave trade.

erp said...

Harry, You make me laugh and for that I forgive your silly attempts to insult.

I must have missed the segue. When did we start talking about slavery in the middle ages?

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

The problem with your list is, those conditions were also present in other countries too, like Canada, Australia and, dare I say, Brazil.

If they were determinant, you are still far from addressing the different outcomes.

Harry Eagar said...

I wasn't talking about the middle ages. With every post, you reveal that you have no idea what you are talking about.

Size matters, Clovis. Proportionally, Canada and Australia did about as well and, notoriously Argentina did even better till 1900.

We could also note that Germany expanded very fast --outstripping the US in important fields.

American exceptionalism wasn't so exceptional.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] But if this fits a pattern of trying to expel the ranchers from the area... well, I don't think that's much different from anything communists were fond of, but writ smaller.

You are absolutely correct. And this sort of thing isn't the only example. About 15 years ago, the city of New London, Connecticut used eminent domain to transfer private property — homes — to a private developer.

The Supreme Court decision was so bad it inspired numerous state laws to limit the ability of governments to seize property for private development.

BTW — the confiscation was completely futile. It destroyed a neighborhood, and left nothing but waste ground in its wake.

We are from the government, we are here to help.

They could as well be talking about Brazil.

How much does private land ownership affect Brazil's economy and society?

[Susan's Husband:] If the government (or an appartchik member of it) can simply take your land / business / stock on basically a whim, only a fool would add value to any of those. … An excellent book on this point is "The Bell Jar" by Hernando De Soto.

Also, "Wealth and Poverty Among Nations" by David S. Landes.

How's this for an example of seizing your property on a whim: Argentina Makes Grab for [private] Pensions Amid Crisis:

BUENOS AIRES -- Hemmed in by the global financial squeeze and commodities slump, Argentina's leftist government has seemingly found a novel way to find the money to stay afloat: cracking open the piggybank of the nation's private pension system.

If I was an Argentinian, why would I ever save a dime where the government, with unsatiated cupidity, stampeding incompetence and pervasive corruption, could simply steal it?

And, if the government can simply seize property, where is the incentive to restrain cupidity, corral incompetence, and turf the corrupt?

[AOG:] To a large extent because of lack of private property.

[Clovis:] Anyone trying a single factor for that answer should take care with his oversimplifications.


Ordinarily, I'd completely agree. In this case, however, I'm with AOG. The lack of private property isn't a single factor explanation, it is a meta-factor explanation. That is to say, the lack of private property is a consequence of a great many factors all of which impede, where they do not destroy, personal initiative.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] So ultimately you place all your country' success and wealth on Henry VIII's lust? Pretty amazing.

Well, that and the English Channel.

(I'm being serious, BTW. It is amazing how contingent our circumstances are.)

[erp:] Clovis, I place our success and wealth on our people most of whom came here with little more than the clothes on their backs …

Further to our recent immigration argument, you are on to something here.

(Trust me, I have a point here.) With regard to military affairs, there's a saying: Amateurs talk tactics, professionals, logistics, and Harry, bunk. Okay, I might have added that last bit.

Here's the point: in military operations, there are basically two kinds of logistics — push and pull. Using Normandy as an example, the logisticians made there best guess as to what would be consumed during the initial days of the invasion, and shoved as much of it as they could at the beach. Unfortunately, that is a very wasteful way of doing business; invariably, there will be too much of some things in the wrong place, and not enough of other things in the right place.

Pull logistics, on the other hand, is more like how we order things. We request what we want. The system delivers what we want, but at the price of time.

So … finally approaching my point, the kind of immigration you are talking about is pull migration. Potential immigrants assess their current circumstances, and their best guess as to their circumstances if they emigrate. Those that do so are very likely to be able to defer immediate gratification, have above average self confidence, and, most importantly, a desire to become part of the society to which they are emigrating.

In contrast, what is going on with the huge wave of immigrants to Europe and, thanks to oceans but not at all to politicians, is push migration. More than a million people wanting to get the hell out of Damascus or die, and not a heck of a lot of a given damn about where they are going to end up, except for the place has lots of freebies for which they have to do nothing.

The result: horror shows.

Peter, why is my contention that we invented private property absurd?

Because we didn't. Most animals, and probably even plants, protect what they can. That is private property, to the extent they can protect it.

What humans did invent is a distant source of force that protected property from interlopers. And northern Europeans got there first.

[Clovis:] Let's take the Protestant work ethic as a definitely helping trait: what then explains the US surpassing other Protestant nations?

Oceans. Neolithic inhabitants. A difficult, but not too difficult, climate. Navigable rivers. No tsetse flies. Easily accessible minerals and energy supplies. Size.

Oh, and the Protestant work ethic, without which this bounty of contingent plenty would have gone to waste.

erp said...

Harry, :-) I thought maybe you were because you weren't talking about the subject at hand... and why not tell us why immigrants were clamoring to come to the US, not other Argentina, even in the 19th c. ?

Skipper, I was including northern European and Anglo immigrants as the inventors. Animals don't have legal ownership and lose their property to younger and stronger contenders... also all the countries south of our border also have natural resources, etc. They just didn't have the people who could take advantage of them for all the reasons I've previously stated.

Harry, yes I've met many recent immigrants, but they all came here legally. I may have encountered some illegals, but they had the good sense to melt into the crowd and not run around grabbing at girls' underwear or strapping explosives on their children's chests.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Protestant work ethic: It's hot. I don't want to chop that cotton. Here's a bag of gold. Buy me some slaves.

Well, of course, dear. Because that one sentence says everything there is to be said about the Protestant work ethic.

Oh, wait. I meant the complete opposite of that.

Harry, in what universe does that comment amount to anything other than chimpanzees flinging poo, except that it is an insult to both chimps and their organic extrusions?

[Barry:] They changed. They found better ways (more profitible ways?---Oops, the "P" word...)

What they found was completely counterintuitive, and directly opposite of class warfare: the more yo have, the more I have.

[harry:] Good idiomatic English, in use for centuries.

No, Harry. That is embarrassing English, which has been in use for centuries. It is the sort of wordy cruft that attends the negligent and academics. Given the former population, I can see why journalists would excuse it.

The disproof of Weber was right in front of his eyes: No country was more Protestant than Sweden, yet it was the poorest country in Europe till the middle of the 19th c. Then it went very rapidly from worst to first, shedding Lutheranism in more or less proportion as it went.

Hmmm. In previous lives, I have had to deal with both proofs, and disproofs. Clearly, you understand neither.

You want to read Hugh Thomas, "The Slave Trade"

I think I have once or twice suggested that trotting out, like cute dogs and dressed up ponies, historians' names and book titles doth not an argument make.

Just so here. I googled [Hugh Thomas "The Slave Trade"]. Sure enough, one of the first links was directly to the publisher, and a teaser: I became interested in a Basque, Zulueta, the last great slave trader of Cuba … but who by the 1830s was a byword for iniquity in the minds of the British naval patrol trying to prevent the slave trade …

That sentence does not sit at all well next to Protestant work ethic: It's hot. I don't want to chop that cotton. Here's a bag of gold. Buy me some slaves.

Nor does this, from the NYT review: But as anyone who studies the slave trade in depth quickly learns, the larger picture is much more complex, and more morally ambiguous, than such gruesome imagery suggests. Apparently good and moral people had their hands in it, and its collaborators were legion -- of all colors, religions and nationalities. Moreover, since the slave trade carried some 15 million people, touched four continents and lasted better than 400 years, one can find anecdotes of just about every sort of event and attitude imaginable to illustrate it.

Maybe, although I am filled with dread, this time you will take on board that a name and a title don't amount to an argument. In addition to dread, I am filled with wonder that you can't be fussed to supply a link to a book review, no matter how biased. (Which, to be fair, is not an aspersion that seems appropriate for this particular NYT review.)

Hey Skipper said...

[harry:] Cateau-Cambresis would be one of the 2 or 3 most famous and significant treaties of the Renaissance.

As erp noted, the review said Cateau-Cambr├ęsis was an obscure 1559 peace treaty between Philip II, the Hapsburg king of Spain, and Henry II, the Valois king of France, that concluded a decades-old struggle for control of Italy.

Please be precise. On what grounds is C-C "… one of the two or three most famous and significant treaties of the Renaissance"?

After all, if you are going to get snotty, it is a real plus to have something other than, well, nothing, to go on.

Having done that, which you won't, because Harry's memhole, explain in some detail what the asiento to the Royal African Company has to do with Catholicism. Pro-tip: just because Spain was Catholic doesn't mean the asiento was motivated, or justified, by Catholicism. Unless, of course, you can show how it was.

Until then, there is no part of an answer about Catholics, and there is rather a whiff that you know nothing about any subject except that which either conforms to your ideology, or that you make up.

Harry Eagar said...

Well, the asiento was a gift of 'his most Catholic majesty,'so there's that. However, I did not say anything about Catholicism but that Catholics organized the trade. This happens to be a historical fact, retold at length in Thomas' book. I recommend that book, over others, because it is the first one-volume study to comprehend the scholarship of the postwar period, which corrected a great many myths. Also, because Thomas is one of my favorite historians.

I guess if you are willing to swallow whole a review that claims that slave trading attracted 'good and moral people,' you will swallow anything. I have read Thomas's book, and that was not the conclusion that Thomas drew about the trade.

http://www.britannica.com/event/Peace-of-Cateau-Cambresis

I dunno, a treaty that ended a war of two generations length between the greatest powers of Europe seems kinda significant to me. That it was obscure to a Times reviewer doe not signify anything beyond the fact that the reviewer hadn't heard of it. Students of Renaissnce history certainly all know of it.

I do not understand your objections to in-depth references. I could summarize Thomas, but then you'd object to that. I thought a reference to the most respected conservative historian writing in English in the late 20th c. would carry a little weight.

But, no, apparently statements by erp, who never heard of the asiento, or the Royal African Company, are superior.

erp said...

Skipper, I don't think Harry makes things up. I think it's a case of knowing the words, but not hearing the music or even knowing it exists.

erp said...

Harry, you haven't the faintest clue what I know.

You apparently can't see why this statement makes no sense.

However, I did not say anything about Catholicism but that Catholics organized the trade.

Why mention that these villains were Catholic if their religion played no part in their dire deeds. Also, Scholar Thomas, a conservative, is one of your favorite historians. You are, of course, using the word "conservative" as a synonym for fascist as is your wont.

Hey Skipper said...

[harry:] Well, the asiento was a gift of 'his most Catholic majesty,'so there's that.

No, Harry, there most definitely is not that. In order for that to be about Catholics, then there has to be something about Catholicism that created that result. Otherwise, and this should be readily apparent to even to those with a glancing acquaintance with logic, you are trafficking in mere correlation. You would be on just as firm ground asserting the asiento was the consequence of Mediterranean climate, or cuisine famous for paella.

However, I did not say anything about Catholicism but that Catholics organized the trade.

Nonsense on a pogo stick. Erp clearly, as in crystal clearly, referred to Catholicism: I am second to none in my disdain for Catholicism, but slavers?

People who spoke Spanish organized the slave trade. People living west of the Pyrenees organized the slave trade. People who invented paella organized the slave trade. People who had to live under the yoke of Islam organized the slave trade.

All of those are equally true, and have the same amount of explanatory power: Zeeee-roh. Nil. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Squantomoto.

Lots of things are historical facts, including what Thomas wrote in his book. Which, absent further evidence from you, does not indict Catholicism.

To be absolutely clear, I'm not saying Catholicism cannot have had a religious rational for the slave trade, only that I am not aware of it, and you haven't provided it.

Given your track record, I am willing to bet that rational doesn't exist.

I guess if you are willing to swallow whole a review that claims that slave trading attracted 'good and moral people,' you will swallow anything.

Here is what I am willing to swallow whole: that morality is contingent upon our awareness. So far as I know, you aren't a vegan. Vegans claim meat is murder. If they are right, that cattle, pigs, and chickens are morally equivalent to humans, then they are right. You just don't know it yet.

That doesn't make you bad, or immoral. Rather, it makes your moral decisions a prisoner of your times and awareness.

If you insist on imposing your modern awareness upon people whose world view is clearly impossible for you to envisage, then you are the fool.

Of course, since you are the expert in all things Thomas, you will be able to find ample examples where the reviewer got this completely backwards.

You won't.

Hey Skipper said...

I dunno, a treaty that ended a war of two generations length between the greatest powers of Europe seems kinda significant to me.

News flash: what is significant to you about two generations that lived 25 generations ago isn't sufficient proof that it should be significant to anyone else.

To the modern world, the Treaty of Westphalia is significant. To anyone else except specialists in Renaissance history, axe grinders and gratuitous insulters, the Peace of Cateau-Cambresis is seven syllables of WHOGAS.

Unless, of course, you can demonstrate how C-C is relevant to anything beyond the history of the Renaissance.

You can't.

I do not understand your objections to in-depth references.

A walk through your in depth references would scarcely get the soles of my feet wet. Trotting out a name and title demonstrates nothing. (Indeed, in a previous thread you referenced some Caribbean historian, no doubt excellent in all regards, except he hadn't said a word that you had imposed upon him. Kind of like Texas textbooks don't say what you say they say.)

If you accurately summarize Thomas, and if Thomas's argument is sound — even if I don't agree with it — then I would have no objections. But you haven't made even so much as a negligent gesture towards the former, never mind demonstrating the latter.

Trotting out the name of "the most respected conservative historian writing in English in the late 20th C" is nothing more than a pathetic appeal to authority. And, almost certainly, it is less, because I have no reason to believe that your authority said anything authoritative on what you authoritatively said he said.

But, no, apparently statements by erp, who never heard of the asiento, or the Royal African Company, are superior.

That is an interesting philosophical point. If my contentions are true, that you are utterly mistaken, then your assertions have no basis in reality. They are so many nulls. Which raises the question: what does it mean to be superior to nulls?

erp said...

I just googled, ponder nulls and the poor dear came up with:

Did you mean: ponden mills

Just about wraps up Harry's arguments.

Hey Skipper said...

Which raises the question: what does it mean to be superior to nulls?

erp, that question is too hard for google (yes, I know you know that). SFAICT, and I am perfectly willing to be convinced otherwise, Harry is trafficking in something that is above usual difficult to comprehend: the concept of nullity. It is like zero, but even less so: zero isn't nothing, but null is.

Which is why I'm stumped.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

----
How much does private land ownership affect Brazil's economy and society?
----

Probably very much, but not exactly in the way you or AOG think and describe.

I've written here before much about our past, so let me fast forward to the present:

(i) Nearly half of the productive land out there is in the hands of relatively few people, in the form of large estates. Such large estates tend to be much more productive due to the economics of large scale agriculture. It follows that Brazil is the fourth greatest exporter of agricultural produces in the world, and quite ironically our inequality at that now works to our economic advantadge.

(ii) Only 10% of the population still lives in farms/out of cities, so 90% of the relevance of your question rests on how land is distributed in cities. That's a tough question to answer, because Brazil is so diverse and inhomogeneous, but an ineresting number I've found is that of every 1 million houses built, 70% are in illegal terms (they don't have the ownership of the land *formalized*).

But mind you, it does not mean that 70% of those are in some kinf of stolen land, for there is a huge lack of formalization at many levels, even at higher end houses. IOW, you may very well be in some land that you have bought from someone in honest terms, but you don't have the permit or any other bureaucratic thing for construction, and you don't care, and you still build the house there - that's a very common description for a good part of those 70% "illegal".

If I needed to bet, I'd say that, in biggest cities, less than 25% of the people are in truly illegal (meaning stolen from public areas) terms, but I have not even how to justify that guess for you. In the middle-size cities and smaller ones (where favelas are less common) it is probably far less.

And, to what refers the situation of people who have their property in legal terms, that's a very secure thing from the legal point of view, at least in cities. In agricultural lands, where the owner may never appear and someone may come to claim your land by living over it, you may lose it after 15 years - it is called "usucapiao" in our Law books.

So compare that with the statements below:

"[AOG] If the government (or an appartchik member of it) can simply take your land / business / stock on basically a whim, only a fool would add value to any of those."

"[Skipper] Ordinarily, I'd completely agree. In this case, however, I'm with AOG. The lack of private property isn't a single factor explanation, it is a meta-factor explanation. That is to say, the lack of private property is a consequence of a great many factors all of which impede, where they do not destroy, personal initiative."


So, it would be quite misguided to believe we "lack private property". If you have it, you will hardly lose it.

What we have is a great many people (i) without their peoperties in legalized terms (again, often when foul play was never involved in acquiring it) and (ii) other many people who went to cities and stole public (or less often, private too) land to live, hence the favelas.

The above factors surely limit the capacity of those people to borrow from banks using ther assets as collateral, but other than that I think Hernando de Soto's (hence you and AOG) would be wrong to think in the above terms in regard to Brazil: there is a lack of people with private property, but surely not a lack of the concept of it.

erp said...

It's the big one all right. Like death. What would it be like to not wake up?
Everything you know would be the same except you aren't there or anywhere.

Sorry, not being morbid, it's just something that pops in on the nonce.

Glad you have time while zooming high in the sky to clarify issues for us.��

Will there be a post on your African hiatus?

erp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
erp said...

Clovis, stating the obvious, the question of ownership needs to be legalized before any other reforms can make sense -- probably from the bottom up. Yikes what a nightmare.

Has this been handled successfully anywhere?

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

To the purpose of a discussion on Libertarianism, there is an interesting point of view about all that.

It refers to the illegal-but-not, i.e. the ones where the owner is de-facto owner because he bought or inherited it in honest terms, but never formalized the more bureaucratic papers within the city bureaus.

From a legal point of view, they are in a very safe possession - no one, including the State, can take it from them. From the point of view of the Market, he can easily sell the house to someone else in a private contract. And the new owner will be the de facto owner and hardly have a problem with it (unless he was scammed by someone selling the same house to multiple people at the same time - doesn't happen often, but it is possible).

So this is actually the Libertarian dream, isn't it? It is a whole market where private contracts within the parts, with no participation of the State, rules the business.

The banks though are not part of this business, they never finance a house with no formal (State sanctioned and all) papers. Other than that, it is a Free Market.

So very roughly 1/2 of the real estate in cities are 100% formalized (and can be a collateral for banks), anothar 1/4 is illegal-but-not and is part of the Market in realtively solid basis, and there is the final 1/4 that are truly-illegal (because stolen from someone, usually the State), for there is a Law that prohibits the legalization of stolen public land, so those houses are in a kind of sub-prime market (and they are also usually poor places that would be sub-prime anyway).

erp said...

Clovis, that's whyI don't like libertarianism, although I understand why they don't like the term conservative which has been trashed by the media as knuckle dragging bigots. That said, there needs to be basic legalities, not the Wild West. Banks are in the loan business and without the collateral of the property, many people would never be able to buy a home to live in or any property for investment. As for deductions for interest payments on income tax, if t were up to me, I'd rather not get crony capitalism n the form of the Feds and the banks. It leads to the mess of the post Frankie era.

That said, I gather you don't see this as the mess I do?

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "The banks though are not part of this business..."

Why not?

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

No deductions for interest payments on income tax exist in Brazil. Actually this is the first I hear about the idea.

And I very much see the mess it is, Erp, I need to live with it on a daily basis. Try to think of it as one of many faces of a culture too informal mixed with a heavy and incompetent govt, and I did not even include the corrupt part of it yet.


Bret,

Because the lack of papers probably give them too much of a risk exposure, which is the same reason I prefer not to buy such property. Also, they are all doing too fine operating in an environment of so high interests as ours, they already make tons of money without any hard work, so why bother?

erp said...

Years ago all interest payments (depending on certain factors ...) were tax deductions even those on credit cards. Then that was stopped, but I think interest on mortgages is still tax deductible. This was so tax payers could finance bank profits and led to horrible collaboration between banks and the feds to lend money to those who could never hope to repay them because they were guaranteed by us.

Today I had my teeth cleaned as I do every three months and found out that the law now says that I must have a dentist check me out once a year or the hygienist can't clean my teeth for fear of losing her license. The poor kid, I don't think she was prepared to hear my take on this latest assault on my life. I'll let them rot out before I comply even if they throw it in as a freebie.

Don Quixote had nothing on me.

Harry Eagar said...

I see (again) you don't know anything about the slave trade. When I said Catholics, I meant Catholics, not Spaniards. There were many others: Byzantines, Genoese, Portuguese, Venetians.

(Warning: before you point out the obvious error in that sentence, make sure you know about the slave trade

Hey Skipper said...

I see, again, that you trot out meaningless nonsense.

Rather than repeat myself, I just cut and paste what I already said:

In order for [slavery] to be about Catholics, then there has to be something about Catholicism that created that result. Otherwise, and this should be readily apparent to even to those with a glancing acquaintance with logic, you are trafficking in mere correlation. You would be on just as firm ground asserting the asiento was the consequence of Mediterranean climate, or cuisine famous for paella.

Your response? Double down.

The entire region you are talking about, the one closest to Africa, was Catholic at the time. My point still stands: you are invoking correlation as cause without so much as explaining what the cause might be.

If you can do it, then by all means, go ahead.

But I can't help but notice you have suddenly dropped the C-C treaty like a progressive faced with a math problem, and suddenly Thomas's relevance to anything going on here is SQUIRREL!

erp said...

Harry, rather than go through all that tedious googling, I've found that it's more expeditious to just take whatever you say and turn it on its head for the truth.

Oh, and what Skipper said.

Harry Eagar said...

erp asked a question, 'Where did those lazy protestant ethicists get pots of gold and to whom did they give the order to "go buy some slaves" ????' and I answered that they hired Catholic slave hunters.

Now, that's a fact. They were not Protestant slave hunters, or (as erp imagines) Arab Moslems. They were Catholic. It was not that they all ate paella. What they had in common was religion. But the point was, the Protestant workers did not actually do the work of finding workers to exploit, they turned to non-Protestants to, first, find workers, and then, to non-Protestant workers gto do the work. Where is your Protestant work ethic in all that?

erp said...

Harry, please be specific. Renaissance era Catholics, Conquistadores, Equatorial African Catholics??? Many of the cotton growers were also Catholic. Where do they fit in?

Don't refer us to another "scholar" or "historian." I'm old and don't know if I can survive agreeing with the NYT again anytime soon.

Tell us exactly what Catholics, please DO name names did to whom, again names please, from approximately 1550 C.E. to the present and don't leave out how Catholics are managing Moslem slavery right now at the beginning of 2016.

BTW - Where is the rape capital of the world? I have hardly been able to sleep -- the anticipation of learning the answer to that question is so exciting.

Hey Skipper said...

[harry:] erp asked a question, 'Where did those lazy protestant ethicists get pots of gold and to whom did they give the order to "go buy some slaves" ????' and I answered that they hired Catholic slave hunters.

Harry, you didn't even understand the question, as your hassaffed "answer" proves. (Hint: the religious beliefs of the slave hunters, no matter what they might have been, is as relevant as, when asked how fast a car is going, answering with its color.)

Harry Eagar said...

Who was doing the work? Not Protestants.

They happened to be Catholics. A fact of history which does not require an explanation. It's just there.

Port Moresby, erp

erp said...

... Thanks for the tip Harry, put I don't drink alcohol.

Skipper, your example is what passes for "scholarship" on the left. See Harry's bizarre comment above.

Afterall if the color stated is the correct color, it passes with flying colors (sorry, I couldn't help myself). :-)

Hey Skipper said...

Who was doing the work? Not Protestants.

You still haven't sussed the question, and your pronunciamento that Protestants did not work beggars belief.

Oh, and SQUIRREL!

(In order for [slavery] to be about Catholics, then there has to be something about Catholicism that created that result. Otherwise, and this should be readily apparent to even to those with a glancing acquaintance with logic, you are trafficking in mere correlation. You would be on just as firm ground asserting the asiento was the consequence of Mediterranean climate, or cuisine famous for paella.)

Hey Skipper said...

[Hey Skipper:] How much does private land ownership affect Brazil's economy and society?
----
[Clovis:] Probably very much, but not exactly in the way you or AOG think and describe.

I've written here before much about our past, so let me fast forward to the present:


Apologies, you have indeed written about this before; sorry I made you repeat yourself.

Nearly half of the productive land out there is in the hands of relatively few people, in the form of large estates.

US farms have been consolidating for some time. How much that is due to economies of scale, or our cockamamie agriculture policies, I don't know.

… but an ineresting number I've found is that of every 1 million houses built, 70% are in illegal terms (they don't have the ownership of the land *formalized*).

Back when I subscribed to The Economist, I read an article that ascribes significant blame to problems affecting developing countries to widespread lack of formal title. Seems like a chicken-egg problem.

And that the only way out is to rely upon is exactly what McBrayer derides: the past as an explanation for property. Whoever owns the property, and can demonstrate legal acquisition, gets formal title.

I'm sure it can't be that easy, though.

erp said...

Skipper, I came upon this problem sometime back and did a little digging. Since we can't go back to the Garden of Eden and trace who owned what at the very beginning, there has to be an arbitrary date to start the process. Something like Stop the Music. Whoever can show legal ownership, leaves the stage. All others get in line for the first round of legalization. Been in the family for 50+ years, you're legal and so on until the hotly disputed properties are up and then participants must agree that the adjudication will be acceptable and no further impediments can be brought forward. That done, only the hard-core will be left for panels of those with impeccable credentials to sift and sort. Very painful, but without it, places like Brazil (sorry Clovis, that's how we spell it in the only language with which I am fluent) will never reach that potential the nuns told us about in Geography class 70 years ago.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Gee, had your nuns ever got something right?

erp said...

Clovis, what do you think they were wrong about?

IMO they were right about everything, including the unlimited potential of Brazil. How were they to predict the left turn the whole world, with few exceptions, :-) took after the war.

Remember I these classes were during the war - I was graduated from grammar school in 1948 just a few years after the war was over.

Harry Eagar said...

I did not say no Protestants ever worked. I did point out an actual historical fact: A very large fraction of the labor that inaugurated the western economic domination of the planet was not done by Protestants.