Common Sense to Anybody But Rothbardian Libertarians

“[T]he public power is entrusted to [princes] that they may be the guardians of justice…. [W]hatever is taken by violence of this kind is not the spoils of robbery, since it is not contrary to justice.” –St. Thomas Aquinas, Bomb-Throwing Alinskyite Communist

It is mysterious to me how words like “redistribution of wealth” have taken on the same stench as “running puppies through meat grinders”. Virtually all the state has ever done is take some of your money and redistribute it for some common good. That’s called “taxation”. There can, of course, be unjust redistribution of wealth, as when that state grabs your money and uses it to bail out some rich crony who has decided he is too big to fail after he mismanaged his affairs, or when the state spends it on bridges to nowhere or hammers for $4000 a pop. But mere redistribution is not thereby shown to be an evil. It’s simply what the state does.

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  • Ye Olde Statistician

    Try the Online Etymological Dictionary and its associated standard dictionary. Keep in mind, too, that cultural features are always more complex than a sentence or two in an argumentum ab dictionaria. In particular, capitalism is four dimensional. It has a time. It takes more than private ownership — a machinist is likely to own his own tools, and even a common laborer is likely to own his own body. But we live in a world in which such “ownership” is hemmed in with rules and regulations, which is why the whole notion is problematical. I refer you again to Lukacs’ book on the passing of the modern age. The old time capitalists of the Gilded Age would regard most of their Late Modern epigones with contempt.

    • TMLutas

      Etymology may very well have interesting things to say about the origins of words. However, to prefer the etymological dictionary to all the standard dictionaries and just about every economics text out there is an exercise in hiding meaning.

      Perhaps you might go back to the etymological dictionary and click on the blue link. It goes to and a perfectly servicable basic definition of capitalism. I include it below

      cap·i·tal·ism [kap-i-tl-iz-uhm] – noun

      an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        Oddly enough, I did click that link and incorporated it into my answer. I only caution against reliance of a dictionary for a full understanding an an historical phenomenon. A complete understanding must address both “private” and “ownership.” If your mortgage is not paid off, so you actually own your house? What if covenants and zoning laws restrict what you can do with “your” property? Is a publicly traded corporation “private” or “public”?

        • TMLutas

          The difference between us is that I am discussing economics and you are discussing history, and apparently not economic history but etymological history.

          Since this is a thread on economics, I hope you understand my frustration.

  • Benjamin2.0

    I wish I could make this reply travel backward in time. One should only question TOF’s use of a term with great fear and trembling, and with centuries of preparation.

    Let’s see if a burst of chronotons can get this post to travel back three days. I haven’t read further than this, but I know where this will inevitably go barring a miracle of Star Trek science.

    • TMLutas

      The term capitalism was a label applied by its enemies and adopted as generally useful no matter its origins. It was not, and has never been used in the modern age in economics as anything other than the private ownership of the means of production.

      The care, husbanding and growth of capital is more properly termed stewardship.