|Wealth and Want|
|... because democracy alone is not enough to produce widely shared prosperity.|
|Home||Essential Documents||Themes||All Documents||Authors||Glossary||Links||Contact Us|
Ludwig Von Mises
Dan Sullivan: Are you a Real Libertarian, or a ROYAL Libertarian?
Fortunately, the bias toward royal libertarianism has been shaken off by many of the philosophical leaders of the party. Founder David Nolan supports land value tax as the only tax that does not fall on productivity, and the late Karl Hess often described land value tax as the one tax to levy until the state could be abolished entirely. It is mostly the von Miseans, the Objectivists, and the wishful thinkers who adopt the royal rationalization that they can hoard all the land to themselves with impunity. ...
Von Mises misses
Ludwig von Mises acknowledged in several places wholly unique distinctions between land and capital, but in his zeal to denounce land value tax, stated that,
Classical economy erred when it assigned land a distinct place in its theoretical scheme. Land is, in its economic sense, a factor of production, and the laws determining the formation of the prices of land are the same that determine the formation of other forms of production.
Or, paraphrasing of Jay Leno, go ahead and buy up the land. We'll make more. The difference between land and capital is huge, and explains why the cost of silicon chips goes down as demand goes up, while the cost of Silicon Valley goes up as demand goes up. There is no natural monopolization of capital, but, with state sanction, there is monopolization of land. But von Mises would sooner obscure these distinctions in socialist fashion than to embrace a proposal he mistakenly thought to be socialist.
In his first edition of Human Action, von Mises attacked land value tax as based on the socialist principle that legitimate property flows only from labor. But that is also a libertarian principle, a classical liberal principle, an Austrian principle, and even the von Misean principle behind private property! So, by the third edition, von Mises changed his text to read that land taxers claim legitimate property flows only from manual labor.
This is much more logically consistent, but factually incorrect. It is a correct assessment of what many socialists believe, but it is not a correct assessment of what land taxers believe. Henry George, the most prominent land taxer of all, wrote in his magnum opus, Progress and Poverty,
Thus the term labor includes all human exertion in the production of wealth, and wages, being that part of the produce which goes to labor, includes all reward for such exertion. There is, therefore, in the political-economic sense of the term, no distinction as to the kind of labor, or as to whether its reward is received through an employer or not. ...
George also defended the ownership of property that flows from the employment of capital.
Perhaps von Mises was biased by
his location in Europe, where
classical liberalism had not fared as well as in America. He might
also have first seen land value tax in the Communist Manifesto, and
not realized that it was there as a socialist ploy to co-opt support
from classical liberalism. (Marx expressed contempt for land value
tax as a reform in its own right, and openly stated that his support
of it was only to draw people to what he really wanted, which was to
control capital.) If this is where von Mises got his first exposure
to the idea, it would not be surprising to see him close his mind to
it.... Read the whole piece
to email this page to a friend: right click, choose "send"
Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper