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An American's Problem With Property

Property is a state defended right that entitles us to compel actions from one another. For instance, the State can declare someone as indebted to someone else who claims property damages.  Our Legal Tender, Federal Reserve Notes, exemplify state enforced property-right as they are "payable for all debts, public and private" of dollars, our favorite construct of exchange-value. This modern money (and the banking and credit systems built around it) allows the manufacturers of debt to own our common means of exchange even as we use it. Owners exact a tribute for it's use in interest, much as our absentee landlords exact tribute in rent for the use of their property. As a result, those of us who live paycheck-to-paycheck (laborers) are compelled to pay tribute to those with property-rights over the land and money that we, the Common, use to work together. We pay tribute to the owner-class to exchange our ideas, goods, and services.

Property-right found perhaps its fullest expression in the Roman concept dominium, essentially absolute-ownership, with the right to use and abuse it as the owner saw fit. Noble Roman citizens applied this to whatever the State would allow: land, goods, gold, and even people. Natural self-interest makes ownership, a legal form of dominance, universally appealing to those who seek power. It should be unsurprising that the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire, as the richest and most powerful Romans thirsted to be gods among men: their will be done across the known world.

The United States was created by capitalists, and to them, the pursuit of property was the pursuit of happiness, as the Lockean phrasing of our Declaration of Independence elegantly illustrates. On the backs of their slaves, they produced the greatest abundance of "cash crops" the world had ever seen, and they went to war with the greatest empire on earth to protect their perceived right to future profits. Their thirst for property culminated in Manifest Destiny: an entire continent of rich lands virtually begging to be owned by the right men: rich, white men. God clearly smiled upon our conquest of the savages. We riddled them with our bullets and diseases and praised ourselves for our efficiency. The road to American profits from sea to shining sea was paved on a trail of tears.

Eventually, our power-elite engaged us in a civil-war, brother killing brother, because the powerful in the South seceded to avoid realizing imminent economic losses caused by legislation friendly to the industrialized North. They also feared particularly devastating social reform spreading across "free" societies which would rob them of their finest form of property and capital: slaves. The North's industrial strength relied on supply from the agrarian South, and the fortunes of those in the industrial North would have been crippled by the economic interferences to trade caused by the secession, and thus Lincoln resorted to total war in order to preserve Our Sacred Union.

Following the Civil war, the combined military might of the forcibly re-United States rivaled that of the greatest imperial powers on the planet. We underwent a Reconstruction, which emboldened us to exhibit the full spirit of the Monroe Doctrine as we fought and won the Spanish-American war. The Land of the Free elected a President who believed in the foreign policy stance: "speak softly and carry a big stick". And soon, our struggle to "make the world safe for Democracy" in the World Wars provided us a stage to show off the size of our stick: the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed our willingness to use it.

As the rest of the world regarded us with awe, the most perfect enemy arose for the "freedom-loving capitalists" of the United States: the United Soviet Socialist Republics. These Socialists were determined to show the errors of the selfish capitalist pigs. State-socialism's strongest form, driven by power, not equality, did so by ruling their people with an iron-fist behind the iron-curtain. The Cold War, the ultimate capitalist-communist conflict, allowed us to show our dedication to a capitalists use for democratic principles: overthrowing whichever government necessary to keep their economies friendly to American Interests.

In the name of economic freedom, we have built more than 1000 military bases across the globe to protect the interests of the capitalist economic model. That model relies on state-enforced debt obligations, with interest, for the use of money to facilitate exchange amongst the People. The sinews of this military muscle are the dollars recognized by the Federal Reserve who loans the money into existence, with interest, for many purposes. The creation of debts allows our government to pay for our military, amongst other things, with future tax-dollars. The interest on this national debt is a payment that must be paid or the house of cards falls apart as the elite stop receiving their promised tribute.

The original point of picking gold for money was its properties resisting decay. Then as a byproduct of becoming money, gold became a form of optional supply, a stock which did not decay. Supply of money meets the demand of goods and services, or the stock of wares, available in the market. Note that, since gold/money does not decay, it can be held indefinitely, unlike most goods and services which have a time dependent availability for use. Goods and products will decay, as will the body of the laborer who cannot recoup the time in his life when he is not paid. If the exchange of money is based upon the idea of equal value, the nature of money's ability to hold "value" quickly becomes advantageous over the goods and services laborers can bring to the market. Where as the laborer is pressured to provide his services now, the money-holding capitalist is not. His dollar this year is a dollar next year.

When we let go of the gold standard by Nixon's executive order, dollars plainly were worth what the people using them decided they were worth; they are tokens with the ability to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. Our freedom to buy what we please, when we please is the actualization of the American dream. It's the sophistication of our division of labor that grants us these blessings. The sophistication of our "financial services" property system is a parasite on the People. The will of the capitalist allows him to make money scarce when prices fall, as he does not wish to realize losses, causing prices to fall further. When prices rise, the capitalist will use and loan his money abundantly, further increasing rising in prices, further maximizing his profits. These are self-reinforcing phenomena which allow capitalists to profit so effectively off of the pump and dump, boom-bust business cycle which history has been shown to repeat.

The pursuit of property and the pursuit of money are really the same thing: the pursuit of power. The pursuit of power is necessarily intertwined with the political affairs, as humans are a political species. So when we look at what our political systems are used for we should ask ourselves what Cicero would have asked: who benefits?

Property-right as implemented by today's States, has created a system where people's access to shelter and food is dependent on the market rate of tribute in rent that can be demanded by landlords owning the homes and farmland. Access to the means of exchange to purchase our own property, is controlled by those who demand rent, in the form of interest, to use it to buy property. The division of labor requires accepting money, and the availability of money is dependent on the whim(profits) of the capitalist. When the capitalists cease to profit off of trade in the market due to the abundance of goods and services available, they quit spending. Prices start dropping due to a sudden disequilibrium caused by the vacuum in the money supply, and the benefits and prosperity sustained by sharing the wealth vanish with it. Suddenly access to good employment is also more dear, allowing the capitalist to renegotiate his wages and further increase his future profits.

The Great Recession was imminent once housing prices skyrocketed due to an abundance of loans given out for the purpose of home ownership. These were bad loans, just like the loans to buy stock on speculation before the Great Depression were bad loans. After the crash, these bad loans offered in times of boom entitled the capitalist and the landlord to the little property and money the speculating laborer was able to accumulate in the boom. The State assists in the seizure of the assets of the debtor to assist the "injured" party in recovering the intentionally bad loan. Note how this extortion, foreclosure, hinges on the State's enforcement of the control of property, money, and debt. We made housing loans more abundant for the sake of increasing affordable home ownership, but this simply acted as a signal for speculators to get in while the prices were rising, get out to cause them to fall, and then buy them back up as "rental investments".

America, you live in the game of monopoly. The landlord and capitalist own your means of survival. They own your land, and they own your money. You are even in their debt. You live paycheck-to-paycheck to avoid the shame of defaulting on that debt or being evicted from your home. The only way to repay it is to work for another capitalist, to roll the dice, punch in at 8 am, get your 200 dollars for going (if you're lucky) and try to survive your way around the board. We know that most of us can't afford to stay at the hotels on Boardwalk, yet we don't question why property-right and our monetary system should entitle the men to profit off of making life more costly, and goods more scarce for another men.

What does it serve us, the People, to support the property-right of our aristocracy? Why do we recognize their rights to exploit us and our shared resources? We need to reclaim the purpose of society, not for private profit, but for the common good. We must reform money, so that we see it as a means of exchange, not a means in itself. We must reform property, where ownership is a social responsibility, not a means of demanding rent from your neighbors.

If our economic model doesn't provide incentive to share our wealth, we simply won't. The poverty in these times of plenty is proof of that. We must have an economic model where there are mutual profits from the division of labor; to accomplish this we must rid ourselves of the liquidity preference: we must eliminate the advantages of those holding money over those using it. Likewise, we must rid ourselves of archaic notions of property-right. If we do not, intellectual property will extract profits from the technological progress of the information age that would make the robber barons blush.

To be equals, we must agree that what is mine should be able to be mine. There can be no fair agreement between a slave and his master. I believe land belongs to the People in common, not the landlords. I believe money and the mechanism of its supply should be selected by the People, not dictated to them by a private cartel. I believe in true freedom, where all are at liberty to associate as they see fit. Property-right should never violate that freedom, or else those without surplus money and property will always be forced to serve the interests of those with it.

God Bless America.

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