Tag Archives: private property

Arnold Harberger

If taxes are to be levied, or income imputed, on the basis of the value of agricultural and/or residential properties, it is important that assessment procedures be adopted which estimate the true economic value of property with reasonable accuracy. […] The economist’s answer to the assessment problem is simple and essentially foolproof: allow each property owner to declare the value of his own property, make these declared values a matter of public record, and require that an owner sell his property to any bidder who is willing to pay, say, 20 percent more than the declared value. This simple scheme is self-enforcing, allows no scope for corruption, has negligible costs of administration, and creates incentives, in addition to those already present in the market, for each property to be put to that use in which it has the highest economic productivity. The beauty of this scheme, so evident to economists, is not, however, appreciated by lawyers, who object strongly to the idea of requiring the sale of properties, possibly against the will of their owners. The economist can retort here that if owners value their property at the price at which they would be willing to sell, they should not be unwilling to sell at a price 20 percent higher.

Arnold Harberger, ‘Issues of Tax Reform in Latin America’, Fiscal Policy for Economic Growth in Latin America: Papers and Proceedings of a Conference Held in Santiago, Chile, December, 1962; under the Auspices of Joint Tax Program Organization of American States, Inter-American Development Bank, Economic Commission for Latin America, Baltimore, Maryland, 1965, p. 290

Jeremy Waldron

Societies with private property are often described as free societies. Part of what this means is surely that owners are free to use their property as they please; they are not bound by social or political decisions. […] But that cannot be all that is meant, for it would be equally apposite to describe private property as a system of unfreedom, since it necessarily involves the social exclusion of people form resources that others own.

Jeremy Waldron, ‘Property’, in Edward Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Fall 2004, sect. 5

Liam Murphy & Thomas Nagel

Private property is a legal convention, defined in part by the tax system; therefore, the tax system cannot be evaluated by looking at its impact on private property, conceived as something that has independent existence and validity. Taxes must be evaluated as part of the overall system of property rights that they help to create. Justice or injustice in taxation can only mean justice or injustice in the system of property rights and entitlements that result from a particular tax regime.

Liam Murphy & Thomas Nagel, The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice, New York, 2002, p. 8

Gopal Sreenivasan

[H]owever attractive, the relevance of the Lockean theory of property to contemporary discussions of distributive justice is as a form of egalitarianism. If this is correct, then defenders of inegalitarian distributions of property may draw support from the Lockean theory only to the extent that they follow Locke in failing to adhere to the logic of its argument.

Gopal Sreenivasan, The Limits of Lockean Rights in Property, Oxford, 1995, p. 7

Oscar Wilde

With the abolition of private property, then, we shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism. Nobody will waste his life in accumulating things, and the symbols for things. One will live. To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

Oscar Wilde, ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’, Fortnightly Review, vol. 291 (February, 1891)

David Schweickart

If one looks at the works of the major apologists for capitalism, Milton Friedman, for example, or F. A. Hayek, one finds the focus of the apology always on the virtues of the market and on the vices of central planning. Rhetorically this is an effective strategy, for it is much easier to defend the market than to defend the other two defining institutions of capitalism. Proponents of capitalism know well that it is better to keep attention directed toward the market and away from wage labor or private ownership of the means of production.

David Schweickart, ‘Market Socialism: A Defense’, in Bertell Ollman (ed.), Market Socialism: the Debate Among Socialists, New York, 1998, p. 11