Comment 31950

By arienc (registered) | Posted June 19, 2009 at 21:24:35

A Smith...I understand your point of view regarding full private ownership. What you describe is a utopia...The utopian ideal of an entirely private economy, with no public participation.

Like Karl Marx's utopian ideal of a 100% public economy, movement to a utopian ideal of 100% private ownership sounds like a good thing in theory, but when applied to the real world is impractical and unwieldy. In your ideal, unless every individual in the economy is equally skilled and capable in all aspects, they stand to be taken advantage of by others seeking to gain advantage at their expense.

For example if I own land, and my neighbour wishes to dispose of garbage, and can increase his profit by doing so, this thereby forces me to know how to prevent the neighbour from taking advantage, or some other method by which I may convince my neighbour that disposing his garbage on my land is not free. Maybe I have to hire a guard. Maybe I have to take time away from working to stand guard. By doing this, it causes me (and every other landowner) to ensure others do not interfere with their enjoyment of the land. Multiply that by the number of interactions that every individual has with the economy, and you end up spending so much time verifying and checking up on others that your own productivity is zero. Only if no individual can impose negative consequences on another does such a system work, which requires absolute trust in one another.

A system which balances public interests with respect for private property, rule of law human rights is far preferrable to either of the far left or far right utopias.

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