My guest for this episode is Noel Johnson of George Mason University, and if that name sounds familiar, it’s because he was the coauthor on the paper I discussed with Mark Koyama last month.

Noel recently released a working paper titled “The Effects of Land Redistribution: Evidence from the French Revolution.” It is co-authored with Theresa Finley and Raphael Franck. The paper examines the consequences of the land auctions held by the Revolutionary government in France. The abstract reads as follows:

This study exploits the confiscation and auctioning off of Church property that occurred during the French Revolution to assess the role played by transaction costs in delaying the reallocation of property rights in the aftermath of fundamental institutional reform. French districts with a greater proportion of land redistributed during the Revolution experienced higher levels of agricultural productivity in 1841 and 1852 as well as more investment in irrigation and more efficient land use. We trace these increases in productivity to an increase in land inequality associated with the Revolutionary auction process. We also show how the benefits associated with the head-start given to districts with more Church land initially, and thus greater land redistribution by auction during the Revolution, dissipated over the course of the nineteenth century as other districts gradually overcame the transaction costs associated with reallocating the property rights associated with the feudal system.

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  • Would it be worthwhile advocating for a voluntary state? Now this might seem a contradiction in terms, but consider this: 1) This state would collect voluntary taxation 2) Candidates would be elected by voters to spend the voluntary taxes on ‘public services’ such as welfare, public housing etc., all the goodies progressives want. 3) This state would not have the power to use force in its interactions with citizens Advocating such a system would show that these things can be paid for voluntary, and expose the gun in the room of our current system. Just a thought. Has such an idea ever been proposed? Would it be worthwhile?

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  • What is the origination of property rights? Where do they come from that you can reason their existence as natural? We usually argue for property rights at some point in our discussions as libertarians, but I’m curious as to where we can claim they’re from. Personally, I derive mine from God and my religious beliefs, similar to what Jefferson stated about God given rights. But what about someone who doesn’t believe in a deity? How can they derive property rights in a way that can’t be dismissed as ideals, but derived in nature? This is also (and arguably more so) important for arguing these natural rights to people who won’t accept a divine aspect. It’s important to have property rights, and they’re evidently beneficial, but the argument remains for declaring these as rights, otherwise the NAP is in jeopardy. How do we have a right to property?

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  • I look to Our history in the US. I feel that the rights were inborn unto themselves. They are are organic. I dont see it practical nor applicable that a Law creates a Right. At the very least a Law could create a “Privilege.”  But in a society of Libertarian tolerance, there would ideally be few of them. From this logic, one could say that life is a privilege, and we must act accordingly, this obviously conflicts with the slogan, “A right to life.” (Which reminds me, someone who is put to death, do they have the right to life or is life considered a privilege in a death penalty case?) No need to answer this, just thinking out loud. This came from Conservatives ALWAYS ANNOYINGLY SAYING: “We are a nation of laws,” “The Rule of Law.” ect ect ect. This country exists because of Laws. “We have to follow the law because its the Law” Is it possible that Mao Se Teng (sp?) Hitler or Stalin, justified it the same way?

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  • Is hunting (killing) animals, whether commercially of for sport, a violation of the NAP? Your thoughts…

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  • I read an article on here today attempting to make the case that time is a valuable resource that can be owned and stolen, this couldn’t be more incorrect. I wouldn’t have made so much of this but a lot of people agreed with the article, titled ‘Are You A Time Thief’. “Time, like real estate, is valuable—primarily because there is a limited supply of both; there’s no way of producing any more of either.” Time is not like real estate. Time is a measurement, real estate is an objective rivalrous good. Because of this time is not ownable property while real estate is. The author claims ‘there’s no way of producing more of either’, this is false. More and more real estate is produced every day and is unlikely to stop being produced, and time is the way that humans measure the existence of the cosmos, as long as humans exist, the measurement of time will continue, and it is unlikely humans will stop producing more humans. There is no property right in ‘value’, therefor it is not ownable and can not be stolen. You have a property right in your real estate, you don’t have a property right in the value of your real estate. Your real estate can be stolen, the value in your real estate can not be stolen. For example, you may value your time at $30 an hour, but if I show up an hour late, am I $30 richer? Are you $30 poorer? No and No, because ‘time’ can’t be stolen and value is subjective and not property. Further, even if I do show up an hour late, while it can be an annoyance, I never initiated the use of force, so you wouldn’t be justified in any retaliation, like suing me for $30 or something. And I’d even argue that if you did, you’d be the one initiating force against me. Now stop calling people thieves.

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