Carson, Kevin. Yes—the rent really is too damn high! Center for a Stateless Society. 2010 Oct 26. Available from: http://c4ss.org/content/4480. Accessed 2012 Oct 18. Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6BWDwNp2h.
Riffing on the slogan “The rent is too damn high!” popularized by New York gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan, Carson expounds and generalizes Franz Oppenheimer’s classic theory of land rent as a mechanism for exploitation. As long as the masses had access to their own land, exploitation was not possible, because wage labor had to compete against self-employed subsistence agriculture. The seizure of land by the wealthy, with the aid of the state, increased the cost of self-employment by creating artificial scarcity of land, so that high rents could be charged for its use. With low-cost subsistence closed off as an alternative, the masses could be exploited as low-paid wage laborers, as Carson explains in “The subsidy of history”. In effect, the masses are forced to pay protection money to the wealthy in order to use natural resources in their productive work—or forgo the use of those resources and instead accept whatever the wealthy will pay for their labor. Carson points out that Oppenheimer’s theory applies to more than just land. Any resource can generate an economic rent for those who use state violence to monopolize it, a process that amounts to extortion. So-called “intellectual property” (IP, intellectual privilege) is another example of the same process, as are protectionist tariffs.
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