The idea of land ownership, capitalism, and money all tie back to Divine Law. In the progress of man, nomadic cultures were replaced ultimately with communities that stayed in placed to work communal land. These cultures eventually developed into kingdoms typically governed in the physical realm by kings that derived power from the spiritual realm governed by priests.
Feudal systems developed in which land ownership was deemed the divine right of kings. These concepts were similar from Polynesia to Europe. In many societies, the use of land was partitioned off to lords under kings. Yet property rights came from gods through kings to their minions. The idea was that the minions required enough land to provide for their families and to provide tribute to rulers to be used in governance and in defense. These earlier forms of land use supported the idea of divine law.
In the 17th century, this idea of property rights was challenged in Europe. John Locke’s ideas of property, expounded in his Two Treatises of Government, written in 1690, were as basis of modern property rights. His ideas were of God given rights to property that were not derived through the king but were derived directly from God.
His idea was that man’s cultivation and improvement of land was what intertwined the divine nature of land with man’s improvement to make ownership of that land his. Locke’s ideas that land use must be in accordance with God’s permissible use of land were then developed into the modern land ownership laws we have today.
America, and most other countries, have land ownership which is not allodial, or complete. Instead, we have fee simple land, or land that is owned by us at the pleasure of the state. Our land is not completely ours but is ours as long as we submit to the dictates of the state, pay taxes for instance. The concept was derived from Locke’s concept that land held in private should be able to produce for the good of society or be turned back to the state.
Nonetheless, great estates were created both in England and later in America, as governors of lands seized from the indigenous peoples of America were first given in fee ownership to governors and other high ranking originating families of America’s colonies. And taxation of land, the justification of holding land for higher use, became highly differentiated between owners of vast estates and those of small plots.
Examine taxation of private lands owned by vast land owners versus those small plots in town for instance. Why is it that small home owner plots owe vastly more per acre than huge land holdings owned by elites? In order to maintain such small fee simple plots then, the owner of such plots must provide a much greater land use to pay the land taxes or subsidize those taxes from other sources in order to maintain ownership of their paltry estate. Yet the same is not true for the vast land owners of land that is not developed.
This inequity in land taxation then is a means by which wealth is acquired, kept, passed on to heirs. Land, minerals, metals, raw energy, and other resources derived from the land such as lumber, these are true wealth. Money is simply a place holder in the distribution of true wealth and transitory wealth such as that added by mans labor to combine with the offspring of land into products.
Our elite then aspire to acquire and maintain true wealth, including vast acreage of land. Much of this land held as assets then is not tilled or developed and thus could not be held for long if it were not for inequitable taxation. This concept of excess land holdings went against Locke’s concepts of inalienable rights to land.
It is the development of raw materials that spring from land, combining them with man’s labor, that create transitory assets such as cars and houses, those assets that eventually return to the earth.
Capitalism is the combining of assets in equity, land, raw materials, and their place holders of money, with funds borrowed on the promises of future labor to create transitory assets such as automobiles. This system relies on owners of real wealth to provide it as a guarantee of the success of enterprises that develop transitory assets.
Owners of real assets then are paid a portion of the transitory assets, or their place holder of money, for use of their real assets in the venture. Generally, this portion of transitory assets or money is then retransferred into the acquisition of more real assets, thereby increasing the holdings of land and other real assets by the real asset owners. This is how capitalism concentrates wealth.
Since at the start of the American revolution, we had a concentration of real wealth by just a few land owners, with more than 60% of Americans at the time non-land owners, this capitalism system then continues to concentrate wealth. Then every three decades or so, economic crises occur that redistribute wealth somewhat and the process begins again.
If, as Locke suggested, land, capital should be in the hands of those that will develop it for the good of society, why then are we subjecting our nation to the whims of vast capital that sits dormant while millions suffer in idleness?
Modern capitalism then should consider how owners of real assets within a nation put those assets to highest use for the benefit of a nation.