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On Property Theory

Journal of Economic Issues (3):601–624 (2014)

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  1. Reply to Commentaries on ‘The Labour Theory of Property and Marginal Productivity Theory’.David Ellerman - 2016 - Economic Thought 5 (2):44.
    Jamie Morgan's commentary on my paper 'The Labour Theory of Property and Marginal Productivity Theory' and Ted Burczak's later comments raise a number of issues that surely will occur to other readers and that need to be addressed. I take the occasion to expand upon the arguments and to explore some related issues. In the narrative that unfolds, Frank H. Knight plays the role of the sophisticated defender of the system of renting, hiring and employing human beings. He was quite (...)
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  • On the Renting of Persons: The Neo-Abolitionist Case Against Today's Peculiar Institution.David Ellerman - 2015 - Economic Thought 4 (1):1-20.
    Liberal thought is based on the juxtaposition of consent to coercion. Autocracy and slavery were seen as based on coercion whereas today's political democracy and economic 'employment system' are based on consent to voluntary contracts. This paper retrieves an almost forgotten dark side of contractarian thought that based autocracy and slavery on explicit or implicit voluntary contracts. To answer these 'best case' arguments for slavery and autocracy, the democratic and abolitionist movements forged arguments not simply in favour of consent, but (...)
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  • The Labour Theory of Property and Marginal Productivity Theory.David Ellerman - 2016 - Economic Thought 5 (1):19.
    After Marx, dissenting economics almost always used 'the labour theory' as a theory of value. This paper develops a modern treatment of the alternative labour theory of property that is essentially the property theoretic application of the juridical principle of responsibility: impute legal responsibility in accordance with who was in fact responsible. To understand descriptively how assets and liabilities are appropriated in normal production, a 'fundamental myth' needs to be cleared away, and then the market mechanism of appropriation can be (...)
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  • On a Fallacy in the Kaldor-Hicks Efficiency-Equity Analysis.David Ellerman - 2014 - Constitutional Political Economy 25 (2):125-136.
    This paper shows that implicit assumptions about the numeraire good in the Kaldor-Hicks efficiency-equity analysis involve a "same-yardstick" fallacy (a fallacy pointed out by Paul Samuelson in another context). These results have negative implications for cost-benefit analysis, the wealth-maximization approach to law and economics, and other parts of applied welfare economics--as well as for the whole vision of economics based on the "production and distribution of social wealth.".
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  • On the Labor Theory of Property: Is The Problem Distribution or Predistribution?David Ellerman - unknown
    Much of the recent discussion in progressive circles [e.g., Stiglitz; Galbraith; Piketty] has focused the obscene mal-distribution of wealth and income as if that was "the" problem in our economic system. And the proposed redistributive reforms have all stuck to that framing of the question. To put the question in historical perspective, one might note that there was a similar, if not more extreme, mal-distribution of wealth, income, and political power in the Antebellum system of slavery. Yet, it should be (...)
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