walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

commenting on _Austerity: the history of a dangerous idea_

It's interesting to read after _The Alchemists_. The focus on personalities that made me so suspicious of Irwin initially (until I understood what he was doing, at which point I was really impressed) contrasts sharply with the history-of-ideas approach of Mark Blyth. Blyth's work is much more uneven than Irwin's, but overall I am finding it worth reading and enjoyable.

Reading Blyth's summary of Locke's _Second Treatise of Government_ I suddenly understood the structure and rhetoric of the homestead acts (you know, how the Ingalls' family in the Little House books got their land). It is the detailed working out in policy of Locke's theory of private property (the land becomes yours when you labor on it, there's more than enough to go around so it's not like you taking some means someone else doesn't get any, and God doesn't approve of people holding onto land that they aren't laboring on appropriately). I had no idea. I mean, literally, I had no idea. I remember reading Locke's On Toleration/A Letter Concerning Toleration and being _very_ surprised about what was in it and I still remember the details vividly decades later. Clearly, as distasteful as I find Locke, I really should read more of what he had to say, because those words have had so much power over our world.

ETA: Over lunch, R. and I were discussing Blyth's summary and he noted that adverse possession fit into this as well.


Looks like adverse possession has some real legs to it; Locke probably wasn't really innovating on any level at all in describing how private ownership of land came to be/worked.

I also realized that "highest/best use" in eminent domain and zoning fits in well with Blyth's summary of Locke, also.
Tags: economics, history, not-a-book-review, politics
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