Reframing the Labor Question

Subtitle: On Marginal Productivity Theory and the Labor Theory of Property
This paper reframes the labor question according to the normal juridical principle of imputation whose application to property appropriation is the modern treatment of the old natural rights or labor theory of property.

Labor theory of property and predistribution

This is the online-first publication in Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs of an article on the labor theory of property showing the superficiality of the inequality-debate framing in terms of distribution (i.e., how much is distributed by a firm to labor versus capital) in favor of a framing in terms of what is now called “predistribution”–in this case the question of who is to be the firm in the first place, Capital or Labor.

Review of Erik O. Wright’s Envisioning Real Utopias

I rarely review books and almost never books by Marxists. However, in order to comment on a presentation at a conference, I decided to write up my extensive comments in the form of a book review of Erik Olin Wright’s Envisioning Real Utopias.

Review of Dahl’s Preface to Economic Democracy

This is my review in Commonweal of Robert A. Dahl’s 1985 book Preface to Economic Democracy shortly after it was published.

Straddler interview and video

This is the text and edited video of an interview with The Straddler in January 2016 entitled: Against the Renting of Persons.

Labor theory of property and Marginal productivity theory

This is a reprint from the journal Economic Thought of a paper on the labor theory of property and the neoclassial theory of marginal productivity.

Does Classical Liberalism Imply Democracy?

This paper, written for a classical liberal audience, goes into the fault line running down the middle of the doctrine: does classical liberalism imply democracy? The libertarian wing, represented concretely today in the startup or charter cities initiatives, only requires consent (and exit) so the consent could be to a non-democratic pact of subjection. The democratic form of classical liberalism is represented by the mature James M. Buchanan who held that a liberal social order required people to be principals in their organizations who could only delegate but not alienate their rights of self-governance. That distinction is traced back to the Reformation inalienability of conscience that descends through the Enlightenment to modern times in the abolitionist and democratic movements.

Classical Liberalism and the Firm

This is a scan of my chapter in the new book: Commerce and Community: Ecologies of Social Cooperation, edited by Robert F. Garnett, Paul Lewis, and Lenore T. Ealy. London: Routledge, 2015.

On the Renting of Persons: The Neo-Abolitionist Case Against Today’s Peculiar Institution

To answer the “best case” voluntary-contractarian arguments for slavery and autocracy, the democratic and antislavery movements forged arguments not simply in favor of consent but arguments that voluntary contracts to legally alienate aspects of personhood were invalid “even with consent”—which made the underlying rights inherently inalienable. Once understood, those arguments have the perhaps “unintended consequence” of ruling out today’s self-rental contract, the employer-employee contract.

The Neo-Abolitionist Case Against Renting People

The talk presents the arguments from inalienable rights theory in a neo-abolitionist framework as making the case against the renting of people, i.e., against the employment relation–echoing the abolitionist case against the owning of people.