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Can We Be Rich In Land And Have A Comfortable Life?

October 20, 2010
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According to Locke, living in a state of nature allows for land to be owned by an individual when that individual puts labor into that land. Moreover, he says “it is labor indeed that puts the difference of value on everything” (297). Thus, putting labor into your land makes the value of it increase. With this increase in land value, it is a sign of more labor. In order to do more labor, you need plant crops and harvest them and somehow generate an income (through items or money of some sort), which allows you to either keep growing or change to another form of labor on your land. Thus, with continued labor on your land, there seems to be a way to generate enough wealth (either through the value of the land from labor or items taken off the land) to live comfortably.

Also, Locke makes the point that “of the products of the earth useful to the life of man, nine tenths are the effects of labor” (297). Thus, if you have labor on your land, 90% of what man uses is taken care of by the products yielded. Thus, if the labor of your land gives you 90% of what you need to live a useful life, then your life should be pretty comfortable.

Although Locke says these two claims, he seems to go against his view by stating in the next paragraph, “several nations of the Americans are of this, who are rich in land, and poor in all the comforts of life” (297). But, if the claims above are correct, being rich in land seems to give good if not, great, comforts in life. Being rich in land seems to mean being rich in labor. In other words, the owner of the land is doing a lot of labor on his land to raise the value and be “rich.” And with the labor providing 9/10’s of the usefulness of life, then it seems to make them comfortable.

Although he seems to counter himself, there is the possibility that 9/10’s is referring to the population’s labor and one’s labor yielding one product and another’s labor yielding another product. Though, if everyone owns a piece of land, the land, as a whole, is private. Thus, trespassing would occur and if a certain product was not on a specific piece of land, then the comforts of living could be poor. But you could still be rich in land, because the value of the labor put into the products you yield is great.

However, that’s not how society works. There is private and public land. The government owns a large amount of land and this is what allows for the spreading of products. With the spreading of products, people have the ability to be rich in land with the desired amount of labor, and be comfortable with life by bartering or buying and selling until they have what they want.

 

Wootton, David. Modern Political Thought: Readings from Machiavelli to Nietzsche. Indianapolis, Ind: Hackett Pub, 1996. Print.

 

2 Comments
  1. Taylor Fields permalink
    October 21, 2010 1:34 PM

    Your first few paragraphs seemed logical, but I got confused when you made your argument about the land belonging to everyone and therefore life being not comfortable and all that. Your final paragraph is almost contradictory and unrealistic.

    “However, that’s not how society works. There is private and public land. The government owns a large amount of land and this is what allows for the spreading of products. With the spreading of products, people have the ability to be rich in land with the desired amount of labor, and be comfortable with life by bartering or buying and selling until they have what they want.”

    Initially, you seem to argue each individual makes his own fortune, makes his own comfort. Then you are that the government creates the wealth in an almost communist way (spreading the product equally to all the people and letting them hash it out?) Your initial paragraphs, Locke’s theory is more correct. If everyone begins with the same resources, how can they barter? Unless it is the intelligent manipulating the weak, everyone will remain the same or end up equally bad. It is our work, our effort, our labor that ensures our comfort and our wealth.

  2. jbrasspolsci permalink
    October 21, 2010 9:09 PM

    In Locke’s section, “Of Property,” he explains a person’s right of making goods his or her own. According to Lcoke, when someone applies labor toward a specific good, the good becomes theirs, and therefore the property’s value of which the good lies on increases. Also, the more land owned, and the more valuable it becomes by the amount of work put into it, the more comfortable of a life can be provided. When Locke said, “of the products of the earth useful to the life of man, nine tenths are the effects of labor,” I completely agree with the fact that this provides a comfortable life because, like it said in the article, the labor of your land can provide 90% of what a person needs to live a useful life. Containing 90% of what you need in life separates you on a pedestal compared to others who are lucky to contain probably half of what a person needs in order to live a comfortable life. Therefore, due to the opportunities being rich in land allows, a comfortable life can be provided.

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