Humn 221-09 group 4 (Plus Aliza)
Passage 37 of John Lockes Second Treatise of Civil Government talks about the use of currency allowing man to hold more property than he needs, so long as he sells perishable goods in exchange for money, something nonperishable. This notion seems to directly contradict some of the statements previously expounded by Locke.
Previously in paragraph 32 Locke had stated, that so long as enough land was left for someone else to use then man could enclose their own parcel of land. However if every man takes more than his fair share, more than he could possibly use, there is not enough left over for every man to have a piece. Locke was writing this closely around the discovery of America, clearly thinking that there could never be a shortage of land. In this year of 2015 though everything is claimed or owned. So here Lockes ideas come into conflict, because businesses and corporations hold more property than any one entity should ever have and therefore make others unable to hold on to land. Yet they trade the goods they create from these natural resources for money therefore not wasting any decaying material.
Earlier in the same chapter he explained that men should not take more than is needed by their person alone because “Nothing was made by God for man to spoil or destroy”. Companies that own more land and goods than they could possibly use, destroy other businesses and livelihoods, not to mention most of the natural resources they’re abusing. This is because over cultivating of land, and simply trying to reach some natural resources destroys the land around it, or potentially harms our atmosphere and/or water sources. Large companies such as Walt-Mart also negatively affect others, especially in small communities, it can shut down local businesses. Essentially this “destroys” their business, and in effect their livelihoods.
One could also propose that this is why we have intellectual property now. Since we’ve practically ran out of land to simply “claim”, we can now claim the right to certain ideas. Especially with new technologies and the internet, there are constantly new programs, theories, inventions and so on being created. But this also raises an issue because anyone can claim ideas, and get a copyright or trademark for it. A lot of technological advances are based off of preexisting technology and therefore someone is unable to create something unique without offering to pay whoever owns the copyright, or they might not even be able to create it at all. Thus again leading to the issue of someone owning to much of something so that it infringes upon others wellbeing, and creativity in this instance.
It seems strange to me that John Locke so often advocates for the good of the commonwealth, but does not see a problem with gross economic inequality. In my opinion the two should go hand in hand, otherwise the argument for the good of all becomes muddled. To be fair though, Locke couldn’t have had any idea how society would change and grow over the centuries, which makes you wonder what he would say if he saw things now.