contrary to common belief, actually exacerbates the diminution of property
rights that capitalism brings about. I will explain.
Adam Smith, so highly touted as the philosopher of the free enterprise system, said this regarding the wages of labor:
produce of labour constitutes the natural recompence or wages of labour. In
that original state of things which precedes both the appropriation of land and
the accumulation of stock, the whole produce of labour belongs to the labourer.
He has neither landlord nor master to share with him.” 
is an observation that is hard to refute, even though the beginnings of
property began before recorded history. Those who picked apples or shot deer in
the early days of humanity certainly and rightly felt an entitlement to the
fruits of their labor, and would have seen any attempt to divest them of the
results of their efforts as an outrage justifying a violent response. And those
who determined to engage in such divestment surely anticipated the need to use
either violence or stealth to accomplish those ends.
humans eventually discovered that they didn’t have to rely solely on foraging to
enjoy the fruits of the earth: they could deliberately grow things themselves.
And so, they would cultivate a field for that purpose, and thereby secure a
more reliable source of nourishment for themselves. But it wouldn’t make sense
to engage in all that effort if someone else could come along and help
themselves to whatever crop was grown there, or maliciously destroy the crops.
And, perhaps, this would have been the beginnings of property in land.
We’re not alone in this, of course. Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests. Nonhuman animals also build their shelters and mark their territory, and so our sense of property may well have preceded the development of homo sapiens.
is beyond question, in any event, that humans had property before anyone
philosophized about it. When they did, property was already an established
fact, and the philosophers were endeavoring to describe what already existed,
and speculate on its origins, rather than envisioning a world where property
when they engaged in their ruminations, the world where people simply acquired
property directly from nature had long been past. The landlord and the master
had arrived, and been on earth for some time. What’s more, much real estate had
been taken by means of conquest, and often by means of forcibly dispossessing
previous possessors. Violence was the deed to property for the most part, and
it is no wonder that the socialists saw private property as the engine of
oppression of the propertyless masses.
What didn’t seem to occur to them was that neither foxes, nor birds, nor human beings were mistaken about property, but that the title to property was everywhere suspect. Proudhon, to that extent, was right when he said that property is theft.  But “theft” implies a previous owner.
Now the natural compensation for labor is the produce of labor; the produce becomes the property of the laborer. So says Adam Smith. It follows from this that if it is taken from her by force or fraud it has been stolen. Before there were tools, people used their own bodies to acquire that produce. Their bodies were their machinery, their capital. And so, John Locke wasn’t lost in metaphysics when he said that everyone has a property in their own body.  And when tools were invented, these became extensions of the body, so that humans could perform work that they couldn’t do with their bodies alone.
this it was natural enough to conclude that what was produced by capital goods
belonged to the owners of that capital. What was forgotten was that laborers
also brought their capital to bear on production: their own bodies. Thus, the
workers, as a rule, have not received an ownership interest in things produced.
Instead, their relationship to their employers has been seen as a kind of
service contract; they are compensated for the service of bringing their labor
to bear, utilizing the capital that is owned by others. This has created an
artificial division between labor and capital, and it has put what is called
labor in a continuing disadvantage in negotiating power with the recognized
owners of capital, as Adam Smith recognized. The dire circumstances that can
result have been outlined in a previous offering in these pages. 
is true that some of those on the employee side can bring special skills to
their work, for which they receive added compensation. Some even acquire the
luster of professional status. But, outside of the skilled trades, acquiring
the necessary skills to attain to those statuses can be an expensive
proposition. Many find that they have entered their careers with a substantial
debt, and, since the institutions that provide such training compete with one
another for tuition, there is the further problem of people acquiring skills
but no one to employ them in their chosen field. They have a debt, but not the
job they acquired the debt to obtain. I will explore this further in a
now, the general problem is that, due to the artificial distinction made
between capital and labor, we have an employee class with a significant
bargaining disadvantage with respect to the owners of capital. Socialism, true
socialism, seeks an end to this conflict through the abolition of capital
ownership. But socialism, seeing everywhere stolen property, concluded that any
property must be stolen, and failed to see the possibility and reality of
rightfully acquired property.
there have been attempts to ameliorate the more sinister results of capitalism
through regulation. There have been minimum wage laws, and legislation
supporting the right of workers to organize into labor unions. These approaches
have had success, but they only work when there are positive laws to protect
them. As the United States has witnessed, political forces can enter in to
dismantle such protections.
hopefully, it is possible to emerge from the hypnosis wherein we have been told
that there is a real distinction to be made between capital and labor, and that
the two should rightfully be treated differently. This recognition would be the
opposite of socialism, where everyone becomes a laborer. Instead, this would
result in a social organization where everyone is a capitalist, or what is now
understood to be a capitalist.
I have already discussed socialism. I will be looking at the other three solutions in subsequent posts.