In my original article on Jubilee I hinted, by the choice of the name Jubilee (and via a link), that my ideas were inspired by those in the Torah, specifically in Leviticus chapter 25. On Sunday this week, I spoke at my church about that chapter. I stayed away from my own ideas about how a modern Jubilee-like system might work (which you can read about here), focusing instead on some features of the system described in the Bible. You can listen to what I said, courtesy of my church’s website.
In philosophy, the idea of a social contract is one way of justifying the government’s authority over individuals. The idea is that you’ve somehow agreed to submit to the authority of the state in return for the state’s protection of your rights (or at least, those of your rights that you haven’t surrendered by submitting to the state’s authority).
But where can I find the terms of this social contract? What if I don’t want to agree to it? What happens if I break the contract? What happens if the government breaks the contract?
Could we come up with an explicit social contract that answers these questions? Would most people actually want to sign it? Would other people have a meaningful choice not to sign it? I think so. Continue reading An explicit social contract and non-coercive law enforcement
The guaranteed minimum income in Jubilee opens up an interesting possibility for self-defence: If Stolypin (for example) threatens to invade, Jubilee should put up signs along the routes the soldiers are likely to use to approach Jubilee. The signs should be in the languages most easily read by Stolypinites (or their mercenaries), and should say “Jubilee welcomes Stolypinites! We will pay you to live here peacefully.”. And then Jubilee should allocate the new immigrants the same guaranteed minimum income all the other Jubilants get.
Would it work? Continue reading Pacifism in Jubilee
When I wrote about how to establish Jubilee, I appealed to a comparison between Jubilee and another hypothetical town called Stolypin, initially assumed to be like Jubilee in all relevant respects except that land ownership in Stolypin is permanent. I argued that market forces would tend to cause Jubilee to grow in circumstances when Stolypin wouldn’t; essentially, I argued that Jubilee and Stolypin weren’t in equilibrium, so changes would occur to push them closer to equilibrium.
So what would the world be like if Jubilee and Stolypin were in equilibrium? We might try to imagine a situation where residents of each town prefer to stay where they are, rather than move to the other, but such decisions would be influenced by the costs involved in moving, as well as the relative attractiveness of each town. So, we could also keep in mind an immigrant choosing between Jubilee and Stolypin; under what circumstances would the average immigrant be indifferent as to which of the two towns to choose? Continue reading Jubilee in equilibrium
When I wrote about how a profit-seeking entrepreneur might establish Jubilee, I ended by wondering where the extra value came from, to give the entrepreneur their profit. Today, I’m revisiting that question, and hope to describe a way in which it might be answered. Continue reading Externalities and location value per capita
You’d heard plenty about Jubilee — the way your cousin Frank enthuses about it, you could hardly have avoided it —, but you hadn’t really thought of moving there until things started getting difficult at work.
Julie, the new girl at work, really winds you up; you’re sure she does it deliberately. You’ve talked to your boss about it, but although she doesn’t exactly take Julie’s side, she doesn’t rein her in, either. She says you ought to be able to cut hair without all this bickering. Continue reading A Jubilee story
Earlier in my series on a (currently) hypothetical town called Jubilee, I wrote about how to allocate land, by issuing land-use rights to all residents of Jubliee, which they can use as a “currency” to bid in auctions for long-term land leases. I put “currency” in scare-quotes then, but what if the residents actually used the land-use rights as a currency for everyday transactions? Continue reading Land-use rights as a currency
I’ve written recently about a hypothetical town called Jubilee where the value of the land is shared equally among the residents. Economically efficient allocation of the land is ensured by auctioning long-term leases (using a “currency” that is taken out of circulation when it is paid in exchange for such a land lease) in a way that preserves incentives to improve land whose lease is about to expire.
If I’m right about all that, then the status quo — permanent land ownership — appears to be an inequitable trap. But can we get out of this trap? Continue reading How to establish Jubilee
I wrote previously about how to allocate land in Jubilee. One of the problems to be solved by this procedure was that people in Jubilee might have no incentive to improve land that they had no assurance they would continue to enjoy access to in future. I described strategies that owners of improvements (and their bidding rivals) might use, and concluded that owners of improvements who wanted to retain access to the land could arrange to pay for only the unimproved value of the land.
However, I’m not satisfied with the strategies I described there. First, they rely on good estimates of the value that other bidders might place on the land and improvements (separately and together). Second, I considered only one rival bidder other than the owner of the improvements; in reality, there may be several bidders, some placing a high value on the land with the improvements and a low value on the land alone, and others placing a high value on the land alone.
So, can we do better? Continue reading An auction process for preserving incentives to improve land in Jubilee
Earlier this week, I wrote about an alternative to permanent land ownership, arguing that permanent land ownership benefited those originally allocated the permanent ownership, at the expense of future generations. The alternative involved allocating land every 17 years to everyone in a hypothetical town called Jubilee.
But how is this allocation performed? Who decides how to divide the land so that everyone receives an equally valuable plot?
Also, Eric Crampton raises an objection that reallocation every 17 years destroys incentives to invest in improving the land for long-term benefit. Can we restore these incentives? Continue reading How to allocate land in Jubilee