A Question on Land Reform and Economic Freedom
An avowed communist asked my opinion of land reform. Here’s my answer:
The issue concerning land reform is one of the last vestiges of our feudal past and of the colonial rule of the Imperial Spaniards
and fat friars. Let me stress that Imperial Spain was never an example of Capitalism. A capitalist state doesn’t resort to invasion in order to plunder other nations’ wealth. It can only acquire the resources of other nations by means of free trade.
Since the communists have acquired the habit of associating capitalism with imperialism, it is important to understand that America’s imperial past was mainly established by the Democrats whose policies have socialist tendencies. The Republicans also played a role in America’s imperialism, which is one of the mostly used ingredients by the communists in advancing their anti-capitalist propaganda. But these so-called American flaws do not represent the real concept of capitalism. A capitalist state is one which has a constitutionally limited role, and the only function of the industries or the capitalists is to produce goods and create wealth. It is wrong to confuse political power with economic power. The only power of the capitalists is economic power, that is, to sell their products and services to people by means of persuasion and not compulsion.
In regard to land reform, I don’t believe that the government has the right to redistribute the lands of landowners, especially those who honestly acquired their wealth. This act would be tantamount to confiscation of private property. If you grant the government the “confiscatory power” then that means you are empowering your politicians to steal from Pedro in order to serve the welfare of Juan.
The only solution to the issue of land reform is free-market capitalism, not socialism or communism. If this country only established economic freedom and if the government refrained from issuing regulatory laws and interventionist policies, the hacienderos would be forced or compelled by the market to dispose of their lands. There had been many incompetent and lazy hacienderos who sold their lands over the past 100 years because of the continued industrialization in the country. The continued rise of the industries and new economic incentives killed the last of the remains of our feudal past. There had been a few hacienderos in my home province Ilocos Sur who were forced by the market to vend their property because of incompetence and insolence. The worthless heirs to the so-called feudal lands succumbed to the forces of the market.
But how about the Cojuangcos, Arroyos, Zubiris, and others? The only way to redistribute their lands is to vote them out of office. These old-rich exist because of politics. It is these oligarchs that best represent our feudal past, and they are clinging to politics for economic survival. These feudal clans are the country’s enemies of capitalism. They use government force and political powers to protect their own business interests, which would not happen had we been a free-market economy.
There are no haciendas in the United States because the American concept of wealth is never attached to “land ownership”, but to industrial and economic production. This is how the free-market system would eradicate haciendas in the Philippines.
With respect to Hacienda Luisita, one of my law professors who represented the farmers said that the latter somehow share the blame. Although I must say that the Cojuangcos must be held responsible for their crimes or possible collusion with the government. A contract between the Cojuangcos and the farmers had been signed. Let the court of justice settle their dispute.
The Philippines is not a capitalist society; it is a mixed economy bordering on dictatorship. And there are two collectivist/statist factions in the country that are competing for political power: one is the fascist ruling-class, the other is the communist-socialist axis. To maintain their political-economic dominion, the country’s ruling elite ignore the essence and value of free-market capitalism. These people are not stupid. They are not comfortable with unbridled, unregulated capitalism because this is the only political-economic system that can put an end to their hold to political power.
Sen. Mar Roxas, who is part of the ruling political-economic elite, is never a representative of capitalism. In fact, he is an enemy of the free-market system because of his populist/socialist proposals like the Cheaper Medicine law and his proposed anti-trust bills. I compare Roxas with Friedrich Engels, the co-author of Communist Manifesto, who was born to a wealthy family but hated businessmen, wealth-creation, and profit-making.
Manny Villar also does not represent capitalism. He’s a product of a mixed economy, which means a mixture of economic freedom and excessive government regulations and controls. In a capitalist society, only the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, and Steve Jobs could achieve economic success. These people weren’t born rich, and they never exploited their employees. They never relied on government connection and subsidies to protect their economic interests. In fact, they are being punished and oppressed by the American government because of their success.
In a mixed economy bordering on dictatorship, only the likes of Gloria Arroyo and her husband, Manny Villar, Danding Cojuanco, Mike Defensor, among others could become filthy rich with the help of the government (e.g., subsidies, grants, contracts, license).
Thus, Capitalism means economic freedom and individual rights. Communism means slavery, totalitarianism, and the sacrifice of the individual to society.