Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Property

Donald Sterling Should Keep the Clippers

Donald Sterling, landlord and owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, holds exceptionally repugnant moral views. In a recorded conversation with one of his girlfriends, Sterling allegedly said:

It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?

You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on [Instagram] and not to bring them to my games.

There’s nine minutes of it, if you’re bored. While at the time of writing, the recording has not yet been authenticated, it’s quite likely it will be, because Donald Sterling has a history of saying racist and sexist things. Many people are disgusted with the guy, as well they should be. Some are however calling for the NBA to force Sterling to sell the Clippers. This is a mistake. Here’s why.

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A Critique of Property Rights

Property rights can be immensely helpful to society, increasing our collective productivity, motivating and inspiring people to work harder, and consequently augmenting our standard of living. There is however, another side to that coin–property rights can create a distribution of wealth that undercuts economic demand and leads to the replacement of wage-financed consumer demand with credit-financed consumer demand, leading to, as we recently collectively experienced, economic crises fuelled by unsustainable levels of private household debt. Clearly there is a balance with property–we need to maximise the benefits of this institution while minimising the societal costs. The trouble is that the political theory that lies at the foundation of right wing thinking in the Western world does not allow for this balancing, and these ideas continue to hold sway. Today I’d like to address where the difficulties in the right’s theory of property lie and what sort of negative consequences these difficulties have for the rest of us.

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