John Locke's Acquisition Of Private Property

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In John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, he argues that men may acquire private property by adding their labor to something. However, he also says that they can only take as much land that they are able to use, otherwise it is a waste. Sometimes the land that the men cultivate yields more than they can use, so they can barter for other things that they may need. Locke says that money came into existence because men needed something imperishable that they could still trade with, which was satisfied by gold and silver. Following Locke’s argument for the boundaries of the acquisition of private property, men can obtain an unlimited amount of wealth because gold and silver does not spoil or decay in the hands of the possessor. I do not believe…show more content…
With the introduction of money, this rule is virtually nullified because money does not spoil. However, Locke still says “every one had a right to as much as he could use” (Locke 28). In today’s world, there is such an uneven distribution of personal wealth that some people might have barely enough to live on, or even nothing to live on at all. In contrast, there are others who have more personal wealth than they even know what to do with. For example, some of the richest people in the world today, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, have made “The Giving Pledge”, meaning that they have made a vow to donate at least half of their wealth to charity. They have probably made this pledge because they do want to give to charity, but also because they have acquired so much wealth that they cannot possibly use all of it in their lifetime. John Locke would argue that it is perfectly okay for these people to have obtained so much wealth because they own the companies which have provided them with this enormous wealth, or they have put their own labor into their work, so the wealth is rightfully theirs. I do agree that these people, like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Jeff Bezos absolutely have the right to all the money that they have made. However, should these people really have a right to…show more content…
In Locke’s time, there was still plenty of the “common land” that people were able to take from, but nowadays, it is virtually nonexistent. We have to purchase any piece of land that we want to lay claim to and what it produces. Locke made the argument that “every one had a right to as much as he could use” (Locke 28) in terms of what the land could give them; however, in some cases, the land that people own may not be able to sustain them. They can put in the maximum amount of labor possible into their land, and things like droughts or disease may still prevent them from being able to make enough to live on. This is not fair, especially when you have those individuals in society who have more wealth than they know what to do with. Another assumption that Locke seems to imply about trading is that is mutually beneficial when it concerns trading money for other goods. He says that by “mutual consent men would take [money] in exchange for the truly useful, but perishable supports of life” (Locke 28). However, in this passage, Locke does not take into account that one of the parties of the exchange may have an advantage over the other, such as the seller overcharging or undercharging the buyer. The former of these seems to happen quite frequently in today’s world, especially when consumers are purchasing things such as electronics. However, electronics weren’t
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