Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Plea for Peasant Proprietors

During the Great Famine in Ireland (1846-1852), William T. Thornton (1813-1880), an English economist, proposed that unused land be purchased by the government and sold on credit to families that would put it into production. In this way funds spent on famine relief would be turned from an expenditure into an investment, jobs would be created, and the benefits of widespread capital ownership would accrue to individuals, families and the nation.

Although never adopted, later thinkers, offering a principled, growth-oriented approach for the 21st Century, refined Thornton’s vision. As the global economy experiences ever-more-frequent downturns (with accelerating replacement of human labor by advanced technology, reinforced by flawed methods of finance that concentrate capital ownership in fewer and fewer hands) Thornton’s book shines light on the path out of today’s global dilemma.

Originally published in 1848, this newly annotated and indexed edition of A Plea for Peasant Proprietors was prepared from Thornton’s 1874 revision includes a foreword that examines a new framework for solving the global financial crisis, financing economic growth and enabling every citizen to become an owner of productive capital, as well as appendices explaining topical references and the political and economic environment within which Thornton worked.

Entertaining yet scholarly, this book is "must reading" for anyone interested in Ireland or a viable solution to today's global economic crisis.

Table of Contents

1. Comparative Productiveness of Large and Small Farms

2. Social Effects of Peasant Proprietorship

3. Effects of Peasant Proprietorship in France

4. Social Effects of Peasant Proprietorship; The Subject Resumed

5. Moral Effects of Peasant Proprietorship

6. Ireland, Past, Present, and Future, as Viewed in 1848

7. Ireland, Forecast from 1873


I.        Letter to the Author from Mr. Le Beir

II.      Remarks by M. de Laveleye

III.     The Great Hunger

IV.     Home Rule

V.      The Fenian Rising

VI.    The Irish National Land League

VII.   William Thornton and Distributism

VIII.  The Principle of Binary Growth

IX.    The Guernsey Case

X.      Pure Credit

XI.     Capital Homesteading

XII.   The Citizens Land Bank

XIII.  The Homeowners Equity Corporation

XIV.  Just Third Way Resources

XV.   Revisions from the 1848 Edition


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