Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interesting statistics

First of all, here is a link to the written-down version of the "Inflation and the Fall of Roman Empire" talk from the previous post.

It has interesting information about Eretz Yisroel of the times of 3rd–4th centuries, when Roman government began to put a tighter grip on Roman economy, resulting in a loss of freedom for the masses. This is just about land ownership; see the talk for the other aspects of economy.
The peasantry, known as the coloni, were leaseholders on both imperial and private estates. They too were formerly a free class. Now under the same kinds of pressures that all smallholders were in in this situation, they began to drift away, trying to find better opportunities, better leases, or better occupations. So under Diocletian the coloni were now bound to the soil. [As a part of government regulation making sure that the peasant class doesn't erode into more profitable occupations. Diocletian did the same to other professions, essentially instituting a cast system.]

Anyone who had a lease on a particular piece of land could not give that lease up. More than that, they had to stay on the land and work it. In effect, this is the beginning of what in the Middle Ages is called serfdom, but it actually has its origins here in late Roman society.

We know for example from studies of Palestine, particularly in the Rabbinical writings, that in the course of the 3rd and early 4th century the structure of landholding in Palestine changed very dramatically. Palestine in the 2nd century was mostly composed of peasant landholders with very small acreage, perhaps an average of two and a half acres.

By the 4th century those smallholders had virtually disappeared and been replaced by vast estates controlled by a few large landowners. The peasants working the estates were the same people, but in the meantime they had lost their land to the larger landowners. In other words, landholding became a kind of massive agribusiness.

In the course of this, the population of Palestine, still principally Jewish, also changed in that the ownership of land passed from Jews to Gentiles. The reason for that undoubtedly was that the only people with large amounts of cash who could buy out these smallholders who were in distress were, of course, the government officials. And we hear of them being called potentates, powerful ones. In effect there is a shift in the distribution of wealth in Palestine; and obviously, from other evidence, similar things were happening in other places.
So, the class of people who came to own the land were actually government bureaucrats in charge of collecting taxes. They offered to buy the land from the peasants and then rent it back to them, promising in turn to "take care of the taxes". Of course, what ended up happening is that they raised the rent above what the peasants would pay in taxes.

All this lead to a development of a land-owning class who were not capitalists in modern conception. They were actually tax agents of the government who gradually became feudal lords. Because barbaric kingdoms and the Middle Age kingdoms that descended from them were not run as a bureaucracy but as an army hierarchy, with a strong chieftain hiring other chieftains to fight for him and then giving them out land in reward, the feudal lords of the Western kingdoms did not receive their land as a part of holding a bureaucratic office, but as a position in the king's army (generally speaking). But it amounted to the same.

Going back to Roman Empire, we see that this process started when the government started caring about benefiting the bureaucratic class instead of the free, private people. As a result, land and businesses passed from the hands of private individuals to the hands of government officials.

Now, let's look at the statistics provided by arbat: if you normalize the new workplaces that appeared in Texas and Massachusetts, you get that per 100 thousand people:

  • 140.4 workplaces appeared in TX, 2.4 of which are in the government
  • 75.8 workplaces appeared in MA, 92.5 of which are in the government
Not 92.5%, but 92.5 places (per 100,000 people). What does that mean? It means that not only did all the new workplaces in MA are in the government, but the government even "ate" some of the private workplaces.


mor said...

The last statistic is confusing to me. Did you know that 75% of all statistics are made up?

Certified Ashkenazi said...

That's because you read obnoxious 19th-century literature that fries your mind.

They are made up by humanities majors.

Point is that of 75 jobs that appeared, also 20 jobs were lost from private workplace, but became government jobs.