Some years back in London, the enterprising duo of John Bird and Gordon Roddick hit upon an idea to put the homeless back to work. They published The Big Issue for those on the streets to sell. The idea was to provide a regular income to the homeless that wasn’t welfare.
The idea worked. It was soon copied in other cities, including San Francisco. But, the magazine sellers were quick to notice that those who stood on busy street corners sold far more magazines — for the same eight-hour day — than those at quieter sites. Fights broke out for control over the best location. Soon, sellers were prepared to bid for these best locations, or defend theirs with violence.
This value, that arises independently of labor, is what the early classical economists like David Ricardo were first to identify as a “surplus”. Today it’s called &ldquo...
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