Limiting Accumulation

without limiting income/wealth

Stephen Yearwood
2 min readFeb 27, 2024
Photo by Arno Senoner on Unsplash

Unlimited accumulation is the stupidest part of civilization. For civilization to survive we humans must recognize the concept of ‘enough’.

What is enough? For a human being it is a sufficient quantity/quality of food/water, clothing, and shelter.

Enough has always been available to noncivilized peoples. When food has gotten scarce they have packed up or abandoned their movable or temporary shelters and gone to a place where more food (also providing other things, possibly clothing and in some cases shelter) could be found.

The point of civilization was to stay in one place and at the same time to go beyond that level of enough qualitatively — for those who could afford it. So hierarchies of economic and political power came with civilization.

To be sure, non-civilized peoples have had leaders and followers, but for them the ethos their lifestyle has imposed on them has been ‘one for all and all for one’, applicable to one and all, leaders and followers alike. In civilization the default rule has been ‘rule by the most ruthless’.

In a few times and places appeals to justice have curbed that dictum, but the usual state has been a few lording it over all others for the benefit of the few. Modern capitalism has made money/wealth the penultimate power, and no one in the sad, sordid history of civilization has cared less about the well-being of others than have our capitalist pigs.

It’s enough to make you want to set fire to their houses — and their yachts.

Justice, however, does not allow, much less ‘demand’ arbitrary acts of that kind. As I never tire of relating, John Locke (old, ‘white’ — Anglo-Saxon — male philosopher) correctly identified arbitrariness in human relations as injustice way back in 1689 (in Two Treatises of Government). [He did also argue, in the first of them, for the moral equality of all human beings, but justice — the ethical governance of human relations — doesn’t follow justly from a belief in equality any more than it can follow from any other belief (summarized most succinctly in “Needed: A Replacement for Liberalism” — a “6 min. read” — here in Medium but not behind the paywall).]

To impose any arbitrary limit on income/wealth would be another form of injustice. Yet, there is a way to limit accumulation without limiting income/wealth. If curious: “Two Possibilities within MMT” (here in Medium, but not behind the paywall): not quite so succinct (a “17 min. read”), but it does also ensure enough for all (adult citizens) and provide a way to end taxation. The limits on accumulation are up for debate, but they have nothing to do with ensuring enough for all (adult citizens). Their only purpose is to assure the sound functioning of the economy by withdrawing ‘excess’ money from it.



Stephen Yearwood

unaffiliated, non-ideological, unpaid: M.A. in political economy (where philosophy and economics intersect) with a focus in money/distributive justice