Comment on “A Critique of Kirzner’s Finders-Keepers Defense of Profit”

Theodore Burczak criticizes Israel M. Kirzner, in “A Critique of Kirzner’s Finders-Keepers Defense of Profit,” using Ellerman and some other angles, and Kirzner responds:

“I believe, however, that there is a logical non-sequitur in Burczak’s application of this reasoning to claim a contradiction between (a) my position that the laborer, in choosing which job to accept, is acting as (an “ultimately responsible”) entrepreneur, and (b) my (implicit) acceptance of the legitimacy of the wage-for-labor-time exchange. Let me use Burczak’s own example of the role of a gun in a bank robbery. The gun is“ an inanimate object without a will, [it] cannot share responsibility for the crime with the robber.” But surely one who owns a gun and knowingly rents it out to a known would-be  bank robber does bear juridical and moral responsibility for his action; his renting out the gun, permitting the would-be robber to choose which bank to rob with it, does not imply that he (the owner of the gun) has become a “thing.” Similarly, my observation that, in choosing an employer to whom to rent out his labor time, a laborer is acting entrepreneurially, does not, in itself, contradict the“ thingification” which Burczak (following Ellerman) finds in the circumstance that the laborer’s time now, once he has taken the job,“ belongs” to the employer.”


Strictly speaking the above is sufficient, I believe, to rebut the logical content of Burczak’s critique of my position (as being contradictory).” emphasis his

Kirzner: “(a) my position that the laborer, in choosing which job to accept, is acting as (an “ultimately responsible”) entrepreneur”

My two cent critique:

  1. If given a “choice” where would most people rather work? 1) with/for someone that was going to get a cut/profit, or essentially steal marginal product, or 2) someone that would pay full product
  2. If the “market” only has capitalist thieves, entrepreneurial or other, then is there a “choice” to go with a socialist that pays full product?
  3. Is an entrepreneur one that makes their own work, one that rents themselves out, one that does the renting of people, or one that sits at the table and also decides who gets what and how much, and why…and sinks when the ship sinks, floats when it floats?
  4. If a gun owner rented their gun out, and were NOT paid with bank robbery money, how could they be guilty “in” the crime?
  5. Guilt by association, and proximity to the said crime are interesting questions to consider, but I think Kirzner is missing the forest for the trees, in that “alienation” is the forest.
  6. Assuming the robber with the rented gun was also wearing clothes, can we charge the people that sold him the clothes, or rented him a tuxedo, for the act of bank robbery?
  7. Where we draw the line between selling, renting, borrowing, and criminal activity is that the “activity,” the “human action,” is the crime. Is the act of renting the act of bank robbery?
  8. Is knowledge that someone will use the gun to kill themselves murder?
  9. If the gun was stolen and the robber left a note saying they would rob a bank with it, and return it with payment?

Kirzner: (b) my (implicit) acceptance of the legitimacy of the wage-for-labor-time exchange.

another two cents:

  1. And?
  2. Most theses have an antithesis?
  3. The synthesis here is…tbd

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