Everyone talks about how amazing our constitution is… but I’m skeptical that this document was the reason for the America’s prosperity.
I think that access to land was the primary reason. Prior to America, never before had land been so readily accessible… except there are a few historical examples of what happens when an established government provides cheap land to its citizens.
Greece and Europe became great empires because they seized land. The prosperity of their entire civilization depended on the expansion of their lands, by guaranteeing land to those who cultivated it.
They just killed or enslaved everyone who lived on it, and stole it, basically.
These new provinces then paid taxes, recruited legionnaires for the army, and provided subsistence to the army and cities.
After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the feudal state was born.
There was less centralization of power in Europe, except those countries unified by the Holy Roman Empire.
But the feudal states were very socially rigid. They were essentially a caste system of birthright and inheritance.
Vassals or lords governed the land. They were the protectors and hunters, composed of knights.
They gave their land to the first born, because they learned that dividing up land/property usually meant the dissolution of wealth within a generation or two.
Those that weren’t first born went into the church, and were apart of the religious caste.
At the bottom were the working class or peasants.
At the top was the king. Vassals or lords would pledge their fealty to a king, and swore to protect him. They also swore to protect the peasant class.
Anyway. The vassals and religious class were about 5% of the population each respectively. Peasants were 90%.
You were born into your class, and stayed there.
This was the rigid social stratification that existed from about 500ad to 1400ad.
These are called the dark ages.
The bubonic plague wiped out 50% of Europe’s population.
This created unprecedented mobility.
For the first time in almost a thousand years you had classes intermarrying.
The bubonic plague essentially created massive wealth transfers. Men and women would marry lower and upper classes.
Around the start of the bubonic plague in the 12th/13th century the merchant class began to wield more and more power.
For the first time people had wealth that exceeded the vassals of noble birthright.
In my mind, America’s prosperity was pretty much a result of the abundance of land and resources.
The US government issued the homestead act which essentially gave people free property. That was unprecedented. The land’s of Europe were occupied for thousands of years and passed on through generations or acquired through war.
I suspect that America’s prosperity had more to do with its favorable climate and the abundance of land/resources which were cheap and given away to anyone who would work it.
Why didn’t this work out in central or South America?
90% of the native north American population was decimated.
I suspect the populations killed in central and South America was far less.
I think capitalism only works when there is “free” or cheap property/capital available.
We have so much land in the USA, but now it’s all owned. When you have a single owner of vast sums of property, I don’t think that property is being employed effectively.
I think that the accumulation, centralization, and concentration of property/ capital is bad for economic growth, and bad for democracy, whatever the hell that is.
I think that any measures which destabilize the rigid social and economic stratification, and transfer property to others, historically seems to benefit society society.
Except there should be some meritocracy built in.