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DeLong Smackdown Watch: Keeping-Your-Stuff and Limited Government Edition

Dan Hirschman writes:

DeLong QOTD: Bookwealth, Then and Now « A (Budding) Sociologist’s Commonplace Book: I’m not sure how to understand DeLong’s claims about limited government being one possible reason for the takeoff in economic growth in the 1500. Government promised not to take your stuff? What about the enclosures? More broadly, while government respect for property rights may have increased, the governments of the 16th-19th century were hardly “limited” in the modern sense of not interfering directly with business. For one thing, these are the governments that legally created the modern corporation in the first place. The whole “limited government” concept is radically under-defined when you start thinking about all the subtle and indirect ways governments make economies possible. But again, I think the broader points DeLong are making are certainly onto something – I just worry about the casual usage of language from contemporary debates to describe a very different process and a very different world. And heck, DeLong suggests students take a “sociology of modernity” class, so that’s pretty cool.

Touché. Should have written: "government promised not to take your stuff if you were rich..."