Three acres and a cow was his way of referring to his economic philosophy of distributism.
“Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.” ~G.K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton and other Catholic thinkers of his time developed an economic philosophy they called distributism. They based it on the Catholic Church’s social teaching, particularly Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum and Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno.
According to distributism, the ownership of the means of production should be spread as widely as possible among the general populace, rather than being centralized either under the control of the state (state socialism) or in the hands of a few large businesses or wealthy private individuals (laissez-faire capitalism).
“Distributism seeks to subordinate economic activity to human life as a whole, to our spiritual life, our intellectual life, our family life.” ~Thomas Storck
It has been successfully realised by commitment to the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity:
Subsidiarity means that matters should be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized body that is competent to handle them.
Solidarity refers to the social ties that bind people to one another.
Distributism advocates widespread private ownership of housing and control of industry through financially independent, worker-controlled local cooperatives and small family and owner-operated businesses.
Its practical implementation in the form of local cooperatives has recently been documented by Race Mathews in his 1999 book Jobs of Our Own: Building a Stakeholder Society.
RERUM NOVARUM: ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII ON CAPITAL AND LABOR
QUADRAGESIMO ANNO: ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI ON RECONSTRUCTION OF THE SOCIAL ORDER
Jobs of Our Own: Building a Stakeholder Society: Alternatives to the Market and the State by Race Mathews