Conversation with Georgists; 9
Exploring the ideas of protection free trade wages taxes automation on the unemployment. These are just some of the topics to be heard on. Conversation with George was produced in cooperation with the Henry George School of Social Science. And now we're here is your host for a conversation with Georgia. They faculty of the mall an extension of the Henry George School of Social Science and a school devoted exclusively to the dissemination of the philosophy of Henry George via free courses in economics welcomes you to the ninth in a series of programs dealing with the subject of economics.
This subject because of its vagueness and contradictions is usually relegated to a back seat with respect to our interests and left in the hands of the so-called experts. We feel that economics is everybody's concern regardless of sex profession occupation or education. This program conversation with joy just deals with economics in this vein and we hope to bring forth some answers to the perennial problems that face our nation and the world. My name is Stan Rubenstein director of the Long Island extension of the Henry George School and with us tonight are two members of the faculty of our school. Each one well versed in the field of economics. Having spent many years teaching our courses in economics Dr. Sam Sheppard is an orthodontist and
Mr. Obi flatiron is an engineer. Our subject for tonight deals with unemployment and automation. Gentleman since the beginnings of the industrial revolution. Mankind has witnessed many material advantages and the increase in inventions has played no small part in this progress. And yet a fear that has coincided with this advance is the ever present problem of unemployment. And now as many more businesses become automated man is more than ever concerned about not having a job. Dr. Shaq this seems to be a dual problem here. We know that machines do create or help create more wealth than man could create. If you were to use only is hands yet what seems to be the reason for this
phenomenon which connects unemployment with automation. Well the reason is a lack of understanding on the part of the people regarding the true cause of unemployment. What I'm afraid of automation has been with us from the time of the invention of the cotton gin 18:00 and we have not been so fearful of the results of automation until recently it saves automation seems to be a new word with us. But the industrial revolution itself implies what a mission and what is the true meaning of this automation is a machine array which have been invented to aid labor in the production of more wealth machinery its capital and this is it. In order to produce more wealth we do like to utilize machinery to
produce to aid in the production of more wealth with less effort. Then what you're stating is automation is simply a continuation of the Industrial Revolution or just a continuation of the machine age of death right and the natural course of events we expect more and more inventions and we hope that this will create a better world for us. Now the enigma is why doesn't it do this right. And I hope that we can perhaps explore this particular problem a little more fully. But as you speak about Nest realisation and as you speak about automation isn't it true that when a particular business does take in a machine it is done for the specific purpose of reducing the costs of that particular business men and one of the costs that is reduced is the salaries he has to pay to laborers.
And the savings of course results in labor being unemployed. So isn't there really a connection between. Industrialization or if we want to use current terminology automation and I don't ploy meant Sam. Well if you follow the results of automation throne we really wonder whether unemployment is actually caused as a result of this process or whether employment is caused. Take for example the invention of the line a tide machine back in the 1890s. You know setting type by hand is a very tedious process. And of course the typesetters probably felt that the liner type machine would cause a lot of unemployment among the typesetters. However because of the line a type machine we've been able to produce reasonable reasonably priced newspapers magazines and books and I think in the overall picture there has been a
decrease of unemployment as a result of this. Another effect has been. The mass dissemination of newspapers magazines and books for example I have in my possession a copy of Progress and Poverty. A paperback edition from 1894 and on the cover it says Price 20 cents. I think this is comparable to the prices of our paperback editions to date. And this is a I think a good thing in disseminating Relf which books are to the masses of the people I know in line with what you have just stated when you happen to mention the price of Progress and Poverty in a paperback edition. One of the hobbies that I'm currently engaged in is saving newspapers over 100 years old and I was very interested in coming across some of the older editions of The New York Times
or The New York Herald and during the period of the civil war these papers were two three and four cents and this was only one sheet. And when you consider the. Price that you would pay to date. It's very comparable to that and of course taking into consideration the cost of living and everything else that goes along with it. So it seems to bear out with respect to prices that automation or industrialization certainly has kept prices down but I think the point you mention is a very interesting one. You would rather tie in employment with with automation rather than unemployment with automation might correct in this. Yes but the problem still remains with the unemployment what is the cause if it's not on a mission what is that. I don't think that yes none of us really have a greater problem here and rather than leave it to me I'm going to pass the buck right onto Awlaki and perhaps we can see if there is
if if there is no connection between want to mention unemployment and if this is correct then I hope we realize that we are in opposition to much thinking going on in this country because many unions with all due respect to the union movement feel. That automation is one of the greatest problems that is faced today by unions. In fact many unions particularly in the industry that you were speaking about Sam and line of type and the printing as we know newspapers etc. this particular industry when they were on strike one of the major reasons was because of the introduction of new machines and of course they felt that the introduction of new machines would cause unemployment but Auggie is not a fact that there is a realisation or theres reality and theyre
concerned that if these machines were introduced would it not also be true that many people would be laid off from work and these would be people that are unemployed. Well let me just not answer that directly. Let me comment on automation as opposed to industrial progress. Sam mentioned the cotton gin seem to be concerned that the cotton gin which is a form of automation would cause unemployment. Actually the big difference between the period of the cotton gin and the present period is the opportunity of earning a living or the opportunity to last in which you can then earn a living from working the land. We have less
opportunity today because of monopolies because of the. Inequities of earning a living land is not available to the worker today so that he is very conscious of the fact that not a mated plant will mean he personally may be out of work 100 years ago. It was just a simple matter of finding a piece of land and working that land now going back to your question. The individual union the unit the union unit might be concerned about automation but the entire labor movement should not because I think as Sam pointed out the. Basic effect of any automated or industrial broadness industrial invention has been greater rather than less. Employ
only union people that are concerned. The limited Union force that may be affected. For example I'm sure the typesetters Union was badly affected by the line a type machine. However as Sam pointed out we have many more books many more papers more opportunity for people to afford this printed material so consequently I think the entire labor movement should be florid nation as opposed to against it. Sam Yes there's another Pangle here perhaps in a subconscious way people feel that automation causes unemployment and perhaps in a direct or a roundabout manner of thinking they are right now Odd I think of it this way with automation. We can't produce war or wealth and we need more materials to feed these industrial
machines. Therefore we need more land and. You know since when does monopolized we have to pay a higher price for land we want for the same price we have to go to him for your land. This aggravates the employment picture. Now you speak about the monopolization of land. I'm sure you don't mean that one person owns all of the land of course this is a complete no Roney as you know this is a system in which many people cooperate subconsciously. They just know that if they have land they carry they have certain advantages certain material advantages if they wait long enough like 10 years. Their land will be worth much more they can sell it for much more than they paid for it or they can lease it out or rent it and get a retired from the use of this land. But when you use the word monopoly in the land you're really stating that the tent
is the same as if all of the land were owned by one person a separate person persons that the effect is in reality the same even though in this case of the monopoly of land it may be one in families and people that own the land rather than one. Is this the sense that you mean it. Yes this is true. I believe we could find that. Possibly one or two percent of the people may own 90 percent of the land in the United States. I don't know the exact figures I don't know if I am exaggerating or not. Well what I can verify is not in this country but I know that in a number of the South American countries and I would frankly admit that here the danger or this land monopolization is much greater when you do have four or five people that do own 70 or 75 percent of the land here they do have an
extremely serious problem. I would tend to believe that the figure is much less in this country but I think the intent. Is what the important thing is it has the same effect as if only several people own a good portion of the land. Augie I think we would all agree that we are benefiting directly or indirectly in the end result from the from automation. However unfortunately. We the laborers those who are producing the wealth. Do not get a full share of the results of automation and consequently in that we get such an insignificant share of the increased increased production. This makes us very fearful. Yes but even assuming that a certain amount of people would receive
more in wages. How about those people that receive zero and these of course are the people that are unemployed and that we're mainly concerned with at this particular with this particular program. How about these people. Are you suggesting that in order to solve the unemployment problem that the people that are unemployed would have to go back and become farmers. Would you want to turn the clock backwards and go back to an agricultural society where certainly we didn't have the unemployment problems that we have today. This is a sign of industrialization. Are you suggesting this. No I'm not actually. But today I feel aside from the production of sufficient food. To support the economy. Land is much more valuable today than it was 100 200 or 500 years ago. We when we say land we're talking about all natural
resources. Really the efficiency of clothing for example is many times greater today than it was 100 years ago. Even more oil every day we're becoming more and more more and more efficiently using the products of crude oil would be just beginning to scratch the surface of nuclear energy so that land then as such has become so valuable and so important that this is what we mean by having an opportunity to benefit from. The products of labor on land. So therefore when you're speaking about land you don't mean just the earth's surface whatever that may entail but you mean what is contained within the earth's surface the ore oil the uranium and also from what you state
you would consider things such as the want to be economically classified as land because we know there is much work going on in oceanography where they are discovering that underneath the seas especially off the coast of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico there are untold amounts of wealth that are contained there so when you speak about land I gather you were also speaking about. The water and perhaps even the Sun in an economic sense. Absolutely. So let us not overlook the most valuable land of all. Now we've been talking about land with natural resources. How about land with natural resources as soon as the human beings people who talking about land in cities. We would not want to knock down the Empire State Building to dig up coal to grow potatoes. The most valuable land is in the cities and we want access to such
land also by the people. So what you're stating is there are many different things that will give a value to lead one of those things may be the untold resources that are hidden or are contained underneath the surface of the earth. And another ingredient which may very well add moral value to the land is the value that people add some land and their desirability to obtain this land such as would be the case in New York City where certain areas can stain a tremendous value. Because of many of the improvements that have gone on the subway system the streets the lighting system etc. It's just a point. Yes the access to transportation facilities. The center being the center of communication the center of trade. This is what can make land more valuable than even what is underneath the surface.
Then the villain. If I may use this word the villain as far as Henry George is concerned is not. Automation is not industrialization but we perhaps have to look elsewhere. And you're suggesting look in the area of lamb monopolization rather than in the area of capital which is what we really are talking about where the automation Yes. See the problem is that with all the improvements that have a card in our modern society with improvements in education with improvements in inventions and police protection and so on the common man has not derived the benefits from it. And therefore they tend the people come to accuse these very things of being the cause of their poverty. But we've got to find the true cause of poverty. And when we do and we can eliminate it then the benefits of what a
mission and education and so on it can be reaped by the people. Increase wages. But it may very well be that under our present system as we have it today in 1968 that automation the benefits of automation may not accrue to the average worker. This is what is happening that if I may just pose this question to all the what then. Or what conditions. Have contributed to the popular idea here that inventions cause on unemployment. Back again to the major point. Well I think we've answered that previously when we said that. The. Laborer. Is not getting his fat percentage of the increase in wealth being produced by automation. And until he does he will always
be fearful of automation. Now let's get specific with that. If it's not the labor it is receiving the increase. Part of. The wealth part that is being produced but whose value is gaining this difference. Well. Let's talk about nuclear energy. A man. Produces. Discovers this nuclear energy and he begins to use it. He builds a plant. Now immediately the surrounding area becomes valuable because people must live near the plant in which they're going to work. Now run it. What is happening the land values go up. So actually the man most benefited. By the nuclear energy plant is the people. Is the man that controls all land as that. Site becomes more and more important. More and more people must work in the area. He can charge higher and higher rents
for that land. Now once again perhaps we pose this to Sam again concerning this problem of employment unemployment automation industrialization and land. You suggested or even ask before. Unless we get to the ultimate cause of what is creating poverty what is creating unemployment you felt it's not automation. It is not industrialisation that this can only benefit. Man can benefit labor or as all he stated before benefit the labor movement. And this is not the problem. And you suggested that land monopoly is at the root of this particular problem. How then can we do away with this particular monopoly. Well we can do away with this monopoly by applying Henry George's principle. Of doing away with
all kinds sation. And that is a taxation on land on labor and on capital and do away with the taxation of labor and capital completely and by collecting the economic rent which is a community created land values by collecting the community created land values for community purposes. Henry George felt that there was a natural fund which grows in size for art which would take care of governmental needs normal governmental needs. Aside from the terrific expenditures which we have today for work purposes. But how about the other monopolies that we do have monopolies and business which certain anti trust laws that our Congress has an active duty Sharman the slaves and any number of others. How then would you do away with these monopolies
because it seems that most of the American public is not looking in the direction today of lead monopolies but rather when they think of monopolies they usually think of it in the area of capital monopolies. Well there are most many capitalistic monopolies are really land monopolies for example of monopolies in Algoma or other metals or oil. These are all substances which derived from the land and they're basically a monopoly of land. Other forms of monopolies are based upon protected protection protective tariffs and these cases competition from abroad is the limit needed so that these businesses within the country can raise the price of their products through combinations of frames to the point where our products
the price of products can come in to this country. That I gather you feel from what you have mentioned that many industries in many areas within our economy. Almost 5. Because they have certain monopolies which have been granted to them in one way or another by the government. Yes this is true and this is what gives some element of. Of credibility to the communistic. Threat or castigation of capital it is not really capital that they're blaming but. But monopolies either land monopolies or monopolies created by protective tariffs. Gentlemen I must admit that there are times when I do believe in monopoly and one of those few times happens to be a monopoly of radio time. But according to our studio clock our time is up.
I want to thank each one of you. DR SAM Scheck and Mr. O'Keefe flatiron for appearing on conversation with joins us tonight. The Henry George School will send anyone interested. In information concerning the content of tonight's program or any of the courses that are offered free in economics on Long Island. If interested please write. Henry George School. Post-office Box 54. Old Bethpage Long Island. That address again is the Henry George School. Post-office Box fifty four. All but Page Long Island. Exploring the ideas of protection free trade wages taxes automation and the unemployed.
- Conversation with Georgists
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- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-17-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Conversation with Georgists; 9,” 1969-05-08, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 23, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-d21rkj4w.
- MLA: “Conversation with Georgists; 9.” 1969-05-08. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 23, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-d21rkj4w>.
- APA: Conversation with Georgists; 9. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-d21rkj4w