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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. The faculty of the Long Island extension of the Henry George School of Social Science a school devoted exclusively towards stimulating an interest in economics and the dissemination of the philosophy of Henry George through free courses in economics welcomes you to the second in a series of programs
dealing with the subject of economics. It is our hope to clarify and elucidate upon much of the vagueness that B sets this all important area an area which affects all our lives. We feel that economics is everybody's concern regardless of sex profession education or occupation. This program conversation with joy juice deals with economics in this vein and we hope to bring forth some answers to the current 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 three members of the faculty of our school. Each one well-versed in the field of economics. Having spent many years teaching our free courses in economics we have with Mr. Jerry Schweiker and interior decorator
Mr. Wayne Berry an engineer and Mr. Ed MOORE You're also an engineer. Our subject for tonight deals with functions of government. Gentleman in one of the paragraphs in a book written by Henry George during the 1880s and titled social problems. He states the following about government. And after I read this particular paragraph I'd like to get some of your current thinking on this particular subject. It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive. No further than is necessary to secure a liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others and the momen governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line. They are in danger of the feeding
the very ends they are intended to serve. Now after reading this paragraph Mr Ed how would you think that Henry George would feel based upon the things that he has written and based upon the philosophy as propounded by many of his followers. How do you feel he would think about the role of the government today. In essence I'm really asking you what do you as a follower of Henry George feel the purpose of government is. Well basically Henry George's theory about the role of the government is completely opposite to the present day role. Hi Henry George felt that the government's main purpose was to secure for the men on this earth those inalienable rights that were guaranteed to them in our institute Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution the present day government as we all
know is meddling deeper and deeper into the affairs of the man. To an extent on a big brother program and in this way I feel is the present government is straying far afield from the Henry George concept. But don't you agree that there or let me perhaps start off with with an assumption here. Do you feel and we basically will speak about the United States government as much as we are most familiar with this and Henry George was an American even though his writings were well-known in other sections of the world. He was writing for and spoke about the United States right like this to our government's role in the United States. Do you think when you speak about meddling and Big Brother do you think that there is malice on the part of the government these elected officials that we have aren't they in a sense trying to
do what they think is best for the inspirer peoples and the United States and I think they believe that they are doing their best. But again we are using the government as a prop to pick up and carry the burden of people that who have a tendency to pass the buck to somebody else. We noticed that in many cases now we talk about doing something with federal funds or doing something else with federal funds without realizing that it's our own money coming around after being piece taken out of it. And in all the people that are in the government now are doing what they are doing or trying to do what they think is best because the people in general are not interested in their own government. They don't participate like the ship. Now let's go back to the field of economics. Don't you feel in this country that there are many groups of people
that do need taking care of. Such as is done by the government see because I get the impression here that your philosophy is more on and correct me if I'm wrong is more on a concept of individual ism and not on a collective ism. I separate both. You feel as the followers of Henry George feel that people know best what is good for themselves and that the government cannot and does not know that's what it what's good for them I correct in that reasoning that yes. Now what would you do there for. With many of the groups of people that do need governmental help I mean if we went through the budget the presidential budget that he gives before Congress every year certainly there are areas he gives
certain amounts of money to welfare certain amounts of money to agriculture you name it and there's probably a program that the government has isn't is helpful. It is helpful to the extent that the particular people are being aided But again we have the. Specter of big brother standing over the people where these people could be guided and helped locally a lot more effectively with money raised locally rather than coming from the federal government again because so many people of all people in general have the tendency if what they have comes to them easy they are not going to be as prone to utilize it to the utmost that they could. OK now perhaps Jerry Schleicher we can follow up with this question. Henry George wrote 80 85 years ago and at that
time the government participated very little in the running of business or in fact participated very little in the activities of the average American life. But today with a population of over 200 million people isn't it necessary that because of bigness because of the perplexing problems that face this nation today that it's necessary for the government to come and to become involved in a multitude of areas things which perhaps and we George never envisioned. Well looking at the purpose of government and answer that question I'd first like to say that I feel that the person the power that the government uses should be a negative power. In other words as Frederic Bastiat I think in 1850 wrote he said that the government's power should never be positive in other words it should not set out to do something but it
should stop people from doing certain things to one another in other words violating each other's rights. And if it goes beyond that then we are violating each other's rights for example the United States of America was set up as a republic meaning that each person had certain rights and inalienable rights we would call and it's spelled out. And yet we have seen this country drift toward a point where it is all right to pass a law if we think it will do good for the majority of people sort of disregarding the rights. Now you may say well look if people are poor and starving What do you do if you let them starve you die. And of course you can't let people starve you've got to do something to stop poverty. The question is not just how do you. Well we spend money in so-called welfare programs. I on the other hand sense being connected with Henry George reading his books have been led to believe that I think we should first find the cause of it. If we find
that the cause of poverty is a lack of opportunity of an individual to produce the wealth that is necessary to keep it meaning that I'd like to find a way to give him that opportunity and not say to him Well look if you don't produce wealth this week I'll give you a check of $60 and I'll give it to you the next week. I rather spend that $60 and finding a way for this man to produce his own wealth. And I think if we can turn away from that direction of helping a man walk and not teaching him how to walk in other words finding out why is it that a man in this. After all we're going to go to the moon zone. How is it that a man who wants to produce wealth wants to work finds that he cannot work. It's like the days I remember going to public school. The Mexican people were pictured as sitting up against an adobe wall in the middle of the day with a big hat over them and we were left with the impression that they were lazy ignorant fools that just didn't want to work. And we know very well that people who have families have children don't want to see them
starve. They don't want to stop. I think it's a question of not having the opportunity to produce the world and this comes back to the land. After all if the present can't get out the land to grow food he will starve and he has to turn to the central government and the central government will then say alright I'll feed you what just where is this food coming from. There's got to be president somewhere growing it and not being paid what they should be. If they're going to take part of that growth and give it to persons who are not growing food. I would much rather give the opportunity to all persons to grow food for themselves and then worry about a few people who may not be able to grow because they are physically disabled on whatever. You had mentioned before Jerry that you felt that the purpose for a government should be negative. And at the expense of perhaps being a little comical and a little serious. Would you therefore be for the for
the negative income tax. Since this does seem to be a negative function of government I don't think it is so I don't think that's exact word used as negative. I don't see how this is a negative power after all a negative income tax means that if you're not making will sign you. But if you are going to sign you were going to be taking it from somebody else. The world doesn't pop out of the ground in the sense that you mean negative without playing on words. Is that the government should not participate as perhaps Ed was suggesting before meddling big brother they should not participate in in the economy. What is the role of the government in our economy as envisioned by Henry Joyce. I would say if individuals monopolize natural resources if they stop other people from producing well. Then the government steps in and how do you do this. In certain countries in the
world they have revolutions they all just take a gun in Cuba. When Castro told the Presidents Castro why it's not stopping you from growing food to feed your children so what are we going to do. Die forever. They just went ahead they took away the land and impose maybe another type of tyranny or tyranny of Castro and his gang. But evidently the peasants there seem to want it. They feel they are getting a lot better. Now I don't propose that we do this I would much rather see shifting the way of taxing the people that produce wealth to give to the people who don't produce wealth. I would much rather see a tax placed on the. The land values which could possibly open up certain lands to use for example the Georgia-Pacific plywood company want 20000 acres of timber land in the state of Oregon for about one hundred twenty million dollars and looking into this case I found that the company they bought had a gross of about $800000 and maybe a net income of 50000. You may wonder why did they
buy. Why did they spend one hundred twenty million dollars for this company. Well because of the 20000 acres of timber land then you might say well do they need this timber land. And the answer is they're probably not going to use it for another 50 years. But what they did they took off 20000 acres of fine timber along from the market. Now nobody can use it which in effect raise the value of the tema land that they own now and they can stop other people from producing timber. Therefore keeping the price of timber up instead of allowing the marketplace to determine what price should be paid not how does this affect individuals the individual lumberjack finds that instead of 20000 more acres that ECO or chopping down trees that's off the market is not going to be any chopping on this acreage for 50 years let us say or whatever Georgia-Pacific decides. So that you cut out a source of jobs which means eating. OK Wayne following Crow and just digressing for a few moments on this area timber natural resources wealth and taxation
which takes in a tremendous area. Getting back to the role of the function of the government with respect to the economy are you in favor of certain government regulations such as the minimum wage. Are you in favor of any multitude of legislative mat is that have been passed perhaps since the inception of the New Deal. Are you in favor of these laws which apparently seem to have as their primary purpose the protection of the individual. What is your feeling concerning the role of the government since the early 1930s up until the present date and they should keep out of business. I think they're trying to help the firemen have done the primer more. And I can't. I think the function of government
those various should be very simply stated they have to administer the courts haptic like taxes and of course I suppose it's a up have and I mean a but we should be getting away from that. There the government should stay out of out of business and start trying to regulate Now there is a certain a certain types of business you might say they do have to have a regulation and that's make me the telephone company or something on that nature. We can't have three or four telephones on our desk. Strip what telephone companies competing. I've seen that mice own eyes in Philadelphia two telephone companies and two phones and that was way back on time but they were it was very very not the way that you run. Run the telephone out of business would do too well having to fight to telephone them so that there is a certain amount of regulation which is necessary but it doesn't mean the government has to go into business.
Mark too and it is a matter of fact every time they they try to do what theirs can do better they really mess it up. I think the I think the Post Office has shown that the government has really messed that up ever since it started. Course if everybody says it's a political handout to somebody you know what I'm not the postmaster and they put a lot of post ops around there trying to close them up now. But it's it's something that there's competition among that. Then there is in the end in transporting our packages and things we have Railway Express we have the United Parcel and that they can keep going and pay taxes to the government why I don't understand why the government can't ship parcels a lot cheaper than they are but they don't seem to be able to. What government is is really should stay out of business they should just be and by the very simple things. To
secure equal rights to all men. Wait I know this is something that's very recent I know up until the last few years it has been commonly accepted I think by many many certainly a great majority of the population of this country that of all the areas that should come under the scrutiny or the ownership or the control of the government. The post office should be first in line. Are you suggesting that this country the people in it the government as a whole would have been better off if they never got involved. I know that this is a speculative question it is one we'll never know. But do you feel that we would have been better off if the government did not become involved in the management and the control of the postal system. I believe so I think they could regulate it but I don't think they should be running it the same as I hate to see them running a telephone company or any type of
business that has to be a certain monopolistic or one company run it. OK let me get this this point straight now under very few circumstances then do you people that all the followers of Henry George feel that there should be control. Why should I change that that there should be ownership. I want to ship you would be very much against even with the post office and perhaps with other utilities. However you feel that in certain industries perhaps because of their natural tendencies towards monopoly where you gave examples before in Philadelphia with the telephone it seems to be very silly to have two three or four different companies with the whole bit about placing wires underground and overground whatever it may be. It would be very uneconomical to do this now if we need a certain amount of regulation but you feel that maybe perhaps just certain of these types of
injuries industries the government should play a role. I think they have to watch be a watchdog to see for the good for the people to see that the rates are just. Do you think that the government should become involved and say when a steel company raises its prices should the government by one means or another discourage a company from raising prices because this may lead to inflation. No I'd like to see the law of supply and demand. Do the work that the government thinks they can do. It may seem that it is right that the government step in if this deal goes up and I think it's I think that as a say it still is something that can be produced by man and that they should stay out of the manufacturing
business entirely because if one the long supply and demand can pretty well regulate the production of steel just as it should be able to regulate the production of any crops which lots of governments really got everything messed up there in the farm situation then you're against some of our present program concerning subsidy nation of our farms also. Oh yes perhaps we can move on to you on this point Wayne before had mentioned he is for the whole concept of supply and demand. Do I understand that there was that in its real sense of the word that Henry George is a believer of the free enterprise system or the competitive system. Yes definitely. The only my opinion the only way for anybody to do business is to do it on a competitive basis to produce something better
than anybody else and then he will survive. Those who can't produce as well will not survive. And then it's not the duty of the government to hold the hand of this person that is a poor or marginal producer. Then would you go along with what Jerry had mentioned before when you were speaking about Frederick Basti at writing during the 1850s and he had mentioned that the purpose of government should be negative. That in this sense it should be the purpose of government in a negative sense to see to wit that competition does exist. True. Now perhaps Jerry we can go the full cycle and come back to you with this with this particular question. How is then. Can the government take this negative attitude in economics without interfering or meddling or becoming a big brother for example. We know
the books on the legislative books we have a number of anti trust anti-monopoly laws and the purpose of course there is to see who would of that that no one industry or one group of people has a monopoly on on an industry. Now coming back to you what can the government do in order to see to it and act in a negative way without meddling or interfering. That this competition that you gentlemen are in agreement with and you state that it is a good thing that law of supply and demand is good for society. What can the government do therefore to accomplish this purpose. I would say eliminate the one monopoly that is the strongest of all we constantly talk about the monopoly of the producers of wealth. General Motors to big US Steel too big. These people produce wealth. There is another monopoly which we don't seem to know much about and that is natural resources.
By controlling natural resources you actually control the production of wealth. If you keep the natural resource from a producer then to that extent wealth is not produced. Can I just interrupt for a moment. It's not possible to make wealth without natural resources. I don't know of any way of producing wealth out of thin air because there is a natural resource to solve you on the air as some people do in New York City you can actually sell air rights but you just don't snap your finger and find well popping into existence like Mandrake the Magician might do. You must own the natural resource or at least be able to get at it. Now if you can eliminate. If we can eliminate that crime monopoly of natural resources by taxing it out of existence and then allowing the producers of wealth getting at the Natural Resources and letting them produce as much as they can and allowing them to keep it then I think you'll find the government in this negative power system where they will stop only people who are infringing on the natural rights of man to produce wealth. And as Thomas Jefferson
said The planet is to be used to use the word use of rock. He said it's for the living and it cannot be passed on forever to certain people's descendants. Therefore this allowing that into an individual right to future generations. Now if we can use the tax power. To stop this crime and I happily we will find out only other monopolies that were trying to tackle will sort of fade out of the picture and I know that since time is short I'd like to get one final question. Do you feel as a Georges that. If this monopoly were eliminated there would not be a need for the government to participate in these governmental functions. Not to the great extent that they do that I could say I could guess that some certain situations might exist where the government might be necessary in a certain particular field where I may not feel now but I'd say 95 percent of the area that they're in now would not be necessary to me. Gentlemen I wish we could continue with this conversation. Monopolies
competition etc. and as you know the radio stations are guided by competition. And we also have to bow to the next program. Our thanks to Mr. Ed Morier Mr. Wayne Barry and Mr. Jerry Schleicher for appearing on conversation with your guest. If anyone listening is interested in the contents of this program or are interested in receiving information about our free courses offered on Long Island please write with a Henry George School Post-office Box 54 Old Bethpage Long Island. Thank you. Exploring the ideas of protection free trade wages taxes automation on the unemployment. This has been a conversation with Georgia. Produced by WB Yeats
Conversation with Georgists
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Conversation with Georgists is a thirteen part program on economics produced by WVHC and the Henry George School of Social Science. In each episode, host Stan Rubenstein speaks with faculty members of the Henry George School about a specific economic issue and draws on the work and philosophy of Henry George. The program states that it seeks to make economics accessible to everybody regardless of sex, profession, occupation, and education.
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Host: Rubenstein, Stan
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Chicago: “Conversation with Georgists; 2,” 1969-03-24, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 26, 2021,
MLA: “Conversation with Georgists; 2.” 1969-03-24. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 26, 2021. <>.
APA: Conversation with Georgists; 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from