Conversation with Georgists; 3
Exploring the ideas of protection free trade wages taxes see automation on the unemployment. These are just some of the topics to be heard on. Conversation with George's produced in cooperation with us and rejoined school of social side. And now with here is your host for a conversation with Georgia. The faculty of a Long Island extension of the Henry George School of Social Science a school devoted exclusively to the dissemination of the philosophy of Henry George via free courses in economics welcomes you to the third 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 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. Dr. Sam Scheck and orthodontist Doug butler retired and Auggie flatiron an engineer. Our guest today our
subject for today deals with the individual and society. Gentleman and Henry George's book social problems written during the 1880s many chapters read as though it were written this year rather than 80 to 90 years ago. What continually stands out is the concentration on basic problems rather than a potpourri of incidentals. Today's subject definitely falls into the category of basics and brilliant minds of the past as well as today have had much to state concerning the role of the individual and society. Our subject today deals with the individual and society. Dr. Sam Scheck perhaps we can start off with you. Exactly or precisely what does Henry Joyce state about the role of the individual in society.
Well Henry Henry George feels that the individual is the most important part of the society. He is the original building block upon which society is based and he feels that this state should be of lesser importance than the individual. Henry George has a picture of society as being the greater a leviathan like the huge whale and of course this whale has many cells. These are the building blocks and these cells are the important elements of this whale to be every part of the mechanism works what a manically the heart of the lungs and so on. But if the cell is not healthy they and cannot function properly the whole organism dies. Well with respect to what you say about the individual. Certainly Or is it true
that is Henry George believe in government. He's not an anarchist is he not Henry George does believe in government. I would say that he believes in the smallest type of government that is possible. He does not believe in a huge government that we have today which is growing larger and larger. Henry George if he were alive today would like to see the government shrink in size and have many of its present functions being taken over by individuals in their daily functions then it would seem to be that of Henry George were alive today that his philosophy would be the antithesis of perhaps what we call the welfare state or even a number of countries which are under communist doctrine would that be true. Yes this is true with I would not be any need for a welfare state. If Henry George's principles were adopted since poverty would be nonexistent. The
only real role for government would be to provide possible police protection fire protection. Some courts would be necessary and also and one main function would be to eliminate the present inequalities in opportunities. And this is a subject which we may get into yet. OK perhaps we can hold up a little bit on this subject of any qualities and and as much as we started to talk before about some of the differences between the present welfare state which has a different concept than the concept that Henry joint stated with respect to the role of the individual in society what seemed to be the major differences then between Henry joins and let's say the thinking or Marxist philosophy. Mr. Doug Butler. Why rejoice pleasured individual as being the most important. Jesus said For all is noted and so good.
I thought he thought that the individual is the most important which is quite a contrast to the thinking of the Marxist philosophy which places the individual at the bottom as a card in the wheel and makes the state the most important one from if one would just to read the newspapers day by day they would certainly know that the trend if there is such a trend seems to be towards the type of philosophy that places the state as being more important than the individual when you agree with this. I would agree with that yes I think that more and more we're becoming in a state where the state is all important and the individual from day to day is becoming less important and really becomes just a cog in the way you. Then if I gather you correctly is Henry George perhaps suggesting that we should go back to the philosophy that we had in this country during the 19th century the eighteen hundreds of laissez faire with a government plane a very small role in economics. I would say so.
Sam perhaps with a difference. Mr. Butler and that is that George would like to see that monopolies would be eliminated. In other words free enterprise is very fine as long as there aren't any hindrances to free enterprise and the natural hindrances to free enterprise today are the monopoly of our natural resources which constitute the land of the United States not only of the lands which hold our minerals but the lands which hold the greatest values of all the site values such as the lands in New York City and in other major cities. So George would like to see that the inequalities Yuto private ownership of these lands from which our entire industry is based. He like to see that
this monopoly is eliminated and also other monopolies which are again possibly through protective tariffs and so on. But the monopolies that you're speaking of existed during the 18 Hornets in this country certain we had strong monopolization of land this is not true Sam. Not to the extent that we have a day to day and the years preceding Henry George there was a lot of free land. Our country was noted for its free land. And this is what attracted the peoples of Europe to Rice say the hardship the poverty of Europe found a release and emigration of people to the new land where they could have new opportunities of labor based upon the ability to acquire land without cost or with very little cost. I know that it can only be that this particular topic that we're discussing individual and society is so intertwined with this whole field of
economics and it seems from what both of you gentlemen have stated so far that Henry George would prefer letting each individual perhaps without the interference of the government going about and too. To earn a living without any any interference whatsoever am I correct on this point. Yes George felt that we have natural laws of economics and he felt that we should allow these natural laws to prevail and to act without hindrance. And he felt that we have no right to have the government impose the laws upon industry in any way until we have permitted these natural laws to walk and have seen that they have not worked. This has never happened in our society we have never permitted the natural laws to work. So we cannot say that they do not work. We should give them a
chance. Then once we begin to speak of natural laws I think this perhaps takes us to the next question and this is one of human nature is Henry George trying to change human nature. Doug. I don't know whether that's kind of a complex question. Does human nature change how does one attempt to better mankind I think we detect a last part and say that if you make the conditions right environment right that people respond with accord of the goodness which is in every person as a hundred George points out and I think that with the right conditions in the right environment you can bring out the better side of man. I don't understand why you probably could change human nature than Henry George. If one which used the word optimism in contrast to pessimist and Henry George would be an optimist with respect to the potential potentiality of
mankind. I think so. Under George brings out that every man has within himself the power for good being good and when permitted to do so on the environment right that goodness comes out and expresses itself in many ways. And then if we have perhaps the difficulties that beset our economy today. Then one of the basic reasons for the difficulty that we have may very well lie within the realm of economics. I was so strong Sam bought out a few moments ago. If natural laws and divine laws the laws of God or the laws of the little political economy allowed to operate freely by men a judgement would be made which would be beneficial to the individual as well as society. OK OK perhaps we can get you in onto this conversation concerning human nature. How does one go about where does one start and trying to better the environment. For example if we take the past
30 some odd years was not an attempt made by the Democratic administration to change society with a number of reform programs and yet these reform programs were instituted by the government. And yet it seems to be that Henry George is against government interference or at least he wants it kept to a minimum. Isn't the government the one that's in a position to institute many of these reform programs. What reform programs can you have without the government. Well obviously they did institute a number of reform programs but they didn't get to the basic problem they were dealing in the outer fringes of the problem. The basic problem in our thinking is too. Provide the opportunity for men to earn a living. Now when you speak about the opportunity to earn a living are you speaking about the
welfare programs that we have or any number of other programs that have been instituted by our government not adore and perhaps Can you clarify that point in the. Equal opportunity in earning a living. Well there is many areas where labor can be applied. There are there is land available where the opportunity to use that land if this opportunity can be offered to the people who are being helped so to speak by wealth for fear programs. Then many of these reform police reform programs would not be necessary. Sam following up on what he has just stated it is not incumbent upon the government to see to work that each particular citizen of this country does not start in the role of the government to make sure that everyone has three meals a day and has the basic necessities of life.
Well I don't feel that it is incumbent upon the government to do this. I know in our Declaration of Independence is that the document read says Each man has the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is no indication that the government must provide a living for a healthy man who is able and willing to work. But it is incumbent upon government to see that an opportunity is provided for a man to work and equal opportunity for all. And this is equal opportunity again and here is in the land. We are all land animals. A We have land we have air and water. We human beings are dependent upon the land itself. And if we have no access to the land on which we stand and access to the land in which to live in our homes or access to the
land on which to walk in one way or another we cannot use our natural forces to create wealth. And we are helpless. And let's let's get back to the Declaration of Independence that you mentioned of course this is almost 200 years old. How can things change from the day of the Declaration of Independence to today's period where heat is almost necessary aren't things too big for any individual to handle. It seems to be that only the government is capable of handling certain operations such as they are involved with today. Sam when you can't comment down on this particular point that the whole trend throughout the world seems to be for more government interference because many people seem incapable of solving their their problems. Well I think the trouble is only in the seeming as society gets more complex it may be difficult for people to
imagine how these complexities can function without man's directions. But we feel that the natural laws of economics if not interfered with can allow complex economic systems to function so much better than any human being can. And when we talk about the government we may think of something which is bigger than human beings. But governments are run by people with brains such as you and I have and they have no greater ability to direct. An industry and a body else has. So you feel therefore that the government is in no better position as it is in certain communist countries where they're able to direct 5 and 7 year plans that they are able to obtain more as far as wealth is
concerned than under a free economy. You know if we look at countries like Russia we find that they actually produce much less wealth than countries which have less governmental direction. Russia has many times the land area that other countries has. It has many more resources natural resources than other countries have. Russia has a large enough population larger than most other countries and still we know the Russians people are not as well off as people in free countries. They just do not produce that much wealth. For example in the field of agriculture at least until recently 50 percent of the people were in this field and still they had to import grain from the United States. I know this would seem to be verified by any trip that Premier Khrushchev took to this country a number of years ago while he was in office. At that time he going to
the Middle West and one of the things which struck him greatly was the productive capacity of many of these farms many as would seem to bear out the comment that you just made right. And incidentally is there Russians are now for practical reasons departing from their original a philosophy and trying to put a more incentive and freedom of operation into all their industries with beneficial results Doug. After World War 2 the head of the German government was casting about for ways and means to rehabilitate Germany and put it on its feet and asked a friend of ours the best way to do it. His friend replied of why don't you try freedom. And so you tried freedom giving the man you're in the people of Germany the privilege of the opportunity of keeping all they produce with just the minimum for taxes and the support of the necessary function of government. And then while Germany became one of the most prosperous nations throughout the world
especially in Europe. I think that a lot of times the question we've been discussing here. Yes it certainly has a strong bearing upon what we have been saying Augie going back to what Sam said. Apparently under the communist form of government the amount of wealth retained by the producer the worker is kept to a minimum so consequently there is no incentive to create more wealth. Then he just needs to survive. Let's get back to this point once again of the creation of the production of wealth and also the topic that we are speaking about concerning the individual and society. Sam is it possible that the more regulations one has with respect the common economy. Does this dampen liberty or is it possible to have a society which is governmentally controlled or government oriented and also have a strong amount of liberty and freedom with respect to the individual.
No you can't have one without the other. That's when I like a song like that I missed out how they meant to go with the same like yes another you can't have a good society without the freedom. And if you want to have a large government this government has to be like a superman they must have a police force to regulate things that have to collect all the wealth because they are having such large functions they need money with which to operate. And this necessarily eliminates the freedom on the part of the individual a person we can call or we can call a person free if he is free to use his abilities in any direction he wishes and can retain the wealth which he
creates. And if he has to give it all up to the government in the form of taxes he has very little liberty. And also if he is not free to operate and to use his abilities due to a lack of natural opportunities he is also not free. He then has to go to work for a boss and accept the minimum amount of wages. Which is available at that time it would seem to me from what Henry George believes that the society that we have today seems to exhibit a number of paranoid tendencies because on one hand we have the government that is playing a larger and larger role in our lives in our society particularly with respect to the economy the welfare programs that we have the war on poverty that we have any number of hundreds hundreds and hundreds upon programs that they have instituted. This seems to be more government interference
or correlate participation with then in the context of our economy and on the other hand we seem to continually go back to the Bill of Rights we continually go back to the declaration of in the independence as you quoted before and state that another the primary purpose of our country is to give people more liberty more individual ism. Does it not seem to be that we're getting at the crossroads where the government is trying to do two things one of which you say is almost impossible or very improbable. Well we do have an income palatability here or an enigma here as you say. The government doesn't want to see that people have all of their needs satisfied and would like to see that people do these things for themselves. But they have not found a key to
this problem. They have not been able to find out how people can satisfy their needs or on their own and they therefore have come to the extremity of trying to give the people their needs through welfare programs and so on through Medicaid and Medicare. And now they're talking about a guaranteed annual salary. However a no. No good solution will ever be found unless the cause of the problem is known. And this is it. The key to the problem is the fact that the land has been monopolized and the land is the area of natural opportunities for the people and until the government can provide relatively free land for people. Our problems of unemployment and other welfare problems will never be solved. We've mentioned on several occasions particularly at the beginning of the
program that what is needed is an equal opportunity to earn a living and perhaps with the few remaining moments that we have on the program that we can explore this particular issue a little bit more I know Sam you've indicated some of the answers to this but how can we provide more economic opportunity for the individual. Now take away all the taxes upon labor and capital and then come and do the individual opportunity keep which he produces and you will find that without great incentive to produce more and the freedoms of the individual then if we were to eliminate all of these taxes how could the government operate with all the expenses that it has you want to eliminate the taxes placed upon business firms today based upon corporation taxes. Then you also mention eliminate the taxes based upon personal
income which represents the largest portion of governmental income that it's able to obtain. Where then would the government get the necessary money to operate the payroll or back of the Liberty Amendment which is to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax completely. I figured out that it's United States government would get out of the business is that there are in 700 businesses and go to the only way and try to see as a good example that they would have enough money to pay off the expenses of government by getting out while your affairs in the government the individual have greater opportunity on the ground right which should be collected instead of taxes would be quite sufficient by all the expense of the necessary government. Gentleman no matter how much freedom that one may believe in. There are certain rules we must follow and one is the sanctity of the studio clock.
I wish to thank each one of you for appearing with us tonight. Dr. Sam Schacher is the Doug Butler missed all the Flatiron for appearing on our program conversation with Georges Henry George School will send anyone interested a short booklet concerning tonight's show and the free course is given on Long Island in economics. He addresses the Henry George School Post-office Box 54 own Bethpage Long Island. That address again is the Henry George School Post-office Box 54 on the Bethpage Long Island. Exploring the ideas of protection free trade wages taxes automation and the unemployed.
- Conversation with Georgists
- Episode Number
- Producing Organization
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- 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.
- Talk Show
- Media type
Host: Rubenstein, Stan
Producing Organization: WVHC
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-17-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “Conversation with Georgists; 3,” 1969-03-27, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-p26q3q6n.
- MLA: “Conversation with Georgists; 3.” 1969-03-27. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-p26q3q6n>.
- APA: Conversation with Georgists; 3. 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-p26q3q6n