Conversation with Georgists; 12
Exploring the ideas of protection free trade wages taxes automation and unemployment. These are just some of the topics to be heard on. Conversation with George's produced in collaboration 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 to the dissemination of the philosophy of Henry joyed and its relevancy today welcomes you to the twelve in a series of programs dealing with the subject of
economics. This subject has been relegated by many to a back seat with respect to our interest and knowledge and left in the hands of these so-called experts. We feel that economics is everybody's concern regarding education occupation profession or sex. We offer and teach our free courses in economics. With this in mind this program conversation with George's deals with economics in this vein and we hope to bring forward 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 three courses in economics Dr. Sam Scheck is an orthodontist
and Mr. Wayne Barry is an engineer. Our subject for tonight deals with rights of men. Gentlemen I think perhaps nothing would be more appropriate on a program dealing with the rights of man than to once again quote from the Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness that to secure these rights Governments are instituted among Men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Now in what I have just read from the Declaration of
Independence they speak about the ending of all rights would seem to have within it certain natural rights that people are born with. Dr. Shad do you feel that there has been any basic change in our philosophy with those mentioned in the Declaration of Independence concerning the rights of man. I don't think there has been any basic change in our philosophy in the last 200 years. I believe there should be a basic change. And I think the change is right there in what you have read when it says certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But all of the inalienable rights have not been spelled out. Just life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And the chief one or two that have
been left out are say a right to opportunity to labor which implies access to land and all right to keep your property intact what you have or you have produced and you have property is taken away from you and then a wrong has been done to your and of land has denied to you. You cannot exercise the power of your labor to maintain your life and you have lost your liberty and you cannot pursue happiness you cannot achieve happiness. But what you say certainly seems to be contrary or at least the attempt this is. Much thinking that is going on today because one of the fundamentals that we have in this country this year is that the government does have a right to take away people's property. This after all is what we're speaking about when we talk about
taxation. The second point that you mentioned and that is a right of opportunity that all people should have. You feel of course this is an inherent right is much discussed today. Let's get a little more specific now in the rights that you speak of. Now when we speak about life liberty and the pursuit of happiness Let's take number one. You feel that property should have been included in the declaration. Am I correct on this. Yes property is the tangible result of a man's labor upon land or land products. If a man makes a table or a chair he feels without asking anybody who it belongs to him to nobody else does not belong to his labor or to his neighbor. And if a man were to take away one leg of the table or chair he would be hurt. He would feel that he had been robbed and and this is in
essence what the government does when it taxes us. It takes away part of the product of our labor. Now you feel Sam that this inalienable right so property should if something of course by the very nature of my might my stating that if something is a right that people have when they are born that no one should interfere with this particular right. That's right and this is where the essence of freedom lies. Can Labor really is retain their natural right to property or the things that they produce as civil ization goes on and as society progresses it seems they tend to lose this natural right and more and more of the product that they are producing is taken away from them. And I think this is the essence of the problem. As we progress in society how can a man retain
what he has produced. He is producing war and more annually. He is producing 17 times more today than he did in 1900. And if he could keep everything that he produces he would be 17 times better off materially. This would be great. It's a welcome back to this point a little while because I'm very interested in knowing if a man has produced generally 17 times as much wealth today than he produced in there in the nineteen hundreds. Then who is picking up this difference. We'll pick this up in a little while because I think this is of course is a fundamental point but Wayne I'd like to get back to you on this particular. Topic concerning property one of the second points of fact the second point that Sam had mentioned. A natural right or inherent right that that man should have
is a right. So land or a right of an opportunity to earn a living now could you perhaps go into detail a little bit more on this second point as being a right of men. Well Sam was right when he said that the labor determines a basic right to property. And that's the only way it should be manned. We cannot include his property it's God given. No matter whether you believe in the Bible or evolution you know that the Earth had to be here before man was set upon it and everything man didn't produce anything it's in the natural resources you might say of the earth. The oil and the minerals and the other of the virgin forests and those things that the man has utilized through history to produce his home his furniture and the land in which he grows things. That
he has no right to claim as his own shouldn't have any. And yet the government's been given have given him that right to to hold it without letting anybody use underarms. And unfortunately this causing the economic chaos we have today. The right because man is not able to keep the things that he produces. Even government create creates land values and they're entitled to the people of course are considered a community have a right to collect those values of land values and they're not doing that and that's what. That's collective labor you might say. So this right to property is something very important. When I'd like to get back to a point which may have quietly slipped by but I think that this is a fundamental
concept and not only in our country but in a number of the non-Western countries in the world today concerning land being not properly you know I know that most people feel that land is property and yet you state that land is not property which of course if we go back to Sam's reasoning if man is entitle to the things that he produces and after all this is the definition that you are giving up concerning property and now you mention Wayne that land is not property. Then are you in reality stating that whatever man The arrives from the ownership quote land he is not entitled to because to begin with land is not property. No I may have missed. Man made a mess and I may have misunderstood. But no. Whatever man
produces into this should be his and nobody has a right to take any any of it away. Even the government the the access to the land which he has to have a course he should have to. Should only be paying the government or the value that the community has created on that land. Whether it's because it has irrigated been irrigated or something other reason roads leading to it. Then he has to pay and that's what all of those improvements are reflected in the value of that land and he should pay for it. Paying the government for that. But I don't his work that he does on the land should be all the wealth that he creates should be his own. OK let me get a little more specific and perhaps so that we can take this back to you when we're speaking about the Landover here because you do separate this as a category from other forms of the fruits of
one's labor. Let us say that in Oklahoma I happen to have been fortunate enough that my father gave me one hundred eight because of family work closely and back in 1920. However during the 30s and the 40s they discover that roiled rest underneath the soil of my land now. Am I entitled to all the oil of that there is under this land. By that I mean is that or will my property. Said Yes well you see they land is has become valuable now because of the great demand of the people of poor oil. If there are not a market if there were no people all that oil would be
worthless. It is up population growth which has made that land in Oklahoma valuable just as it has as it has made land in Manhattan Island valuable. If you want to take the people of Manhattan and transfer them to let's say Arizona to a desert island a desert in America Arizona you can visualize that the land in Arizona would suddenly become extremely valuable while the land in New York would become as worthless as the land in Arizona. So it is the people who create the benefit to the land either by providing a market for its products or by providing roads schools electricity and so on to the area. And in this respect I wish to say that if a tax were placed upon the land this is not really a tax but it's a payment by the owner of the land for benefits received whereas taxes on all other objects are truly taxes they are burdens.
So when we say we want a single tax upon the land and in essence we wish to remove all taxes. But we wish to get the revenue for the government from people who own land and are receiving benefits from the land which are much greater than benefits others receive. So we provide equality in this manner. Now let's get back to this whole idea of property and the rights of man are there or is there property today which people have which they did not write fully heard. Sam Well the basis of ownership of land is fraud and war. You might say we know that through war land ownership is transferred from one government to another and from one
group of peoples to another. We know the land is up pained by means of force or fraud. Now a lot of the land was given away to railroad companies originally for example see the rail road built from the East Coast to the west coast and the middle of the 1900s it was built and a grant was given for land ownership 100 miles north 100 miles south of the railroad. Now New York State is only 400 miles from north to south. So you can imagine how much land was given to a railroad going clear across the country at half of the with New York State. Just one example of these things. Right now I was saying if this is only one example of that of course there must be many many more examples of this. Are you really stating that many of the fortunes because here I think you are talking
about the fortunes that were made as a result of the railroads in certain land grants that were given to these people by the government. Are you in reality stating that much property that many of the wealthy industrialist all wealthy people perhaps I should say up tamed in this country during after the period of the Civil War right up until today are a result of not of their own labor but rather a result of having certain privileges such as the exclusive ownership of land and its minerals that the others did not have. Is this the reason of that many large fortunes were built up. This is the reason why many large fortunes were built up and are being built up and will continue to be built up. This is a legal means of men. Earning lots of money and permitting their fortunes.
Although I feel it is strictly unethical because when a man earns millions of dollars without working I feel that there are other people are working who are paying to this man. This is happening all the time we've had the ice plant scandal here recently. We have constant land scandals and it is all based upon the transference of land which is a pyramiding in value overnight. You think that history bears you out. These particular comments that you are making that if we were to analyze the fortunes that have been made that in each case we would find out that land has played a major factor in the making of these fortunes. Well this is true. You are think of today asters and well any million euro billionaire that you can think of and youll find that most of his holdings is inland. Now previously you had mentioned that the average.
Increase in wealth in this country. I've been approximately 17 times per person. Is it your feeling that the reason that the average worker has not been able to get this increase seen it for himself is because these people that you're speaking of these large people concerned in land speculation land ownership mineral ownership that they have taken away part of the same craze. This is exactly true. You see the product of labor is divided up into three African use and one of them is rent to the landowner. If you don't land owner must be paid. The reward for the use of land before the laborer can get it take his wages out of the product and before the capitalists can draw his interest. For the
machinery which is being used and the landowner generally takes out so much that the labor only receives a bare living for himself. And this is the explanation for the reason why although he has produced producing 17 times more than in 1900 he still has trouble paying the rent on his or his home which is different from he cannot make rent. He has difficulty paying the telephone bill the gas no electric bill and difficulty buying food clothing and shelter when getting back to the Declaration of Independence. In the light out of what has been said by both you when I say I am so far on this program the you feel basically that there was something missing. In the Declaration of Independence when they did on
purpose incidentally because this was something which Thomas Jefferson who was the leading author of the declaration he had this running debate and I thought not only within his own mind but with others. The reason he did not state life liberty and property he very specifically did not include property. Do you think that this is one of the reasons that we have run into some difficulty philosophical not talking about economic difficulty but philosophical difficulties was because we did not relegate to property its rightful place. When we talk about life and liberty that you cannot separate life liberty and property because one is very closely linked to the other. Yes I think they should have included property. It should have been I don't know just how it should be worried but they in the Constitution the same I might
point out that in Alberta they include in their constitution in Canada the province of Alberta in Canada when they form their constitution they actually put in that that all mineral rights belong to the provinces or to the state and then we should have that then they're not in our Constitution every state constitution so that the oil that it was discovered anywhere like the oil discovered in Alberta now is the it belongs to the state belongs to the people about birth. Maybe but most all of the Canadian people but at least the individual land owner is not collecting it up there. And because of that fact Albertus taxes are going down the collecting two hundred twenty five billion dollars a year for oil royalties and that means there's no income taxes. There are no sales tax in the real estate tax at all and that it's a big help. And that would have been a big help to this country or any country that that had in their constitution that all mineral rights all
land belongs to the community and not to the individual landowner. I don't just one point before I get to Sam that I know that a number of years ago way back in my youth when I was. Seriously interested in perhaps moving to Alaska this was before Alaska became a state. I recall writing away to the Department of Interior and one of the items I recall very clearly was that the US government in Alaska and I assume it's still true today. They'd have the right that if any minerals were found and I think that was somewhat specific they mention certain natural resources and minerals that if they were found that the government did have a right to these particular minerals. So it even seems in certain isolated cases that this principle is recognized and of course they put it much more into practice in Alberta.
I just want to mention this little I don't know that. Sam I want to mention philosophically speaking you were talking about the the minerals which are under the surface of the earth but there's no reason why you should not include the actual surface of the Earth itself and even the part above the surface of the earth because we know that air rights can sell for millions of dollars too. And this has been done here in New York. You know the waste land includes not only the land itself but whatever is underneath whatever is above it even includes water. It has been mentioned lately that oil off the coast of the United States is the land the water that contains the oil is land. This was mentioned in the newspapers. So it knows that land economically speaking includes the entire material universe outside of Man and His prophets I called very recently just checking to look up a definition of land and
I cannot recall which of the encyclopedias that I did look this up in but this is commonly accepted when one does speak about when they do speak not only of the surface but everything underneath and everything above and of course as we know what is what one century. It is actually the next century that one may very well disappear or evaporate becomes land the next century so if we begin to make very fine distinctions we find ourselves in much difficulty in land. Sam and I mention about property rights. There are people who not having read Henry George and feeling that Henry George once so place the entire land tax upon the land they feel that the Georgists are attacking one of the pillars of American civilization and that is a property right of a man to own property. Now if this person were to read Henry George he would realize that we are actually
bolstering up the pillar of property by asking that true property which is the results of human labor be tax exempt. And the only way to do this is to. Take the rent of land for government purposes. Sam and Wayne I wish that we could continue won with this but according to our studio clock this is one right that we don't have and that's just to continue to talk on endlessly. Our time is up and I want to thank you once again Mr. Wayne Berry and Dr. Sam Scheck for appearing on conversation with Georges. If you are interested in obtaining any information concerning the contents of this program or any of the three courses which are offered in economics on Long Island please write to Henry George School Post-office Box 54 Old Bethpage Long Island that address again is
- 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
Producing Organization: WVHC
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University of Maryland
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- APA: Conversation with Georgists; 12. 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-vm42wr68