by Joseph Jamme
Mr. Jamme is a student in the HGI’s course in Applied Economics. What follows is his answer to the question, “What are some practical ways to secure public recognition and adoption of George’s proposal?” — L.D.
Henry George suggests a number of ways to help publicize his remedy and try to secure its enactment. Some may not be as applicable today, while others may be more so. It would be well to remember that the General of Alodia had the army at his disposal — and educated at that. It is indeed a tragedy that today’s “landed aristocracy” in this country are the ones who have the army at their disposal. Not only this, they can be expected, indeed counted on, to fight back by any means fair or foul to maintain their unjust enrichment, which is founded on private property in land.
One of the first methods George suggests is to appeal to people’s sense of justice rather than their intellect. This is one recommendation that appears timeless, because justice is universal, while intellect depends on the kind of education that people get. More often than not, our “education” is controlled by the “landed aristocracy” and only serves to further enrich them.
The people’s sense of justice, though “keen” as George calls it, is often so muddled as to be unable to focus on the matter at hand. It can be felt but not seen. Thus the people have only a vague sense of the true cause of their plight.
The people can’t just want “a movement which has for its aim and end nothing but the abolition of poverty, and of the vice and crime that flow from it, by the restoration of the disinherited of their natural rights, and the establishment of society on the basis of justice.” They have to believe whole-heartedly that it can be achieved. The first, most absolute necessity to that belief is to clear away the dense fog that surrounds their sense of just what their “natural rights” are, and the means by which they could be restored.
George says, “How men vote is something we need not much concern ourselves with. The important thing is how they think” To that I would add: or if they think. In most places today the level of education is so degraded compared to years past that I daresay most would need to be taught how to think. Then, when this shroud is lifted, the remedy can be brought to the forefront of rational discussion. Then its advocates can pursue its exposition with the relentless and uncompromising zeal that George calls for. This must be brought to bear, as George states, against the point of least resistance. This however isn’t to say that the points of stiff resistance should be neglected. They should also be attacked, resourcefully and fervently.
People must be disabused of the notion that we live in a free country. As it stands now we are only free to exploit the weak, climbing to the top of the pile, no matter who, or what, suffers — the Great American Nightmare that has people so mesmerized that they would actually fight to keep their chains.
Those in power must be exposed as the corrupt and untrustworthy scoundrels they are. They fight against the remedy because they know it is the only form of true justice. But justice is not their pursuit. George sums it up eloquently:
Property in land is as indefensible as property in man. It is so absurdly impolitic, so outrageously unjust, so flagrantly subversive of the true right of property, that it can only be instituted by force, and maintained by confounding in the popular mind the distinction between property in land and property in things that are the result of labor. Once that distinction is made clear — and a thorough discussion of the tariff question must make it clear — private property in land is doomed.