Henry Ware Allen
[Reprinted from The Freeman, December, 1942]
The author of this piece, HENRY WARE ALLEN, was
born in New Bedford, Mass, in 1861. Owing to some unaccountable
set of circumstances it was not until 1888, when he had reached
the advanced age of 27, that he evinced a more than ordinary
interest in matters economic by organizing a Bellamy Club in
Kansas City. A few weeks later he was attracted to the Single
Tax movement by seeing a copy of Henry George's Standard on a
Kansas City newsstand. He then joined the Kansas City Single Tax
Club and has been an active member ever since.
Mr. Allen is the author of Prosperity, a book setting
forth the Single Tax in theory and practice, and numerous
magazine and newspaper articles. Our readers will recall his "Labor
Unions and Strikes," in the June issue of THE FREEMAN.
Mr. Allen makes his home in Wichita, Kansas.
When President Hoover said that prosperity was "just around the
corner" he stated an exact truth. Prosperity was available just
as electricity has been available to serve mankind since the beginning
of time. But prosperity was not to be wooed by the wishful thinking of
a careless suitor. Any graduate of the Henry George School of Social
Science and thousands of others throughout the country familiar with
the science of political economy exemplified by Henry George, could
have advised President Hoover precisely what should have been done,
and left undone, in order to bring prosperity around the corner.
Strangely enough, while all of the sciences, particularly those of
chemistry, medicine, and mechanics have made remarkable progress in
recent years, the most important of all sciences in relation to human
welfare, the science of political economy, has been neglected, very
few men in public life apparently having any knowledge of it at all.
When Mr. Roosevelt succeeded to the presidency he was equally
ignorant as to what should be done and left undone to entice
prosperity around the corner. Like his predecessor in office he left
undone those things which he ought to have done, but he also did those
things which he ought not to have done. It was here that Roosevelt
rushed in where Hoover feared to tread. Roosevelt knew that something
should be done but he was quite ignorant as to what that something
should be. He was in a quandary much like that of three ship-wrecked
sailors mid-ocean in a boat who felt the urge to do something
religious but could think of nothing until at last one of them
remembered that at a religious service a collection had been taken so
he passed a tin cup to the other two.
Obedient to an irresistible urge to do something Roosevelt
requisitioned a shining light from a northern university who came to
Washington like a Modern Pied Piper followed by a cavalcade of
similarly bright students. By some mischance they were not, true to
form, led down to the Potomac River to be submerged in its waters, but
were instead taken to the White House where they constituted the Brain
Trust that was responsible for the fantasies of the New Order.
The new President had the go-ahead signal from the American people.
Never before had an American President been so liberally favored. He
assumed that Uncle Sam had the constitution of a Cardiff giant and the
capacity of a rat hole, and all of his subsequent acts were based on
that assumption. The New Deal was appropriately ushered in with a "Bluebird
of prey made of papier-mache" nailed over the front door of every
citizen. Then followed a long series of regulations each one more
startling than the last. Humble citizens were thrown into jail because
they charged too little for their services; every third row of growing
crops was plowed under in order to provide the farmer with better
prices for his product, while five million little pigs were sacrificed
upon the altar of the unknown God. And prosperity still remained
unmoved around the corner.
Meanwhile, an unsympathetic Supreme Court had inconveniently
condemned certain of these prosperity remedies as unconstitutional.
This was too bad, and in order to remedy the matter that august
tribunal, the bulwark of our liberties, must be purged of recalcitrant
members. Fortunately, the guillotine did not have to be used as seven
of the nine members were in failing health and could soon be replaced
by reliable New Dealers.
Then followed the appropriation of billions of taxpayers' money to
Agriculture and legislative favors to Organized Labor in fulfillment
of pre-election promises. Worthy farmers received a steady stream of
subsidy checks as rewards for raising what they were going to raise
anyway and for not raising other crops that they were not going to
raise anyway. These payments put a lot of new money into circulation
and had a slight effect of producing a fairly good imitation of
prosperity, such as may be produced by a shot in the arm, but the
national debt inconveniently rose steadily while the army of
unemployed continued to increase.
Partnership between the New Deal and Organized Labor then resulted in
the National Labor Relations Act and the Wagner Act. Strikes became
more frequent and labor leaders more defiant of law and order.
Employers were commanded by government officials to rehire men who had
been discharged for reason and to pay them full wages for all the time
since they were discharged. Heavy fines were imposed upon employers
for the crime of employing labor slightly under legal age and for
employing men more than forty hours per week. Still, prosperity
stubbornly refused to budge from its position just around the corner.
Fortunately for the New Deal, the subject of prosperity was suddenly
changed by the declaration of war. Up to the last minute supplies of
gasoline and scrap iron had been sent to Japan in huge quantities so
the contest started with extreme difficulties for Uncle Sam. But the
opportunity was now open for a huge expansion of governmental
activities and regulations that would not have been tolerated in times
of peace. One of these was the infamous regulation of rents under
Administrator Henderson. Owners of property were commanded to reduce
all rents to the lower level of the depression period and to cancel
all contracts and agreements in force under penalty of fine or
imprisonment or both. This involved the robbery of one class of
citizens for the benefit of a larger class of voters who were, as a
rule, better able to pay the normal rents they were paying than were
the property owners to receive the reduced rents.
For wages then being received by tenants were in many cases three
times the normal pay for similar services. This confiscation of rents
was regarded as possibly an entering wedge for the confiscation of all
wealth. At least, it was State Socialism in action. Now the people
evidently did not want Socialism. The presidential vote for the
Socialist candidate, Norman Thomas, was in 1932, 918,057; 1936,
200,522, and 1940, 112,274. Again, it was Roosevelt who rushed in
where Norman Thomas would not have been allowed to tread.