The Education Challenge
for the Henry George Schools
John C. Lincoln
[Originally appeared in The Freeman,
under the title "This Is Our Job"]
Most of us will agree that education is such training as will enable
the mind to perceive the actual relations behind or below what is
apparent. A good many of our educational institutions do not act on
this definition because they graduate their students on the record of
examinations which are largely memory tests.
We will all agree that the encyclopedia contains more knowledge than
any one person ever had, 'but no one would say that the encyclopedia
was educated. To illustrate, it requires no education to say that the
world is flat because all we have to do is look at it and it looks
flat, but when we see that the top sails of a ship are seen before the
hull, which is very much larger, we begin to have some question as to
whether the world is actually flat. Further education convinces us
that the world is round.
It requires no education to say that the sun revolves around the
earth because all we have to do is look at it and we see that the sun
rises in the East and sets in the West, but when we study further we
find out that what is apparently true is not actually true and that
astronomical facts can only be explained on the assumption that the
earth revolves around the sun.
It requires no education to say that an employer lessens his capital
when he pays wages because every Saturday night the wages are paid in
money and the capital that the employer had in the shape of money
before Saturday has been paid out to the employees. It requires some
education to see that what actually happened is that the employer has
not decreased his capital but has simply changed its form and that
actually wages are paid from the products of labor.
It requires no education to say that there are apparently too many
people on earth and that numbers can only be held down by war,
starvation, disease, in accordance with the Malthusian doctrine. It
requires some education to see that what is apparently true is not
true at all and that on the contrary given conditions in which
individuals can have access to land, that 1000 people working together
can produce a good deal more than 1000 times what a single individual
can produce and that, therefore, under proper conditions the more
people there are the more wealth each one should have.
It requires no education to assume that there is no difference in
property in a building and property in the ground on which the
building rests. The law declares that both are private property and
one is just as much private property as the other.
It is the job of the Henry George School of Social Science to make
clear to people in general that the law in this respect is quite blind
and mistaken. A little education will show that the building is
natural property and that private property in the site on which a
building rests la unnatural property created by a special legal
privilege. It is apparent that when the building was erected that it
was produced by labor and capital and wealth appeared which did not
exist before. When we examine the title to the ground on which the
building rests we see that it is not natural property in the same
sense that the building is because the ground has always existed, and
is part of the gift of the Creator to mankind in general. Value of the
land is created because the presence and activity of the community has
produced ground rent which capitalized Is its selling value. What one
actually sells when he sells a piece of ground is the privilege of
collecting community created ground rent -- in other words, he sells
something which does not -belong to him. Most of us are quite
convinced that a hundred years ago the law was quite mistaken when it
regarded a black slave and a bale of cotton both as private property.
It took the education of the Civil War to convince the people in this
country that there was a fundamental difference between private
property in slaves and private property in bales of cotton.
It is our job to try and make the public see that unemployment and
poverty spring directly from the fact that we do not recognize the
fundamental difference -between natural property which is wealth and
unnatural property which enables the holder of the deed to collect
part of the community created ground rent. It all comes back to
obeying the fundamental Command: "Thou shall not steal."
At the present time the government takes by taxation from private
individuals individually created wealth to which it has no moral
right. We can all see that fining-people heavily for doing things
which create wealth, which our present taxation laws do, greatly
decreases employment and increases poverty. The ethical thing to do is
to recognize that the community has no right to individually created
wealth because it has an ample fund to take care of its requirements
in community created ground rent. At the present time we allow
individuals to collect this community created ground rent which is,
from an ethical standpoint, stealing from the community. We will never
be rid of our unemployment problem until we get a clearer idea of the
difference between natural and unnatural property and change our laws
to get rid of unnatural property.
The object of the Henry George School of Social Science is to educate
the public on the natural laws governing the distribution of wealth
and once these relations are generally perceived, a change in our man
made law to correspond to natural law will quickly follow.