The Land Rant
We are pleased to present the newest of the "Land Rant" series of provocative essays created by the Henry George Institute. Let us know how you like it.
Too Easy to Ignore Political Economy
by Lindy Davies
I have no scorn, and quite a bit of patience, for people whose eyes glaze over when I mention "political economy." Henry George declares that this subject is the most important one for everyone to study, because its principles touch us all. That's true -- and yet, in an unjust, privilege-saddled society, it is one of the hardest subjects to get people to think about.
When you think about that, it makes perfect sense. There are plenty of things to be nervous about: What if there really is something we can do to make the society better (but would require us to work, and think, and take risks)? What if we're so busy making a living that there's no energy left to consider these ideas? What if we'd rather play with our kids than think about this stuff? What if this really is as good as it gets?
Well, we know that last one is wrong, anyway. The fact is that the current menu of local, national and international economic policies are so ineffective, so unfair, and cause so much misery that we must focus on the principles of economics. We must understand that a better way exists. It can be implemented. The only excuse our leaders have for not implementing it is that we fail to understand it!
After all, in an economy where every person who is able to work can find gainful work to do, where safe, clean water and quality health care are available to all, where education is universally strong and where no one is allowed to poison the environment without paying its true cost -- in such a society, there would be little need for regular folks to study political economy. It would be the ideal state described by Lao Tzu in which the wise ruler governs "by emptying minds and filling bellies".
It may seem that people's minds are empty now, but they're not; they are filled with distractions, anxieties and noise. We don't live in a just and prosperous society. But we could -- and to get there, we have to get smart. We have to learn. The alternatives exist. But the ruling elites are free to pretend that they don't, as long as we preserve our ignorance.
Lindy Davies runs the Henry George Institute, the leading educational institution that teaches the ideas of Henry George.
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