I was having a conversation the other day that wound around to the subject of voting. "It makes me crazy," I opined, "that so many Americans don't vote! Establishment pols bet on the apathy; they use it to get away with whatever they want." My friend, an old leftist, loudly scoffed, "Voting accomplishes nothing! It's an illusion! If it meant anything, they wouldn't let us do it!"
That got me thinking back to my early 20s. At that time I was reading lots of political literature, was appalled at my nation's behavior and history. I believed in Fighting the Power. Or, at least, I thought that was a good thing to believe -- but I didn't know what Power to Fight, and in the unlikely event that we ever overthrew the Power, I had no idea what to replace it with.
Here in 2017, my friend went on to say, "I haven't voted in decades!" He had paid Power-Fighting dues: he fought police brutality, drove convoys to help the Sandinistas, rallied for Native and prisoners' rights -- but those movements had failed years ago. So, I asked, if voting is useless, what do we do? "We resist! We blow up the banks!" Well my friend isn't blowing up any banks, however, the combination of passion with hopelessness leads, it seems, to bitterness.
There is a way-of-thinking that understands the key role that land -- the earth, the opportunities of nature -- plays in economic and political life. These ideas, when understood and applied, supply a remedy for society's deepest economic problems.
It isn't culturally fashionable, or politically popular; it's not on the tip of very many tongues. But we offer a free online course about it, and here's what I want to tell you today: Had I never learned of these ideas, what my passion would indeed have gotten wound up with hopelessness. I'd be bitter. Social problems wouldn't seem worth caring about -- why would I want to know about them?
That's how important Understanding Economics is.
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LINDY DAVIES was Program Director of the Henry George Institute and Editor of the Georgist Journal. He was the author of The Alodia Scrapbook, the fictitious story of how a struggling African nation used Geoism to set itself on the path to prosperity, and of the novel The Sassafras Crossing. He managed a successful campaign to get the Henry George Institute's distance-learning program approved by the National College Credit Recommendation Service. He passed away in 2019, and is lovingly remembered by the many people whose lives he touched.