How important is Understanding Economics?
Sprawling development degrades human communities, worsens the decline of urban centers, and places ever-greater stresses on the environment.
January 13, 2018
Lindy Davies

Well, here's the thing: Something motivated you to click on a link from the Henry George Institute that said, "You CAN Understand Economics!" What could that have been? A nagging question about why "earning a living" seems to get harder and harder? A sense that we're watching the rich get richer and richer, and richer, while most people have to struggle for what they get? Or is there a feeling that government has gone off the rails, confiscating what we earn, doling out privileges regardless of good sense?

Let's look at the question another way: Suppose you DID "Understand Economics." What would you have, then, that you don't have now? How would your life be better? 

Would you know how to clear a risk-free million dollars? Maybe... but anything that promised you that would be a scam. But maybe — just maybe — if you did "Understand Economics," then the ways of our political/economic world would be more intelligible. Perhaps the way forward would be a bit clearer.

I have a personal confession for you: years ago,when I first apprehended the basic ideas on which the Henry George Institute's"Understanding Economics" course is based, I thought they were too good to be true. Since then, I have grown ever-more strongly to believe that had I not come to understand these ideas, I'd have no basis for any kind of faith in a sane, sustainable future for our society.

Yes, it's that important. But don't get scared! I am not talking about dogma or religious faith. Our courses ask you to think for yourself and accept no notion that fails to convince you. We simply offer a new way of thinking about labor, wealth and the Earth: one that harmonizes seemingly irreconcilable conflicts.

Economist Mason Gaffney writes:

In Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, there are 17 municipalities. Only two of these are fully built-out: Shorewood and Whitefish Bay, north of the City along the lake. Each houses about 10,000 people per square mile in the green comfort of detached houses on tree-lined streets. At the density of these upper middle-class suburbs, the entire US population, 300 million, would require 30,000 square miles. That is the area of a circle whose radius is 98 miles. Or, if we divide the needed area among 50 states, it is the area of 50 circles of radius 13.8 miles each. Either way you cut it, or any other way, it is lost in the vastness of the USA.

Sprawling development wastes everything: land, resources, energy, time and effort. Sprawl degrades human communities, worsens the decline of urban centers, and places ever-greater stresses on the environment.

Despite all these problems, sprawl just seems to be the way things work today. Leapfrog development spreads farther and farther out into farmland and forests. Meanwhile, cities tax themselves out of existence, struggling to pay for basic services.

The perverse incentives behind SPRAWL are one of the many economic mysteries that our course, Understanding Economics, makes sense of. We show what drives these seemingly inhuman economic processes -- and what communities can do to create saner, cleaner incentives.

Part one, a ten-lesson, self-paced course is FREE. Why not enroll now?

And if you've already taken the (brave) step and enrolled, there's no time limit! Come back to the course whenever you're ready.

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Inside information on economics, society, nature, and technology.
Lindy Davies

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.