Single Taxers Divert from Henry George's Analysis Regarding Agricultural Unemployment

Asher George Beecher

[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, January-February, 1931]

Those good disciples of Henry George who were on the Resolutions Committee of the recent Henry George Congress in San Francisco, make a strange statement in their "Resolutions on Agriculture." They say, in their first Whereas, that "the increasing mechanization of agriculture has thrown many farmers out of employment."

The only way to throw farmers out of work is to take their farms from them; and farm machinery never did that. Who ever saw a farmer out of work while he had a farm? A farmer with a farm always has access to land always has natural opportunities always has plenty of work and usually very small pay for doing it.

"The trouble with the farmers" is not unemployment; it is robbery legalized robbery a robbery to which the farmer himself is a particeps criminis. And it is not machinery, but ground rent made private property that cuts down the "dirt farmer's" share of production and keeps him in poverty ground rent which in justice is public property and should be used for public purposes speculative ground rent, which drives him from the markets of civilization into the wilderness capitalized ground rent, which extorts from him a price for a bit of God's land even at the verge of cultivation and mortgages years of his labor to pay for it periodical ground rent, which takes a part of every crop he raises and gives no return for it. It is taxation which gives ground rent to "the farmers who farm farmers" It is taxation which not only gives public property to private persons, but also takes private property for public purposes; it is taxation which "protects" great landed estates from their share of public expenses, plunders the people and forces the farmer to sell low and buy high; it is taxation which makes low wages and small profits creates disemployment and destroys purchasing power robs toiling producers and hungry consumers all to enrich grasping landlords and gambling speculators.

No student of Progress and Poverty ought ever to admit that machinery produces unemployment. Neither should he admit that man, "the only animal that is never satisfied," can ever be unemployed for lack of work to do. The word unemployment, like the word protection, is a lying misnomer. There is no "problem of the unemployed." What is glibly called so is in fact the problem of disemployment the problem of "enforced idleness." That problem Henry George solved fifty years ago and discovered not only "The Cause," but also "The Remedy. "

And to digress a little any disciple of our beloved teacher who calls those great discoveries "the theories of Henry George," ought immediately to give more study to the book and become wiser and more accurate in the use of terms.