[personal profile] ndrosen
At around 3:00 PM on Wednesday, August 17, the panel discussion resumed.

Brendan Hennigan talked about George's The Irish Land Question, later published as The Land Question, with other works included. Hennigan has an Irish background, and said that the Potato Famine was not a real famine: enough food was produced, but it was exported. He discussed the Irish Land League, some of whose members were Georgists.

Fred Foldvary talked about the Duke of Argyll, author of The Reign of Law, and of "The Prophet of San Francisco," an attack on Henry George, who replied with "The Reduction to Iniquity." Dr. Foldvary said that the Duke misunderstood George. Dr. Foldvary said that we should say, "The land rent belongs to all equally." We support individual possession of land, with payment to the community.

Then Bill Peirce, a retired professor of economics, talked about Progress and Poverty. A short biography gave the impression that Henry George didn't know much about economics, but in fact he had read Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill. Would that economists today knew Smith, Ricardo, and Mill.

Around 1870, Walras in France, Menger in Austria, and Jevons in England began the Marginal Revolution. (George's Progress and Poverty dates to 1879.) The marginal revolution meant that economics provided much more precise and rigorous answers to much less important questions than the classical political economists. George was not really behind the times, because in 1879, most other economists were not up on the marginal revolution.

George saw the power of human ingenuity and cooperation. He was an anti-Malthusian, which was needed at the time. There was biological Darwinism, and there was Social Darwinism, the latter of which, at least, George rejected. Reviewers of his work criticized him for this, e.g., William Graham Sumner. George was called a preacher, a poet, and worse things, but he was in fact a real economist.

Progress and Poverty reads better today than it did in 1900 or 1920. Henry George wasn't just a mathematician; he understood the real world, how real firms, real bureaucrats, and real lobbyists influencing government operate. He was a public choice economist avant la lettre.

Early marginalists (not so much Alfred Marshall, who had it in the footnotes) sometimes just used math, and didn't properly grasp the real world.



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