Defeated by truths that can’t be spoken?


In her ‘tell-all’ interview with Price Harry and Megan, Oprah Winfrey couldn’t mention that Harry bore a striking resemblance to former British cavalry officer, James Hewitt. It would have explained a lot of things about Harry and Megan’s break from the monarchy, but there are certain things that must be left unsaid in the best of circles.

There’s a distinct parallel in the field of economics.

Although it mightn’t be perfect, the Georgist School explains a number of economic phenomena that remain undiscovered by the modern economist. Things such as there being an inverse relationship between high land prices and the earned returns of individuals and businesses. Georgists explain that there are plenty of unearned incomes, or economic rents, generated by the community as a whole, and owed equally to all, wrongly enriching a parasitical rent-seeking class. But although it may explain many socio-economic ills, we simply can’t speak in those terms. Nor may we mention that taxes inflate consumer prices and that failure to capture land rent leads to ‘asset’ [read land] price inflation, real estate busts and economic depressions.

So, if we were to un-tax labour, capital and good and services, and instead taxed away ground rent as advocated by the classical economists, wouldn’t we have zero inflation and deadweight losses cascading throughout the economy? In that scenario, a universal income wouldn’t be at all inflationary then? That’s correct: it would abolish poverty, involuntary unemployment and solve industrial relations for all time. Not only would individuals, especially women, benefit from such a living wage universal income but businesses, too. They’d only have to pay an amount additional to the universal income.

But, hang on, we can’t say this. It might offend rent-grabbing parasites, and these days they make up a vastly increasing proportion of the economy. So I guess we’ve got to remain mannerly, mustn’t we, Oprah?

Indeed, following Henry George’s bulletproof outline of these benefits in taxing land prices away instead of incomes, it became essential to recast economics to neoclassical economics in order to accord with the leeching sensibilities of our betters.

So Georgists understand the delicacy of your interview entirely, Oprah.