The disconnect of economics and ecology

 

It was wonderful to see Henry George in the pages of High Country News (“Gilded Age problems,” 12/9/19). Many of the myths and misunderstandings that have formed our idea of “the West” were partly conceived from a disconnection between economics and ecology or actual, physical life. George was incredibly forward-thinking, especially for his time, and spent the pages of his bestselling book Progress & Poverty dismantling the idea that wealth comes solely from capital or labor. All wealth, he wrote, comes first from land, and no human should have the right to own and control land at the expense of others. (He distinguished land itself, which he said should be owned by the community, from improvements on that land, such as buildings.) Mainstream economic theories, he said, were often simply used by landowners and resource hoarders as an excuse to justify inequality and injustice. Progress & Poverty is rich in thought and careful observation, and should be required reading for economics students, land use planners, and legislators — required reading for everyone, in fact.

—Antonia Malchik

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