Short stories 

On the cause of poverty

 
The question of our time is the question of private ownership of land. -- Leo Tolstoi

The manna in the desert

Enough food

In the Old Testament we are told that when the Israelites journeyed through the desert, they were hungered, and that God sent manna down out of the heavens. There was enough for all of them, and they all took it and were relieved.
This is the story, we read. But let us tell it again with a small change:

Suppose that the desert had been held as private property, as the soil of Great Britain is held, as the soil even of our new States is being held; suppose that one of the Israelites had a square mile, and another one had twenty square miles, and another one had a hundred square miles, and the great majority of the Israelites did not have enough to set the soles of their feet upon, which they could call their own.
     What would become of the manna?
     What good would it have done to the majority?
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Not a whit. Though God had sent down manna enough for all, that manna would have been the property of the landholders; they would have employed some of the others perhaps, to gather it up into heaps for them, and would have sold it to their hungry brethren.
Consider it.

This purchase and sale of manna might have gone on until the majority of Israelites had given all they had, even to the clothes off their backs.
What then?

Then they would not have had anything left to buy manna with, and the consequences would have been that while they went hungry the manna would have lain in great heaps, and the landowners would have been complaining of the over-production of manna.
There would have been a great harvest of manna and hungry people, just precisely the phenomenon that we see to-day.

Henry George: The crime of poverty
And the connection to the modern society?
Think about it!
  1. Summary: Short Stories
  2. Summary of pages in English: The Land Problem
  3. Main page: Grundskyld - Henry George
  December 2005