Short stories

On the cause of poverty

The spring in the desert

Theft and theft

Now, here is a desert. Here is a caravan going along over the desert. Here is a gang of robbers.
     They say: "Look! There is a rich caravan; let us go and rob it, kill the men if necessary, take their goods from them, their camels and horses, and walk off."
     But one of the robbers says: "Oh, no; that is dangerous; besides, that would be stealing! Let us, instead of doing that, go ahead to where there is a spring, the only spring at which this caravan can get water in this desert. Let us put a wall around it and call it ours, and when they come up we won't let them have any water until they have given us all the goods they have."

     That would be more gentlemanly, more polite, and more respectable; but would it not be theft all the same?
And is it not theft of the same kind when people go ahead in advance of population and get land they have no use whatever for, and then, as people come into the world and population increases, will not let this increasing population use the land until they pay an exorbitant price?

     That is the sort of theft on which our first families are founded. Do that under the false code of morality which exists here today and people will praise your forethought and your enterprise, and will say you have made money because you are a very superior person, and that all can make money if they will only work and be industrious!

     But is it not as clearly a violation of the command: "Thou shalt not steal," as taking the money out of a person's pocket?

Henry George: Thou shalt not steal
  1. Summary: Short Stories
  2. Summary of pages in English: The Land Problem
  3. Main page: Grundskyld - Henry George

December 2005
Opdateret d. 22.3.2002