Hooper on Henry George on Protection or Free Trade
By David Henderson
Protection or Free Trade is two books in one. The first part is a thorough dismantling of protectionist arguments and a defense of free markets, free trade, capitalism, specialization, economic progress, and freedom in general. The second part of the book compares the private ownership of land to slavery, calls for a steep tax on land, and accepts the “socialist” label. This might seem incongruent, but to George, these positions were integrated, based on a crucial and tenuous assumption: landowners and employers have a monopoly and won’t compete with each other.
This is an excerpt from Charles L. Hooper, “Henry George’s Protection or Free Trade: A Critical Review,” one of the two Feature Articles for February.
I had known about the pro-free trade parts of the book. They are wonderful. I hadn’t known, until Charley told me, about George’s mistaken assumption that thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of landowners and employers don’t compete among themselves. Our conversation about both parts of the book led to this article.
When you read the items on free trade, you might find yourself thinking, “Wow, this guy is addressing the mistaken thinking that still exists today–from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump to the tens of millions of people who agree with them.”