Understanding Economics Instructor: Lindy Davies

The Henry George School of Social Science announces our newest online course, Understanding Economics, taught in a set of concise videos.  This course will provide a basic introduction to Economic theory, as well as to Henry George’s principles, in several short, easy lessons.    The lessons are set up so that you may watch them at your own pace, in sequential order. The first 5 segments of 16 are now available. The Syllabus is available here.

These lectures were developed for the Henry George School, by Mr. Lindy Davies.   Lindy is the Program Director of the Henry George Institute and the Editor of the Georgist Journal. He has written and edited Georgist curricular materials for more than two decades. He is the author of The Alodia Scrapbook, Editor of The Mason Gaffney Reader, and creator of the abridged edition of Henry George’s The Science of Political Economy.   We are very grateful for Lindy’s creativity and contribution to this series, and look forward to more cooperative endeavors in the future.

Part 1 

The Problem — Our first task is to get clear about what we want to know. We survey a long list of economic problems, and identify four basic questions that a course in political economy must address: 1. Why is there poverty, amid progress? 2. Why are there Boom/Bust cycles? 3. Must society trade between efficiency and equity? 4. Must society trade between prosperity and environmental sustainability?

Part 2

Why Is There Poverty? Standard theories — Over the years, various reasons have been proposed to account for persistent poverty in a progressive society. Is poverty caused by overpopulation? By a lack of capital investment? Is poverty an inherent part of a capitalistic society? We examine each of these ideas.

Part 3

Economic Definitions — It is essential that we know what our terms mean. This can be problematic in economic study, because it uses terms differently than people do in everyday speech. Furthermore, there are key differences between microeconomics, which studies behavior of individuals and firms, and political economy, which explores the production and distribution of wealth in the whole society.

Part 4

The Laws of Distribution — In which we develop an economic model, using the island of Manhattan as our example, that shows the basic principles of how society’s wealth gets divided among the factors of production.

Part 5

The Dog in the Manger — Since land is fixed and supply, and needed for all production, it tends in increase in value faster than overall economic growth. This leads to the phenomenon of land speculation. We explore the economic, social and environmental costs of this practice.

Part 6

Capital in Political Economy — Some consider “Capital” to be a social class — but our study of political economy defines capital as simply the physical stuff, products of labor, that is used in production. We explore various kinds of capital and their roles in production and distribution.

Part 7

Boom/Bust Cycle I — Cyclical downturns have plagued economies for centuries. What causes them? We survey the history of booms & busts and consider various theories of why they happen. What do they all have in common?

Part 8

Boom/Bust Cycle II — Our saga of the Boom/Bust cycle continues into the 20th century, in which society endured the biggest Bust ever. After the Great Depression, various policies were implemented to blunt the severity of economic downturns. But is there a way they can be eliminated?

Part 9

Picturing the Boom/Bust Cycle — The dance of curves on supply and demand charts, applied to aggregate production, provides us with another way to see how these dynamic forces interact. It becomes clear that if society could eliminate both land speculation and taxes that burden production, it could enjoy sustainable prosperity without recessions.

Part 10

Henry George’s Remedy: Its Justice — George’s remedy came to be known as the Single Tax: the collection of the rent of land for public revenue, and the elimination of taxes on labor and capital. First we consider the question of whether such a policy accords with the principles of justice.

Henry George’s principles. Our society. Your life. Discover it all, free.