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Is There a Right to Employment?

Rev. A. C. Auchmuty: Gems from George, a themed collection of excerpts from the writings of Henry George (with links to sources)

NOW, why is it that men, have to work for such low wages? Because, if they were to demand higher wages, there are plenty of unemployed men ready to step into their places. It is this mass of unemployed men who compel that fierce competition that drives wages down to the point of bare subsistence. Why is it that there are men who cannot get employment? Did you ever think what a strange thing it is that men cannot find employment?  If men cannot find an employer, why can they not employ themselves? Simply because they are shut out from the element on which human labor can alone be exerted; men are compelled to compete with each other for the wages of an employer, because they have been robbed of the natural opportunities of employing themselves; because they cannot find a piece of God's world on which to work without paying some other human creature for the privilege. — The Crime of Poverty

WE laud as public benefactors those who, as we say, "furnish employment." We are constantly talking as though this "furnishing of employment," this "giving of work" were the greatest boon that could be conferred upon society. To listen to much that is talked and much that is written, one would think that the cause of poverty is that there is not work enough for so many people, and that if the Creator had made the rock harder, the soil less fertile, iron as scarce as gold, and gold as diamonds; or if ships would sink and cities burn down oftener, there would be less poverty, because there would be more work to do. — Social Problems, Chapter 8 — That We All Might Be Rich

YOU assert the right of laborers to employment and their right to receive from their employers a certain indefinite wage. No such rights exist. No one has a right to demand employment of another, or to demand higher wages than the other is willing to give, or in any way to put pressure on another to make him raise such wages against his will. There can be no better moral justification for such demands on employers by working-men than there would be for employers demanding that working-men shall be compelled to work for them when they do not want to, and to accept wages lower than they are willing to take. — The Condition of Labor, an Open Letter to Pope Leo XIII 

THE natural right which each man has, is not that of demanding employment or wages from another man, but that of employing himself — that of applying by his own labor to the inexhaustible storehouse which the Creator has in the land provided for all men. Were that storehouse open, as by the single tax we would open it, the natural demand for labor would keep pace with the supply, the man who sold labor and the man who bought it would become free exchangers for mutual advantage, and all cause for dispute between workman and employer would be gone. For then, all being free to employ themselves, the mere opportunity to labor would cease to seem a boon; and since no one would work for another for less, all things considered, than he could earn by working for himself, wages would necessarily rise to their full value, and the relations of workman and employer be regulated by mutual interest and convenience. — The Condition of Labor, an Open Letter to Pope Leo XIII 

... go to "Gems from George"

Louis Post: Outlines of Louis F. Post's Lectures, with Illustrative Notes and Charts (1894) — Appendix: FAQ

Q26. Hasn't every man who needs it a right to be employed by the government?
A. No. But he has a right to have government secure him in the enjoyment of his equal right to the opportunities for employment that nature and social growth supply. When government secures him in that respect, if he cannot get work it is because (1) he does not offer the kind of service that people want; or (2) he is incapable. His remedy, if he does not offer the kind of service that people want, is either to make people see that they are mistaken, or go to work at something else; if he is incapable, his remedy is to improve himself. In no case has he a right to government interference in his behalf, either through schemes to make work, or by bounties or tariffs. ... read the book

from http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/tma68/geolib.htm

What Is Geolibertarianism?

Geolibertarians are simply libertarians who take the principle of self-ownership to its logical conclusion: Just as the right to one's self implies the right to the fruit of one's labor (i.e., the right to property), the right to the fruit of one's labor implies the right to labor, and the right to labor implies the right to labor — somewhere. Hence John Locke's proviso that one has "property" in land only to the extent that there is "enough, and as good left in common for others." When there is not, land begins to have rental value. Thus, the rental value of land reflects the extent to which Locke's proviso has been violated, thereby making community-collection of rent, or CCR, a just and necessary means of upholding the Lockean principle of private property. In the late 19th century CCR was known as the "Single Tax"— a term that was (and is) used to denote Henry George's proposal to abolish all taxes save for a single "tax" on the value of land, irrespective of the value of improvements in or on it.


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Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper