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A Geoist Robinson Crusoe Story
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor, Progress Report

Once upon a time, Robinson G. Crusoe was the only survivor of a ship that sunk. He floated on a piece of wood to an unpopulated island. Robinson was an absolute geoist. He believed with his mind, heart, and soul that everyone should have an equal share of land rent.

Since he was the only person on this island, it was all his. He surveyed the island and found that the only crop available for cultivation was alfalfa sprouts. The land was divided into 5 grades that could grow 8, 6, 4, 2, and zero bushels of alfalfa sprouts per month. There was one acre each for 8, 6, and 4, and 100 acres of 2-bushel land. For 8 hours per day of labor, he could work 4 acres. So he could grow, per month, 8+6+4+2 = 20 bushels of alfalfa sprouts, much more than enough to feed on.

One day another survivor of a sunken ship floated to the island. His name was Friday George. Friday was a boring talker and kept chattering about trivialities, which greatly irritated Robinson. "I possess the whole island. You may only have this rocky area," said Robinson.

Friday was also a geoist. "I should get half the island," he told Robinson.

"No!" said Robinson. "Geoism only provides you with half the rent. I am retaining the rights of possession to the whole island except for that rocky part."

"But the margin of production there is zero!" cried Friday.

"Too bad," said Robinson. "All you are morally entitled to is half the economic rent."

Came the harvest, Friday said, "Since the margin of production is zero, the marginal product of labor is zero, wages are zero, and the entire output consists of rent, so I get half, 10 bushels." Robinson had to admit this was correct, and handed over half his harvest.

"Wait a minute," thought Robinson. "I am doing all the work, and he gets half the output!" "OK, Friday," said Robinson, "You may use the 2-bushel land." Since there were more than enough 2-bushel acres, the margin of production was now 2.

In the next harvest, Friday produced 8 bushels, and Robinson again harvested 20 bushels. Friday said, "The best land available free has an output of 2, so wages are 2 per acre. My output is all wages. So 8 bushels of your output is wages, and 12 is rent. I get half, 6 bushels." Robinson had to admit this was correct. His income was therefore 20-6=14, and Friday's income was 8+6=14. They again had equal incomes, but higher incomes than before.

Each person can work 4 acres, and they will share the rent equally.

Case 1: When one person gets all the best land, and the other is not permitted to use any productive land: Case 2: When one person gets all the best land, and the other is permitted to use the poorest land:

Robinson Crusoe Friday George Combined Robinson Crusoe
Friday George
Land worked (productivity per acre)
8, 6, 4, and 2 0
8, 6, 4, and 2
2, 2, 2, 2
Margin of Production -- sets the wages



Bushels produced 20 0 20 20 8 28
0 bushels per acre
times 4 acres = 0
2 bushels per acre
times 4 acres = 8
2 bushels per acre
times 4 acres = 8
Rent 20
20 12 0 12
Rent shared equally 10 10 20 6 6 20
Total income 10 10 20 14 14 28

Robinson realized that it did not matter which lands he possessed. He could possess better land, but so long as the rent is split equally, if the wage rate is equal, their income will not be affected. Lawyers say that possession is nine tenths of the law, but the law of rent says, possession does not matter.

If the rent is split equally, those who possess land and want to maximize their income will possess only that amount that maximizes income for all. If they possess too much land, they would drive wages down and rents up, leaving less for the possessors. So it does not matter who owns what land, if the rent is equally split.

-- Fred Foldvary

Copyright 2005 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.

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