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I want to be Head Boy

The Headmaster of Westfriars School needs to appoint a new Head Boy to lead the school at the start of the summer term. He has interviewed Gordon Frowne, the Captain of Red House, and has called David Macaroon, Captain of Blue House, into his study for assessment.

“So, Macaroon, you want to be Headboy next term, do you?”

“Oh, yes, sir, please sir, I know I’m up for it and me and my prefects can do a better job than Frowne, sir.”

“Let’s hear your plans, then,” said the Headmaster.

“Well, sir, first of all we have to make big savings in three key areas – benefits, staff pay and pensions,” said Macaroon enthusiastically.

“Is that all?” enquired the Headmaster.

“No sir, we have to reduce the roll call by not replacing the boys who leave the school and cancel the ID cards. And just as important we have to even out the pocket money. Under Frowne the gap between the rich boys and the poor boys has got wider. I think the big boys should not have more than 20 times the pocket money of the poor boys,” explained Macaroon.

“Interesting. Go on,” said the Headmaster.

“What I intend to do is to look at the causes of poverty,” said Macaroon, in a wise , caring tone of voice.

The Headmaster pricked up his ears. “Do you indeed. I take it you have read Progress & Poverty by Henry George?” enquired the Headmaster.

“Eer, it is on my holiday reading list, I think, sir,” replied Macaroon.

“Well,” said the Headmaster “I suggest you start reading it straight away. You will find all the answers you need – such as the real cause of poverty and unemployment, why the poor are forced to live on low wages, why the rich get richer on unearned income and why all taxes are passed on in higher prices so that the poor are forced to live on subsistence wages and require state handouts and benefits to survive.”

“Gosh, sir, really? How interesting. I had no idea,” said Macaroon, wide-eyed with interest.

“Well, let me give you one or two thoughts to ponder. I’ll be brief, boy, because I don’t have much time. The simple truth is that there are three factors of production – land, labour and capital. Land is a natural resource on which all men depend for their existence.

Infrastructure like roads and railways are paid for out of taxation and increase the value of the surrounding land. Land value is created by the community. But because land is private property it means the landowners can increase the selling price and the rent they charge. They don’t have to do any work – it is what they call unearned income.”

“Gosh, said Macaroon. “But the Duke of Westminster owns the whole of Mayfair and Belgravia, sir!”

“And what does he do for the rent he collects?” asked the Headmaster. “Now consider, boy, since land value is created by the community if, instead of taxing wages, production, exchange and all the other things the government dreams up this value that was created by the community was collected as rent and returned to the community.”

“Well, sir, I suppose all other taxes could be reduced or abolished, the workers would get more wages and we would live in a fairer society. Is that right, sir?” asked Macaroon.

“So there is something for you to think about, for a start,” said the Headmaster.

“I certainly will, sir. Along with my other ideas of charging people for cycling on new paths, making sure they turn the heating down. I thought I’d put up a poster saying ‘Vote Blue Go Green’, sir,” said Macaroon, proudly.

“You do an awful lot of talking, Macaroon. Policies here, ideas there. But how many of them do you see through the finish?” demanded the Headmaster.

“Well, it is not easy because I’m not in charge, sir. I need to know the figures before I can give a realistic assessment of the true state of our finances,” the boy retorted.

“What about your promise to get rid of the Punch & Judy tent. I see that is still up in your Day Room,” said the Headmaster.

“Oh, well, you see sir, it is only used once a week and it does give the chaps a chance to let off steam and have a bit of a laugh,” said Macaroon, smiling.

“Very well. If I were you I’d put your thinking cap on because you will need a better set of ideas if I am going to appoint you Headboy on May 6th,” said the Headmaster, indicating the interview was at an end.

“Yes, sir, thank you sir,” said Macaroon, retreating towards the study door.

“AND READ PROGRESS & POVERTY,” boomed the Headmaster as Macaroon closed the door behind him.