Henry Plottre and the Magically Expanding Land
Fred E. Foldvary
GroundSwell, September-October 2007]
Henry Plottre was an English boy who went to magic school to
become a wizard. He was a brilliant student and mastered how to make
rabbits appear, how to make buildings disappear, and how to say "abracadabra!"
whenever he whisked off the handkerchief. During his studies, Henry
heard that there was wizard who could make land grow. The wizard
knew how to magically expand land, something that both physicists
and economists thought was impossible, even with magic. Nobody knew
where this land wizard lived, but it was rumored that there was a
leprechaun named Oldvar who lived in the forest and knew where the
land wizard lived. Henry trekked into the forest and used his magic
wand to sense where Oldvar was, and found him hiding under a
mushroom. At first, Oldvar claimed he knew nothing about the land
wizard, but Henry offered him a rare amber stone enclosing a
fossilized eye of a salamander. Oldvar told Henry he had to go
through the Valley of the Economists and then up the Xylitol
Mountain to the very peak.
As Henry trekked through the Valley of the Economists, he came
upon David Ricardo. "Land is fixed in supply," said
Ricardo. "Even magic cannot expand land. Go back, you fool!"
Henry then came to a fellow with a big red beard. "I am Karl
Marx," said the economist, "and there is a specter
haunting this valley. It is the specter of expanding capital!"
Henry replied, "But I am seeking the secret to expanding
land, not capital!"
"Land is for peasants," said Karl.
Henry did not understand, and kept going forward. He came upon
Adam Smith. "An invisible hand will take you through this
valley," said Smith, "but the secret to expanding land
will also be invisible."
The invisible hand carried Henry to Xylitol Mountain. It was
tiresome climbing up, and Henry tried to skip his way to the peak
with his magic wand, but it was not working here. After many days,
eating only mushrooms and miner's lettuce, Henry came to the peak.
There sat a man with a thick white beard -- the land wizard!
"Oh, land wizard," Henry explained. "I have come
all this way because I was told that you know how to make land grow!"
"Yes," said the wizard. "There is a way you could
make land grow."
"How?" asked Henry. "I will give you a precious
amber if you tell me."
"I need no amber," said the land wizard. "I will
tell you. There is high above a very large comet coming near the
earth. With your magic, you could alter its course so that it will
strike the earth. The earth will then grow bigger. You will then
have expanded land."
"But," said Henry Plottre, "that collision would
kill most life on earth!"
"Yes," said the wizard. "But you asked me how to
make land grow. That is how."
"But you are a great land wizard," replied Henry. "Surely
you would know how to expand land without destroying life."
"Surely," said the wizard. "But I would have
thought the economists in the Valley would have told you."
"No," said Henry. "They said land was fixed, it is
for peasants, and the answer is invisible."
"Well," said the wizard. "Actually I too am an
economist. I will tell you the secret to expanding land. Come
Henry came up close to the wizard.
Henry's put his ear by the wizard's mouth.
"I can't come any closer!" said Henry.
"Just joking!" said the wizard. "Now I will tell
you. But you must promise!"
"Not to tell anyone?"
"No! To tell everybody, you silly boy!"
"OK, I promise," said Henry.
"Tax the land," said the wizard.
"What?" said Henry. "How will land expand by
The wizard sighed. "Sit down." Henry sat.
"When you collect the land rent like a bear collects honey,
then those holding land idle will put it to good use so that it is
worth paying the rent. If they need to keep providing honey to keep
the land, they will work like bees. When idle land becomes well
used, it is like growing more land."
"But that does not expand land," said Henry. "That
just puts land to better use."
"It has the same economic effect as creating more land, no?"
"I guess so," said Henry.
"You guess?" huffed the wizard.
"I know so, now," Henry corrected himself.
"So land does expand when it is taxed?"
"Yes," said Henry. "By George, yes!"
"And what did you promise?"
"That I would tell everybody."
"So go!" said the wizard.
Henry ran down the mountain. "We can so expand land!"
he cried as he went through the Valley of the Economists.
"We can grow land! We can expand land!" he told his
fellow students back in magic school.
"With magic?" they asked? "No, with economics!"
"We don't have time for economics," the other students
replied. "We have enough to do learning magic."
So Henry Plottre realized that he could not save the world with
magic, but rather with economics, but only if people were willing to
listen. Unfortunately, most are too busy trying to learn magic.