Another "find" from The San Jose Letter, this from August 8, 1896. The author is Frances Willard, a Single Taxer who apparently found her way to the ideas of Henry George through her passion for ending poverty and dependence on alcohol. TSJL picked this up from the Delaware Single Tax journal Justice.
You'll find other Single Tax Catechisms -- the 1900's version of today's FAQs -- in the FAQ section of http://www.thesingletax.com/. They're a logical layout of what the single tax is about.
Who made the earth?
For whom was it made?
For the use and sustenance of all his children, each one of whom has an equal right to its enjoyment.
How do we know that each has this equal right?
Without the use of the earth no human being can exist. As each has an equal right to existence it follows that each has an equal right to the use of the earth.
Some persons claim to "own" land. Where did they get their titles to it?
All such titles in this country were derived from foreign kings or queens who claimed to "own" America.
How did these foreign governments get this alleged right?
Through open violence or fraud.
Have the people of one generation any right to give away or sell that which was made for all generations?
No; the earth belongs to the living; the dead have no right therein.
If any man claims to "own" land has he a moral title to it?
No; and it makes no difference whether he has purchased or inherited it, his title cannot be better than his from whom he derived it.
To whom does the land of this country belong?
To all the people of this country and to unborn generations.
Is it necessary that each should have an equal portion of land in order that the rights of all may be secured?
No; that would be impracticable and unnecessary. The same end may be accomplished by taking the rent of land for public expenses. As the value of land is produced by the community it should go to the community.
Can this be done without disturbing existing social institutions?
Yes, by abolishing other forms of taxation and increasing the tax on land values.
How would this svstem compare with our present system ot taxation?
It would decrease the cost and simplify the functions of government. A tax on land value is the ideal system of taxation.1
You would, then, remove all taxation from buildings or improvements?
Yes; the more improvements we have, the better for the community. Our present system of taxation checks production; a tax on land values would stimulate production by abolishing the tax on improvements.
How would the placing of all taxation upon land values affect the farmer?
It would reduce his taxes very largely. The farmer is the worst taxed workingman in the country; he not only pays largely through indirect taxation on everything he cousumes, but he is also heavily taxed on improvements. A tax on land values would be very large in the cities, or where land values are high, and the tax on agricultural land would be very small.
How would it affect the house owner?
He would gain greatly, for the greater part of tax which he now pays, is based upon the value of his house which is usually much greater than the value of the land. Of this as well as of all indirecttaxation, he would be relieved.
Would the placing of all taxation upon land values improve the condition of those who work?
Yes. If land were taxed to its full rental value no one could afford to hold valuable land idle; the holder must either use it himself or allow others to use it. This would create a great demand for labor, and all wages would rise.
How would it affect the temperance question?
Through the abolition of poverty it would solve the temperance question; poverty and the vice which springs from poverty are the great causes of intemperance.2
1Thomas Jefferson. 2New York Times.
Miss Frances B. Willard.