Land Value Taxation will solve many of the 21st century's most serious social, economic and environmental problems, and promote justice, fairness and sustainability. We CAN have a world in which all can prosper.
Progress and Poverty, by Henry George Here are links to online editions of George's landmark book, Progress & Poverty, including audio and a number of abridgments -- the shortest is 30 words! I commend this book to your attention, if you are concerned about economic justice, poverty, sprawl, energy use, pollution, wages, housing affordability. Its observations will change how you approach all these problems. A mind-opening experience!
Henry George: Progress and Poverty: An inquiry into the cause of industrial depressions and of increase of want with increase of wealth ... The Remedy This is perhaps the most important book ever written on the subjects of poverty, political economy, how we might live together in a society dedicated to the ideals Americans claim to believe are self-evident. It will provide you new lenses through which to view many of our most serious problems and how we might go about solving them: poverty, sprawl, long commutes, despoilation of the environment, housing affordability, wealth concentration, income concentration, concentration of power, low wages, etc. Read it online, or in hardcopy.
Bob Drake's abridgement of Henry George's original: Progress and Poverty: Why There Are Recessions and Poverty Amid Plenty -- And What To Do About It! This is a very readable thought-by-thought updating of Henry George's longer book, written in the language of a newsweekly. A fine way to get to know Henry George's ideas. Available online at progressandpoverty.org and http://www.henrygeorge.org/pcontents.htm
Where Else Might You Look?
Wealth and Want The URL comes from the subtitle to Progress & Poverty -- and the goal is widely shared prosperity in the 21st century. How do we get there from here? A roadmap and a reference source.
Reforming the Property Tax for the Common Good I'm a tax reform activist who seeks to promote fairness and reduce poverty. Let's start with the enabling legislation and state requirements for the property tax. There are opportunities for great good!
For they account it a very just cause of war for a nation to hinder
others from possessing a part of the soil, of which they make no
use, but which is suffered to lie idle and uncultivated; since every
man has by the law of Nature a right to such waste portion of the
earth as is necessary for his subsistence.
— SIR THOMAS MORE, Utopia (1516),
Book II., tit. Of Their Traffic.
38. Mining companies which mine on public lands pay far less to the Federal government than they pay on privately held lands.
A. That's fair, because the private landholders are better negotiators
B. That's fair, because the 1872 Mining Act set the price, and it wouldn't be fair to change the business environment after setting the rules.
C. That's fair. Corporations need subsidies to create jobs.
D. That's unfair, and the federal government should be getting just as much from the miners as the private landholders are getting
E. That's unfair, and not only should the federal government be getting more from the mining companies, but the federal government should be collecting a significant portion of the royalties now privatized by private and corporate landholders, since we're all equally entitled to nature's bounty. This would permit us to reduce other taxes on wages and production, and perhaps lead to a citizen's dividend, similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund
F. That's unfair, because the 1872 Mining Act was based on old prices and old mining technology.
A. Don't worry about that. Our children should pay for it, and their children if necessary, with interest accumulating. The economy will grow sufficiently that it will not unduly burden them.
B. We should pay for it via federal taxes on wages.
C. We should pay for it via a federal tax on sales (or consumption).
D. We should pay for it via a federal tax on land value; people and corporations (domestic or foreign) who own land in midtown Manhattan or downtown Los Angeles would pay a lot; those who own rural property would pay little or nothing. Tenants' rents -- residential, commercial, agricultural -- would cover their share, and be collected from landlords.
E. We should pay for it via royalties on non-renewable natural resources. (Whose natural resources? from U.S. soil? from Afghanistan soil? other?)
9. The corporations which pump oil from beneath federal lands are paying low royalties into the federal treasury, despite the fact that the price of oil has risen significantly since their royalties were set. The royalties should be raised. To whom should the revenue go?
A. The Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the LDS Church, the orthodox, conservative, and reform bodies of Judaism, the American Islamic governing entity, etc., in proportion to their proven membership. Further provision should be made to insure that those who belong to no religious group can name an entity which should control their share.
B. Keep giving it to the corporations, but increase their corporate income taxes. Or reduce their loopholes.
C. Use the revenue to fund education, providing all children the same amount of funding, to be used at any school their parents choose.
D. Use the revenue to fund education, providing all children some funding, but more for those in poverty or handicapped, autistic, special needs, gifted.
E. Create a national version of the Alaska Permanent Fund, to provide, over the decades, an income to every American.
F. Use the revenues to reduce other taxes which burden the economy, and most particularly those which burden the poor most heavily.
G. Give the revenues to the people of the states where the oil is pumped. They're more entitled than the rest of us.
H. Use oil royalties to fund wars overseas, particularly those which relate to oil.
I. Use oil revenues to finance health care, or fund Social Security.
While I'm glad to see our troops coming home from Iraq, I think we ought to be very conscious that our spending large amounts of money there is continuing. I think it is fair to assume that the private contractors have large amounts of corporate or "small business" profits built into their invoices to we-the-people.
We're paying for their pensions, their life insurance, their health care, and their not-trivial "wages." The lowest-paid contractors are probably receiving wages approaching those of mid-level military, and benefits far superior. Their management is likely taking home compensation many times what we pay our President.
I realize that some will think this is a fine thing, but I submit that its costs to our society are non-trivial.
Sometimes public employees are the best people for the job. There is a lot less fat in our military than there is in private-sector substitutes.
Let's not fool ourselves about Iraq.
"Out of sight, out of mind" sometimes gets translated by the naive as "blind and crazy."
Daddy Warbucks. Daddy "peace"bucks?
We ought to be getting a monthly accounting of the dollars flowing, and to whom they are flowing.
Temple Artisan. 17:119-21. January, 1917. Rent and the Cost of War. Sydney L. Milliard.
The question has been asked, "Where, before war breaks out, is the money which is later spent on the war?"
It has been shown that it is not in the laborers' pockets, because the laborers are better off when the war has broken out, and that they have more and not less during the war. It is not being distributed in legitimate profits because legitimate profits are greater after the war has broken out. It is not being distributed in interest because interest is higher after war has broken out. It must be somewhere, in some location that is hurt by the outbreak of war. Money comes from somewhere for war purposes. Therefore the people who had that money before the war must be poorer. Who are they?
They are owners of rents and of spurious capital. By spurious capital is meant various bonds and stocks that represent merely the power to tax industry and which do not represent real bonafide industrial machinery at all. And principally they are the owners of economic rent.
It has been asked why France made such a quick recovery after 1870. Before 1870 one third of the wealth of France went in rents. The owners of these rents had to be kept by France in idle luxury. The war broke land values into nothing. France had not this money to pay away to useless aristocracies so she was able to pay for the war with it, and later to pay the indemnity, too. And in addition to this the demand for produce so increased that every worker had plenty to do at good wages, and was therefore able to buy the produce of other workers, and this condition caused the war to be not only not a disability to France, but a positive benefit.
In England before the great war one third of the national income went direct to the pockets of the ducal landowners. These men constituted a vastly greater charge upon English production in the long run than any war, big or little, has ever done. This charge of one third of the national income has been going on for ages, and always increasing in volume. It is a total national loss. There is absolutely no come-back from these ducal families. One third of the nation has to work for them, and they do nothing in return. Nothing reaches this condition but the Single Tax and war. The single tax we cannot get — not yet; war we have. What does war do?
The war has sent thousands of the British aristocracy to the front where they fight for their living; it has sent the country estates to the bargain counter at such figures as never were heard of before — they are almost giving them away. Even in the big cities land sales at former figures have abruptly stopped, and in Paris, with the German army in sight, land values ceased to exist. Should the kaiser really set foot in force on British soil the value of London real estate would vanish.
To revert to our original proposition, — "Where, before war breaks out, is the money which is later spent on war?"
It is inherent in the price of land; it inheres in rent; it goes into the pockets of a few owners of economic rent who are just as direct a charge on the community as is war. Wipe these people and their charge out and you can easily pay for your war. Take away this national charge of one-third of the national income to the owners of the soil and you can keep your war going in perpetuity and never miss the money. You are simply spending money that is already lost. You are not spending money on the war that you already had; you are spending money on the war that some one else already had to the infinite detriment; are throwing away bad money, money that could otherwise be put to a worse use than war, namely, luxury and degeneracy.
As it is in Europe, so will it be in America if a real war ever breaks out here. If the combined European fleets were bombarding New York, and you owned New York real estate you would not expect to realize very much on your property. Still less could you realize if the combined European armies were encamped around New York. Since the wars have been going on in Mexico, rents have almost disappeared and much land value has entirely so. But in Mexico the destruction has gone beyond the wiping out of land value and has destroyed actual necessary commodities.
Henry George said that "All taxation ultimately falls on rent." War is taxation. It falls on rent. Then comes an added advantage. It breaks loose the foundations of industry which so-called over-production has bound up. It enables the workers to get to the machinery of production and the idle land and produce goods which they by this time have money enough to buy. The state, which before the war was simply a negative observer of a cancer eating its own vitals, now becomes a positive agent in spreading employment, wealth, and general business. The state demands everything that can be produced, and at good prices. Now everyone is in demand, and at good wages. Before the war the aristocracy could not buy the products of mill and mine and field; the aristocracy couldn't consume these products, therefore the mills shut down. War can consume them, so the mills open up at full speed and wages! "Where, before war breaks out, is the money which is later spent on war?" Answer: In the pockets of the owners of economic rent. War breaks this down and distributes it amongst the workers in payment for value received. How can we produce this condition in time of peace? Answer: By doing away with economic rent through the imposition of the single tax, and then using that wealth to buy up the product of the national toil to be used for the benefit of the whole people.