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!
If, then, successive generations of men cannot have their fractional
share of the actual soil (including mines, etc.) how can the
division of the advantages of the natural earth be effected? By the
division of its annual value or rent; that is, by making the rent of
the soil the common property of the nation. That is (as the taxation
is the common property of the State), by taking the whole of the
taxes out of the rents of the soil, and thereby abolishing all other
kinds of taxation whatever. And thus all industry would be
absolutely emancipated from every burden.
— PATRICK EDWARD DOVE, Theory of
Human Progression (1850), Chap. III., Sec. 3.
no class of reformers do we find more clear thinking or a sounder
political economy than among the "single-taxers." Following the writings
of the late Henry George there is a considerable and important
literature upon this subject. Land monopoly and speculation should be
stopped. Labor should not be taxed. The resources of nature should be
made to minister equitably to the whole people. Now the weakest pay the
most tax. It should be the strongest and they whom the government most
A Baltimore Instance
single tax man of Baltimore, Mr John Salmon, expresses no little
surprise that Senator Hanna's candidate for governor of Ohio supposes
that the single tax has been a disastrous failure wherever tried. Of Mr
Herrick and his notion Mr Salmon writes: This stamps him as being a
twisted thinker and a loose observer. The single tax is in operation all
over the United States, flowing into the pockets of private
individuals, which is what single taxers object to. Here in Baltimore
more than in any other section of the country, it is strongly apparent.
We have the ground rent system in operation, 90 percent of the real
estate being held on leaseholds. The custom is an old English one
grafted on the Maryland colonies by Lord Baltimore and his English
compeers, and it has grown and flourished like a green bay tree. When
one buys a home here it is in nine cases out of ten subject to a ground
rent. These ground rents are dealt in as a form of investment the same
as a mortgage or any other form of investment; but the point to observe
is that they are a single tax, pure and simple, the price paid for the
use of the ground per se and for ground only.
last assessment separated the value of the land from the value of
improvements, and it is done every day in our community. Baltimore has
more houses per capita than any city in the country, due to the ground
rent system; and a house costing $1,200 to build is very often sold for
$800 or $900 in order to create a ground rent ranging from three dollars
a front foot to $20 and $40 a front foot. To explain more fully: Bonus
buildings are run up on plats of ground split up into lots of 15x90, and
a ground rent say of $6 per front foot is put on the lot, making $90 a
year ground rent, which the buyer agrees to pay, and in his ground rent
is a clause that he will also pay all taxes. This $90 is essentially a
single tax. The agreement to pay it is exactly the same kind of a
contract that is in vogue in Fairhope, Ala. With this extremely
important exception, that whereas we in Baltimore bind ourselves to pay
all the taxes, in Fairhope the company or lessor, agrees to pay all
taxes. Talk of its being a disastrous failure! Not on your life. Ground
rents are as scarce as hen's teeth, and can only be bought on a three
percent basis. They command as good a price as government bonds, and it
is estimated that $14,000,000 at least is raised in Baltimore alone from
this source — nearly twice as much as the city and state taxes amount
to. And what is this tax of $14,000,000 paid for? Why, merely for the
privilege of living in the city of Baltimore. That's all the payers get
for it. And the only kick we've got coming is that the private
individuals get that money instead of the city and state.
-- found in "The American Cooperator" (1903); "The Public" was a weekly newspaper, out of Chicago, edited by Louis F. Post, who went on to serve in Woodrow Wilson's administration.
The accompanying map says, "Around Grand Central Terminal, towers could be up to twice the size now permitted. Development could also take place along the Park Avenue corridor, where towers could be more than 40% larger. Elsewhere in the district, towers could be 20% larger."
New York’s premier district, the 70-block area around Grand Central
Terminal, has lagged, Bloomberg officials say, hampered by zoning rules,
decades old, that have limited the height of buildings.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wants
to overhaul these rules so that buildings in Midtown Manhattan can soar
as high as those elsewhere. New towers could eventually cast shadows
over landmarks across the area, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral and
the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. They could rise above the 59-story MetLife
Building and even the 77-story Chrysler Building.
Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal reflects
his effort to put his stamp on the city well after his tenure ends in
December 2013. Moving swiftly, he wants the City Council to adopt the
new zoning, for what is being called Midtown East, by October 2013, with
the first permits for new buildings granted four years later.
administration says that without the changes, the neighborhood around
Grand Central will not retain its reputation as “the best business
address in the world” because 300 of its roughly 400 buildings are more
than 50 years old. These structures also lack the large column-free
spaces, tall ceilings and environmental features now sought by corporate
rezoning — from 39th Street to 57th Street on the East Side — would
make it easier to demolish aging buildings in order to make way for
state of-the-art towers.
it, “the top Class A tenants who have been attracted to the area in the
past would begin to look elsewhere for space,” the administration says
in its proposal.
plan has stirred criticism from some urban planners, community boards
and City Council members, who have contended that the mayor has acted
hastily. They said they were concerned about the impact of taller towers
in an already dense district where buildings, public spaces, streets,
sidewalks and subways have long remained unchanged.
Mr. Bloomberg has encouraged high-rise development in industrial neighborhoods, including the Far West Side of Manhattan,
the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and in Long Island City,
Queens. But with the proposal for Midtown, which is working its way
through environmental and public reviews, he is tackling the city’s
the development potential in this area will generate historic
opportunities for investment in New York City,” Deputy Mayor Robert K.
The initiative would, in some cases, allow developers to build towers twice the size now permitted in the Grand Central area. The
owner of the 19-story Roosevelt Hotel at Madison and 45th Street could
replace it with a 58-story tower under the proposed rules. Current
regulations permit no more than 30 floors.
When zoning changes increase the value of land, who should reap the benefit? The current landholder, or the community? What did the landholder do to earn that windfall? Do you think it comes out of thin air? Do you think it is paid him by other rich people?
Or do you recognize that it is part of the structure which enriches a few and impoverishes the many?
It is easy to fix this one. One just has to recognize the structure, and value the land correctly, and start collecting the lion's share of the land rent for the community. If it is more than NYC can put to use -- and it will be -- then apply the excess to reducing our federal taxes on productive effort. Use it to fund Social Security, or Medicare, or universal health insurance, or something else that will benefit the vast majority of us instead of an undeserving tiny privileged minority. Don't throw it in the ocean, and don't leave it in private pockets, be they American or not.
Collect the land rent. Repeat next year, and the next, and the next. Natural Public Revenue.
Well, not quite. The film's a little older than I am.
Watched that film last night ... great quote:
Billie: Because when ya steal from the government, you're stealing from yourself, ya dumb ass.
And when we allow others to steal from the commons what rightly belongs to the community, what are we? Some of that theft we all recognize as theft, and other kinds are perfectly legal, even honored, under our current laws. I find the latter even more troubling than the former.
And when neither our economists nor our leaders even SEE it, it is fair to call that a corruption of what their businesses are supposed to be.
Let it be observed that when land is taxed, no man is taxed; for the land produces, according to the law of the Creator, more than the value of the labor expended on it, and on this account men are willing to pay a rent for land.
— PATRICK EDWARD DOVE, Theory of Human Progression (1850), Chap. I., Sec. 2, p. 44
The ordinary progress of a society which increases in wealth is at all times to augment the incomes of landlords — to give them both a greater amount and a greater proportion of the wealth of the community, independently of any trouble or outlay incurred by themselves. They grow richer as it were in their sleep, without working, risking or economizing. What claims have they, on the general principles of social justice, to this accession of riches?
— JOHN STUART MILL, Principles of Political Economy, Book V., Chap. 2, Sec. 5
The following list comprises the most commonly asked questions about the concept of making land and resource rentals the source of revenue for government. As you continue this study, you will see the value from giving resources the respect they deserve and the benefits resulting from the freeing of labour, production and exchange from taxation. If you have any questions which are not covered here, or observations you would like to put to our panel, please feel free to do so by sending your question as an e-mail query and we will attempt to respond.
The inclusion of land and resources in the economic equation is central to any solution for revenue raising. A taxation solution which does not consider the nature of taxation itself and allows the continuing private monopolisation of community land and resources fails to recognise the essential role land plays in the economic equation and will not work. Land is the only element in the economic equation which is both fixed and finite. It can be monopolised. It is a unique class of asset which must be treated accordingly. If we were to wrest not the land itself, but its unimproved value from private monopolies and return the value to the community — whose very presence creates it — then we would have reduced many problems in one stroke with great benefit to production, to the environment and to the cause of individual freedom and justice.
On the subject of land and resource rents, Henry George said this:
The tax upon land values is the most just and equal of all taxes. It falls upon those who receive from society a peculiar and valuable benefit, and upon them in proportion to the benefit they receive. It is the taking by the community, for the use of the community, of that value which is the creation of the community. It is the application of the common property to common uses. When all rent is taken by taxation for the needs of the community, then will the equality ordained by nature be attained.
"The land is common to all. All have the same right to it; but there is good land and bad land, and everyone would like to take the good land. How is one to get it justly divided? In this way: he who will use the good land must pay those who have got no land of the value of the land he uses," Nekhludoff went on, answering his own question. . . . "Well, he had a head, this George," said the oven builder, moving his brows. "He who has good land must pay more."
— COUNT TOLSTOY, Resurrection, Book II., Chap. 9.
Tolstoy has rightly discerned the evils which follow the uprooting of the people from fostering Mother Earth, and the incubation of a day-wage-earning, urban, industrial proletariat.
A tax upon ground-rents would not raise the rent of houses. It would fall altogether upon the owner of the ground-rent, who acts always as a monopolist and exacts the greatest rent which can be got for the use of the ground.
— ADAM SMITH, Wealth of Nations (1776), Book V., Chap. 2, Art. I.
Land, which nature has destined to man's sustenance, is the only source from which everything comes, and to which everything flows back, and the existence of which constantly remains in spite of all changes. From this unmistakable truth it results that land alone can furnish the wants of the state, and that in natural fairness no distinctions can be made in this.
— EMPEROR JOSEPH II., in Oestreichische Geschichte fur das Volk, Vol. XIV. (Vienna, 1867).
FOR SINGLE TAX Henry George Men Hold a Mass Meeting at the Rink. Cleveland's Name Enthusiastically Cheered. Addresses by the Author of "Progress and Poverty," by Hon. Thomas G. Shearman, Rev. Hugh O. Pentecost, Louis F. Post and Others.
Another great audience gathered at the Clermont Avenue Rink last night to hear the discussion of political issues. It filled every seat in the big hall, crowded the platform and the galleries, choked the entrances and formed a dark dado around the sides of the room wherever standing place was available. It was the single tax men's night to own the speakers' platform, and the key to all that was said was conveyed in plain words above the speakers' desk: "Free Trade, Free Land, Free Men." The audience was not only large, but it was wide awake. It enjoyed the brass band and it listened attentively to every word of the single tax orators and cheered vociferously in the right places to show that a large proportion of the crowd was in sympathy with the sentiment expressed above the speaker's head. It had a habit of hissing, too, and whenever Mr. Blame, Mr. Andrew Carnegie or the Tory Government of England was mentioned it practiced this habit. The meeting was of citizens who favor the election of Cleveland and Thurman, and though less was said on this subject than on "Free Trade, Free Land and Free Men," the occasional mention of Mr. Cleveland's name left no doubt as to the sentiment of the vast assemblage regarding his candidacy. They cheered for him uproariously, spontaneously and untiringly. The slightest allusion to him called forth a, wild outbreak.
C. T. Christensen had agreed to preside at the meeting, but was called out of town at the last moment, and Thomas G. Shearman, who was booked as one of the speakers of the evening, acted as chairman. Beside him on the platform sat Henry George, the Rev. Hugh O. Pentecost, Louis F. Post, James Hickling and others of the shining lights of the Single Tax legions. Mr. Shearman called the meeting to order and said:
While we hope and trust that in this audience there are many Protectionists, that both sides of this great question are represented here, we wish it understood that on this platform we stand for no half way politics, no semi Protection, no false pretenses, no evasions. We are absolutely for Free Trade [applause] as we are for free land and for free men. In the old time of slavery the master would give everything to his slave rather than Free Trade. He would give him free whisky as the Republicans would give tree whisky to the white slaves of today. Slavery was a system of "Protection" to the inferior workman. The slave was protected in the liberty to work for his employer. The Irish people have had Protection. Within the last hundred years 80 statutes have been passed by a British Tory Parliament, composed mostly of Protectionists, furnishing "Protection" to Ireland, the very statute under which Dill on was imprisoned in an Irish jail without the privilege of a trial by jury or by any decent Judge was a "Protection" law. The Tory Parliament gave it the name Protection. But Irishmen called it Coercion. Mezeroffs paper, that preaches the assassination of innocent women and children, is being circulated by the First Ward Republicans, because of its advocacy of Protection. He should advocate this American system of Tariff, for it is simply coercion. Protection coerces the American workingman into assisting the development of monopolists and Trusts. It puts coercion upon him and upon American industry. It fosters no industry. It murders industry. What does a Tariff do? Can any one look me in the face and say it assures him better pay for his toil? It is simply coercion to prohibit you from carrying on an industry that brings you into relations with other nations. What does the Government do when it puts a "Protective" Tariff on coal? It says, You shall get no more coal for your labor than Mr. Elkins, Mr. Maine and the other coal monopolists shall allow you to have. The land owners of this country, those who have been sharp enough to get possession of the richly productive mining tracts, grind the manufacturers that grind you. You must first get $100,000 to put into a mine or manufactory to be protected under this American system. We are for Free Trade because it means the highest wages: because the history of this country shows that with every advance of the Tariff there has been a depression of wages. What stuff is talked to you about the importation of foreign goods throwing out of employment American workmen. The Protectionists shout that increased importations will drive out the gold of the country. There never was enough gold in this country to pay for a single year's importations. All the gold in the world would not buy the goods that have come across the ocean to this country in the last ten years. So what can't be done, in spite of the tearful arguments of Protectionists, won 't be done. In the last 27 years, since our Protective Tariff began, more gold has gone out of this country than during the years of '46 and '47, when we had Free Trade. When the Tariff reached its highest point the greatest amount of gold went out. The export of gold is merely a mercantile transaction. The other charge is that Free Trade will throw the American workman out of employment. If you could import $7,000,000,000 instead of $700,000,000 worth of goods the call for American labor would advance ten times what it is now. Why are Brooklyn and New York great manufacturing cities? Why are we more successful than Chicago or St. Louis? They have markets on both sides of the ocean, while by our system of Protection we are cut off from one side, it is because we, from our location, can get more readily material from across the ocean. If the mad scheme of the Protectionists could be carried out to shut out entirely this foreign material, and compel us to rely on our home production, what a blight would fall upon this city. Sweep away this Protection system and we would have all this foreign material brought in to work up, and would have two markets instead of one. Yet you will go on in one way or another "protecting." You might have liberty, freedom of trade and of commerce, and double the manufacturing business of those cities. You hear of the revenue reformer being converted into a Free Trader; of the moderate Protectionist into a revenue reformer, but in this campaign you read of no Free Trader being converted to Protection. Every gain the Republican party has made from the Democratic ranks has been of those men who opposed the freeing of the slave.
After the cheering had died away Mr. Post stepped forward upon the platform and amid renewed applause walked back and forth triumphantly. "Last night," he said , "Mr. McKinley stood upon this platform." [Laughter, applause and hisses.] Then an enthusiastic Republican got up and shouted "Three cheers for McKinley." In the confusion the crowd thought that he was yelling for Post and followed his lead with a will. Mr. Post continued:
I am glad to hear that demonstration for, in the first place, it shows that we have people here to convert, and in the second, because it is due him from Protectionists as the best representative of Chinese polities in the country. [Long continued cheers.] He says that the Tariff is not a tax, that it is paid by the man who sends his goods to this country to sell. The Tariff on firecrackers is 100%. I want Mr. McKinley to explain how much the Chinaman makes on his fireworks after he has paid that tax. Our Chinaman says we are absolute Free Traders. It is true there is no 7% about us. We are with the Democratic party because we get that little reduction from them, which is better than nothing and a step in the right direction. If we are to have trade, why should we not have it free. We have Free Trade all over the United States. In fact, here is the only example of absolute Free Trade in the whole world. I have a horse that I want to exchange for two mules. I can take him to New York, to Pennsylvania or New Jersey and make whatever terms I am able. It is only when a policeman comes alone and says I can't trade that I get Protection. If I desire to trade with a Canadian not only must I give him one horse for his mules, but I must give the Government another. What do they want of that other horse? They want to put him in the Treasury vaults or else compel me to go over into Pennsylvania and sell to someone, Carnegie for instance, who demands a horse and three-quarters for a couple of mules. [Laughter and applause.] But this man doesn't want the extra three-quarters to divide among his men who raise mules, unless they are organized and strong enough to make him. The employer always gets the bonus, and divides with his employes — when he thinks best. Workingmen are getting sick of being fooled about this notion that the Tariff gives them higher wages. Some, however, are afraid that shops will be closed and that foreign goods will run us out of the market. How can we buy foreign goods unless we have our own goods to exchange for them. This shop closing story is another great fraud. The truth is the monopolists have a soft thing, and they are going to hold on to it. That is what makes me think of a story. A darky was working at $5 a week for a Protectionist boss. One day he was in great trouble, for he had a dream. He told his employer, that he was dead and had gone to hell. "Well, that's a bad place," was the answer. "Did you see anyone there you knew?'' "Oh yes, lots of them." "Did you see any Protectionists?" "Yes, I did, and every one held a $5 darky between himself and the fire to keep off the heat." Nor do Protectionists like to let go their victims in this world. Every day we buy the necessities of life from whomsoever we please. We give for them the product of our labor, or its equivalent. We don 't want Protection in this trade. We had absolute Protection from outsiders when the Republican blizzard of last March came along and I for one didn't like it. About 3000 years ago the children of Israel were going through the wilderness. God sent quails to them from Heaven. It was all import and no export and almost everybody liked it. Finally Aaron went to Moses and said: "This invasion of quails ought to be stopped. I have an infant industry that must be protected. In short, I have started a little poultry yard." It was no use to put on an ad valorem duty of 100%, as suggested, because the quails had no money value, so it was determined to put on a specific duty of $5 a dozen. I don't wonder that you doubt this story and believe the incidents never happened. Well, the story is not true. Do you know why? Because Moses and Aaron led "the children of Israel through the wilderness, and not Blaine, Harrison or Carnegie. Whenever you tax a product of labor you make that commodity harder to get, but the more you tax land the cheaper it becomes. It is only by abolishing the tax on labor and coming down to a single land tax basis that we accomplish our great purpose. We shall then have cheap goods, cheap land, high wages and free men, for they all go together.
When Henry George rose to speak he was greeted with a thunder roll of applause. When it stopped for want of breath someone who had saved his lungs shouted lustily, "Three cheers for Henry George." They were given. "Three cheers for the 68,000" were called for, but failed, because the great single tax advocate had begun to speak. Mr. George said:
The gentleman says "Three cheers for the 68,000." He means the men who voted for me two years ago when I ran for Mayor of New York City. I ran as a candidate then for the purpose of introducing into our politics a principle. I ran because I believe it is only by political action and through political action that the emancipation of labor can be secured. For the very same reason that I was a candidate two years ago, from my belief in and my love for these same principles, I stand here to advocate the election of Grover Cleveland.
At the mention of the President's name there was a great roar of applause, beginning not gradually, but at its full volume, the instant the speaker had spoken the name. The cheering continued for more than a minute. Mr. George then continued:
I told you then that we needed the formation of no new party, but the revival of that party of the people which Thomas Jefferson called Republican and Andrew Jackson called Democrat, that party of equal rights that represents the true idea of a government for the people by the people. I never dreamed two years ago that I would now be standing here advocating the election of a Democratic candidate. I had not the confidence in the party that would allow me to believe that they could have given me the opportunity I now possess. Thanks to Grover Cleveland the Democratic party in this national contest again has raised the standard of Jeffersonian Democracy, timidly, it is true, falteringly. Only a 7% move. But we hail it as a beginning. We are for that 7%. Not for that alone, but because we know this movement, once started, can never be stopped. I trust my friend, the previous speaker, will live long enough to see the full consummation of his wishes. If he lives to three score years and ten I have faith by that time we will have swept all Tariff away. I have faith in that because I have faith in the American people. A fair discussion will bring death to Protection. The American people are nobody's fool. Protection is repugnant to the genius of American institutions. It existed in Europe before it was borrowed by us. It is an old scheme of monarchy and aristocracy. Free Trade is as much a right of the people as free speech. Protection should indeed be called coercion. We don't want Protection. The American idea is that each should support the church that pleases him best. No state church. Apply this to trade. Why should not those who believe in Protection take up a voluntary subscription for the infant industries? That would leave us all free men. Mr. McKinley said in this hall, so I am told, that Protection does not raise prices. If that is true, what does anyone want Protection for? The whole end and aim of Protection is to raise prices. When. I was a boy it was, indeed, Protection to infant industries. They ceased to talk about that later on. It used to be, a good while ago, Protection to American capitalists. But that, also, is of the past. Now it is Protection to labor. How they do love the laborer, these good monopolists, such as Andrew Carnegie! How does labor get this vaunted Protection? It doesn't get it. It goes to the employing producer. It is only when by some combination, trust or monopoly by which domestic as well as foreign competition is choked off that Protection yields its full value of protection — to the monopolist. It is not the profit his employer is making that fixes a man's wages. Not at all. It is the price at which the employer can get a man to take the workman's place. It is in the protected industries of our country that laborers have had to fight most and make the greatest efforts to escape being crushed to the wall. But I believe that now a spirit of self respect is awakened among American workingmen. Think of it. Is labor such a poor, helpless thing that it must have protection? Are the American people so inferior to the rest of the world that the industry of 60,000,000 people is to be jeopardized by the law of the British lion unless he is kept at bay by men in buttons? Trusts need protection but labor can protect itself if you only sweep away restrictions and give it a chance. This campaign is the opening of a discussion of all economic questions. The appeal of intelligence will not stop here. We have started on the road to freedom and I have sufficient faith in my countrymen to think that we will not stop till we reach the goal: till we have swept away every tax that deprives the worker of the fair result ot his work. We will make our one direct tax the means of breaking down monopoly. Every tax on the products of labor diminishes their amount. It is the same way with a tax on imports, which tends to lessen the aggregate amount of wealth there is for all and brings to some too much and to others too little. A tax on products requires more capital for carrying on the business. Indirect taxes were never objected to by the first person who paid them. Why were match manufacturers anxious to have the tax kept on? Because as in every other case the price was increased and the man with large capital had an advantage over the man with small. Under that scheme the man who begins as a laborer shall remain one. But there is a tax that takes from no one anything that is due him from his industry — that is the tax on land values. [Long continued applause.] The value of land differs essentially from that of anything produced by labor. This house has a value representing the labor required to put it up and the materials used. With the land on which the house stands the case is very different. That was not produced by labor. Yet the value of the land is ever increasing and that of the building decreasing. The increased value of the land has been produced not by industry, but by the number of people around here. It has been produced by the whole community, belongs to the whole community, and is therefore the proper basis for tax. Instead of promoting monopoly by our plan we are diminishing and destroying it, and we are making it harder for dogs in the manger to hold land that they cannot use. This is the absolute Free Trade at which we single tax men aim. We do not support Grover Cleveland because we imagine that he aims at any kind of Free Trade, nor because we imagine that the Democratic party favors it. But we support Grover Cleveland [cheers and applause] because this is the direction in which he is leading. We stand with the Democratic party because at last its face is turned in the right road, and it has only to keep on to become as Democratic as Thomas Jefferson himself. A gentleman said to me tonight as I came into this hall, "There are people in Brooklyn so stupid as to think the Cobden Club is running this campaign. "I am a member of the Cobden Club [great applause] and if they have any money they might send me a little. I am very willing to take it and use it. The only complaint I have is that the Cobden Club doesn't believe in Free Trade. They see what American Free Trade would do to them. In regard to this question I once said to an Englishman: Once our people are started they will never stop as in England. They will go on till Free Trade ultimates in free land and free men. When I was elected an honorary member of the Cobden Club I was very glad to accept as a mark of respect to Richard Cobden [applause], a man who sought to get justice for Ireland, a man who, when aristocratic England was on the side of the States that would break up the Union, saw in our side this light for freedon; the man that wanted to break down barriers that divide nations, to disband armies and unite the world by a fraternal bond of peace. When Gladstone is restored to power and Ireland has the restoration of home rule the movement for the natural and equal rights in land will spring up with power to grow. And this little movement here beginning with a 7% reduction will go on and on. I am proud to have lived to see this time. This is not a struggle for the protection of labor, but for the emancipation of labor; not to give a few monopolists a few more percent profit at the expense or their fellow citizens, but to give to all their full and equal rights of making this a republic worthy of a name, in which there shall be no master and no tramps, no monstrous fortunes or monstrous poverty, a republic in which there shall be room for all and abundance for all.
The Rev. Hugh O. Pentecost was introduced eulogistically by Mr. Shearman. Among other things Mr. Pentecost said:
Your chairman has told you a truth. I do not believe in all the doctrines of Christianity, as perhaps you do not, but I have a perfect belief in the Founder of Christianity. If Jesus of Nazareth were on earth today He would be engaged in this work. This meeting was called under tho auspices of a single text — Cleveland and Thurman Campaign Committee. That is a combination that some in this audience may not understand. If the men who are thus ignorant have recovered from the shock of the recent remarks about Mr. Cobden they can be enlightened by my explanation. What do the single tax men desire? First, the abolition of every form of indirect taxation — the Tariff tax and the Internal Revenue tax. Indirect taxation is sneaking taxation. It sneaks into your house and taxes everything you use without your knowing you are being taxed. It is peculiarly in favor with despots. When a monarch wishes to raise money without disturbance he uses indirect taxation. It is cowardly. A man goes into a store and buys a suit ot clothes. Nothing is said about the tax on them as it is included in their price. Should a "man in buttons" meet you at the door of the clothing store and demand $10 tax of you for the clothes you had bought your indignation would know no bounds. It is easy to overtax the people by indirect taxation. The single tax men are opposed to the tax on products of labor. What we want is not less wealth, but more wealth. Our system keeps men from producing the very thing we stand in need of. It is idiotic. It punishes a man that does just the thing we want him to. Is he going to do the monstrous thing of building a house? We tax every step he takes, every nail and stick he buys. I know a man who wants to build a back kitchen on his house, but daren't do it for fear of the increased assessment. There is probably not a man in this house who is not at least once a year regularly a liar. Men who in church or family are too honorable, to stain their lips with a lie, yet swear to the tax assessor that they do not own certain property which they know they do. Even ministers who go to Europe and make many purchases there sometimes deceive the customs officers. But it is not his fault. A man goes to Europe and buys certain articles, then if he doesn't pay a fine to the Government they are taken away from him. This is on a par with the policy which taxes the most industrious of our people and makes the burden upon the owners of lots, vacant and rapidly rising in price, as light as possible. Any man who cannot see the absurdity of this policy is as blind as a bat. When Grover Cleveland said that "unnecessary taxation is unjust taxation," he told the truth. [Cheers and long continued applause.] We can prove from facts that it is unnecessary to tax the products of labor. We propose to put a tax upon the value or land. We believe in that single tax because it is right, and we never saw any one who could demonstrate that it wasn't right. A man produced this house, therefore it belongs to him. God produced the land; whom, then, does it belong to? [A voice: "God."] You are right: He has never given it away; He has never sold or willed it away. If the transfers cannot be shown we shall hold that it belongs to God. Between the land and the house is the value of land. Did God produce that? No, but the people did, and why does not the land belong to them? The house belongs to the man because he produced it. God produced the land and it belongs to all His children. What we want is for the people to stop the stealing from the man who owns the house and take what belongs to them. When the New York Sun in its wonderful wisdom says [hisses] that all the wealth of the country if divided equally would give but $800 to each inhabitant, don't you see that we want to produce wealth so that it will go around. The only way we can do that is by lessening not increasing the cost of Protection. You may shout again now if you choose for I am going to mention McKinley's name. [Hisses.] He tried to tell an audience in this hall last night that articles were made cheaper by laying on a tax. That is not so, as any one can see, but this is a fact. The more we tax land the cheaper it gets. We want to have land so cheap that when a workingman wants to build a house he will not have to spend his life in saving money to buy the lot. We want also to make it impossible for men to keep land vacant, to let it lie idle doing no one any good and increasing in price simply because more people are living near it each day. This is an increase in value to which no man has exclusive right. After we have got this reform established other reforms will come much easier. It has often been asked how it happens that we work with the Democratic party. I will tell you. Because we want all taxes removed. We want to get rid of the Protective Tariff first, then the revenue tax, till we get down to our single tax. The Democratic party has made a beginning, and that is a great thing to do after all the years of high Protective Tariff talk that has been poured into the ears of the workingmen. They have heard the Protection side of the story till they have begun to think that it must be true. Perhaps the truth has been impressed upon them more forcibly and terribly. A story is told of an Englishman who had been stopping at a hotel in the far West, and who finally asked for his bill. "Three dollars without potatoes, $4 with," was the reply. The Englishman said he thought the charges were exorbitant and growled considerably. Pulling a big pistol from his pocket the landlord told his guest to look out of the window. "Do you see that graveyard?" he inquired. Well, that place is filled with men who thought my charges were too high. What do you think now?" The Englishman expressed himself as very satisfied. So the American workingman is "satisfied" with the High Tariff robbery of the manufacturers, only, in this latter case the pistol is starvation which affects not himself alone, but wife and little ones. No wonder that under such circumstances the bosses' view has been the laborer's. You know what a fetish is? A savage worships in his cave. Every time he comes back from a hunt, fish, or fight successful he gives that miserable fetish all the credit. All his bad luck he attributes to other causes. As the savage grows more intelligent he drops his fetish. The Tariff is the fetish of the Protectionist. Just at this time Mr. Blaine is its great high priest and Benjamin and Levi are altar boys. All our fine weather, plentiful crops and beautiful women are due to the Tariff. I sometimes think that the old hymn should read as follows:
"Tis Protection that can give
Sweetest pleasures while we live; Tis Protection that can give Solid comfort when we die.
The rhyme is not just right, but I think you see the meaning. Like the Indian, the Protectionist doest not blame his fetish for the growling growing discontent in the ranks of labor, this dark shadow on the land. There are people who believe every good comes from Protection and every bad from some other causes. Just when this superstition was at its height Grover Cleveland walked into the temple. He did not quite dare to strike down the miserable fetish, but he slapped its face and said to the congregation; This thing you worship is a humbug." We honor him because of this, and because he brought on this great discussion that will not end until we have Free Trade in goods, free travel for men and free land for labor.
After Mr. Pentecost's speech half of the audience remained to hear Mr. George and the other speakers answer questions.
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.
35. He worked hard. He played by the rules. He bought up land before the interstate highway was announced, and his widow and orphans now have a very valuable land portfolio, for which others will pay a high purchase price or high lease prices for generations. Is it right to exact an estate tax of 50% or so on the true market value of that estate?
A. No! Widows and orphans must be protected! We wouldn't want them to have to depend on the social safety net.
B. No! The dollars he spent to buy that land decades ago were already subject to an income tax -- maybe two (federal and state) -- and the heirs are entitled to keep all the increase from the purchase price, even if that is a 20% increase, or a 200% increase, or a 2000% increase, over the purchase price.
C. No! The man had foresight, and we ought to honor, reward and encourage that!
D. No! The interstate highway could have been re-routed, and the man and his widow and children could have been left high and dry. They took a risk, and we ought to reward them for their brilliance!
E. An estate tax is a good way to capture this socially-created windfall once per generation. After all, he can't take it with him. Half for the heirs, half for the community that created the value. Seems fair, and keeps them out of the social safety net.
F. An estate tax is better than nothing, but it is a poor alternative to collecting some significant portion of the rental value of the land, month in and month out, whether that rental value be low (before the interstate highway's route is determined) or high (after it is announced and built, and the community grows up around that highway).
37. Our ancestors bought or stole the land which the ancestors of some of those now identified as "Native Americans" relied on. How should we and our children pay back them and their children?
A. By giving them the privilege of selling cigarettes without taxes, forgoing revenue that could help meet the health costs associated with smoking, both for smokers and for those who live with them.
B. By giving them the privilege of running casinos, even if a percentage of that revenue must be contributed to the state, and even if gambling is creates tremendous problems for some individuals in society, beyond those who actually gamble.
C. By collecting from everyone who owns land and natural resources the annual economic value, and giving everyone a per-capita share of those resources, every year, forever. (Similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund)
D. By collecting from everyone who owns land and natural resources the annual economic value, and giving everyone a per-capita share of those resources, every year, forever, and providing a double share to those who are starting from a disadvantaged position for some fixed number of years
E. By collecting from everyone who owns land and natural resources the annual economic value, paying the costs of government and common spending from that source, producing equal opportunity for all.
Does the Single Tax discriminate between earned and unearned income?
It is the scientific way of doing what we have been feebly attempting to do in an unscientific way, that is, to distinguish between what Dr. Scott Nearing called "property income" and "services income," or between that form of wealth which is the result of individual effort in production and that which is purely the result of the collective effort of society; or between the two forms of wealth which Dr. Ellwood, of the University of Missouri, in a seemingly unwilling recognition of an unwelcome truth, calls "earnings" and "findings."
In the case of the great majority of us (whether as individuals or as partners in corporations) our incomes are so inextricably compounded of earnings and findings, of privilege income and service income, that it is hard for some of us to know whether we belong to the privileged or unprivileged classes, to the slave owners or the slaves, to the confiscators or the victims; and perhaps only those absolutely property less men at the bottom of the social scale can be said to have no share in the "findings" that spring from privilege. On the other hand it is equally true that all industry up to its highest strata, has to pay toll to privilege and provide those "findings" which distribute themselves with more or less inequality over almost the whole of society. How to distinguish between and separate these entirely different kinds of wealth is what all sincere sociologists and honest taxation commissioners have wanted to do and have hitherto failed in the doing.
If we take a handful of sand and a handful of iron filings and mix them thoroughly, and then set a man with the sharpest eyesight and the nimblest fingers to separate the particles, it will take him long to accomplish his task and he will never do it with more than an approximation to completeness. But apply a strong magnet to the mixture and the separation will be accomplished in ten minutes. Then see how the analogy applies to the economic problem in society. Let us imagine the return that should naturally flow to land in the form of rent to take the shape of blue coins made of steel. Let us fancy that the natural reward that goes to capital as interest takes the form of red coins made of wood. Finally let us figure the natural return to human service of all grades as being represented by white coins also made of wood. On examination it will be discovered that in the case of almost every member of society above the rank of the day laborer, his income is tri-colored or composed of all three coins. There are countless "captains of industry" among us who complacently assume their large incomes to be the rewards freely given by a free world in return for their invaluable services, who will be surprised to find how large a proportion of blue their income coins contain. There are multitudes of livers upon what they have called "interest" who will expect to find their coins red, who will be equally surprised to discover that they are almost entirely blue. To complete the parable, the taxation of land values will be like the application of the magnet which will draw away the blue steel coins in whatever stratum of society they may be found, and lay them aside for social purposes, being socially created wealth; leaving the red and white coins to be competed for in a world of free opportunity, without deduction or diminution by taxation or in any other way.
The taxation of all property at a uniform rate is made necessary by the constitutions of about three-fourths of the States of the Union. The taxes on chattels, tools, implements, money, credits, etc., find their condemnation from the Single Taxer's point of view in those ethical considerations which differentiate private from public property. Where there arises a fund known as "land values," growing with the growth of the community and the need of public improvements, it is not only impolitic, it is a violation of the rights of property to tax individual earnings for public expenses.
The value of land is the day-to-day product of the presence and communal activity of the people. It is not a creation of the title-holder and should not be placed in the category of property. If population deserts a town or portions of a town, the value of land will fall; the land may become unsalable. When treated as private property the owner of land receives from day-to-day in ground rent a gift from the community; and justice requires that he should pay taxes to the community proportionate to that gift.
"Land value" or "ground rent" as the older economists termed it, is a tribute which economic law levies upon every occupant of land, however fleeting his stay, as the market price of all the advantages, natural and social, appertaining to that land, including necessarily his just share of the cost of government.
I came across this rather good letter to the editor, from 1938. (Trinity Church Corporation, a major landlord in downtown Manhattan, was the subject of a NYT article this past week, as well as the subject of a major series in the NYT in December, 1894):
1938-09-03 Letters to The Times
Collecting Ground Rent Single-Tax System Regarded as No Detriment to Building
TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
Fabian Franklin, in his letter to THE TIMES discussing the demolition of John D. Rockefeller's Harlem tenements in order to save taxes, writes:
"That objection is simply that virtual abolition of land ownership, which the single-tax plan is designed to effect, would make the building of houses in a city an extra-hazardous business, because, under the single-tax regime, in the great majority of cases the investment would result in a disastrous loss to the owner of the building. I was neither blaming nor praising Mr. Rockefeller for the demolition of Harlem tenements."
What is the so-called single-tax system? It is the collection by the government, through the taxing officials, of the entire economic or ground rent of land and the repeal of all taxes on buildings and other products of labor and capital. That ground rent is estimated to be 9% of the capital value of the land. New York City is now collecting one-third of this ground rent. The market value of the lots is the remaining two-thirds, capitalized. Dr. Franklin's thesis is that if the entire ground rent is collected no one would erect buildings, because "in the great majority of cases the investment would result in a disastrous loss to the owner of the building."
Some of the finest buildings in New York City are erected on leased land and the lessee pays the ground rent 100% besides a tax on the building. There are hundreds of buildings erected by lessees of lots owned by Trinity Church, Astor estate, Rhinelander estate, Sailors Snug Harbor and others. The lessees must pay all the taxes, both on land and building, amounting to 3% of the assessed value of both, and to the landlord 6% of the market value of the land.
Thus the entire ground rent is paid by the lessee, but only one-third to the government representing the people who made that value by their presence and activities, the remaining two-thirds to the landlord. Notwithstanding that they are thus obliged to pay 100% of the economic rent, bankers and business men erect buildings costing millions. Under the Henry George plan they would have to pay less, for the taxes on these costly structures will have been repealed.
Perhaps if Mr. Rockefeller had not been obliged to pay taxes on the buildings he might not have pulled them down; or, if he had, would have erected better buildings in their place in order to get a return on his investment in buildings. The ones who will benefit most from the adoption of the Georgian philosophy are the owners of humble homes. The average small homeowner's house is assessed for at least twice the assessed value of the lot. If the house is relieved from taxation and the lot taxed the entire ground rent, his tax will be less than it is now. The difference will be made up from vacant lots and lots that are worth more than the improvements.
After all, the building of houses is like any other business. The builder takes the risk of lessened demand because of changes in fashion, obsolescence, competition. It is estimated that 95% of new businesses ultimately fail. With the adoption, however, of the philosophy of Henry George, commonly called the single tax, failures in the housing and other businesses will be much fewer. This is because neither houses nor goods nor anything else will be taxed. The collection of the entire ground rent will not lessen the area of the surface of the earth one inch. On the contrary, it will open to occupation and use land that is now held for speculation purposes.
The taxation of any product of labor and capital will add the amount of the tax to the price, lessen demand and thus curtail production. The result is unemployment and misery.
Frederic Cyrus Leubuscher Essex Fells, N. J., Aug. 31, 1938
This quote came across my inbox today, and I thought it worth sharing:
“We operate from the concept of ‘shalom,’” Forrister said when he reported on that meeting to The Huntsville Times. “’Shalom’ means more than the absence of war, it means the well-being of all. Ezekiel said to seek the ‘shalom’ of the city you’re in – and he was writing to people in exile in Babylon. We’re to seek the good of the whole community, of all of society.”
I came very slowly to the point of view that the nature of the ways we fund our common spending is at least as important as the spending side of the budget. That taxation can be destructive or constructive. That it can be used to create vital healthy communities or ones in which wealth and power concentrate into a few hands.
I grew up with the benefit of grandparents who understood this, and I still didn't "get it" until well after they were gone. Certainly my college education didn't provide me any glimpses of it, despite being concentrated in fields in and around it. I hope that others who are seekers after peace -- after Shalom -- will investigate what Henry George's "Remedy" -- land value taxation -- has to offer for their community and their country.
And here's the final paragraph from the email that the first quote came from:
Taking care of each other is simple kindness, not something sinister, said Forrister, who was trained as a Church of Christ minister.
“Thinking about looking out for the common good is not socialism,” Forrister said. “Capitalism has to be tempered by social policy that responds to human needs that capitalism won’t respond to.”
Our current form of capitalism is, among other things, land monopoly capitalism. Were we to remove the land monopoly aspect, through land value taxation, we would have a purer capitalism, one which I think would better serve the ideals we claim to hold dear.
It is frequently pointed out by Georgists that there are no really good rebuttals to land value taxation.
This excerpt from a 1971 letter to my grandfather from a colleague describes where the opposition comes from:
There may be be no "arguments that actually oppose LVT" as Bill says, but there are plenty of people who not only actually but actively oppose it. These are the people who are making hundreds of millions of dollars a year on the unearned increments land speculation gets as a result of land being so undertaxed that the landowner puts up only a trifling share of the enormous community investment needed to make his land reachable, livable and readily saleable. Of 7 million-odd New Yorkers I would guess that perhaps 70,000 people profit by today's misapplication of the property tax while 7 million lose by it, but the problem is that the 7 million have no idea of what they are losing while the 70,000 jolly well know that they have a good thing going for them and fight to keep it.
I've been trying for a year to get my friend, J___ C___, past president of the Realtors and Chairman of the Realtors Economic Research Committee to stop fighting LVT, but he keeps coming back to how his father bought some land near San Diego for $20 an acre before 1900 and sold it for $4,000 an acre around 1950 and his father could not have held it all that time if he had had to pay more than a nominal tax.
I don't think anyone should take the equity argument seriously. Just because the ownership of underused land has been subsidized for years does not entitle its owners to expect the subsidy to be continued forever, and likewise, for those who bought land in the expectation that the subsidy would be permanent. The equity objection to increasing the tax on land would apply almost equally to any other tax increase.
A week later, another letter includes this:
Just because landowners have had a wonderful subsidy racket going for them in the past should not give them any claim on having that subsidy continue ad infinitum. I do agree with Lowell that the transition to LVT would raise problems, and in any area with a high tax rat on property I can see that the transition would have to be staggered over a period of years, probably not less than five or more than ten, dpending on how big a tax rate was to be shifted off improvement values onto location values.
In the same file, a copy of a 1969 letter from the same person to Lowell (Harriss):
I don't see how tripling the tax on land could fail to force almost all owners of underused land to get busy and put it to better use. Conversely, I don't see how taking the equivalent of a 51% sales tax off improvements could fail to be a tremendous stimulant to improvements. If a 7% Federal tax credit on improvements was so effective, what would wiping out a 50% tax do!
Our argument for justice and liberty -- the doctrines of Henry George -- depends upon successfully synthesizing the social sciences and philosophy. Our scientific work in this area builds us a rostrum from which we can teach the fundamental principles of ethical democracy. ...
As Georgists we are interested
in establishing site value taxes and taxes on the economic rent of other resources,
in determining the economic and social impacts of all other taxes and constructing an intelligent tax system that abolishes speculation and unearned incomes and encourages productive labor, progressive entrepreneurship and socially progressive investments, while bearing the least heavily on labor and capital;
in promoting the free flow of goods, ideas and people across all boundaries, local and national;
in reducing State intervention in the economy and society to the minimum and developing effective and socially oriented self regulation in all occupations, professions and industries;
in reviving mutual aid and substituting it for State aid in the solution of economic, social and personal problems;
in establishing equality of opportunity in all areas of economic and social life and in ridding the economy and society of all vestiges of monopoly and privilege.
In a word, we seek to make it possible for each individual to become a free person developing his faculties to the highest in an ethical democratic free society.
I'm reading through some of my grandparents' files of correspondence; they were great correspondents, and kept carbons of their outgoing letters and originals of what they received. This is an excerpt from a 1957 letter from the executive secretary of a foundation which sponsored my grandfather's work, Vie Peterson (also a wonderful correspondent!) and was written in response to a draft of a document he was assembling as an introduction to Henry George. (A much later version of that paper is available here.)
"Should we elaborate why George insisted on one tax? He felt that the economic rent of land was the true national income. He felt any tax on production was a form of penalty on man's industry and thrift. He felt that every step forward that man makes in raising himself and in improving civilization as a whole would be reflected in land values and provide an increasing source of revenue which he believed would be sufficient for the national needs. As a family lives on a set income, George believed that a nation should do likewise. It would be necessary, it seems to me, to indicate that at the present time with the national debt so high and with other complications a tax on land values alone might not be sufficient, but the purpose of this statement is to show what George had in mind in his day which was not burdened with debt as is our own?
In another, slightly earlier, letter, Vie writes,
"... George believed that easy access to land would overcome unemployent, would eliminate reliance on government aid, and therefore simplify government structure, etc. "
If you've just arrived at this page, this is the first (last) of perhaps 10 items I've picked up from reading a year's worth of an 1895-6 weekly called The San Jose Letter. I'm amazed how topical they are 115 years later!
From The San Jose Letter, of November 28, 1896:
THE SUPERFICIAL REFORMER.
A great fault of the human family today, when starting out on reform measures, is to battle with effects and neglect the primary causes of the evil. What man, be he the most uneducated tiller of the soil, would start out to eradicate weeds by cutting them off at the surface of the ground? Would he not dig down and remove the roots? And yet all the great reform parties, temperance people and labor organizations, are fighting effects, all claiming to be right, while the "ignis fatuus" is luring them on to their own destruction.
What, then, is the primary cause of the evil that is today filling our jails and insane asylums, making prostitutes of women and placing a premium upon drunkenness and suicide, while the products of industry are taxed to their utmost to keep up this damnable retrograde movement of our civilization? Are these the results of man's development in freedom, or are they the results of present conditions over which he has, or thinks he has, no control? Cannot this entire brood of evils be laid at the door of poverty and want, the result of bad laws? Anything, therefore, that will better man's condition will certainly lesson crime. Such a state of affairs is what the single tax will bring about. It has already been shown that taxing a thing has a tendency to discourage it, hence we are going to stop taxing industry and production, because these are the mainstays of existence, and to discourage them is to say that we have no right to that which nature decreed should be ours, but our entire revenue for community purposes, we propose to take from land values created by reason of the presence of the community.
—George W. Loehr in National Single Taxer.
If we don't go to the root of the problem, we and our descendants are going to be spending centuries trimming the weeds.
"Radical" has an honorable root: Radix, radicis --the root! Radish, radius, eradicate, radical ...
The current conversation about "tax reform" seems to mostly consist of arguing about federal income tax brackets. It doesn't go to the root of the problem. Most of those carrying on the conversation wouldn't know the root if they stumbled across it.
And what is this lowest man who holds the fate of the world in his hands; whom we must lift or perish? He is landless, workless, poverty stricken, degraded, drunken, dishonest. In a word overflowing with plenty, he lacks everything. In a world of brightness, he and his cower in a cellar, or burrow in a sun-abandoned court. With abundance of pure air, they breathe only the foul.
Let us go to this man, whom we have thus painted in somberest hues; loveless, imbruted, dirty, lazy. What shall we do with him?
Let me rehearse some of the favorite processes of the philanthropic tread-mill so amiably worked by the well-meaning, though willfully blind, in their efforts to "raise the fallen":
Preaching Jesus to his soul.
Giving soap and water to his filth.
Compelling him, willy-nilly, to work.
Exhorting him to abstinence.
Giving his children a taste of heaven on earth, with a treat of fresh air (sending them back again to hell of foul air).
Building airy tenements for his occupation.
Providing for his immediate wants in food, fuel, clothing and physic.
Although these do not exhaust the enumeration, they are typical and must suffice. But they are all wrong wrong, wrong.
What! Wrong to preach Jesus to the fallen? Yes, wrong to preach Jesus to them, until we practice Jesus ourselves.
What a mockery to preach Jesus to the fallen man, with the proceeds of his stolen rights in our pockets, in the suit of clothes we wear, and in the meal we enjoyed before we went forth to meet him. The first lesson in religion we can give him is an object lesson in the restoration of his lost inheritance in the earth. The first sermon he hears us preach should be one exhorting ourselves to repentance, confession, and restitution. Having obeyed and thus done the first duty in the premises, it remains for us to aid our fallen and defrauded brother in recovering the ground from which we have thrust him.
And this fallen man is not hurt harmlessly. He is the fly in the ointment of our wealth. He is the barrier to the realization of our social dreams. To secure ourselves we must secure him. The oneness of industry in its best conception is impossible until we have made this our brother one with ourselves. In some sad respects we trace evidences of our relationship. Is he sinful? So are we. Has he fallen? So have we. He was robbed and fell. We robbed and fell. Clearly our first duty is to "restore the pledge, given again that we have robbed." We can restore; he cannot recover; he is helpless; only we can help.
Until the lowest man and his rights are practically dealt with, and his opportunities to rise assured, we shall suffer; depressions, crashes, anxiety, overcompetition, aggravated covetousness, will mar all our industry.
We produce as individuals; we suffer as an organism. No man liveth to himself. The need of one is the calamity of all.
We have taken our brother's inheritance — the right to the use of the earth — and we make merchandise out of it. Let us agree to pay into the public treasury the whole annual value of the land we use in city or county, only retaining the proceeds of our own industry. Having agreed to and carried out this act of simple justice, no one will hold, can hold, land for profit. He must use or abandon it. The abandoned estates will then be available for our brother now landless, hopeless, degraded. Then, and only then, can we preach Jesus to him.
We are many members in one body. Which of us can be hurt and not bring hurt on the rest? In this sense, in the sense of sharing in suffering, the oneness of industry is perfect.
How does this strike you? If this is the first thing you've read here, it may seem very odd to you. I invite you to explore the ideas involved, through the tags (below this post) and in the cloud, at left. Comments welcome, of course!
Single Tax Platform
The single taxers of Delaware are conducting a red hot campaign. The single tax will be the issue in that state this fall, and Justice, the state single tax organ, published the following as their Single Tax Platform:
We assert as our fundamental principle, that all men are equally entitled to the use of the earth;
Therefore, No one should be permitted to hold land without paying to the community the value of the privilege thus accorded; and from the fund so raised all expenses of government should be paid. We would therefore abolish all taxation, except a tax upon the value of land exclusive of improvements. This tax should be collected by the local government and a certain proportion be paid to the state government.
This system of taxation would dispense with a horde of tax-gatherers, simplify government and greatly reduce its cost.
It would do away with the corruption and gross inequality inseparable from our present methods.
It would relieve the farmer, the workman and the manufacturer of those taxes by which they are unjustly burdened, and take for public uses those values due to the presence of population.
It would make it impossible for speculators to hold land idle, and would open unlimited opportunities for the employment of labor and capital, which is essential to the solution of the labor problem.
To my mind the greatest farce on earth today is that a law which everybody is supposed to know requires a lawyer to interpret it, a judge to over-rule him, another judge to over-rule him, and so on to the end of the fence. It is that law that "ignorance of the law excuses no one;" yet nobody knows the law, not even the lawyers and the judges, and even the judges of the Supreme Court cannot agree as to what the law of the land is, so they decide five to four. Then what are we poor fools to do? That is why I favor burning the whole thing up and getting new laws, founded on justice and equity, that men of common sense can understand.
quoted in The San Jose Letter, of February 15, 1896.
This appeared in an 1896 California weekly called the San Jose Letter. It makes the distinction between the intent of the Single Tax, which is decidedly individualistic, and Socialism, which is not. (Many people, when they first hear about collecting rent to fund government, jump to a conclusion that it is somehow socialistic. It does socialize something we are used to treating as private property, but those who stop to think it through will see the logic and justice of socializing that which the community creates, particularly so because it makes it possible to privatize that which is rightly private: that which the individual creates.)
Single Tax vs. Socialism
The idea of socialism is based upon the theory that each person should have an equal share of all that is produced, irrespective of what the person produces. Lawrence Grunland wishes to make modifications in that plan by establishing grades according to the different kinds of work,but to that extent is he compromising with our present system and discountenancing ideal socialism.
The theory is summed up in their demand that "all means of production and distribution be owned and operated by the government," as the chief plank of their platform. As every person who works intelligently is employed in either production or distribution, every one would be in the employ ol the Government.
The curse of the race today is the concentration of power in a few hands. It was concentration of power that made slaves of nearly all the people of Egypt, of Rome, and the same is being repeated today. And yet the socialists want to enter upon such a system of concentration as the world has never seen.
But it is claimed that the people would choose their own overseers. The people of San Francisco, of Chicago, of New York, elect the members of the city councils, but who would want to place in the hands of these men the control of all the means of production and distribution — the management of every conceivable line of business and pursuit — and consequently the wages that shall be paid in the different grades, the hours of work, and also the assignment of the kinds of work that each one shall do. Pause a moment and think of the rings that must of necessity spring up under such a system. Or who would want to place in the hands of Grover Cleveland the destiny of the 70,000,000 people of the United States? The president now has more power than any human being should be entrusted with, but it is not a drop in the ocean compared to the power he would have under the co-operative commonwealth.
Instead of giving our government heads and legislative bodies more power, we need to curtail them in that which they already have. Give the people of the smallest political divisions local option in taxation and other matters to the fullest extent possible, and take from Congress the power to build up one industry or one section at the expense of another, under the guise of raising revenue or protecting certain grades from competition, and they, the people, will soon learn what is best for them, for, by experiments, that which proves to be the best for one will be adopted by others.
One of the proper functions of government is to own and operate natural monopolies, because individuals or corporations will not operate them for the benefit of the public where it conflicts with their own interests. But because the government should own and operate a natural monopoly, such as the telegraph, where in the very nature of things there can be no real competition that is no reason why the government should own and operate the bake shops, the barber shops, and the truck gardens.
In opposition to the claim that "each is entitled to an equal share of all that is produced, irrespective of what he produces," I claim that each is entitled to all that his labor produces and no more, and that the community should take for governmental expenses that which the community produces and no more, viz.: land values.
Judge Maguire of San Francisco, in the course of a speech in congress, said: "There is a natural right of ownership existing between everything produced by labor and the labor that produced it. That right springs from every man's ownership of himself and of his mental and physical powers. Owning himself, he has a natural right of ownership in the things and values that his own mental and physical powers produce, and he can manifestly, without violating any principle of natural justice, transfer his right in such things to another upon any terms which may be satisfactory to him. This is a matter with which neither society at large nor any individual can properly have any concern. The things that he produces are his, because he has produced them; because their forms of utility would not have existed but for his productive effort, and it is no hardship to any other man in the world to be deprived of that which would not have existed at all but for the labor of him who produced it.
"If the labor of a dozen men indisguishably contributes to the production of anything of value, it belongs, by the same law, not to any one of them, but to the whole dozen. So, if a value be produced by the indistinguishable labor of a community of one hundred thousand or a million people, it belongs by the same law of natural right to all, and not to any individual, or to any number less than the whole. Therefore the rental value of land belongs to the community which produces and maintains it by the same natural right which gives to each individual man the wealth which his labor entirely produces."
To give this practical effect, the single taxers would take all taxes off labor and labor's products and put them upon land values. This would make it unprofitable for individuals to hold large tracts of land unused — in fact impossible, as the taxes on large tracts of idle land would soon eat up all the owner's income from the other sources. The Miller & Lux estate, comprising 14,500,000 acres, which includes more than one-fourth of the arable land of the state of California, is almost wholly unused. Under the single tax, this would soon be open to the people who actually wanted to use it, and every man in the state who wanted a home and a place to make a living could have one. Fully nineteen-twentieths of the arable land of California is unused or nearly so.
By our indirect manner of raising government revenue each producing family pays $40 yearly government tax; $40 of protected monopoly tax in higher prices for goods, and $80 per year that is now taken to pay dividends on watered stocks in railroads, telegraph and kindred monopolies. All these as well as state and county taxes would be done away with, except on land values irrespective of improvements. This would make land freer to labor than it was in California forty years ago; freer than it was on the Atlantic seaboard two hundred years ago. With the land open to all, none need to work for another for less wages than his labor is worth. Under such conditions who need be in want?
Karl Marx, the noted socialist, relates the incident of a rich English capitalist conveying to one of the British colonies a vast store of machinery and materials for the establishment of a great factory, together with three thousand people of the working class — men, women and children — to work in the projected factory. How immediately after landing at their destination, men, women and children left him without so much as a servant to carry water from the river to cook a meal; left him and his machinery; and the machinery lay and rotted on the ground and the factory was never erected. Why did they leave him? The same inducement that brought him and his capital from the shores of "Merrie England" — they could get free land, all they wanted of it, for the taking. With land free to use capital can not oppress labor, and the single tax would make land free to use.
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.
I am including this because I find it timely and timeless; because it provides a good simple mathematical look at the perversity of our current tax system, and because it illustrates my notion that when Leona Helmsley said "WE don't pay taxes; the little people pay taxes," she was not describing tax evasion but actual tax structures.
Henry George, Jr., was a U. S. Congressman. His most famous writing is "The Menace of Privilege."
WHO ARE THE CRIMINALS?
BY HENRY GEORGE , JR. Copyright, 1901, by The Abbey Press, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York
I. Who are the Criminals? 5 II. French Aristocracy of Privilege 6 III. New York Aristocracy of Privilege 10 IV. Robbery of Masses by Classes 12 V. Nature and Extent of Robberies 13 VI. How to Stop the Robberies 18 VII. The Criminals 23
I. WHO ARE THE CRIMINALS?
In considering the problem of how to check or control vice and crime in New York the question at once raised is: Who are the criminals? Who are they who cause these dreadful evils in the community? For unless we know exactly where the disease lies how can we attempt a remedy?
II. FRENCH ARISTOCRACY OF PRIVILEGE.
When the French Revolution broke loose the people followed the lead of men who seemed no better than a pack of devils, for they maimed, they brutally tortured and they slew. Women, whose only offense was that they were members of an arrogant and grinding aristocracy, were stripped naked, treated with every indignity and killed with every mark of ferocity. Old men and young children belonging to the upper classes were butchered, and persons of blameless life and humane intention were trampled under foot when they attempted to stay the carnival of blood.
Who will dare say that these revolutionary leaders, these butchers, were not criminals — criminals whose bloody hands must shine down through history? They were men turned to monsters; brutes with human intelligence, striving for new ways to torture and kill.
But whence came they? Not from without. They sprang up within. They represented the spirit of retaliation — of fiendish retaliation for the centuries of wrong done them and theirs. They were the progeny of poverty made by robbery. Their deeds were the deeds of monstrous criminals, but they themselves were the spawn of hideous injustice — an injustice that gave to the few riotous feasting and gorgeous raiment and to the many rags and black bread filled with maggots.
The aristocrats during centuries of power had appropriated the soil of France, and all other Frenchmen had to purchase the privilege of living in their native country. Not content with this, the upper classes had thrown upon the masses all those heavy taxes which it was the plain intent only the landowners should bear. They shifted upon the common people all the expenses of an extravagant, aristocratic government, and through ground rents sucked away all the people's remaining substance, save just enough to keep them alive and at work. Who were making the masses so poor and wretched was as plain as day. The masses themselves could see, and when they raised the sword against the aristocracy all hell seemed to break loose.
Who were the criminals? Why, of course they were criminals — horrible, revolting criminals — who did this guillotining, who committed these butcheries.
But who made these criminals? Clearly those who bore so heavily upon the people — the aristocrats, who kept the people in fearful poverty and ignorance which bred the spirit of bloodthirsty tigers.
The aristocracy, therefore, were the primary, the real criminals.
III. NEW YORK ARISTOCRACY OF PRIVILEGE.
I wish to proceed with greatest caution, with utmost conservatism. Yet candor compels me to ask: Have we not in our community an aristocracy of privilege — an aristocracy far more rich, far more powerful than was the aristocracy of old France? And have we not a corresponding poor class? Is it not true that half the population of Manhattan Island is living in what Ex-Mayor Hewitt rightly calls "those terrible tenements?"
That Prince of the Church, Bishop Potter, has proposed in the emergency that we have noonday prayer meetings. By all means, we all say. Let us bow ourselves before Almighty God and ask for relief from this social scourge. Yet what if, while we pray, we abate not the power of our aristocracy of privilege; what if we do nothing to mitigate the poverty of the million tenement dwellers?
The distinguished divine has also proposed a military police. If that were good, would not a local standing army be better? It would keep order, at least for a time. But would it cure the general poverty among the masses? Would it not rather act like a lid fastened down on a volcano — work well, until fire and molten stone and destruction belched forth? What then?
IV. ROBBERY OF MASSES BY CLASSES.
Assuming that we are sincerely trying to make civic conditions better, that we are seeking a cure (if there be a cure) for the general vice and crime in the community, should we not ask ourselves some plain questions? Is it not the truth that we have an aristocracy? Is it not the truth that we have a poor class? Is it not certain that the rich are growing richer and the poor poorer and more numerous?
I believe that there can be but one answer — yes.
Yet I can see no reason for this state of things unless it be that the classes are robbing the masses.
V. NATURE AND EXTENT OF ROBBERIES.
LET us consider how the classes may be robbing the masses into poverty.
It is said that when the first Dutchmen came sailing into New York Bay they bought Manhattan Island for $24. That was for the land alone, no houses or other improvements being here. Today the selling value of the bare land of this same Manhattan Island is at least $3,000,000,000. Those who possess the land of this island, now get what is equivalent to a ground rental of $150,000,000 a year, with this sum steadily swelling. The ground rental of Greater New York cannot be less than $225,000,000 yearly.
This vast sum is paid over to the landlord aristocracy — for what? For doing nothing. The people multiplied from a ship's crew to several millions in and about the island and behold! the vast value of land which in the beginning sold for but $24. The increment of value obviously has not been produced by individuals; it is entirely aside from and in addition to the value of improvements, which spring from human labor, which are produced by individuals. This increase in land value is a publicly-made value. It of right belongs to all the people. Do all the people get it? No, the few whom we recognize as the owners of this land claim that value and get it. The people at large in the community get nothing. Do not these landed aristocrats — of which the old French nobility were in many respects prototypes — rob the community? Do they not go far toward robbing a large part of the people into poverty?
Take another instance of robbery of the many by the few. Observe what we are doing about public franchises. A public franchise is a public right of way, a public highway. Modern civilization, with its intense centralization, its condensed population, and its interdependence of individuals, makes these highways of vital importance to the community. They are the arteries of the body-social, the channels of intercommunication and transportation, of heat, and water, and light, and power, and sewage. Were they suddenly destroyed, a large part of the population would die as quickly as a member of the human organism withers up and dies when the flow of blood is cut off from it.
Then if these public franchises, these public rights of way, these public highways, are so vital to the body-social, so necessary to the well-being of the people, what should be our policy toward them? What is our policy toward them? Why, in the case of water and sewage we treat them as public property, operating them publicly through public officials. But what do we do in respect to the other franchises? What do we do regarding street railroads, telephones and telegraphs, electric lighting and heating and gas, and steam supply? All these public franchises are treated as if they were private franchises. Upon all these public highways we allow private individuals to set the claim of ownership; to make charge upon the people; make charge upon the body-social for its blood, as it were. And a conservative estimate of the annual value of these public franchises in Greater New York at this time is $30,000,000.
Here, then, we have two forms of grand, constant, continuous robbery of the people — an aristocracy of privilege appropriating public ground rents and public franchise values, so that a few of the population are enabled to live in palaces while a million crowd into tenements.
VI. HOW TO STOP THE ROBBERIES.
Now the masses of the people of Greater New York lose annually by the appropriations of the landed and franchise aristocracy —
In ground rents
In franchise values
While they are compelled to pay in various taxes for the support of local government
Which makes in all
What shorter way is there to relieve poverty and to do social justice than to abolish the $98,000,000 of general taxes, which fall mainly upon industry or the fruits of industry and terribly hamper the masses of the people; and then what more simple than to appropriate for local governmental expenses that sum out of the $225,000,000 of publicly-made land values? Why not further lighten the load of the masses by taking over into public ownership and management all public municipal franchises, just as are water and sewage now; and then why not cut down their cost of service to the public that $30,000,000 which now represents purely franchise value in the charges of the private corporations that possess and manage them?
For a third step, why not make these municipal utilities free to the public, meeting the expense of their operation by another appropriation of the publicly-made land values?
And for a fourth step, why not appropriate for an old-age pension to every citizen, rich and poor alike, for public parks, for public lectures and concerts, or for any other or for all such purposes — all that still remains of the publicly-made land values?
What would be the result of such a policy? It would be that all the people in Greater New York would be relieved of the burden of $98,000,000 of various taxes; that the great charge of the many branches of the public franchise service on the people would be entirely wiped out and abolished; and that the whole of land values, that is, of ground rents, would be enjoyed by all the people equally, being appropriated for public uses.
Would this make any difference in the community? The welkin is made to ring by the most influential of the tax-payers when, under present conditions, the taxation authorities raise or lower the tax rate even 1%. What, then, would happen if all taxation were lifted from the fruits of toil, if public utilities were made free, and if land values were to benefit, not a class, but the whole people?
Such a tax would be just, because it would fall on this publicly-made value; it would be certain, because land cannot be hidden or lessened in amount; it would force all unused or inadequately used valuable land into its highest use, for no one could afford to hold such land vacant for a speculation, as very many do now.
Land in Greater New York would therefore be cheaper — how much cheaper may be judged by the fact that two-thirds of the land within the city limits, though extremely valuable, is not now used. This unused land would compete with the used land for users, so that land values in the community generally would fall. At the same time all building materials, being relieved of present taxation, would be far cheaper, making two of the chief elements for house building would be greatly less in cost, and consequently, larger, lighter, better dwelling accommodations in every way could and would be supplied to the masses of the people, and especially to the million now living in tenements.
What would help the poorest would be of direct and indirect benefit to all others in the community; and this would be but one of a large harvest of good results that the people would reap from such a policy.
The privileged classes, the aristocrats, would lose their privileges, but they would have no less rights than any and all other citizens of Greater New York.
VII. THE CRIMINALS.
That able and public-spirited citizen, Mr. President Baldwin, of the Long Island Railroad, and Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Anti-Vice Committee of Fifteen, has said that this is not the time for "idealist scheme of reform." But we are trying to put down vice and crime in the community; and the question is: Who are the criminals?
Let us be frank with ourselves: Who are the criminals? Are they the housebreakers, the unfortunate women who walk the streets and the police officials who take blood-money? Or are they those who rob the masses of the people into poverty — deep, biting, degrading poverty?
Are not the aristocrats of privilege, knowingly or unknowingly, the criminals we should first consider in an examination of civic disease in New York?
The post below this one is my attempt. Here's another, from Sunday's NYT.
By JILL LEPORE | Published: October 15, 2011
Jill Lepore is a professor of history at Harvard and the author of “The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History.”
A cartoon of Henry George when he ran for mayor of New York in 1886.
IN the Republican debate on Tuesday, the restaurant industry executive Herman Cain, deftly countering a quip, said his “9, 9, 9” economic plan, which calls for a 9 percent corporate tax, a 9 percent income tax and a 9 percent national sales tax, “didn’t come off a pizza box.” Asked where it did come from, he said “the American people,” but added that he also has a team of economic advisers.
“One of my experts that helped me to develop this is a gentleman by the name of Rich Lowrie out of Cleveland, Ohio,” Mr. Cain said. “He is an economist.” Mr. Lowrie, a licensed stockbroker, is a wealth management consultant for Wells Fargo.
Henry George, the most popular American economic thinker of the 19th century, was a populist before populism had a name. His economic plan was known as the Single Tax. His plan wasn’t 9-9-9; it was just: 1.
George was born in Philadelphia in 1839. He left school at 14 to sail to India and Australia on board a ship called the Hindoo. At the time, a lot of people were writing about India as a place of jewels and romance; George was struck by its poverty.
Returning to Philadelphia, he became a printer’s apprentice. He went to New York where he saw, for the first time, “the shocking contrast between monstrous wealth and debasing want.” In 1858, he joined the crew of a ship sailing around the Cape Horn because it was the only way he could afford to get to California. In San Francisco, he edited a newspaper; it soon failed. He spent most of his life editing newspapers, and, as with every other industry in the 19th century, many of them failed. In 1865, George was reduced to begging in the streets.
The 19th century was the Age of Progress: the steam engine, the power loom, the railroad. (Awestruck wonder at progress animated that era the way the obsession with innovation animates American politics today.) George believed that the other side of progress was poverty. The railroad crossed the continent in 1869. From the West, George wrote an essay called “What the Railroad Will Bring Us.” His answer: the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. In a Fourth of July oration in 1877, George declared, “no nation can be freer than its most oppressed, richer than its poorest, wiser than its most ignorant.”
In 1879, George finished a draft of his most important book. “Discovery upon discovery, and invention after invention, have neither lessened the toil of those who most need respite, nor brought plenty to the poor,” George wrote. He thought the solution was to abolish all taxes on labor and instead impose a single tax, on land. He sent the manuscript to New York. When no one would publish it, he set the type himself and begged publishers simply to ink his plates. The book, “Progress and Poverty,” sold three million copies.
George was neither a socialist nor a communist; he influenced Tolstoy but he disagreed with Marx. He saw himself as defending “the Republicanism of Jefferson and the Democracy of Jackson.” He had a bit of Melville in him (the sailor) and some of Thoreau (“We do not ride on the railroad,” Thoreau wrote from Walden. “It rides upon us.”) But, really, he was a Tocquevillian. Tocqueville believed that democracy in America was made possible by economic equality: people with equal estates will eventually fight for, and win, equal political rights. George agreed. But he thought that speculative, industrial capitalism was destroying democracy by making economic equality impossible. A land tax would solve all.
In 1886, George decided to run for mayor of New York. Democrats urged him not to, telling him he had no chance and would only raise hell. “You have relieved me of embarrassment,” George answered. “I do not want the responsibility and the work of the office of the Mayor of New York, but I do want to raise hell.” The Democrat, Abram Hewitt, won, but George got more votes than the Republican, Theodore Roosevelt.
In the 1880s, George campaigned for the single tax, free trade and ballot reform. The last succeeded. George is why, on Election Day, your polling place supplies you with a ballot that you mark in secret. This is known as an Australian ballot, and George brought it back from his voyage halfway around the world.
George ran for mayor of New York again in 1897 but died in his bed four days before the election. His body lay in state at Grand Central. More than 100,000 mourners came to pay their respects. The New York Times said, “Not even Lincoln had a more glorious death.” And then: he was left behind.
Even Clarence Darrow, who admired him, recanted. “The error I found in the philosophy of Henry George,” Darrow wrote, “was its cocksureness, its simplicity, and the small value that it placed on the selfish motives of men.”
In September, 1889, Thomas Shearman, co-founder of the NYC law firm Shearman & Sterling, published an article in The Forum, entitled "Henry George's Mistakes." This was ten years after the publication of Henry George's "Progress and Poverty," which was, by that time well known to most Americans and many in other parts of the world; by 1900, P&P had sold something like 6 million copies and been serialized in many periodicals. As the first paragraph shows, George's ideas were controversial, particularly with the vested interests who were more than happy with the current structure, and were in a position to spend to influence public opinion.
Shearman is responding to those who thought that George's Remedy (the subtitle to P&P is "An inquiry into the cause of industrial depressions and of increase of want with increase of wealth ... The Remedy") was unrealistic, and in particular, to an 1887 article in The Forum.
Shearman shows why indirect taxes raise prices and the cost of living, particularly for the poor. Recall Leona Helmsley's statement about taxes: "We don't pay taxes. The little people pay taxes." I don't think she was talking about tax evasion; she was talking about tax structures.
I've taken the formatting liberty of presenting some lists contined in paragraphs as bullet points.
HENRY GEORGE'S MISTAKES.
Since the mistakes of Moses were so triumphantly demolished by Col. Ingersoll, his example has been followed by numerous writers, who, possibly because they concluded that the Mosaic field has been sufficiently occupied, have devoted themselves to an equally triumphant demonstration of the mistakes of Henry George. Space could not be afforded for even an abstract of these brilliant productions. Crushed by the Duke of Argyll, refuted by Mr. Mallock, extinguished by Mayor Hewitt, undermined by Mr. Edward Atkinson, exploded by Prof. Harris, excommunicated by archbishops, consigned to eternal damnation by countless doctors of divinity, put outside the pale of the Constitution by numberless legal pundits, waved out of existence by a million Podsnaps, and finally annihilated by Mr. George Gunton, still Henry George's theories seem to have a miraculous faculty of rising from the dead. For it is certain that his general doctrines are more widely believed in today than ever before; while the one practical measure which he advocates for present and immediate enactment is accepted by a vast number of intelligent men on both sides of the Atlantic. It is, therefore, still worth while to look into this terrible delusion, and to inquire seriously what are these fatal mistakes which, being so often slain, nevertheless live.
Mr. George has devoted a large portion of his famous book, "Progress and Poverty," to the assertion and illustration of his belief that, all over the civilized world, the rich are growing richer and the poor relatively poorer. He undertakes to trace the cause of this assumed evil to the private ownership of land and the steady increase of economic rent. He insists, with admitted eloquence and earnestness, that private ownership of land must be abolished; but he proposes one remedy and only one, the concentration of all taxes upon ground rent alone. He urges that these taxes should be increased to such an amount as will absorb ground rent. This, in view of statements made by all Mr. George's opponents, would seem to be really only a matter of detail, concerning which any one might be at liberty to entertain, as Mr. Disraeli used to say, a "pious opinion." For they all, with one voice, maintain that ground rent would never be sufficient to meet the existing taxes; and so this question, if any of Mr. George's critics are correct, could never arise.
To a practical mind there are only two important questions involved in this controversy.
First, is there any undesirable tendency toward the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few?
Secondly, is the concentration of all taxes upon ground rent alone a real, just, and effective remedy?
Let us inquire whether there is any excessive concentration of wealth going on in the United States of America. Leaving mere clamor and unsupported assertions out of consideration, on either side, let us look into facts. As lately as 1847, there was but one man in this country who was reputed to be worth more than $5,000,000; and though some estimated his wealth at $20,000,000, there is no good reason for believing it to have been so great. The wealth of his lineal descendants is estimated at $250,000,000, or over $50,000,000 each. In 1867, in the New York constitutional convention, one of the most prominent delegates stated that he could name 30 men, residing in that State, whose wealth averaged $15,000,000 each. The St. Louis "Globe" recently published a list of 72 persons who were worth, collectively, the whole amount of our national debt, averaging $18,000,000 each. The wealthiest railroad manager in America, in 1865, was worth $40,000,000, but not more. His heir died recently, leaving an estate of nearly $200,000,000; and there are several gentlemen now living who are worth over $100,000,000 each. Within a short period, a number of quiet, unobtrusive men, of no national fame, have died in Pennsylvania, leaving estates of over $20,000,000 each. Twenty living persons, in the oil business, are reputed to be as rich. Forty persons could be easily named, none of them worth less than $20,000,000, and averaging $40,000,000 each. At the lowest reasonable estimate, there must now be more than 250 persons in this country whose wealth averages over $20,000,000 for each. But let us call the number only 200. Income-tax returns in Great Britain and in the United States show that, in general, the number of incomes, when arranged in large classes, multiplies by from three to five-fold for every reduction in the amount of one-half.* For extreme caution, however, we estimate the increase in the number of incomes at a very much lower rate than this. At this reduced rate, the amount of wealth in the hands of persons worth over $500,000 each in the United States would be about as follows:
200 persons at
* In Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1865, the tax returns showed one income of $600,000, 2 incomes of $200,000, 11 incomes of $100,000, 61 incomes of $50,000, 1,700 incomes averaging $7,000. See also the "Cyclopedia of Political Science," art. "Income Tax."
In Great Britain, in 1872, 3 landlords averaged each $1,100,000 rent, 14 averaged $675,000, and 83 averaged over $250,000. In 1884, the returns of business profits, only, showed 104 incomes averaging $450,000,1,192 of $85,000, 1,871 of $32,000, and 20,534 of $9,000.
This estimate is very far below the actual truth. Yet, even upon this basis, we are confronted with the startling result that 25,000 persons now possess more than half of the whole national wealth, real and personal, according to the highest estimate ($60,000,000,000) which any one has yet ventured to make of the aggregate amount. Nor is this conclusion at all improbable.
Let us test the question in another way. Eastern savings banks show an average deposit of $365. This sum represents the extreme savings of the average thrifty workingman of the East. But even estimating that 20,000,000 workers of 1889, earning an average of less than $400 each, of whom 5,000,000 are women and children, have saved, on the average, $600, still, their aggregate savings would not amount to $12,000,000,000, or $1,100 for each average family. Let us suppose that the 1,000,000 workers of superior class, earning an average of $1,000 each, have saved $3,000 — a monstrous exaggeration. This would make their total possessions $3,000,000,000. The result would be to show that 21,000,000 persons had saved up in the whole course of their lives $15,000,000,000, leaving $45,000,000,000 in the possession of not more than 400,000 persons.
Look again. Excluding churches, public buildings, etc., from the items of wealth enumerated in the census estimate for 1880, it is reduced to $41,000,000,000. Railroads, telegraphs, shipping, mines, quarries, canals, merchandise, and specie count for $13,500,000,000. These certainly do not belong to $400 workingmen. $5,000,000,000 is charged to household furniture, paintings, and jewelry. Two-thirds of this would be an extreme allowance for the 9,700,000 families of the poorer class; but let us allow them more, and estimate the furniture of the 300,000 richer families at only $5,000 each. Farms stand for $10,000,000,000, of which more than one-fourth were owned by landlords and leased to tenants, while one-fifth were so large as to imply wealthy owners; and mortgages were certainly outstanding for more than one-fifth of the rest. Business and residential real estate, water-power, etc., were estimated at about the same value. Of this, at least three-fourths was owned by the wealthy class, either absolutely or by mortgages. On this basis we arrive at the following estimate of the possessions, in 1880, of not more than 300,000 persons:
Railroads, shipping, mines, merchandise, specie, etc.
Farms, 45 per cent
Mortgages on farms, 20 per cent
Other real estate
The total national wealth held as private property being $41,000,000,000, this estimate confirms the previous one, that a small minority of the people own two-thirds of the national wealth. Is Mr. George so very much mistaken, in view of these figures, when he asserts that the rich are growing richer and the poor relatively poorer?
A sufficient cause for the immense and growing chasm between the rich and the poor of this country is to be found in indirect taxation. The population of the United States has increased in 25 years from 35,000,000 to 60,000,000. Let us call the average 45,000,000. The average annual taxes for the same period have been about $175,000,000 on imports, $136,000,000 on domestic productions, $14,000,000 on incomes, $25,000,000 miscellaneous, and $300,000,000 State and local taxes, mostly on houses and improvements and personal property. Duties on imports have entailed an average increase of prices on domestic goods to the amount of fully thrice the duties, say $525,000,000. Excise duties, by promoting monopolies, have largely increased prices, as in the well-known case of matches, where a duty of one cent caused an increase in price of' two cents. Let us, however, call this increase only one-fifth of the excise, or $27,000,000. But upon these taxes there are three profits, made by the importers or manufacturers, the jobbers, and the retailers, amounting to not less than 20% in all, or $172,600,000. Two-thirds of the State and local taxes are paid by middlemen, who of course add a profit; but this may be put as low as 5%, or about $10,000,000. The grand total now comes to $1,384,000,000 per annum, as the average annual burden borne by the people for 25 years past. Of this all was indirect taxation, except something over $100,000,000; leaving the average annual burden imposed by indirect taxation at $1,280,000,000.
This burden was distributed as equally as possible by natural laws, in proportion to the expenditure of each income-receiver in the support of his family. As each worker supported, on the average, three persons, including himself, the people may be divided into 15,000,000 families, or rather groups of three.* On the basis of the careful estimate of Mr. Atkinson, 14,000,000 of these must have been supported upon incomes of less than $400 (in my judgment less than $350), 700,000 on less than $1,000, and the other 300,000 on larger incomes. The average annual earnings of the nation during 25 years cannot have exceeded $7,500,000,000. Allowing 15% as savings, destruction, and cost of replacement, and adding to this the tax burdens, which must be paid out of savings, there would remain, as the sum expended in the support of the people, an average of less than $5,100,000,000 per annum. On this the burden of indirect taxation has averaged 25%. We are now prepared to calculate the effect.
* The actual number of real families was much less. It was under 10,000,000 in 18S0, averaging 5 persons each.
Supposing them exempt from taxes, still it would be unreasonable to expect the mass of the laborers to support their groups of three on less than $300 a year. Their burden of taxation, then, has averaged 25% on this, or $75 a year. Contrast with this the case of men who enjoyed an income of $1,000,000, which a fortune of $15,000,000 would on an average easily have produced in simple interest during this period. Allow them $100,000 each, for a modest living; on which their tax would be $25,000 each. From what fund would these taxes be paid? Obviously, from what would have been saved, but for taxation, not from what was spent. This fund, in the case of the masses, would amount to $100 each; tax, $75. In the case of the great millionaires, $900,000; tax, $25,000. Tax on the property of the very rich, less than 3%. Tax on the property of the masses, more than 75%.
What would be the result, at the end of a year, on these two classes? Assume only 200 such very wealthy men; yet their savings would be, under such taxation, $175,000,000. Assume only 600 more, with incomes of $500,000 each, spending $50,000, and taxed therefore $12,500; their net savings would be $437,500 each, or $262,500,000 in all. Thus 800 rich men would save $437,500,000. The savings of the 14,000,000 laborers could not exceed $25 each, or $350,000,000. But, if taxes could be dispensed with, the savings of the millions of poor men would have reached $1,400,000,000, while those of the 800 rich would not have exceeded $450,000,000.
Here is a mathematical demonstration that the mere fact of indirect taxation is sufficient to strip the poor of three-fourths of their natural savings, and to concentrate a majority of the wealth of the community in the hands of an infinitesimally small part of its number.
What, then, is the remedy proposed by the wild fanatic whose blunders we are considering? It is threefold.
First, the total abolition of indirect taxation.
Secondly, the substitution of a single tax on ground rent, the only sufficient form of strictly direct taxation which has ever been invented.
Thirdly, the gradual increase of this direct tax, if necessary to that end, to an amount sufficient to absorb ground rents. This is all.
The third branch of this proposition is the only one which has brought the penalties of everlasting damnation upon Mr. George's head, from the hand of Dr. Van Dyke. But Prof. Harris and Mr. Atkinson are sure that they have saved his soul, at the expense of his arithmetic, by demonstrating that rent is a very insignificant item, which would not suffice to meet the present necessary taxes. Assuming, for the moment, that Mr. George's arithmetical critics have delivered his soul from Sheol, let us try to rescue his body from the lunatic asylum.
Every form of tax upon personal property or improvements upon land, whether in the form of a tariff, an excise, a license, or a so-called "direct tax" upon their value, is, in the inherent nature of things, an indirect tax. It is and always must be shifted from the original tax-payer to the final consumer. In many individual cases the original tax-payer is unable thus to shift the tax; but in that event he is crippled in business, and, if the difficulty is permanent, he is ruined and driven out of business, to give place to a shrewder man, who makes the customer pay the tax in the end, with a bigger profit than would have contented the weaker man.
There are no direct taxes worth discussing, except the income tax, the succession tax, and the tax on land, valued without reference to its improvements. The income tax opens the door to innumerable frauds, and puts a premium upon perjury and corruption. If adopted in this country as the sole method of taxation, it will open the way to such plunder of the honest rich as will make them sigh for Henry George and his tax on rent. Poor folk and rascals will escape from all taxation whatever. The succession tax will fall exclusively upon the rich. If made high enough to support the cost of all government, it will fail, because it will be evaded. There remains only the tax on land values, or the natural rent of land, irrespective of improvements.
This tax is absolutely direct. It cannot be evaded. It cannot be shifted by the original tax-payer. That is an axiom of economic science. If it were not so, there would not be a particle of the clamor which is raised against it. The thunders of the pulpit would have slept forever, if the land-owner could make poor folk pay his land tax, with a little profit. The adoption of this tax would therefore put an end to all the unnatural impoverishment of the poor and enrichment of the rich, which take place under the present system. It would amount to a total abolition of taxation, as to that vast majority of the poor who own no land. Whereas now they pay both rent and taxes, then they would pay rent alone. This simple fact is a complete answer to the inquiry: "How are the masses to get the benefit of taxing rent?" As to such of the poor as own land, they would be relieved from the taxes which they now pay on personal property and improvements, that is, from more tax than would be added to their land tax. For we need reckon none among the poor who own more than $3,000 worth of land clear, that being more than the average value of improved farms; and those who own less than $6,000 worth of improved real estate are now paying more taxes indirectly than they could ever be required to pay under the single-tax system.
Let us briefly consider "Henry George's Mistake about Land," as set forth by Prof. W. T. Harris, in the Forum for July, 1887. That "mistake" lies in his assumption that ground rent would be sufficient to defray all the expenses of government, national, State, and local. Prof. Harris, finding that the official assessment of real estate in this country, in 1880, was about $13,000,000,000, and estimating that this was two-thirds of the market value, and the value of the land alone about one-half of the whole, or somewhat less than $10,000,000,000, calculates the ground rent at 4% on this sum, or $400,000,000 per annum; which of course is wholly insufficient to meet the taxes of $700,000,000 levied in 1880. He then refers to Great Britain and Ireland, where, he says, land forms only one-fifth of the total wealth, with an annual rental of £65,442,000. As British taxes altogether amount to about £118,500,000, it is clear that, if this estimate is correct, the single tax would not suffice to meet British taxes.
Taking first the case of the United States, the census report of 1880 shows conclusively that assessments are worthless, as a means of estimating real values. They vary from 10% to 70% of the true value of real estate; and no average can be estimated from them. The census of 1880, upon which Prof. Harris relies to show the proportion of land to the aggregate wealth, and which he must not therefore desert for local assessment tables, contains items of real estate, including all privileges over land, aggregating over $28,000,000,000. Adopting the rule of division between land and improvements propounded by him, the lowest estimate of pure land values for 1880 would be between $15,000,000,000 and $16,000,000,000. There is no estimate whatever of wild lands belonging to private individuals, unconnected with farms, the value of which could hardly have been less than $2,000,000,000; but of this we will take no notice. The rental of 4% for 1880, upon which Prof. Harris bases his calculation, is utterly absurd. Strictly first-class mortgages could not be placed at less than 5% in the city of New York in 1880; and such mortgages averaged, the country over, nearer 7% than 6%. It is impossible that the ownership of land, which is no better than a second mortgage, should not, on the average, produce a rate of interest higher than a first mortgage. The lowest rate of interest to be allowed on the value of land would therefore be 6.5%. But to this must be added the amount of taxation which actually fell upon land values in 1880. This could not have been less than 0.5%. Such taxes, being paid by landlords and not by tenants, necessarily depreciate the market value of the land; and this amount should be either added to the rent, or deducted from the amount expected to fall upon lands in consequence of the adoption of the single tax, since this falls upon it already.
It follows that the ground rent of the United States, in 1880, was considerably over $1,000,000,000. The taxes for that year were about $700,000,000. But of this, $100,000,000 was levied only for the purpose of piling up a surplus. The necessary taxation was only $600,000,000; and the land-owners of the United States would have been able to pay all taxes and yet retain a very large surplus. The value of land in the United States is now not less than $20,000,000,000; but the rate of interest is lower, and ground rent has not increased in equal proportion to nominal values.
Turning to Great Britain, the mistakes of Prof. Harris can be readily shown to be vastly greater than any mistakes of Henry George. His fundamental errors are three.
He mistakes the rent of agricultural lands alone for the whole rent of the United Kingdom;
he mistakes the valuation of "houses" for that of structures alone, without the lots beneath them; and
he assumes that railways are not built upon land.
The following are the official figures for 1884, taken from the 28th British Inland Revenue Report; to which we append a very low estimate of the proportion of mixed land values which should be charged to ground rents alone:
British Pure Annual Land Values, 1884.
Lands, returned as such
Manors, tithes, fines, etc.
Fishing and shooting rights
Markets and tolls
British Mixed Annual Land Values, 1884.
Houses and lots
Canals, water-works, mines, gas, iron, etc
One-half of these values as land
Total land values
Now the whole net amount of British taxes is £118,500,000. But of this, over £27,500,000 is already assessed upon pure land values. The adoption of the single tax would therefore increase the burden upon land only by £91,000,000. The net rental value of land being over £158,000,000, it follows that the land-owners of Great Britain and Ireland could pay all national and local taxes, and still retain for their own benefit the comfortable margin of £67,000,000. Prof. Harris will do well to study his statistics carefully before he again undertakes to exhibit "the mistakes of Henry George." *
*Prof. Harris quotes Mulhall, as proof that "land" in the United Kingdom is worth only £1,737,000,000, in a total of £8,720,000,000, or one-fifth of the whole. But Mulhall distinctly shows that this amount includes only agricultural land ("Dictionary of Statistics," 5); and he very properly recognizes houses and railways as real estate, stating (p. 280) that 62%, of British wealth consists of real estate. It is notorious that the mere land occupied by British railways was enormously costly, and is now worth far more than it cost. Land alone, on Mulhall's showing, forms one-third of British values, just as it does in America.
Mr. Gunton, in the Forum for March, 1887, had preceded Prof. Harris in the same field and with about equal accuracy. He calls the entire rental value of real estate in the United Kingdom, including, of course, improvements, £131,468,000. The correct official figure (including £43,000,000 taxes, paid by occupiers) was, in 1884, almost exactly £293,000,000; and the real value is far greater. Instead of being only 11% of the gross produce, as claimed by Mr. Gunton, it is fully 25%. It is not worth while to follow either Mr. Gunton's figures or arguments any further.
I regret that the space allotted for this article will not allow an examination of Mr. Edward Atkinson's calculations on the same general point. His statistics are far more accurate than those of Messrs. Harris and Gunton. Accepting all his statistics as absolutely accurate, I have shown in another place, by his own figures, that two-thirds of the ground rents of Boston would provide for all local, State, and national taxes on Boston.
The single tax, therefore, would be a real, effective, and adequate remedy for the present unjust intervention of the state in favor of the rich and against the poor.
There still remains the question: "Is the remedy just?" Many of Mr. George's critics (notably Mr. Gunton) are debarred from raising this question, since they assert the absolute right of the state to deal with all property as may be deemed expedient. But the majority of them are better represented by Dr. Van Dyke, who thinks the proposition of Mr. George "thoroughly unrighteous." So far as we can make out, this is because the state has in the past allowed private individuals to appropriate land and its rent to their own use, and is therefore estopped from taking away that rent by taxation. But land has always been taxed. In most of our large cities it is now theoretically taxed at least 2% on its value; often 3%. Why should a tax of 2% or 3% be just and righteous, but a tax of 4%, 5%, or 6% incur penalties of everlasting damnation? Is it because land is especially singled out for taxation? Then is there not at least equal wickedness on the part of Congress, which for half a century singled out the business of importation as the only subject of taxation, and still taxes it ten times as heavily as anything else? Does the wickedness consist in taxing land up to its full value? Then is it not equally wicked to tax the poor man's window glass 100% upon its value? Does the wickedness consist in imposing a tax for the purpose of accomplishing some ulterior result? How about our whole tariff legislation, which is avowedly maintained for an ulterior purpose? Is it wicked to tax private property out of existence? How about the tax on bank notes, which was levied for the express purpose of destroying State banks? How about the tax on oleomargarine? Is it wicked to tax property out of existence, without giving compensation? Why do not those who urge this plea petition Congress for compensation for those whose wealth has been destroyed and whose occupation has been taken away by taxes avowedly levied for that purpose? Not one of these critics has ever suggested such a petition; not one of them would sign such a petition; and not one of the many thousands who have suffered from such tax laws ever thought of presenting such a petition.
Judged by any standard which has ever been applied to public affairs, even by clergymen, the proposition of a single tax on land values is perfectly reasonable, moral, and honorable. As to the amount of such a tax, that is a question to be decided by a wise expediency. There is not the slightest moral obligation on the part of the state to make the tax small, or to leave any margin to land-owners, so long as no more is taken than is needed for the honest use of the state.
It is not necessary to follow any further the proposition of Mr. George to increase taxation up to a point which would practically absorb all ground rent. Every one of the critics who has discussed the point at all, has committed himself to the theory that no such artificial increase of taxation would be necessary to absorb rent. Moreover, it is not a practical question at present, and will not be for a very long time to come, if ever. Taxation rises quite fast enough, without artificial efforts to increase it. In 40 years, in Ohio, population increased 100%, assessed wealth 1,000%, and taxation 1,360%. It is sufficient for the present to show that the actual remedy proposed by Henry George for the evils of our present social condition, the only practical measure which he asks to have adopted today, is a real remedy, an adequate remedy, and a just remedy. The criticisms of his adversaries have been directed to mere side issues, to his minor arguments, to his intellectual processes, to his illustrations, to anything except the real pith of the matter in hand. Not one of them has really wrestled with the problem; not one of them (except Mr. Atkinson) has been even approximately correct in his statistics; not one of them has failed to commit mistakes in his reasoning and his calculations far more serious than any which can be fastened upon Henry George.