The monopoly of the natural resources, principal among which is land, causing rent, and the monopoly of exchange, causing interest, are at the bottom of all the misery and wretchedness of humanity.
The monopoly of the natural resources, principal among which is land, causing rent, and the monopoly of exchange, causing interest, are at the bottom of all the misery and wretchedness of humanity.
The hospitals (of England) are full of the ancient. . . . The almshouses are filled with old laborers. Many there are who get their living with bearing burdens, but more are fain to burden the land with their whole bodies. Neither come these straits upon men always through intemperance, ill-husbandry, indiscretion, etc.; but even the most wise, sober and discreet men go often to the wall when they have done their best. . . The rent-taker lives on the sweet morsels, but the rent-payer eats a dry crust often with watery eyes.
—Robert Cushman, Plymouth, 1621, in Young's "Chronicles of the Pilgrims."
Posted on January 12, 2013 at 12:45 AM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , Earth for All, economic rent, ending poverty, fruits of one's labors, income concentration, land rent, landed gentry, Landlord's Prayer, landlordism, monopoly -- not the game, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privilege, reaping what others sow, toll-takers, unearned income, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Posted on January 08, 2013 at 07:00 PM in a Manhattan acre, a wedge driven through society, cost of living, direct taxation, indirect taxation, landlordism, money in elections, Occupy Wall Street's values, poverty's cause, tariffs, Thomas G. Shearman, unearned increment, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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An Irish landlord, writing to the London Times, called particular attention to the fact that, in case all the landlords should be expelled, the whole of Ireland, outside of the large towns, would be left without a single person whose annual income would exceed $1,500. To the wealthy landlord who owns the Times, this appalling fact seems to afford such conclusive proof of the desolation and misery which would follow home rule that he deems it superfluous to add a word of comment. He considers it quite enough to say that no such state of things exists in any civilised country. That it should be eventually brought about in Ireland, he evidently believes, must be considered by every sane man as one of the most frightful disasters which could befall the human race.
I am writing in Germany, the country from which have proceeded the most important additions to the intellectual wealth of the world during the last fifty years. The man who knows nothing of the contributions made to history, to theology, to science, whether abstract or applied, by German students, knows practically nothing at all. What have been the income of the men who have thus enriched the world! Rarely so much as $1,500; generally not half that amount. Some of the world-famous German scholars accomplished their great achievements on an income of less than $600 a year.
New England developed a marvelous degree of intellectual activity in the colonial period of our history, though confined within a narrow circle. But that was a period of small incomes and very little accumulated wealth; nor did the few wealthy men contribute anything of importance to the intellectual or moral development of the people. What have the wealthy Irish landlords done for the development of the Irish people in religion, morality or intellect? What contribution has any wealthy Irish landlord ever made to literature, science, art or high thought of any kind? What benefit have these men of wealth conferred upon any part of the world in any direction? They have just held a solemn meeting to answer these questions, and their own testimony affords the best evidence against them. They claim to have advised their tenants to improve their stock, to introduce better methods of cultivation and to qualify themselves generally to pay higher rents, while they themselves have set excellent examples to their inferiors by taking good care of themselves.
Many years ago a practical joker inserted an advertisement in a daily paper to the following effect: "Wanted, by a young gentleman of good birth and breeding, board in a respectable family, where his Christian example would be considered sufficient compensation for his board." The Irish landlords do not advertise, but they get precisely that for which the young man advertised in vain. Their Christian example, however, has been chiefly directed toward hunting, horse racing and hard drinking. Certainly, down to a period less than fifty years ago, all accounts of Ireland agreed in this; and except that the drinking is conducted with more moderation, there seems no reason to believe that there has been any change.
Posted on January 07, 2013 at 10:17 PM in all benefits go to landholder , direct taxation, income concentration, indirect taxation, inherited wealth, land value taxation, landed gentry, landlordism, Occupy Wall Street's values, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, savings rate, sufficiency of land rent, Thomas G. Shearman, toll-takers, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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This, the third and final instalment, appeared in The Standard, October 22, 1887:
THE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH.
Having reached the conclusion that indirect, or as the writer first
called it five years ago, "crooked" taxation is certain to produce
enormous inequality of wealth, that it is palpably and indisputably
unjust, and that it inevitably leads to that worst form of
inequality which involves the perpetual ownership of more than half
of the wealth of a country by less than the one-hundredth part of
its inhabitants, we are prepared to take up the next and final
question in our series.
What can be done to effect a more equal distribution of wealth, without diminishing its production?
Again let us waive the discussion of rent. Having purposely avoided all consideration of that tender subject, we will not take it up just now. Assuming that rent can rightfully be private property, and that the community is not to claim it, simply as rent — conceding all that the champions of private property in land claim — let us inquire what, nevertheless, remains to be done and ought to be done, in order to prevent the unjust use of government to the injury of the poor, and to check the artificial tendency toward the monopoly of wealth by a hundredth part of the population.
Posted on January 07, 2013 at 10:16 PM in canons of taxation, cost of living, direct taxation, estate taxes, government's role, income concentration, income tax, indirect taxation, land value taxation, money in elections, Occupy Wall Street's values, pay for what you take, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, savings rate, sufficiency of land rent, surplus, tax reform, Thomas G. Shearman, unburdening the economy, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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A paragraph from "To Destroy the Rum Power," by Henry George, in the February, 1890, issue of The Arena. (The full article follows this single eloquent paragraph.) --
"Almost universal sobriety," wrote Adam Smith in Kirkaldy, somewhere in the early seventies of the eighteenth century. Writing as the wonderful nineteenth century nears its final decade and in the great metropolis of a mighty nation then unborn, I can say no more, if as much. The temperance question does not stand alone. It is related — nay, it is but a phase, of the great social question. By abolishing liquor taxes and licenses we may drive the "rum power" out of politics, and somewhat, I think, lessen intemperance. Thus we may get rid of an obstacle to the improvement of social conditions and increase the effective force that demands improvement. But without the improvement of social conditions we cannot hope to abolish intemperance. Intemperance today springs mainly from that unjust distribution of wealth which gives to some less and to others more than they have fairly earned. Among the masses it is fed by hard and monotonous toil, or the still more straining and demoralizing search for leave to toil; by overtasked muscles and overstrained nerves, and under-nurtured bodies; by the poverty which makes men afraid to marry and sets little children at work, and crowds families into the rooms of tenement houses; which stints the nobler and brings out the baser qualities; and in full tide of the highest civilization the world has yet seen, robs life of poetry and glory of beauty and joy. Among the classes it finds its victims in those from whom the obligation to exertion has been artificially lifted; who are born to enjoy the results of labor without doing any labor, and in whom the lack of stimulus to healthy exertion causes moral obesity, and consumption without the need of productive work breeds satiety. Intemperance is abnormal. It is the vice of those who are starved and those who are gorged. Free trade in liquor would tend to reduce it, but could not abolish it. But free trade in everything would. I do not mean a sneaking, half-hearted, and half-witted "tariff reform," but that absolute, thorough free trade, which would not only abolish the custom house and the excise, but would do away with every tax on the products of labor and every restriction on the exertion of labor, and would leave everyone free to do whatever did not infringe the ten commandments.
It is worth noting that Frances Willard, a major figure in the temperance movement, published, in 1896, An Up-to-Date Catechism. She saw the connection between poverty and intemperance, and recognized that the Single Tax could make all the difference in making life better.
Here's George's full article follows (check out the corset analogy!):
Posted on January 07, 2013 at 02:14 PM in corruption in government, cost of living, cui bono?, free trade, monopoly -- not the game, Natural Public Revenue, poverty, poverty's cause, privilege, sales taxes are wrong, special interests, sufficiency of land rent, untaxing production | Permalink | Comments (0)
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"God gave the earth to all the people, and not to some of them. The privileges should be for all of them, and not bartered off to some of them. That, gentlemen, constitutes my political economy, my politics, and (I say it reverently) my religion. And it is, I believe, the religion that Christ taught the people many years ago."
-- Tom Johnson, mayor of Cleveland and U. S. congressman
quoted in The American Cooperator (1903)
Note: this has some statistics you might want to know, but it is primarily a post on public policy.
... many Americans are facing the likelihood of not having sufficient income in retirement unless they increase their savings, work longer, or significantly decrease their expenditures in retirement if they hope to make ends meet.
The Employee Benefits Research Institute recently published an analysis of 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances data. It demonstrates how few people have the traditional defined-benefit retirement plans, and the account balances people of various demographics have in their individually-directed retirement accounts.
Here are some statistics worth considering as we think about the effects of a system which permits a few of us to capture a large share of the nation's net worth and a large share of its income, and to unduly influence our elections with advertising which works to conceal and reinforce the structures of that system:
Enough said. Time to circle back to the study's conclusion:
... many Americans are facing the likelihood of not having sufficient income in retirement unless they increase their savings, work longer, or significantly decrease their expenditures in retirement if they hope to make ends meet.
What public policy reforms might one suggest based on these data points?
If you have other suggestions, I'd like to hear them.
But the reason for this blog is that I believe I have found the public policy reform which would accomplish these goals, in collecting the lion's share of the annual rental value of our land, and in collecting for the commons certain other kinds of natural public revenue which our current system permits to accrue to individuals and corporations. I didn't invent it. Henry George is the clearest exponent of it, but not the first or last. Is it perfect? No, but it is vastly superior to what we've got now, and I believe it is consistent with the ideals to which Americans pay the most honor.
Posted on October 27, 2012 at 03:05 PM in a wedge driven through society, common good, cost of living, cui bono?, economic justice, economic rent, ecosystem services, fixing the economy, Henry George, housing affordability, income concentration, income tax, Jefferson, land monopoly capitalism, land value created by community, land value taxation, make land common property, Natural Public Revenue, natural resource revenues, natural resources, Occupy Wall Street's values, one solution for many problems, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, prosperity, public spending, trickle-down economics, unburdening the economy, wage taxes, wages, wealth distribution or concentration, wobegon | Permalink | Comments (0)
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The game’s true origins, however, go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow’s patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”
Magie called her invention The Landlord’s Game, and when it was released in 1906 it looked remarkably similar to what we know today as Monopoly. It featured a continuous track along each side of a square board; the track was divided into blocks, each marked with the name of a property, its purchase price, and its rental value. The game was played with dice and scrip cash, and players moved pawns around the track. It had railroads and public utilities — the Soakum Lighting System, the Slambang Trolley — and a “luxury tax” of $75. It also had Chance cards with quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson (“The earth belongs in usufruct to the living”), John Ruskin (“It begins to be asked on many sides how the possessors of the land became possessed of it”), and Andrew Carnegie (“The greatest astonishment of my life was the discovery that the man who does the work is not the man who gets rich”). The game’s most expensive properties to buy, and those most remunerative to own, were New York City’s Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Wall Street. In place of Monopoly’s “Go!” was a box marked “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.” The Landlord Game’s chief entertainment was the same as in Monopoly: competitors were to be saddled with debt and ultimately reduced to financial ruin, and only one person, the supermonopolist, would stand tall in the end. The players could, however, vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, “Prosperity is achieved.”
Readers of this blog know that Lizzie Magie had created her game and started to promote it by the Fall of 1902.
“Monopoly players around the kitchen table”—which is to say, most people—“think the game is all about accumulation,” he said. “You know, making a lot of money. But the real object is to bankrupt your opponents as quickly as possible. To have just enough so that everybody else has nothing.” In this view, Monopoly is not about unleashing creativity and innovation among many competing parties, nor is it about opening markets and expanding trade or creating wealth through hard work and enlightened self-interest, the virtues Adam Smith thought of as the invisible hands that would produce a dynamic and prosperous society. It’s about shutting down the marketplace. All the players have to do is sit on their land and wait for the suckers to roll the dice.Smith described such monopolist rent-seekers, who in his day were typified by the landed gentry of England, as the great parasites in the capitalist order. They avoided productive labor, innovated nothing, created nothing—the land was already there—and made a great deal of money while bleeding those who had to pay rent. The initial phase of competition in Monopoly, the free-trade phase that happens to be the most exciting part of the game to watch, is really about ending free trade and nixing competition in order to replace it with rent-seeking.
Posted on October 25, 2012 at 03:25 PM in cui bono?, Henry George, income concentration, Jefferson, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, location, location, location, Monopoly and The Landlord's Game, Monopoly and The Landlord's Game , municipal ownership of utilities, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, rent-seeking, toll-takers, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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As I listen to the rhetoric of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates about equal opportunity for women -- seeking equal opportunities for their daughters and granddaughters as for their sons and grandsons -- it occurs to me that they haven't asked that their sons and daughters have opportunities equal to the sons and grandchildren of Mitt Romney, who apparently share a trust fund currently worth over $100 million.* Even divided among 5 sons and 18 grandchildren, that's about $4 million per descendant, enough to throw off $90,000 per person per year without diminishing (and without them working -- or even having finished grade school). And that's before we start to talk about the $100 million IRA they are likely to inherit, which continues to appreciate free of taxes.
The Earth-for-All Calendar contains a number of items which speak to equality of opportunity for all in our current generation, and for all in future generations. When some of us start life with all the advantages, and others, because of the design of our society's systems, have few or no advantages, how do we continue to maintain the fiction that we believe we are all created equal, that our nation is founded on this proposition and its laws and customs said to conform to and support this proposition?
The advantages of our wealthiest didn't come out of thin air. They aren't "no-cost" to the rest of us, and they don't benefit the rest of us by any form of "trickle down." The trickle flows the other direction. To the extent that our society pretends that this comes out of thin air, we are permitting ourselves to be fooled -- treated as fools, taught by rich people's useful idiots.
And when some of us have the money to devote to promoting points of view that benefit ourselves, at the expense of the common good, to influence elections, where does democracy get us?
Posted on October 24, 2012 at 03:36 PM in a wedge driven through society, Citzens United, cui bono?, Earth for All, economic justice, estate taxes, FIRE sector, fixing the economy, highest salaries, income concentration, money in elections, Occupy Wall Street's values, poverty's cause, privilege, rich people's useful idiots, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, toll-takers, trickle-down economics, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Henry George is the most famous American popular economist you've never heard of, a 19th century cross between Michael Lewis, Howard Dean and Ron Paul. Progress and Poverty, George's most important book, sold three million copies and was translated into German, French, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Russian, Hungarian, Hebrew and Mandarin. During his lifetime, George was probably the third best-known American, eclipsed only by Thomas Edison and Mark Twain. He was admired by the foreign luminaries of the age, too -- Leo Tolstoy, Sun-Yat Sen and Albert Einstein, who wrote that "men like Henry George are unfortunately rare. One cannot image a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form and fervent love of justice." George Bernard Shaw described his own thinking about the political economy as a continuation of the ideas of George, whom he had once heard deliver a speech.
Later, she writes,
What George found most mysterious about the economic consequences of the industrial revolution was that its failure to deliver economic prosperity was not uniform -- instead it had created a winner-take-all society: "Some get an infinitely better and easier living, but others find it hard to get a living at all. The 'tramp' comes with the locomotives, and almshouses and prisons are as surely the marks of 'material progress' as are costly dwellings, rich warehouses and magnificent churches. Upon streets lighted with gas and patrolled by uniformed policeman, beggars wait for the passer-by, and in the shadow of college, and library, and museum, are gathering the more hideous Huns and fiercer Vandals of whom Macaulay prophesied."
George's diagnosis was beguilingly simple -- the fruits of innovation weren't widely shared because they were going to the landlords. This was a very American indictment of industrial capitalism: at a time when Marx was responding to Europe's version of progress and poverty with a wholesale denunciation of private property, George was an enthusiastic supporter of industry, free trade and a limited role for government. His culprits were the rentier rich, the landowners who profited hugely from industrialization and urbanization, but did not contribute to it.
George had such tremendous popular appeal because he addressed the obvious inequity of 19th century American capitalism without disavowing capitalism itself. George wasn't trying to build a communist utopia. His campaign promise was to rescue America from the clutches of the robber barons and to return it to "the democracy of Thomas Jefferson." That ideal -- as much Tea Party as Occupy Wall Street -- won support not only among working class voters and their leaders, like Samuel Gompers, but also resonated with many small businessmen. Robert Ingersoll, a Republican orator, attorney and intellectual, was a George supporter. He urged his fellow Republicans to back his man and thereby "show that their sympathies are not given to bankers, corporations and millionaires."
I commend the entire post, adapted from Freeland's new book, Plutocrats. It ends with these paragraphs:
"America today urgently needs a 21st century Henry George -- a thinker who embraces the wealth-creating power of capitalism, but squarely faces the inequity of its current manifestation. That kind of thinking is missing on the right, which is still relying on Reagan-era trickle-down economics and hopes complaints about income inequality can be silenced with accusations of class war. But the left isn't doing much better either, preferring nostalgia for the high-wage, medium-skill manufacturing jobs of the post-war era and China-bashing to a serious and original effort to figure out how to make 21st century capitalism work for the middle class.
Globalization and the technology revolution aren't going away -- and thank goodness for that. Industrialization didn't go away either. But between 1886, when George lost the mayoral race, and the presidency of FDR, American progressives invented, fought for and implemented a broad range of new social and political institutions to make capitalism serve the whole of society -- ranging from trust-busting, to the income tax, to the welfare state.
We are living in an era of comparably tumultuous economic change. The great challenge of our time is to devise the new social and political institutions we need to make the new economy work for everyone. So far, that is a historic task neither party is taking on with enough energy, honesty or originality."
Those looking for a starting point might look for Walt Rybeck's book, Re-Solving the Economic Puzzle.
Posted on October 21, 2012 at 04:38 PM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , capital gains are land gains, connect the dots, corruption in government, cui bono?, equal opportunity, financing infrastructure, financing services, fixing the economy, government's role, Henry George, individualism, Jefferson, land monopoly capitalism, land value created by community, land value taxation, landlordism, natural monopolies, Occupy Wall Street's values, one solution for many problems, popular ignorance of land economics, poverty, poverty's cause, private property in land, Progress and Poverty, reaping what others sow, rent-seeking, small government, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, toll-takers, Tolstoy, unearned income, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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His next task, and indeed the most hazardous he ever undertook, was the making a new division of their lands. For there was an extreme inequality among them, and their State was overloaded with a multitude of indigent and necessitous persons, while its whole wealth had centered upon a very few.
— PLUTARCH, Life of Lycurgus.
Posted on October 16, 2012 at 12:52 AM in a wedge driven through society, absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , commons, corruption in government, cui bono?, Earth for All, land monopoly capitalism, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, special interests, the land question, wealth distribution or concentration, year of jubilee | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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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.
Posted on October 13, 2012 at 11:42 AM in absentee ownership, capital gains are land gains, common good, commons, commonwealth, corruption in government, corruption of economics, cui bono?, ecosystem services, government's role, justice of the single tax, land value created by community, landlordism, make land common property, Natural Public Revenue, natural resource revenues, natural resources, neoclassical economists, pay for what you take, poverty's cause, rent-seeking, rich people's useful idiots, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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To such a point have we been brought by an artificial system of society, that we must either deny altogether the right of the poor to their just proportion of the fruits of the earth, or afford them some means of subsistence out of them by the institution of positive law.
— SIR WALTER SCOTT, St. Ronan's Well, Chap. XXXII., Note G.
To such a point have we been brought by an artificial system of society, that we must either deny altogether the right of the poor to their just proportion of the fruits of the earth, or afford them some means of subsistence out of them by the institution of positive law.
— SIR WALTER SCOTT, St. Ronan's Well, Chap. XXXII., Note G.
Equity, therefore, does not permit property in land. For if one portion of the earth's surface may justly become the possession of an individual and may be held by him for his sole use and benefit as a thing to which he has an exclusive right, then other portions of the earth's surface may be so held; and eventually the whole of the earth's surface may be so held; and our planet may thus lapse into private hands.
— HERBERT SPENCER, in 1850, Social Statics, Chap. IX.
Posted on October 05, 2012 at 12:23 AM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , as much and as good, commons, commonwealth, corruption of economics, cui bono?, Earth for All, economic rent, enclosure, equal freedom, equality, FIRE sector, government's role, income concentration, land different from capital, land includes, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, make land common property, money in elections, monopoly -- not the game, natural resources, no victims, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, rent-seeking, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, the disenchanted, the right to life, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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"The wages problem resolves itself into a very simple question, viz.: Which is the better for a community — to have 10,000,000 men earning $2.50 a day, with hours that enable them to read and rest and pass a fair proportion of their time with their families, and at the same time have no millionaires, or to have those 10,000,000 men working fifteen hours a day at $1.50, and have a few score millionaires?"
The Standard was devoted to issues like this, and makes excellent reading in this decade and century.
It might be worth noting that in those days when one spoke of a millionaire, the reference was to someone whose assets totalled over $1 million. Today, it is commonly used to refer to someone whose annual income is over $1 million. But you'll notice what workmen's wages were in 1887 -- $1.50 a day is $468 per year*, and likely didn't leave much, if anything, for savings. [6 days a week.]
So which IS better for the community? The families making $1.50 or $2.50 a day are spending nearly every penny of that, just in order to get by. The millionaires can only spend so much on the necessities of daily life, plus some generous amount on luxuries. The rest they will invest, one way or another, and the wise ones, in our current structure, will "invest" in land -- particularly choice urban sites -- and natural resources, since we as a society are so generous about letting the owners of these assets keep most of what those assets earn, despite them having nothing to do with having created those assets, and being in no position to create more in response to demand, which will naturally increase with population!!
THAT is the problem with our current "generosity."
The spending of the 10 million on the necessities of daily life creates jobs for a lot of other people. (The portion that goes to their landlords in payment for the right to occupy bits of urban -- or other -- land, DOESN'T create any jobs; it simply enriches the landlord. I don't begrudge the landlord the portion that relates to the building, or to services he provides, such as, say, a doorman in the city.)
Posted on October 02, 2012 at 06:23 PM in a wedge driven through society, better cities, common good, cost of living, cui bono?, employment, FIRE sector, fixing the economy, government's role, Henry George, highest salaries, popular ignorance of land economics, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, rent-seeking, The Standard, toll-takers, urban land value, wages, wages driven down | Permalink | Comments (0)
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That any human being should dare to apply to another the epithet "pauper" is, to me, the greatest, the vilest, the most unpardonable crime that could be committed. Each human being by mere birth has a birthright in this earth and all its productions; and if they do not receive it, then it is they who are injured, and it is not the "pauper," oh, inexpressibly wicked word! — it is the well-to-do who are the criminal classes.
— RICHARD JEFFERIES, The Story of My Heart, Chap. X., p. 122.
Posted on October 02, 2012 at 12:56 AM in charity and justice, commons, commonwealth, corruption of economics, Earth for All, economic justice, economic rent, ecosystem services, enclosure, equality, is this socialism?, land appreciates buildings depreciate, land different from capital, land includes, landlordism, make land common property, Natural Public Revenue, natural resource revenues, natural resources, no victims, pay for what you take, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, rich people's useful idiots, socialize, socializing risk and privatizing profit, the right to life, usufruct | Permalink | Comments (0)
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I'm reading through the first issues of Henry George's newspaper, "The Standard," a weekly which was published in NYC beginning in January, 1887. It was started shortly after the mayoral race of 1886 (chronicled in Post & Leubuscher's December, 1886 book), and in the 4th issue there is a very explicit article about the role that Rome was attempting to play in NYC politics by removing from the priesthood an activist priest, the much-loved Dr. Edward McGlynn, of St. Stephen's Church, on 28th Street in Manhattan, the largest parish in the city. (This was before the creation of New York City by combining the five boroughs.)
For over 20 years, McGlynn had been living among New York's poor, hearing the confessions of the poor, and knew how hard their lives were. He knew the situation in Ireland which had brought many of them to the U. S., and when he read Henry George's 1879 book, "Progress and Poverty," he found the cause of their suffering, and saw how to correct the underlying cause of poverty.
The article to which I refer is entitled, "From a Brooklyn Priest"
The Body of the Catholic Clergy Sympathize With Dr. McGlynn
The Brooklyn Times prints an interesting interview with “a well known parish priest” of that city. His name is not given "for obvious reasons,” but those acquainted with the Catholic clerics of Brooklyn have little difficulty in attributing it to the most popular and influential of the Catholic clergy of that city. We make the following extracts:
“The sympathy of the body of the Catholic clergy in New York and Brooklyn is undoubtedly with Dr. McGlynn. I have talked with a great many of my brother priests of both cities on the matter, and almost without exception, they have taken Dr. McGlynn's side in the controversy, though they would be loth to do so publicly for manifest reasons. The sentiment of the body of the Catholic clergy of the two cities is that whatever has been done in Dr. McGlynn's case has been done by inspiration from this side. Of course the question at issue does not at all touch matters of faith. It is purely a question of discipline. The authorities at Rome know little or nothing of the real state of affairs at this side of the Atlantic except as they are inspired by the archbishop of the different provinces. Archbishop Corrigan is in daily communication with Rome by cable, and the views of the controversy between Dr. McGlynn and his superior that are entertained at Rome pending the personal appearance of Dr. McGlynn in the Eternal City, are the views of the archbishop of New York that are telegraphed and written there.
“I do not mean to imply that Archbishop Corrigan would willfully misrepresent the situation here, but I do say that Dr. McGlynn, with all his experience as a priest in the American metropolis, with all his practical knowledge of the condition of the poor and of the working classes in that city, is a better judge of the political needs of the masses in New York than Archbishop Corrigan is, who has spent the greater part of his career as an ecclesiastic in the state of New Jersey; and I hold that Dr. McGlynn and every other Catholic priest has the right to take an active part in the politics of the country. To say that a man of the acknowledged piety and the blameless life of Dr. McGlynn sympathizes with anything that smacks of communism or anarchy is the veriest nonsense to anyone who knows him — and who does not know everything about him today? Dr. McGlynn, as a priest, knows the awful burdens which the laboring classes of New York city have to bear through political misrule and the corrupt combination of capital to oppress them. He knows how anomalous that condition of things is which allows one man to accumulate a hundred millions of dollars within 25 years and compels another to work for a dollar a day, nay, while thousands, anxious for work, are starving for the lack of it. Hence his support of the candidate of the labor party for mayor. Dr. McGlynn did not believe that anarchy or communism would follow in the wake of the election of Henry George to the mayoralty of New York any more than he believed that Mr. George, as the chief executive of the municipal government across the East river could put his land theories into practical operation in the metropolis. Any possible change in the government of New York city must be a change for the better, so far as the poor are concerned.
“If the bishops of the dioceses in the United States were taken by Rome from among the clergy of these dioceses who thoroughly understand the social and political conditions of their people, there would be none of these disciplinary troubles. What sense is there in sending an Italian priest to Canada or an Irish priest to Guatemala as bishop? Or why should a bishop be transferred from a city in the state of New Jersey to preside over the archdiocese of New York when there are many able and holy priests in the metropolis worthy of election to the prelacy who have spent their lives among the masses of the people? In countries where the canonical law of the church is in practical application the parish priests of a diocese in which the bishopric becomes vacant send three names to Rome by majority vote. One is set down as dignus, or worthy, another as dignior, or more worthy, and a third as dignissimus, or most worthy. Any one of the three may be selected, and it sometimes happens that it is the lowest on the list who is chosen. The pope has the absolute power to go outside the list sent to him from the diocese in which a vacancy occurs, but it is a power rarely exercised and only for the most exigent reasons. If the canon law applied in America, which is only yet a missionary country and subject to the propaganda at Rome, Dr. McGlynn could not have been turned out of St. Stephen's church as he has been and his salary would have run on despite his suspension until his case was finally decided at Rome.
“It is most unfortunate that the canon law does not apply in the United States, and that the political, social and educational situation in this country is not better understood at Rome. Wealthy Catholic politicians have too much to say on church policy in this country; and unfortunately that is today the trouble in New York city. The masses of the Catholic clergy say, 'Hands off.' As long as bishops, with whom wealthy politicians are most powerful, practically say who shall be elected to the prelacy in the United States there will be a chance for trouble among the laity.
“I am satisfied that if a majority of the Catholic clergy of the dioceses of New York and Long Island could do it Dr. McGlynn would have been elected archbishop and Archbishop Corrigan would have been allowed to remain in New Jersey. I unhesitatingly say that if the votes of the Catholic clergy in these two dioceses could do it Dr. McGlynn would be restored to St. Stephen's parish tomorrow. No old priest of New York city wanted to succeed Dr. McGlynn in that parish, for they all knew how his congregation idolized him. I am also free to say that if Archbishop Corrigan had not been brought from the state of New Jersey to New York city this trouble would never have occurred.
“Mgr. Preston is the bitterest foe that Dr. McGlynn has in the diocese of New York. I do not mean to imply that the monsignor entertains personal animosity toward the ex-rector of St. Stephen's church, but he is utterly opposed to what Dr. McGlynn stands for as an American citizen. Mgr. Preston is an aristocrat and the associate of aristocrats. Even converts to the Catholic church who know Father Preston well have admitted that the monsignor dearly loves the privileges which attach to church dignitaries in Catholic countries, and is inclined to ape the civil ceremonial of such communities in his intercourse with his flock. Dr. McGlynn is poor, is of the poor and loves to associate with the poor. He is in this respect the antithesis of Mgr. Preston, and the latter is a confidential adviser of Archbishop Corrigan.”
This article, more than anything else I've read, brings home to me the extent to which the rich manage even the Church for the benefit of the rich, to the detriment of the poor. When a priest who seeks to correct the unjust structures is deprived of his priesthood because he might upset the privileges of the rich, the country and the church are both in trouble.
When churches benefit from contributions from wealthy contributors, they will tend to act to enforce the structures which enrich those wealthy contributors, rather than rocking the boat in any way. When economic structures funnel the community's wealth into a relative few pockets, the Church will tend to embrace those pockets, not challenge the structures. Money in elections is not the only corrupting force.
Posted on September 15, 2012 at 06:31 PM in a Manhattan acre, a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , better cities, conservatism, cui bono?, economic justice, employment, income concentration, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, money in elections, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, privilege, rich people's useful idiots, special interests, The Standard, toll-takers, unemployment and underemployment, wages driven down, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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"But how is it that you allow these chiefs — landlords, don't you call them? — to taboo the soil, and prevent you all from even walking on it? Don't you see that if you choose to combine in a body, and insist upon the recognition of your natural rights — if you determined to make the landlords give up their taboo, and cease from injustice, they'd have to yield to you? And then you could exercise your natural right of going where you pleased, and cultivate the land in common for the public benefit, instead of leaving it as now, to be cultivated anyhow, or turned into waste, for the benefit of the tabooers?"
— GRANT ALLEN, The British Barbarians (Words spoken by Bertram).
Posted on September 12, 2012 at 12:50 AM in absentee ownership, common good, commons, commonwealth, Earth for All, ecosystem services, employment, enclosure, ending poverty, landed gentry, landlordism, make land common property, monopoly -- not the game, natural resources, one solution for many problems, pay for what you take, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, reaping what others sow, sharecropping, the land question, the right to life, toll-takers, underused land, unemployment and underemployment, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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The nobility and gentry and even those holy men, the abbots, not content with the old rents that their farms yielded, nor thinking it enough that they, living at their ease, do no good to the public, resolve to do it hurt instead of good. . . . As if forest and parks had swallowed up too little of the land, those worthy countrymen turn the best inhabited places into solitude.
— SIR THOMAS MORE, Utopia (1516), Book I.
Posted on September 08, 2012 at 12:39 AM in absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , commons, Earth for All, enclosure, landed gentry, landlordism, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, rent-seeking, rich people's useful idiots, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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As I listen to the 2012 party platforms, I am reminded of what they ought to be focused on, embodied pretty well in this platform from 1886-87.
PLATFORM OF THE UNITED PARTY.
Adopted at Syracuse August 19, 1887.
We, the delegates of the united labor party of New York, in state convention assembled, hereby reassert, as the fundamental platform of the party, and the basis on which we ask the co-operation of citizens of other states, the following declaration or principles adopted on September 23, 1886, by the convention of trade and labor associations of the city of New York, that resulted in the formation of the united labor party.
"Holding that the corruptions of government and the impoverishment of labor result from neglect of the self-evident truths proclaimed by the founders of this republic that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, we aim at the abolition of a system which compels men to pay their fellow creatures for the use of God’s gifts to all, and permits monopolizers to deprive labor of natural opportunities for employment, thus filling the land with tramps and paupers and bringing about an unnatural competition which tends to reduce wages to starvation rates and to make the wealth producer the industrial slave of those who grow rich by his toil.
'“Holding, moreover, that the advantages arising from social growth and improvement belong to society at large, we aim at the abolition of the system which makes such beneficent inventions as the railroad and telegraph a means for the oppression of the people and the aggrandizement of an aristocracy of wealth and power. We declare the true purpose of government to be the maintenance of that sacred right of property which gives to every one opportunity to employ his labor, and security that he shall enjoy its fruits; to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak, and the unscrupulous from robbing the honest; and to do for the equal benefit of all such things as can be better done by organized society than by individuals; and we aim at the abolition of all laws which give to any class of citizens advantages, either judicial, financial, industrial or political, that are not equally shared by all others."
We call upon all who seek the emancipation of labor, and who would make the American union and its component states democratic commonwealths of really free and independent citizens, to ignore all minor differences and join with us in organizing a great national party on this broad platform of natural rights and equal justice. We do not aim at securing any forced equality in the distribution of wealth. We do not propose that the state shall attempt to control production, conduct distribution, or in any wise interfere with the freedom of the individual to use his labor or capital in any way that may seem proper to him and that will not interfere with the equal rights of others. Nor do we propose that the state shall take possession of land and either work it or rent it out. What we propose is not the disturbing of any man in his holding or title, but by abolishing all taxes on industry or its products, to leave to the producer the full fruits of his exertion and by the taxation of land values, exclusive or improvements, to devote to the common use and benefit those values, which, arising not from the exertion of the individual, but from the growth of society, belong justly to the community as a whole. This increased taxation of land, not according to its area, but according to its value, must, while relieving the working farmer and small homestead owner of the undue burdens now imposed upon them, make it unprofitable to hold land for speculation, and thus throw open abundant opportunities for the employment of labor and the building up of homes.
While thus simplifying government by doing away with the horde of officials required by the present system of taxation and with its incentives to fraud and corruption, we would further promote the common weal and further secure the equal rights of all, by placing under public control such agencies as are in their nature monopolies: We would have our municipalities supply their inhabitants with water, light and heat; we would have the general government issue all money, without the intervention of banks; we would add a postal telegraph system and postal savings banks to the postal service, and would assume public control and ownership of those iron roads which have become the highways of modern commerce.
While declaring the foregoing to be the fundamental principles and aims of the united labor party, and while conscious that no reform can give effectual and permanent relief to labor that does not involve the legal recognition of equal rights, to natural opportunities, we nevertheless, as measures of relief from some of the evil effects of ignoring those rights, favor such legislation as may tend to reduce the hours of labor, to prevent the employment of children of tender years, to avoid the competition of convict labor with honest industry, to secure the sanitary inspection of tenements, factories and mines, and to put an end to the abuse of conspiracy laws.
We desire also to so simplify the procedure of our courts and diminish the expense of legal proceedings, that the poor may be placed on an equality with the rich and the long delays winch now result in scandalous miscarriages of justice may be prevented.
And since the ballot is the only means by which in our Republic the redress of political and social grievances is to besought, we especially and emphatically declare for the adoption of what is known as the “Australian system of voting,” an order that the effectual secrecy of the ballot and the relief of candidates for public office from the heavy expenses now imposed upon them, may prevent bribery and intimidation, do away with practical discriminations in favor of the rich and unscrupulous, and lessen the pernicious influence of money in politics.
In support or these aims we solicit the co-operation of all patriotic citizens who, sick of the degradation of politics, desire by constitutional methods to establish justice, to preserve liberty, to extend the spirit of fraternity, and to elevate humanity.
Posted on August 22, 2012 at 12:36 PM in corruption in government, economic justice, employment, ending poverty, equal freedom, equal opportunity, equality, facilitating commerce, fixing the economy, fruits of one's labors, government's role, land speculation, land value created by community, monopoly -- not the game, municipal ownership of utilities, natural monopolies, Natural Public Revenue, Occupy Wall Street's values, one solution for many problems, poverty, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, prosperity, reaping what others sow, sufficiency of land rent, tax reform, technological advances, The Standard, toll-takers, unearned increment, unemployment and underemployment, untaxing buildings, untaxing production, wages, wages driven down | Permalink | Comments (0)
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The greatest "burthen on land is the landlords."
— JOHN STUART MILL, Elements of Political Economy, Book II., Chap. 2, Sec. 6.
Posted on June 19, 2012 at 12:01 AM in absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , Earth for All, equality, landed gentry, landlordism, poverty's cause, private property in land, privilege, property rights, reaping what others sow, sharecropping, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, the land question, time making wrongs into rights | Permalink | Comments (0)
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This item, from a Canadian library, seems to me to be a good short statement of the reform many of us seek; I particularly like the next-to-last paragraph.
ADDRESS TO THE CHURCHES
FROM THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS:
The Single Tax Association,
The Trades and Labor Council,
The Allied Printing Trades Council,
The International Builders' Laborers' Union,
The International Association of Machinists,
The Toronto Typographical Union,
The Toronto Street Railway Employees' Union and Benefit Society.
THE circumstances of the last few years have revealed a most serious condition in the social arrangements of this Continent. With an immeasurable endowment of natural wealth, with the improvement of machinery beyond all parallel, with the means of transportation perfected as never before, with the power of producing wealth in abundance vastly greater than in any other age, we still see the terrible sight of ghastly poverty, of oppressive want, of enforced idleness, and all this in the shadow of palaces with all the outward and visible signs of inordinate luxury.
Is it not true that the larger the city the more evident is the widening of the gulf between the haunts of poverty and the palaces of the millionaires? Is it not manifestly evident that somehow and somewhere in our social arrangements there is an unfortunate want of equity, a terrible miscarriage of justice? When some must toil like slaves and then secure only a fractional part of what they produce, and when others without doing the slightest productive act, can enjoy an abundance of superfluous luxuries, when with the most ample natural opportunities for employment, thousands find it so difficult to secure employment, how can the industrial classes be convinced that equity reigns and justice triumphs?
We trust you will pardon us for submitting to you the following enquiries: —
For whom did the Creator furnish this vast storehouse of natural wealth? What are we to understand by the terms "God the Father, maker of heaven and earth" and the terms "Dearly beloved brethren"? Are we to understand that he is the universal father and that every child of every generation can come to him with the same filial reverence and say, "My Father, am not I thy child, an heir of thy bounties?" Do you ask us to accept this doctrine of Fatherhood and Brotherhood, this doctrine of equal heirship for all, or are we to understand that herein is a serious mistake, that we are not all equally the heirs to his gifts, but that the bounties of the Creator were a special gift to one portion of humanity, to them and their heirs, "to have and to hold forever?" Are we to regard it as in accordance with equity, that one part of humanity may claim for themselves the power to exclude us from these bounties, and to demand from us an endless tribute for occupying the surface of the planet, so that no matter how abundant may be our productions, we must for ever surrender that abundance for the opportunity of getting access to the common heritage furnished by the Creator?
When the farmer produces food and the clothier produces clothing, and they exchange, we can at once recognize the equity and justice of the transaction. In this transaction we see the fulfilment of the Golden Rule, to do unto others as we would have others do unto us. This is service for service, burden for burden, sacrifice for sacrifice, enrichment for enrichment, and its equity is at once most clearly apparent. There is no difficulty in seeing the justice of the transaction that leaves both parties benefited by a mutual enrichment and we can at once recognize the brotherhood in the injunction: "Bear ye one another's burdens and thus fulfil the law of Christ."
Nor is there any difficulty in understanding that when men have raised crops, built houses, fabricated goods, when they have changed scarcity into abundance, then they have established an unquestionable right to claim abundance.
We ask you now to look at a marked contrast to these examples. The growth of population on this continent is proceeding with very great rapidity, especially in the cities, many of which double their population every ten years. With this increase of population there must necessarily come relative scarcity of land. While, therefore, industry is ever striving to produce abundance of commodities, increased population is necessarily making land more scarce. Now we would like to know by what principle of justice should we, who beget the abundance, have to surrender that abundance and thus have left for ourselves only scarcity, while speculators and other holders of land, claim the abundance that we have produced because land has become scarce?
Is there not something monstrously unjust, awfully inequitable in this arrangement? With every increase in population, with every public improvement, the land holder can claim from us more and more. As the years go by his claim may increase ten fold, twenty fold, fifty fold, a hundred fold or a thousand fold. Is this because he has increased the productiveness of his energies, and the abundance of his industry? Is it because of his industry that the harvest waves, that dwellings increase, that railroads develop? Not at all, but the very reverse. Does he give abundance for abundance, benefit for benefit? Not at all, but the very reverse. It is out of the abundance of our products that he is licensed by law to appropriate that abundance and to leave us but a meagre relict of penury. The transaction is not enrichment for enrichment, but while we enrich, the land holder impoverishes.
Could there be anything more contrary to the spirit of true religion than this method by which, as fast as one party does the enriching, another party appropriates the riches, leaving the producers in poverty?
The producers of abundance despoiled and left with scarcity; others allowed to appropriate the abundance because land becomes scarce; and by our present arrangements this may continue to the end of time, the obligation of the industrious classes ever increasing, thus insuring their endless impoverishment, the power of the land owner to appropriate the products of industry ever increasing, thus insuring the widening of the gulf between leisured affluence and overworked poverty. Can we be convinced that this is the fruits of righteousness and of that "love which rejoices not in iniquity"?
We have no difficulty in understanding why we should pay the farmer who feeds us, the tailor who clothes us, the teacher who instructs us, and any one who produces for us, or renders us a service; but we cannot possibly understand why we should have to pay any man for access to the land, the forest, the minerals or the other things that man never furnished, any more than we should have to pay him for the sunlight, the air or any other gift of the Creator, and it is equally difficult to understand why we should have to pay an increasing amount of our productions to land holders because the increase of population makes land more scarce. Is not the whole system of land speculation an attempt to secure the products of industry by the impoverishment of the producers; how can it succeed except by the spoliation and degradation of industry? Is it not a wrong that should receive the most emphatic condemnation of the whole church?
You urge us, you plead with us, you beseech us to come and unite with you and to yield ourselves to the claims of religion. But what kind of religion do you ask us to adopt? A religion that rejoices in equity, that loves justice and hates iniquity; or a religion that looks on the spoliation of labor, if not with complacency at any rate too often in silent tolerance or even acquiescence? A religion that recognizes every child of God as equally the heir of God, the heir to the bounties of the All-Father-Creator, or a religion that ignores the fact that the earth with all its potentialities is the gift of God to his children? A religion that seeks to secare all the benefits and rewards of an advancing civilization to those who bear the burden of begetting and supporting that civilization, or a religion that secures the benefits of civilization to the full and overflowing to those, who not merely contribute nothing whatever to its maintenance, but who
by their mischievous dog-in-the-manger speculations, often stand in the way of its progress? A religion that demands obedience before sacrifice, or a religion that substitutes charity for justice and cast-off clothing for the principles of righteousness!
Is it not vain to expect men to join with enthusiastic devotion in the propagation of a professed religion that unfortunately ignores the highest claims of religion, that repeats, "Our Father who art in heaven," but ignores the fatherhood on earth, that initiates its service with "Dearly beloved brethren," and then splits society into lordlings and serfs, that enjoins honesty and then fosters and rewards despoiling speculations, that with the lips extols peace and unity, love and justice, but, alas! alas! maintains in operation lorces that beget hostility and discord, strikes and lockouts, riots and labor wars?
The universal and unvarying testimony of the ages endorses the truth, "As ye sow, so shall ye also reap." To sow the seeds of injustice and to expect the fruits of righteousness, to plant the apples of discord and then to look for the fruits of peace, is to look for limpid purity in the stream, while maintaining putrescent corruption in the fountain, it is to look for grapes from thorns and figs from thistles.
With all respect we submit to you these thoughts as transcendantly the most important to which we could call your attention.
Place one hundred men on an island from which there is no escape, and whether you make one of these men the absolute owner of the other ninety-nine, or the absolute owner of the soil of the island, will make no difference either to him or to them.
— HENRY GEORGE, Progress and Poverty, Book VII., Chap. 2, p. 312.
Posted on April 30, 2012 at 12:13 AM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , Earth for All, Henry George, is this socialism?, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, popular ignorance of land economics, poverty's cause, private property in land, privilege, Progress and Poverty, reaping what others sow, slavery, special interests, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers | Permalink | Comments (0)
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It is well known that these materials and agencies, as fast as they become available, are in the main appropriated by individuals, through the agency or consent of the government, and are then held as private property. Such is the case with the soil and the minerals beneath it. The owners of this property charge as much for the use of it as if it were their own creation, and not that of nature.
— PROF. SIMON NEWCOMB, The Labor Question, North American Review, July, 1870, p. 151.
a link and a longer except follow ...
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 12:23 AM in all benefits go to landholder , capital gains are land gains, commons, commonwealth, corruption in government, cui bono?, Earth for All, ecosystem services, environment, government's role, income concentration, is this socialism?, land different from capital, land includes, land speculation, landed gentry, landlordism, leased land, location, location, location, make land common property, monopoly -- not the game, natural resource revenues, natural resources, oil, popular ignorance of land economics, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, property rights, rent, defined, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers, unearned income, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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They ate up Earth and promised you
The Heaven of an empty shell!
'Twas theirs to say: 'twas yours to do,
On pain of everlasting Hell!
They rob and leave you helplessly
For help of Heaven to cry and call;
Heaven did not make your misery;
The Earth was given for all.
— GERALD MASSEY, The Earth for All, My Lyrical Life, 2d Series, p. 232.
Wherever there is in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on.
— THOMAS JEFFERSON (1785), Ford's Writings of Jefferson, Vol. VII., 36.
Posted on April 13, 2012 at 12:20 AM in a wedge driven through society, absentee ownership, civilization, commons, commonwealth, cui bono?, Earth for All, economic justice, employment, enclosure, ending poverty, equal freedom, equal opportunity, government's role, Jefferson, jobs, land different from capital, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, make land common property, popular ignorance of land economics, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privilege, property rights, radical, time making wrongs into rights, underused land, unemployment and underemployment, user fees, usufruct | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Thou, O Lord, providest enough for all men with Thy most liberal and bountiful hand, but whereas Thy gifts are, in respect of Thy goodness and free favour, made common to all men, we (through our naughtiness, niggardship and distrust), do make them private and peculiar. Correct Thou the thing which our inequity hath put out of order, and let Thy goodness supply that which our niggardliness hath plucked away.
— A Prayer for Them That Be in Poverty, from Queen Elizabeth's Private Prayer Book (1578).
Posted on April 01, 2012 at 12:59 AM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , charity and justice, common good, commons, commonwealth, Earth for All, enclosure, ending poverty, environment, equal opportunity, equality, government's role, landed gentry, Landlord's Prayer, make land common property, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, prosperity, special interests, teach your children well, The End of Poverty?, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers, unearned increment | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Every proprietor, therefore, of cultivated land owes to the community a ground rent (for I know of no better term to express the idea) for the land which he holds.
— THOMAS PAINE, Agrarian Justice, Paine's Writings, Vol. III., p. 329 (1795-6).
If all men were so far tenants to the public that the superfluities of gain and expense were applied to the exigencies thereof, it would put an end to taxes, leave never a beggar and make the greatest bank for national trade in Europe.
— WILLIAM PENN, Reflections and Maxims, Sec. 222, Works V., pp. 190-1.
Posted on March 27, 2012 at 12:26 AM in common good, commons, commonwealth, cost of living, Earth for All, economic justice, economic rent, employment, enclosure, ending poverty, equal opportunity, equality, facilitating commerce, financing education, financing infrastructure, financing services, FIRE sector, fixing the economy, free trade, government's role, land rent, land value created by community, leased land, make land common property, Natural Public Revenue, no victims, pay for what you take, Philadelphia, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, public spending, socialize, sufficiency of land rent, The End of Poverty?, unburdening the economy, user fees | Permalink | Comments (0)
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This is a short excerpt from an anonymous 1897 article/book entitled "The Revolutionary Tendencies of the Age."
Whatever else may be said of this earth, she is generous in her resources, and responsive to the needs of those who live thereon. She has immeasurable wealth which she yields liberally to man's labor. For untold past centuries she has sent forth fruit for the nourishment of her children, and seems disposed to do so for untold centuries to come. She is certainly an earth of plenty; nay, we have known periods when man, pressing his suit for her favors, received more than he could well dispose of. Nor has the race been negligent in utilizing the materials which nature seemed to hold in reserve for their benefit. In every quarter of the globe is found evidence of the stupendous work accomplished by man — not only to sustain life; not only to secure the useful, but the beautiful. In this task his genius has contrived to lend assistance to his hand; it has helped increase a thousandfold the power of production, and as a result we see an increase of a thousand-fold in the wealth of the world.
But notwithstanding the bounteousness of nature and the never-slacking labor of man; notwithstanding the almost fairy-like assistance which newly-discovered forces and appliances lend to human efforts; notwithstanding the facility with which new riches are produced, and their almost incredible growth during the past century, the majority of the people are still poor, and many of these are in actual want. And this is due, to a very considerable extent, to the gross inequality in the division of wealth. The latter is absorbed by the few, hence it cannot be applied as a means to improve the condition of the many. Whatever increase there is in productive power; whatever increase there is in riches; whatever advantage is drawn from the sciences, the arts — from progress in any form — the minority derive the main benefit thereof.
Labor-saving machinery, which implies that humanity, as a whole, will have to labor less, should, one might think, be welcome to all humanity. As a matter of fact, it is really welcome to very few; and these few, odd as it may appear, are not workers; therefore the laborsaving machine does not reduce their work. But it is welcome to them because it increases their revenue; because they can secure from one machine results it once required many hands to secure.
Multitudes of men look upon many modern inventions as their worst enemies, for they deprive them of the opportunity to labor, and by labor alone can they live. Thus, that which should cause the whole of mankind to rejoice, causes large numbers to despond; that which should be hailed by them as a blessing, is considered as a curse!
So long as laws fail to prohibit the unreasonable and unjust inequality in the division of the goods of this earth, they constitute a cause which must have the inevitable effect of attracting riches toward the rich, and repelling them from the poor. This, under existing economic conditions, is as certain to occur as, under existing physical conditions, certain bodies are attracted to others, while others are repelled. Material progress might advance by leaps and by bounds, and wealth accumulate to a fabulous degree; the sands of our shores might be turned to grains of gold; the mountains might be transformed into solid masses of iridium; but while the laws stand as they now stand, progress and wealth will continue to follow the fixed channel traced for them, and increase the beauty, luxuriance, and delights of the oasis of the favored band, while leaving the arid plains, whereon the multitudes dwell, as desolate and unattractive as formerly. For this is the natural result of prevailing laws, and, these laws enforced, their effect cannot be avoided.
Thus, while men are associated in a social body, and are ruled by laws theoretically for the benefit of all, the fact is that the majority of men, thus associated, are the recipients of the fewest benefits. Society, instead of being based, as is often claimed, on the principle that its working should redound to the advantage of the greatest possible number, and that the interests of a portion thereof should not be paramount to the interests of the whole, is based, practically, on the principle that its working should redound to the advantage of the smallest number, and that the interests of the whole are insignificant as compared with those of a portion thereof. The entire spirit of society — its customs, laws, government — is tainted with this purpose. The proof of this lies in the fact that the majority of the members of the social body are kept in a state of constant activity, so as to sustain the minority in a state of constant leisure; they are kept in a state bordering on misery and want, so as to sustain the few in a state of luxury and abundance.
THE QUESTION OF MISERY
At the outdoor mass you held in Wroclaw in Poland during your recent visit to that country, you said the following very true and sincere words:
It was the same concern about the greed of the wealthy and the plight of the poor, that your predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, expressed in his Encyclical Letter of 1891, 'Rerum Novarum'. Yet, in the more than hundred years that have past, if there has been a change, it has been for the worse!
The wealth is there. The growth of industry and the discoveries of science about which Pope Leo spoke, are even more fantastic and surprising than he would have imagined in his most inspired dreams. The enormous fortunes of individuals, of which he also spoke, have become more enormous. Yet the poverty is still there. Even in countries that are considered wealthy, people are homeless and live in cardboard boxes; people die, not just by the thousands as your Holiness said in Wroclaw, but by the millions, from poverty related diseases, malnutrition and starvation. You are indeed right to ask the question:
THE EXCLUSION FROM THE GIFTS OF GOD
As your Holiness will know, the Encyclical Letter of 1891 was not only an attack on socialism, but also a strong defence of the right to hold land as private property, a right that Pope Leo XIII claimed to be natural.
But the right to hold land includes the right for the owner to exclude other people from it, and, as all usable land in industrially developed countries is owned in that way, people without such a right will be unable to enjoy the gifts of God unless they accept the conditions exacted of them by a landowner. Neither can they work, reside nor relax without land, and again they have to accept conditions exacted by a landowner.
Normally the landowner will ask people to pay the market-determined site rental, which is high because of the many excluded people who want land, or he will offer to let them work at a market-determined wage, which is low because of many excluded people wanting a working place.
Some people, in fact -- as a consequence of the many excluded -- a growing number of people, can neither qualify for a job nor afford to pay the site rental, and they have to live on the streets, on the roads, at the dumping grounds or wherever they can find a poor shelter, some clothes and a little to eat. Some of them find that crime and prison give them a better life than there is available through the legal opportunities open to them.
In some countries Social Security is implemented to mitigate the cruel consequences of the exclusion of people from the gifts of God. The Social Security bill is not paid by landowners, but by entrepreneurs, wage earners, pensioners, savers and consumers.
In other countries only private charity is available to relieve the hardships.
But neither Social Security nor charity will change the basic injustice that causes the horrible conditions of the people excluded, that increases the site rentals to be paid for the use of land, and reduces net-wages, widening the gap between poor and rich. The basic cause of these evils has to be destroyed.
Political leaders from all over the world, including representatives of the Holy See, agreed at the United Nations conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) at Istanbul last year, that:
LETTER TO POPE LEO XIII
Allow us, your Holiness, to point to the Open Letter of September 11th, 1891, written in New York by Henry George and sent to your predecessor his Holiness Pope Leo XIII, as a response to 'Rerum Novarum'.
Published as a book this Open Letter has been read by many thousands, and still today the book is sold and read.
Henry George did consider 'inalienable human rights' and 'unrestrained thirst for profit and ways to handle laws of trade'. On exactly this background he spoke for all people's equal rights to the gifts of God.
To maintain this right for everybody and at the same time to allow exclusive right for some to own land as private property, he advocated that people who are given the exclusive right to own land -- and thereby the right to exclude other people from the gifts of Nature -- should pay a compensation to the people they exclude (in fact to all citizens).
The compensation, as a duty to be paid by the landowners, should be the market-determined rentals of the sites from which they can exclude others. This being a fair charge of justice as the rentals are not due to efforts or investments made by the landowners, but due to the development of society and to the growth of the population of human beings, all wanting a place to work, and a place to reside.
The rentals should be collected from all landowners by society, and the revenue should be used to the benefit of all citizens. In that way, Henry George emphasized, all citizens would be able to get their equal share of the gifts of God.
HOLY INCENTIVES OR HOLLOW FALSEHOOD
We do agree with your Holiness and with Henry George that people have private right to property created by man, the right to the fruits of their labour; and also that people can achieve private right to exclusive possession of land, from which they can exclude other people.
But we find it logically inconsistent to believe that people have equal right to life and to be on the Earth, when at the same time some of them have exclusive right to own land as private property without paying compensation to those people whom they exclude from their land.
Your Holiness' sincere words, as quoted initially in this letter, accord with Rerum Novarum of 1891 and with the Habitat II statement quoted above, but they will only become true if your Holiness will succeed in urging on the rulers/governments of this world to collect the annual market-determined Site Rentals of all land in their countries, and distribute the revenue thus acquired to the benefit of all their citizens.
If your Holiness could succeed in persuading the governments to do so, all people on Earth would gain equal access to the gifts of Nature, and true solidarity would become a reality. If not, all statements about equal right to life, to work, to education and to residence, will continue being hollow and false; and our successors will not see a change for the better; on the contrary, they will see the gap between very rich people and alienated poor people grow bigger, and the problems of poverty grow more serious than they are today.
We pray your Holiness may succeed in convincing the governments of this world of the importance of public collection of the annual market rental of all land, and the revenue to be used for equal benefit of all the citizens, thus to provide far all human beings, equal rights to the gifts of Nature.
Let this become the manifestation of the new Millennium, the 2000 year anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. Let it become a Jubilee in the original meaning of the word, striking unjust shackles from society; thereby preparing a new age of humanity, a social life in friendship and peace.
Posted on March 19, 2012 at 01:20 PM in all benefits go to landholder , charity and justice, Christian ethics, commonwealth, Earth for All, economic rent, ending poverty, equal opportunity, equality, fruits of one's labors, land different from capital, land rent, land value taxation, landlordism, leased land, Natural Public Revenue, population growth, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, The End of Poverty?, wage taxes, wages, wages driven down | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Those who make private property of the gift of God pretend in vain to be innocent. For in thus retaining the subsistence of the poor they are the murderers of those who die every day for want of it.
— POPE GREGORY THE GREAT, Cura Pastoralis,
Sweet's Early English text Society, Vol. II., p. 334.
Posted on March 11, 2012 at 03:16 AM in commons, commonwealth, Earth for All, equal freedom, free land, is this socialism?, land different from capital, landed gentry, landlordism, make land common property, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, property rights, prosperity, rich people's useful idiots, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, the disenchanted, The End of Poverty?, the land question, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers, unearned income, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Pray folks out of temptation, while driving them in,
Is the usual way to atone for the sin;
To fight the effect, while feeding the cause,
You will find the foundation of most of our laws.
from the letters of Edwin Burgess, mid-1850s
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.
Posted on February 03, 2012 at 02:23 PM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , better cities, charity and justice, Christian ethics, common good, commons, cui bono?, equality, financing education, financing health care, financing infrastructure, fixing the economy, fruits of one's labors, government's role, Henry George, is this socialism?, justice of the single tax, land value taxation, little people pay taxes, one solution for many problems, popular ignorance of land economics, poverty machine, poverty's cause, privilege, prosperity, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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This is from the announcement of a 5-Saturday course which uses "Progress and Poverty" as its textbook, offered at the Blue Island Public Library, starting at the end of January. It is being offered by Chuck Metalitz and David Harrell of the Henry George School of Chicago.
The page continues,
We start with a discussion of the problem: Why has our nation, despite its enormous productive power, failed to provide to everyone the opportunity to earn a living wage? And why does our economy crash periodically, causing even more poverty and economic misery? We evaluate current explanations, and find them unsatisfactory. Using the tools of classical economic analysis, we determine the fundamental natural laws which limit how much people can earn, and see how progress can actually worsen poverty. Does that mean technological progress must be stopped? Of course not. Reasoning from morality as much as practicality, Henry George proposes a pro-liberty, anti-privilege public policy which can end poverty while increasing the general level of prosperity. We discuss and evaluate this proposal, in theory and in practice, for the 21st century. The main text we use is Henry George's original Progress & Poverty. For several years after its original publication in 1879, this book was an American best-seller. Although the original 19th-century text is a classic, many of our students choose instead to read an edition “abridged for modern readers.” You will be amazed how George's analysis is spot-on to 21st-century issues. Supplementary notes are also provided to clarify and update as needed. And the instructor will thoroughly discuss all the important points in the class.
What you will learn
If you're in or near Chicago, check out the class. (You'll also find classes in NYC.) Otherwise, you might explore these ideas on your own.
Progress & Poverty at the Henry George School
Where adults learn how the economy really works
Henry George School of Chicago
28 E Jackson Blvd #1004; Chicago 60604 hgchicago.org 312/362-9302
Anti-privilege, pro-liberty education since 1934
This came by email today, from my friend Mike Curtis, and, with his permission, I'm sharing it here:
Dear friends and acquaintances:
I am daily reminded of the passage: “the only thing that is necessary for evil to prevail is for too many good men to do nothing” I just heard on the radio that science is advancing in the realm medicine, energy, and agricultural. We are now able to multiply productivity in manufacturing due to the use of robotics. Yet in spite of all the gains in material progress poverty is increasing.
“It is as though an immense wedge were being forced, not underneath society, but through society. Those who are above the point of separation are elevated, but those who are below are crushed down.”
“This association of poverty with progress is the great enigma of our times. It is the central fact from which spring industrial, social, and political difficulties that perplex the world, and with which statesmanship and philanthropy and education grapple in vain. From it come the clouds that overhang the future of the most progressive and self-reliant nations. It is the riddle which the Sphinx of Fate puts to our civilization and which not to answer is to be destroyed. So long as all the increased wealth which modern Progress brings goes but to build up great fortunes, to increase luxury and make sharper the contrast between the House of Have and the House of Want, progress is not real and cannot be permanent. The reaction must come. The tower leans from its foundations, and every new story but hastens the final catastrophe. To educate men who must be condemned to poverty, is but to make them restive; to base on a state of most glaring social inequality political institutions under which men are theoretically equal, is to stand a pyramid on its apex.”
Henry George 1879 (Progress and Poverty)
I am not running for political office, but if I can enlighten anyone, I believe my efforts will have been worth it. The following my reaction to the prevailing wisdom from all the presidential candidates, including the one in the White House.
If you think my thoughts are worth consideration, please let me know, and forward them to others. If you think I’m wrong, please let me know where I went wrong.
Taxes kill jobs
"Taxes kill jobs" is the message of political candidates. The American economic system causes unemployment and recessions; that is true, but without revenue and the role of government the U.S. would surely be a third world country.
However, there is one tax system that actually creates jobs. It’s not based on the socialistic principle of “Ability to Pay,” like most of our taxes. It’s based on the value of the “Benefits Received” by the tax payer. It’s doesn’t confiscate a percentage of income, taking more from those who have a greater income, even when the benefits they receive are the same as others. It doesn’t tax wages, which are the earned income of labor; it doesn’t tax buildings, machines, or inventories, which were acquired from the people who made them; It doesn’t tax sales or consumption, which is the only reason anyone produces anything.
It is simply a charge for the value of the opportunities to which the taxpayer has been given exclusive control. It is a tax on the value of land. It can be taxed at 100% without in any way adding to the cost of production. It doesn’t add to the value of land or the value of things produced on the land. It simply collects what would otherwise go to the holders of land as an un-earned income when the land is actually used.
It insures that the government has ample revenue for the legitimate needs of society, while limiting the government to those values which cannot be attributed to the efforts of individuals or corporations, but are socially created by the community as a whole and attach to the land. It cannot be evaded, because the land cannot be hidden.
The reason wages no longer rise as inventions and new technologies increase the results of labor is because people have no independent way to employ themselves.
If you’re among the least skilled workers, no matter how little machines cost or how much those machines increase the results of your labor, you have to bid against other people who want the same job; the result is that wages tend to a bare minimum -- superseded by the legal Minimum Wage.
For workers with superior skills and knowledge, those with whom employers can increase their profits, it is simply a matter of supply and demand. The higher the pay, the greater the incentive to learn the skill and acquire the knowledge. The wages of any qualified worker will be determined by two opposing factors. First, the demand for the goods or services they produce will encourage employers to offer wages that tend to equal the greater value of their contribution to the product or service. But, as the higher pay stimulates others to acquire similar skills and knowledge the increased supply of superior workers competing against each other, brings wages down until the wages that reward the special skill are no longer high enough to stimulate others to acquire the same skill and knowledge required for the job. Remember when computer programers earned twice what they do now? The supply increased and their wages went down. They still make more than the average worker, because it’s not so easy to learn computer programing. The supply has not exceeded the demand.
Although the vast majority of workers have no way to employ themselves, and the general level of wages haven’t increased in 40 years, it is not a natural law that wages will always tend to remain static. The United States has 700,000 square miles of arable land. That is less than 450 people per square mile. France has more than 850. The U.K. has more than 2,500 and Japan has more than 7,500 people per square mile.
All production takes place on land. The reason why more workers are looking for employment than landowners are looking for workers is that an enormous portion of the arable land in America is unused or grossly under used; simply held as an asset.
Suppose that cities were developed to their full potential. The slums with empty houses and abandoned factories were redeveloped to their full potential; the surface parking lots were replaced with multi-story parking garages; the grossly underdeveloped sites in the high-rise business districts were put to their highest and best use. Suppose the suburbs were carefully planed and developed with wooded and open parkland instead of relying on land speculators posing as farmers to provide open space; suppose we eliminated sprawl with its leapfrogging patterns that increase the cost of the infrastructure, waste land, and separate people from work and social relations; suppose we created a disincentive to hold idle, mineral land that increases in value. That is to say: What would happen if the majority of now privately held idle land was put to good use? It would generate an increase in the demand for labor and create job opportunities for everyone who was willing and able to work.
What is required is a shift from confiscatory taxation, which we now have, to a revenue system that is based on the value of land, which measures the value of the benefits received by landholders from society. Land values include the surface rights, mineral rights, and all other natural opportunities like the electromagnetic spectrum used for communications.
Under this proposal, the rental value has to be paid whether the land is used or not. While the payment of rent is a payment for a benefit received, for those who leave their land idle, it becomes a penalty, and that insures an ample supply of land for all who need or want to use it.
It also insures that all workers and the owners of productive capital get to keep everything they produce by taking advantage of the natural opportunities that are equally available to everyone else.
Posted on December 27, 2011 at 04:24 PM in a wedge driven through society, connect the dots, Henry George, incentive taxation, incentives, jobs, land speculation, land value taxation, natural resources, population, poverty, poverty's cause, small government, technological advances, underused land, unearned income, wages driven down | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Wow! How many quotes can you take from those 3 paragraphs? The source is the first essay in Henry George's book, "Social Problems," published in 1883, entitled "The Increasing Importance of Social Questions."
Think about that one not just with regard to America, but with regard to the entire world.
"Social intelligence." Nearly 130 years have passed since Henry George wrote these words. Nearly every college has a Social Sciences division. Most have a political science department and an economics department. Almost all have history departments. Many have American Studies programs. I'd venture to say that not one in 1000 has a professor who knows these ideas well. Many know the name of Henry George, as they know some other names from his era, but few have had the quality of education that would include exposure in depth to George's ideas.
Some would say that these social questions have no solutions, and move on to discuss some other topic they think more important, or solvable. Some might murmur that any attempt to solve these questions would by definition be somehow socialistic, and therefore is not worth a further thought. (Much depends on what you mean by "socialistic;" the word seems to be a conversation closer in many circles, which is a shame -- though I do not regard George's ideas as remotely socialistic as the term is commonly used.)
Those who have sat with Henry George's ideas know differently. These problems can be solved. Might you join that group? What would it feel like to know these problems do have solutions?
And as we enter a presidential election season, this one bears repeating:
"We cannot safely leave politics to politicians, or political economy to college professors. The people themselves must think, because the people alone can act."
Posted on December 18, 2011 at 03:59 PM in a wedge driven through society, civilization, common good, cui bono?, individualism, is this socialism?, Occupy Wall Street's values, political economy, poverty machine, poverty's cause, Social Problems, special interests, technological advances, unemployment and underemployment, wealth distribution or concentration, wealthandwant | Permalink | Comments (0)
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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.
Posted on December 04, 2011 at 03:37 PM in economic justice, economic rent, ending poverty, fixing the economy, justice of the single tax, land value created by community, land value taxation, Natural Public Revenue, one solution for many problems, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, radical, single tax, tax reform, teach your children well | Permalink | Comments (0)
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THE SOLID TRUTH OF 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":
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.
—James T. Barnard, in Hamilton Templar.
reprinted in The San Jose Letter, June 27, 1896
Posted on December 03, 2011 at 05:39 PM in charity and justice, cui bono?, economic justice, ending poverty, equality, justice of the single tax, landlordism, make land common property, Occupy Wall Street's values, pay for what you take, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, teach your children well, the disenchanted, unemployment and underemployment, wages driven down | Permalink | Comments (0)
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This appeared in a California weekly 115 years ago. Much of it could have been written in 2011. Does this mean that these problems are eternal, necessary and simply can't be avoided?
Or does it mean that when we continue to maintain the structures that create these problems, we ought not to be surprised that the problem continues to show up?
These problems can be solved -- and prevented -- by a simple, logical, just, efficient reform of our tax structure. But almost none of our elected representatives are the least bit familiar with it. You might send yours a copy of Walt Rybeck's book, "Re-Solving the Economic Puzzle," if you think yours might have an open mind.
Young Men and Their Opportunities
The San Jose Letter, February 1, 1896
But what are young men to do for a living? Did it ever occur to you that thousands of young Americans between the ages of 16 and 21 are pondering over that very question? What are they to do, indeed? Shall they study for a profession? Scores of young professional men in San Jose are not earning enough to pay their office rent, young lawyers, doctors, dentists, waiting for the practice that does not come.
The professions are overcrowded, some one says, let them learn a trade. What trade, pray? Would you have any of them learn the carpenter's trade, for instance? The valley is over-run with idle carpenters. Would you have them become house painters? Every other tramp one meets appears to be a painter. Would you have them learn the printer's trade? A dozen idle printers are clammoring for every place.
I was talking with a gentleman who is in the hardware business the other day. This question of idle young men came up. The merchant got down a list containing probably a score of names. Applicants, he told me, for a chance to learn the plumber's trade. "I have not a place," he said, "for one in twenty of them. They offer to work for nothing, if permitted to learn the trade. But idle journeymen apply for work every day."
It is so with every trade that may be named. Plenty of young men are fitting themselves for a $20 job, by spending months in learning shorthand and type writing. There was a time when a book-keeper could earn a living-assuring salary. He cannot now. Book-keepers, good enough for any average retail business, are hunting $40 jobs.
What are the young Americans of this generation to do, then? Such as have parents to furnish them with a home can work for $20 a month. Those with no home cannot compete with home-cheapened labor. The result is, San Quentin is filling up with young fellows under 25 years of age. Most of our tramps appear to be under 30.
Since the land is filled with idle doctors one can safely conclude that none want for medical assistance and advice. Since idle carpenters are begging for work, the people of America must have all the houses they want. There can be no more plumbing to do, for plumbers are idle; no houses that need painting for painters are tramping the country seeking work, no one without bread for there is no sale for breadstuffs, and bakers are without employment.
But, strange to say, hundreds of men are suffering for the services of the idle doctors. Families are shelterless, while carpenters are begging to build them houses. Men and women and children are suffering for bread while bread-stuffs rot, and bakers starve to death because they can find no one who can command their services.
Doctor A wants to build a house, and carpenter B is anxious to build it for him; but the house is not built. In the meantime Carpenter B's children die for the lack of medical assistance. Blacksmith C is unable to furnish his family with wood, for he "has no work." However, Wood-dealer D sees his horses go lame because he cannot afford to have them shod.
A very interesting state of affairs, is it not? Work that should be done, and plenty of it; while the young men of the nation are drifting to State prisons and the road because they can find no work.
This condition of affairs is new in America. Hungry men startle the well-fed, until they, too, hunger for the luxuries that once seemed necessities, then they are more than startled.
Along with this an evil is growing up in America that cannot be too earnestly condemned; it is that of the steadily growing custom of giving charity. The recipient of charity is demoralized. The American laborer wants work, not charity. When you give him charity you sink him to a condition lower than that of the negro slave. I know philantropists who employ Chinese, while white labor goes begging for a purchaser, who pompously "pay the white man's butcher bill." The white man wants to pay his own butcher bill, and demands work that will enable him to do it.
The evil results of this charity are doubled when school children are taught to "give to the poor." San Francisco has been turned into a pauper-making, pauper-sustaining educational institution. The papers reek with "charity," and the children are given lessons in pauperizing their elders. A year ago last winter the children were encouraged to feed the men employed at $1 a day in the Golden Gate Park. What did this mean? It meant that the children were made accustomed to see laboring Americans want for food, while the laborers, although working ten hours a day, were obliged to stoop to accept charity, and charity at the hands of children. It is very pathetic, this picture of Susie or Johnnie giving a ham sandwich or a piece of sponge cake to a hungry laboring American — a pretty picture, if you like; but the children are not benefited by it and the laborer can know no greater degradation. But, what are the young men who are leaving schools, colleges and universities each year to do for a living? Must the majority of them become objects of charity, to be given work, charity work, at wages which will not sustain life, only to be helped out of the difficulty by a lot of idle society women, who have nothing better to do than to take up the fad, charity; and by a parcel of school children who are encouraged in doing their little towards the ultimate pauperization of the American laborer?
This was most likely written by Franklin Hichorn, editor of The San Jose Letter.
Posted on December 02, 2011 at 12:16 PM in charity and justice, connect the dots, cost of living, cui bono?, ending poverty, fixing the economy, immigration, jobs, one solution for many problems, paycheck to paycheck, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, the disenchanted, unemployment and underemployment, wages driven down | Permalink | Comments (0)
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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||$225,000,000|
|In franchise values||30,000,000|
|While they are compelled to pay in various taxes for the support of local government||98,000,000|
|Which makes in all||$353,000,000|
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?
Posted on November 04, 2011 at 12:10 PM in a Manhattan acre, a wedge driven through society, absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , better cities, corporations, cost of living, cui bono?, economic rent, financing education, financing infrastructure, financing services, franchises, government's role, Henry George, income concentration, justice of the single tax, land appreciates buildings depreciate, land rent, land speculation, land value created by community, land value taxation, landed gentry, landlordism, little people pay taxes, location, location, location, monopoly -- not the game, municipal ownership of utilities, Natural Public Revenue, Occupy Wall Street's values, paying twice, popular ignorance of land economics, population growth, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privilege, public ownership of utilities, reaping what others sow, rich people's useful idiots, sharecropping, socializing risk and privatizing profit, sufficiency of land rent, urban land value, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (1)
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I have a family member who, when Herman Cain says "9-9-9," plays a sound bite of another voice shouting "nein! nein! nein!"
Georgists have a better proposal for how we ought to fund our common spending.
This probably raises several questions in your mind:
Our commonwealth includes the value of land -- not the improvements made by the present or previous owner, but the value of the site itself, which is created by the gifts of nature; by the investment of the local, state and national communities in public goods and services (including most "pork"); by the presence of the community and its economic activity. While good farmland may be worth $5,000 or $10,000 per acre, depending on climate and proximity to markets, suburban residential lots might be $35,000 to $1,000,000 -- or far more! -- per acre, and an acre in midtown Manhattan can be worth $250,000,000 or more. The landholder doesn't create that locational value.
Our commonwealth includes the value of ecosystem services. It includes the value of electromagnetic spectrum (the airwaves which most people would agree rightly belong to the American people, not to corporations). It includes the value of water, particularly fresh water for drinking and water for irrigating crops and for corporate use. It includes the value of government-granted privileges. It includes the value of geosynchronous orbits -- those parking spots in space for satellites whose owners and customers would not want to see crashing into each other. It includes the value of landing rights at busy congested constrained airports, such as LaGuardia or JFK, particularly at their rush hours. It includes the value of scarce on-street parking in congested cities. It includes the value of nonrenewable natural resources extracted from below the earth and the oceans, for 200 miles beyond our land borders. It includes a whole range of other similar things.
As you look at that paragraph, compare it to the 0-0-0-0 list above, and notice that it collects upfront certain values, and leaves the rest to those who produce. It is direct taxation rather than indirect, and one could reasonably argue that it isn't even really taxation; rather it is more in the nature of a user-fee.
It is Natural Public Revenue.
Once one has sat with this idea for a while, it seems quite unnatural to permit the value to continue to accrue to private individuals, or to corporations publicly or privately owned, or to entities other than the community as a whole!
Recall how concentrated wealth is in the US: The 2007 SCF [the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances] reported that aggregate net worth is "distributed" as follows:
- Top 1% of us have 33.8%
- Next 4% of us 26.6% [cumulative: 60.4%]
- Next 5% of us 11.1% [cumulative: 71.5%]
- Next 40% of us 26.0% [cumulative 97.5%]
- Bottom 50% of us 2.5%
Recall also that the Forbes 400 families are specifically and intentionally omitted from the SCF, and that Forbes estimates that they represent 2.5% of aggregate net worth. So add that 2.5% to the numerator and denominator. And note, as Michael Moore did, that it is very similar to the value of the Net Worth of the bottom 50% of us.
And it seems quite unnatural to tax wages, and sales, and corporate profits, and buildings at all before we've fully collected Natural Public Revenue.
Will Natural Public Revenue be sufficient to meet all the needs of all levels of government?
Quite possibly not, at least today when we are so reliant on a social safety net because current conditions have kept a significant share of our people from providing well for themselves. But I regard it as altogether possible that within a generation or two, it could be quite sufficient, in part because it would have the effect of redistributing some of the wealth which today is pouring into the pockets of a relative few of us.
How much of corporate profits are coming from (quite legal) privatization of the value of natural resources, the value of being able to get away with polluting air, water and soil, and the value of other privileges which corporations -- public and private -- are used to enjoying? One of the interesting findings in the SCF is that the value of privately held businesses [BUS] actually exceeds the value of publicly held ones [EQUITY] in household wealth -- and the value of both is highly concentrated:
[value, billions, 2007] $13,694.3 $14,893.7
Consider, too, how much more of this value the Forbes 400 have! These two categories represent 21.2% and 23.1% of aggregate net worth held by the rest of us -- a total of 44.3%. Most of the 2.5% is likely in these two categories. I'll leave the math to you.
Posted on October 15, 2011 at 06:37 PM in a Manhattan acre, broadcast spectrum, commons, direct taxation, economic rent, ecosystem services, FairTax, financing education, financing infrastructure, financing services, fixing the economy, income concentration, income tax, indirect taxation, infrastructure, land value created by community, land value taxation, location, location, location, make land common property, natural resource revenues, natural resources, Occupy Wall Street's values, oil, one solution for many problems, parking, population, population growth, pork spending, poverty machine, poverty's cause, privatization, privilege, public spending, sales taxes are wrong, SCF data, single tax, socializing risk and privatizing profit, sufficiency of land rent, Survey of Consumer Finances data, urban land value, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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I've not yet begun to watch the Ken Burns PBS series on Prohibition, other than a few snippets I've caught at odd times. (I look forward to watching the programs in order and in quiet.) But in the first segment, I did hear the name Frances Willard and something that made me google her name along with that of Henry George, on the chance that there was some connection. And I did find some interesting things.
Frances Willard, whose name we associate with the Womans Christian Temperance Union, was apparently also a Single Taxer. She saw the Single Tax as the way to end poverty, which she saw as a key cause of inebriation.
A few quotes:
"We used to say intemperance was the cause of poverty; now we have completed the circle of truth by saying poverty causes intemperance, and that the underpaid, undersheltered, wage-earning teetotaler deserves a thousand times more credit than the teetotaler who is well paid, well fed and well sheltered.
"In the slums they drink to forget; we would make life something they would gladly remember; so would you. Our objects are the same; let us clasp hands in the unity of spirit and the bond of peace."
source: NYT, 1895-06-20
from What Frances E. Willard Said:
May God crown with success the three great movements of our time which are fast passing out of the hands of philanthropists and into those of statesmen, viz., the temperance, the woman, and the labor questions, all of which are equal fractions of that one mighty whole — the human question.
The labor question is our question. Prostrate and crushed under the mountains of injustice that are piled upon the poor, lies the degraded woman to whom financial independence, equal pay for equal work, has often proved the lifting lever to a rehabilitated life.
quoted in "Land and Freedom" (volume 33):
'I SEE in Henry George's proposal an effort to establish a principle which, when established, will do more to lift humanity from the slough of poverty, crime and misery than all else; and in this I recognize it as one of the greatest forces working for temperance and morality.
from Miss Willard's address to the national WCTU convention in Baltimore, 1896:
In her address to the National W. C. T. U. convention held at Baltimore last week, Miss Willard said: -- We can no longer ignore the fact that, as the Scripture saith, 'the destruction of the poor is their poverty.' White ribbon women must be the sworn foes of monopoly, of landlordism, and every other form of class legislation. For one, I believe that the land belongs to the people, and while the farmer's domain should not be interfered with, since he turns it to a beneficent use, a propaganda of education should have devised whereby the single tax and the issue of all money by the Government itself should become two of the central planks in the platform of the party of the future.
Speaking at another meeting Miss Willard: -- Poverty is disease; it is disintegration; it has no right to be; and when men and women wake out of sleep, and see themselves as the criminals they are, nothing in the world will be so sure of actual extermination as the cursed thing called poverty -- the cradle of crime, the father of filth, the mother of misery. In the past we have comforted ourselves with looking upon it as the effect of wrong-doing, but have now aroused ourselves to the study of its cause. We are determined to burn to its last infectious atom the stench of the slums, and the temptation to lead a bad life with which poverty haunts the dream of boyhood, handicaps the purposes of youth, and enthralls the life of manhood.
For myself, twenty-one years of study and observation have convinced me that poverty is a prime cause of intemperance, and that misery is the mother, and hereditary appetite the father, of the drink hallucination.
We once said that intemperance was the cause of poverty; now we have completed the circle of truth by saying poverty causes intemperance, and the underpaid, underfed, undersheltered, wage-earning teetotaler deserves a thousand times more credit than the teetotaler who is well paid, well fed, and well cared for.
Ten years ago I could not have said it honestly; five years ago I could not have said it helpfully; but now I ceaselessly declare that I believe it to be the right and duty of the white-ribbon women to help abolish poverty in the larger sense of that great phrase.
This simple change in taxation would also force land at present held out of use for speculative profit into use, and thus prevent the monopolist from becoming rich at the expense of the public. The value which attaches to the land on which any community lives, is created by that community from year to year, not by any individual, and is thus the legitimate fund from which all public revenue should come."
from an Australian newspaper, 1898, LTE, quoting Frances Willard:
"I believe the present economic condition of the country, the misery of millions of our people, the vast number of the unemployed, call for reforms which, if they could be brought about, would vastly diminish the tendency to drink, and that one of those reforms of far-reaching and unspeakable beneficence is the single tax, as set forth by its great apostle Henry George."
and finally, from the Oxford Observer, a two-parter from July, 1897:
The Oxford Observer. PUBLISHED WEEKLY. SATURDAY JULY 17th. 1897
AN UP-TO-DATE CATECHISM.
By Miss Frances E.Willard.
Who made the earth?
For whom was it made?
For the use and sustenance of all his children, each one of whom has an equal right to its enjoyment.
How do we know that each has this equal right?
Without the use of the earth no human being can exist. As each has an equal right to existence, it follows that each has an equal right to the earth.
Some persons claim to 'own' land. Where did they get their titles to it?
All such titles in this country were derived from foreign kings or queens who claimed to own "America."
How did these foreign governments get this alleged right?
Through open violence or fraud.
Have the people of one generation any right to give away or sell that which was made for all generations?
No; the earth belongs to the living; the dead have no right therein.: (Thomas Jefferson.)
If any man claims to "own" land, has he a moral title to it?
No; and it makes no difference whether he has purchased or inherited it, his title cannot be better than his from whom he derived. it.
To whom does the land of this country belong?
To all the people of this country and to unborn generations.
It is necessary that each should have an equal portion of land in order that the rights, of all may be secured?
No; that would be impracticable and unnecessary. The same end may be accomplished by taking the rent of land for public expenses.
Oxford Observer, Volume VIII, 24 July 1897
An Up-to-Date Catechism
by Miss Frances E. Willard
As the value of land is produced by the community it should go to the community.
Can this be done without disturbing existing social institutions?
Yes; by abolishing other forms of taxation and increasing the tax on land values.
How would this system compare with our present system of taxation?
It would decrease the cost and simply the functions of Government. A tax on land values is the ideal system of taxation. -- (New York Times)
You would, then, remove all taxation from buildins and improvements?
Yes; the more improvements we have the better for the community. Our present system of taxation checks production; a tax on land values would stimulate production by abolishing the tax on improvements.
How would the placing of all taxation upon land values affect the farmer?
It would reduce his taxes very largely. The farmer is the worst taxed workingman in the country; he not only pays largely through indirect taxation on everything he consumes, but he is also heavily taxed on improvements. A tax on land values would be very large in the cities, or where land values are high, and the tax on agricultural land would be very small.
How would it affect the house owner?
He would gain greatly, for the greater part of tax which he now pays is based upon the value of his house which is usually much greater than the value of the land. Of this, as well as of all indirect taxation, he would be relieved.
Would the placing of all taxation upon land values improve the condition of these who work?
Yes. If land were taxed to its full rental value no one could afford to hold valuable land idle; the holder must either use it himself or allow others to use it. This would create a great demand for labour, and all wages would rise.
How would it affect the temperance question?
Through abolition of poverty it would solve the temperance question; poverty and the vice which springs from poverty, are the great causes of intemperance.
This catechism was published along with something of Henry George's by the Darlington Single Tax League in the 1920s. Google Books has a page for it, but does not provide the text.
For some other Single Tax catechisms, check out thesingletax.com, the shorter pieces.
Posted on October 04, 2011 at 10:34 PM in a wedge driven through society, cui bono?, free lunch, Henry George, land value taxation, one solution for many problems, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, property tax is two taxes, property tax reform, single tax, tax reform | Permalink | Comments (0)
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.... and how we might correct the distribution.
I came across a spectacularly good graphic the other day. I don't know that it will reproduce here, so I'll just provide you the link:
Open it in another window, let it fill the screen, scrolling if necessary to see it in full -- and then continue reading here.
It comes from a 2006 article in The Atlantic Monthly entitled "The Height of Inequality," which lays out very well the extent of the income inequality we have in America, though it starts with an explanation done in 1971 by Dutch economist Jan Pen, describing the distribution of income in the British economy at that time. (I've put part of it into bullet format.) It begins,
In 1971, Jan Pen, a Dutch economist, published a celebrated treatise with a less-than-gripping title: Income Distribution. The book summoned a memorable image. This is how to think of the pattern of incomes in an economy, Pen said (he was writing about Britain, but bear with me). Suppose that every person in the economy walks by, as if in a parade. Imagine that the parade takes exactly an hour to pass, and that the marchers are arranged in order of income, with the lowest incomes at the front and the highest at the back. Also imagine that the heights of the people in the parade are proportional to what they make: those earning the average income will be of average height, those earning twice the average income will be twice the average height, and so on. We spectators, let us imagine, are also of average height.
Pen then described what the observers would see. Not a series of people of steadily increasing height—that’s far too bland a picture. The observers would see something much stranger. They would see, mostly, a parade of dwarves, and then some unbelievable giants at the very end.
As Garrison Keillor ironically informs his listeners, not every child can be above average. But when it comes to incomes, the great majority can very easily be below average. A comparative handful of exceptionally well-paid people pulls the average up. As a matter of arithmetic, the median income—the income of the worker halfway up the income distribution—is bound to be less than average.
This is true in every economy, but in some more than others. Back when Pen wrote his book, incomes were already more skewed in America than in Britain. Over the past thirty-five years, and especially over the past ten, that top-end skewness has greatly increased. The weirdness of the last half minute of today’s American parade—even more so the weirdness of the last few seconds, and above all the weirdness of the last fraction of a second—is vastly greater than that of the vision, bizarre as it was, described by Pen.
The article goes on to point out that (1) at the time, the US giants were even taller than the British ones; (2) that in the intervening years, a highly disproportionate share of US income has gone to make the giants taller yet in proportion to the rest of us. It quotes a study suggesting that a large share of the top income earners were sports and media celebrities and top corporate executives. 13,000 people in the 99.99th percentile, with total earnings of $83 billion in 2001. (an average of $6.4 million, so some are much higher, many a lot lower.) In 2001, there were probably relatively few Hedge Fund managers pocketing billions each (and their incomes are likely not shown as wages, but rather as "capital" gains, taxed at less than all but our lowest wage earners must pay in federal income taxes, and not subject to Social Security or Medicare taxes.
Most of us, as the article points out, have a big problem with sports or media celebrities receiving large incomes, considering it a "perfecting of the labor market." But how is it that corporate executives get to harvest so much? We know about hand-picked board compensation committees which reward their pickers with high incomes, whether or not performance has been strong. But do we think about just how it is that there is so much for them to work with? Do we know why so little goes to the rest of the parade in wages? We're so used to the situation that we no longer examine it. Even your family's college economics major probably has never been exposed to a serious examination of the question. Air to the bird, water to the fish -- just the environment we live in, not even interesting enough to study, until it no longer supports life.
Here's an account of a talk Joe Stiglitz gave last summer during his lecture tour in Australia, which might shed some light on how so much is available for those corporate executives and their compensation committees, as well as for the shareholders:
Professor Stiglitz told a packed UQ Centre that Australia's economic stimulus package was the best designed in the world.
AND he said natural resources - coal, iron ore - should be properly valued at market just like the electromagnetic spectrum.
The government auctions the spectrum to the highest bidders who want to operate mobile phone networks, cable companies, television and radio stations.
Basically, a country - like Australia - will end up poor if doesn't get the best price for its assets - and natural assets are not renewable, once they are gone they are gone. If the proceeds from the sale of these assets are not invested in infrastructure to support and grow other sectors the economy (manufacturing and value-adding, goods creation) then a country and it's people will not prosper - HELLO! HELLO! Drowning not waving.
"It should be subtracted from Gross Domestic Product (GDP)," he said. "You are selling off assets at a very low price if you don't have adequate taxes on mining - you are being cheated," he said to audience applause.
He thinks resources should be auctioned off to the highest bidder - the free market at work. Of course, the mining industry will make all kinds of threats.
To everyone's amusement he joked about how mining companies bamboozled, threatened and bribed governments of developing, fragile nations.
"I assume that's not the case in Australia," he mused.
To prosper, a country needs to set up a stabilization fund (from a mining tax, if not a resources auction) for nation building.
This is what he calls an investment fund for building infrastructure and to grow value-adding industries, maintain education, job creation.
Not only that but the sell-off of natural resources should appear on a country's accounts as a kind of depreciation of assets - otherwise the accounts are not accurate. ...
He made these comments at the end of the oration after he explained the difference between the financial sector and the economy - the economy is not the financial sector.
The financial sector (the banks and regulators) are the culprits behind the global financial crisis which has crippled the global economy. Apparently, moneylenders have been skimming 40 percent of the profits from companies that actually make and produce things. His big point was that this is not really the role of the financial sector. The financial sector's job is to support economic growth, not cripple it.
"Finance is a means to an end," he said. "The lack of balance between the financial sector and the economic sector was actually the real problem in this economic crisis (NOT the real estate bubble)."
Why aren't the workers getting more? In large part because there isn't competition for their labor. Why is this the case? In part because our natural resources are being given out -- at bargain prices -- to corporations which have monopolized them. And, while about half of us have some stock, stock ownership of publicly held companies is quite concentrated (top 5% hold 66.5%), and ownership of privately held companies (a larger figure at the household level) even more so (top 5% hold 88.1%).
So how do we create more competition for the services of workers? How do we create more opportunity for all to employ themselves if they don't like their chances with other employers? To find out, explore this blog, explore the ideas associated with the name of 19th century economist and philosopher Henry George.
Political economy is the science which deals with the natural laws governing the production and distribution of valuable goods and services. I'll also reference Adam Smith's definition:
Political economy considered as a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator proposes two distinct objects, first, to supply a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or more properly to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves; and secondly, to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for the public service. It proposes to enrich both the people and the sovereign.
Which people? All people?
Posted on February 21, 2011 at 03:22 PM in a wedge driven through society, connect the dots, cui bono?, ecosystem services, FIRE sector, fixing the economy, free lunch, Henry George, income concentration, little people pay taxes, monopoly -- not the game, natural resource revenues, natural resources, political economy, popular ignorance of land economics, poverty, poverty's cause, privilege, reaping what others sow, rich people's useful idiots, socializing risk and privatizing profit, stock ownership, trickle-down economics, unemployment and underemployment, wobegon | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Where I live, an Australian bank owns the city water system, a stockowner electric company has the power franchise, Cablevision has the cable franchise -- and a lot of money that could profitably be recycled locally gets sent out of town. (We do still own the sanitary sewer system.)
There was a time when these franchises were given to local entities, or held by the community. Then we permitted them to be privatized, and revenue that was once recycled locally now leaves. (Google "The City for the People" for more about this. It showed, among other things, that residents of cities where the utilities were publicly owned paid less for their utilities and workers in those utilities were better paid.)
The short article quoted below makes an interesting point. I'll preface it by quoting California Georgist Harry Pollard, who says that it would be better to collect land rent and throw it into the sea than not to collect it at all. This shows why. It comes from Tax Facts, 1926:
LAND SPECULATOR'S PARADISE
Arthur Brisbane has discovered that Ponca City, Oklahoma, a town of 15,000 population, is free from taxes. Through ownership of the power, light and water departments the city derives sufficient revenue to dispense with all taxes.
But is that an unmixed blessing? Police and fire protection, schools, etc., are so desirable that people will move to places where they may be had. Since no one can enjoy these government services without occupying land, the people will bid against each other till they force the price up to a point where it equals the value of the service. If the people know they will not have to pay taxes they can and will pay that much more for the land.
What a bonanza for the land speculator! He can add to his price what buyers save in taxes.
Economic rent, or land value, attaches to land whether or not the land is taxed. The amount of this land value depends upon the number and kind of people in the community, and must be paid in any event. Should the government take sufficient taxes out of this land value to pay expenses, two results will follow:
- The user of land will pay more than he would if the owner kept it all, as in Ponca City.
- The taking of this tax from the land owner will add to the cost of holding the land idle, and since it falls on all valuable idle land, it will make speculators more willing to make terms with land users.
When the city must pay a stockholder utility for the lights on the streets, who benefits? The taxpayers spend more than they would otherwise need to, and instead of getting electricity at the lowest price, pay a price that benefits the shareholders, few of whom live locally -- and if you've read the "stock ownership" pages linked at left, you know how concentrated stock ownership is, based on the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances data. (A fine example of trickle-up economics.)
Local communities which own their own utilities would be more likely to care about using clean energy. They'd be creating secure local jobs, and good management would benefit the local community. Accountability.
Posted on February 10, 2011 at 03:15 PM in absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , better cities, common good, cost of living, cui bono?, financing education, financing infrastructure, financing services, franchises, government's role, housing affordability, land appreciates buildings depreciate, land speculation, landlordism, location, location, location, monopoly -- not the game, Natural Public Revenue, paying twice, political economy, poverty's cause, privatization, public ownership of utilities, reaping what others sow, small government, socializing risk and privatizing profit, stock ownership, unburdening the economy, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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The Public, May 12, 1906, page 143.
THE LANDLORD'S GAME
invented by Miss Lizzie Magie of Washington, D. C, will be manufactured and ready for the market about June 1st.
The Landlord's Game is played on a board about 18 inches square, divided into 46 spaces representing all the various institutions of modern commercial life. The names of some of these spaces are "Soakum Lighting System," "Slambang Trolley," "Gee Whiz Railroad," "Lord Blueblood's Estate," "Wayback," "Boomtown." "Easy Street." "Broadway," "Timberlands.'' "Oil Fields," "Jail," "Poor House," etc.
The play on the board is started by the throw of dice which indicates the moves of the players and from that time on the transactions between individuals, corporations and the government are entered into with vim and interest. At the start the players are equally equipped but as the moves continue the majority of the players are apt to be forced into poverty, some even arriving at the Poor House, while one player generally becomes the millionaire.
THE SINGLE TAX
This condition prevails until the adoption of the single tax on land values, when the land rents, instead of being appropriated by individual players, are turned into the public treasury and used for public improvements. The game as then continued equalizes opportunities and raises wages, while it is impossible for one player to get any great advantage over the others.
The game brings out with great clearness the exact position in the commercial world of money, transportation and land monopoly. Unlike most games that have sought to teach a problem, this game preserves all the principal features of the popular chance and skill games, at the same time demonstrating the problem with clearness and simplicity. It is easily learned and is played with great enthusiasm by children as well as adults.
TESTIMONIALS:Mr. John Z. White says:
The game will be furnished in a neat box with lithographed board in colors, will include a pack of cards representing title deeds, railroad charters, etc., besides checkers, dice, money and all other implements necessary to the playing of the game, and will be sent to any address in the United States on receipt of one dollar. Postage 20 cents extra.
Address MISS LIZZIE J. MAGIE, Secretary, ECONOMIC GAME COMPANY. 58 WEST 68th ST., NEW YORK, N. Y.
LVTfan here: the ad has no graphics. But this game is the inspiration for the board game we know as Monopoly.
Pursuing some leads on Lizzie Magie (see the related posts, below this one, and in the Landlords Game links at left), I came across a December, 2010, paper by Frances Hutchinson, about the British version of the Landlords Game, called Brer Fox an' Brer Rabbit. She makes some very interesting points, and I learned some things about the games. I commend the entire paper to your attention, and am taking the liberty of posting the last third here:
Brer Fox an’ Brer Rabbit
Georgists argued that a system of land taxation could be introduced gradually, following informed public debate on the issues involved. To that end, during the early decades of the twentieth century they devised a series of hand-made games designed to portray the evils of the selfish system of monopoly land holding, with a view to introducing socially responsible reforms of land holding based upon the Georgist Single Land Tax proposals. The games, which circulated throughout the USA and UK, often under the title The Landlord’s Game, were played in three phases. Phase 1, based upon the existing laws of land ownership, finance and taxation, demonstrates the effects of unchecked greed and self-interest in patterns of monopoly capitalism. In Phases 2 and 3 the rules are altered to eliminate the ability of powerful players to benefit from their greed.
The creators of the game held a profound faith in the human capacity for action based upon reasoned argument. The games were designed to be played co-operatively, providing a focus for discussion which took place at each of the three phases of the game. Monopoly was later developed from Phase 1, where powerful, self-interested individuals reign supreme. The later two phases, which each form games in themselves, demonstrate the potential for communities to regain ecologically and socially viable forms of access to land.
Brer Fox an’ Brer Rabbit is an early version of The Landlord’s Game which circulated in the UK. After some years of research we managed to bring together a copy of the original board with a matching set of rules. Despite the title, this is not a children’s game. However, we have found that a major obstacle to the successful use of this original version of the game as a teaching aid, is the almost universal pernicious influence of the selfish, zero-sum game of Monopoly. Phase 1 does not run as smoothly as the polished version of the commercial version, and it can be difficult to shift to the different mindset envisaged in Phases 2 and 3.
The thoughtful playing of Phases 2 and 3 of the Landlord’s Game raises some veryinteresting questions, such as the relationship between the ‘real’ and the ‘financial’ values of land, traditional patterns of common management of land, and the whole question of landless waged-labour. What emerges most forcefully, however, is the role of the Banker, the mysterious figure whose presence is not explained in the Georgist literature, but who is able to pay out ‘wages’ to the players to enable them to continue to participate in the game. This brings into focus the whole question of the wage/salary-slavery system that is corporate capitalism in the world economy of the twenty-first century.
Playing the Game
Monopoly was developed from Phase 1 of The Landlord’s Game, which demonstrates the effects of a greedy selfish pattern of monopoly land-holding. The object of Monopoly is to buy, rent and sell property with sufficiently focused and ruthless skill to bankrupt the other players and thereby force them out of the game. In real life, the Robber Barons of the American Golden Age dominated steel, oil and other essential resources not by creating wealth, but by dominating the field. Mirroring assumptions of economic orthodoxy, the number of houses and hotels in Monopoly are deliberately kept scarce. The game is so designed that all cannot improve their properties equally, and collaboration is prohibited. “Monopoly models the foundation assumption of economics: the principle of scarcity. Every opportunity you act on is thereby denied to another player.”11
To play a version of The Landlord’s Game it is necessary to step back in time, to forget the rush, bustle and constant worry of the twenty-first century and take time to imagine one is alive in the idyllic years before the First World War. Although the commercially designed Monopoly can be played out in a single playing session, several leisurely sessions need to be set aside for playing The Landlord’s Game. The specific uses of the sites laid out on the board would have been familiar to the players, and would have given rise to discussion of local examples. Thus the game offers a refreshing opportunity to reflect on the purposes of the various ‘money making’ institutions on the board, including the actual money-maker, the bank itself.
Devised over a hundred years ago as a DIY exercise, boards, cards and playing pieces were normally assembled from household materials. Playing tokens were buttons, badges, charms, or anything to hand. Brer Fox an’ Brer Rabbit, produced and patented by the Newbie Games Company of Dumfries, Scotland, in 1913, has been reproduced in the attached format* so that all three phases of the game can be played. The family resemblance to Monopoly is immediately obvious. Bearing in mind the history of Monopoly just described, the leisurely playing of all three phases is an excellent consciousness-raising exercise. The later two phases, which form games in themselves, demonstrate the potential for communities to regain access to land by regaining control over all forms of economic activity, including banking. Personally, I tend to agree with Karl Marx, that “in point of theory, the man [Henry George] is a back number”. The notion that an individual should have the right to buy a piece of land simply by right of landing on it when it is free, is original to the game. Equally, the Georgist game does not raise the question of money creation, the role of finance and banking in the economy or the whole question of wage-slavery upon which the edifice of global corporate capitalism rests. But that does not prevent twenty-first century players from using the sites and situations of Brer Fox an’ Brer Rabbit to review accepted assumptions about the institutions of society which govern access to wealth, property, income and power. The game offers at least as much of interest to present-day campaigners for peace, social justice, monetary reform and political sanity as it did a century ago. We look forward to opening a dialogue with groups who have played the games successfully.
Then go here: http://douglassocialcredit.com/poeticlicence.php to print out the rules, board, cards, and money to play this game yourself.
Posted on January 23, 2011 at 04:49 PM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , cui bono?, economic justice, economic rent, fixing the economy, Henry George, income concentration, land speculation, landed gentry, Monopoly and The Landlord's Game , natural resource revenues, playing by the rules, political economy, popular ignorance of land economics, poverty machine, poverty's cause, privilege, reaping what others sow, single tax, teach your children well, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (1)
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