Wealth and Want The URL comes from the subtitle to Progress & Poverty -- and the goal is widely shared prosperity in the 21st century. How do we get there from here? A roadmap and a reference source.
Reforming the Property Tax for the Common Good I'm a tax reform activist who seeks to promote fairness and reduce poverty. Let's start with the enabling legislation and state requirements for the property tax. There are opportunities for great good!
Henry George: Progress and Poverty: An inquiry into the cause of industrial depressions and of increase of want with increase of wealth ... The Remedy This is perhaps the most important book ever written on the subjects of poverty, political economy, how we might live together in a society dedicated to the ideals Americans claim to believe are self-evident. It will provide you new lenses through which to view many of our most serious problems and how we might go about solving them: poverty, sprawl, long commutes, despoilation of the environment, housing affordability, wealth concentration, income concentration, concentration of power, low wages, etc. Read it online, or in hardcopy.
Bob Drake's abridgement of Henry George's original: Progress and Poverty: Why There Are Recessions and Poverty Amid Plenty -- And What To Do About It! This is a very readable thought-by-thought updating of Henry George's longer book, written in the language of a newsweekly. A fine way to get to know Henry George's ideas. Available online at progressandpoverty.org and http://www.henrygeorge.org/pcontents.htm
Progress and Poverty, by Henry George Here are links to online editions of George's landmark book, Progress & Poverty, including audio and a number of abridgments -- the shortest is 30 words! I commend this book to your attention, if you are concerned about economic justice, poverty, sprawl, energy use, pollution, wages, housing affordability. Its observations will change how you approach all these problems. A mind-opening experience!
The title for this post was prompted by an article in the NYT about
people not raised on farms deciding to become farmers, particularly in
places near large cities. It seems that local food was said to be the
answer to a number of questions. I'm generally in favor of it, but I'm
not sure it is the answer to as many questions as its supporters
claim. That doesn't make "local food" a bad thing; just not the answer
to as many questions as it might seem.
But the title for this post sprang to mind. It seems to me that Land Value Taxation is the answer to a lot of very important questions.
Yes -- there is a Connecticut angle on this ... keep reading!
Link: http://www.cclponline.org/pubfiles/SelfSufficiency08_FinalProof.pdf The
newest Self Sufficiency Standard Study was published recently, for
Colorado. The SSS is a detailing of a no-frills cost of living which
meets all the most simply defined needs but provides no frills. I've
spent a lot of time on most of the 30+ studies (mostly on one state at
a time; a few on a major metropolitan area), and have mixed feelings
about them. On the one hand, they are probably the best assessment
we've got the cost of a the-very-bottom-of-lower-middle-class lifestyle
in various places in the US. They use a consistent and logical
methodology and tailor the findings to various configurations of
families. So far, very good and useful.
By this, I mean fixing the problem of low wages -- wages
insufficient to support an individual or a family in conditions we
consider acceptable on a reasonable number of hours of labor per week.
I don't mean minimum wage legislation, or living wage legislation, both
of which I regard as well-intentioned but ultimately destructive for
the community they intend to help. I don't mean measures like the
Earned Income Tax Credit, either. It appears that people must jump
through high hoops to get those dollars (which often seems to require
professional advice, at a price), and then a significant portion of the
money goes not to the wage earner but to his tax preparer/advisor, in
the form of fees and interest.
Bob Herbert wrote, in his 3/11/08 column entitled "Sharing the Pain", in part,
The American dream is on life
support because men and women by the millions who want very much to
work — who still have in their heads the ideal of a thriving family in
a nice home with maybe a picket fence — are unable to find a decent job.
For years, families have been fighting weakness on the employment front
with every other option imaginable.
Wives and mothers have gone to work.
People have been putting in more hours and working additional
And Americans have plunged like Olympic diving champions into
every form of debt they could find.
Who has gotten the benefits of women spending many more years and many
more hours per year in the workplace? Who has benefited from
carrying more and more debt? How does this relate to the run-up
price of housing? I said I'd write about these issues in
another post. This is it.
In a recent NYT, there is an article
about the building on the southwest corner of 72nd and Madison in NYC.
Twice in the article and once in the caption to the photos, the
building is referred to as a "taxpayer" or "taxpayer-style building."
The article describes the 2 buildings which have occupied the 48' by
100' lot on the sw corner of 72nd and Madison: the first was a 5-story
mansion built in 1894, which was occupied by an ex-wife of William K.
Vanderbilt II. On the northwest corner stood Louis Tiffany's grand
house, and Gertrude Rhinelander was building her chateau, now the Ralph
Lauren store, on the southeast corner. The mansion remained a private
home until 1951, when it was
... replaced with a two-story-high taxpayer-style building, designed by Boak & Raad with severe simplicity.
Lauren acquired the old Rhinelander mansion for its flagship store in
1986, and seven years later took over the taxpayer on the site of the
Cutting house. It has operated a store there since then.
Now that the economic crunch is reaching those near the top of the
pyramid, there is finally a sense that the U.S. is facing a real crisis.
The article goes on to talk about the large group of "near-poor"
America -- the 60 million people who are "just one notch above the
official poverty line," with incomes that range from $20,000 to $40,000
for a family of four.
We have always gotten a distorted picture of how well Americans were
doing from politicians and the media. The U.S. has a population of 300
million. Thirty-seven million, many of them children, live in poverty.
Close to 60 million are just one notch above the official poverty line.
Americans live in households with annual incomes that range from
$20,000 to $40,000 for a family of four.
It is disgraceful that in a
nation as wealthy as the United States, nearly a third of the people
are poor or near-poor.
You can read the statistics, expressed in terms of income multiples of the Federal Poverty Guideline here. I think you'll find them moving.
It isn't that I don't agree there is a problem -- readers of this blog
likely know that -- but must point out that defining the problem
way, as the authors of "The Missing Class" do, misses the point that
$20,000 or $40,000 for a family of 4 in rural Alabama is very different from
$20,000 to $40,000 in New York City or San Francisco, or any of our other major
metropolitan areas, where the vast majority of us live. [See data about the cost of living in America's low-cost counties, and in America's major cities.]
Since Bill Buckley died a few weeks ago, I've read numerous
tributes, and a few have mentioned Buckley's abiding interest in the
ideas of Henry George. The newest reference comes from the opening
paragraphs of a National Review article today:
Friends, a week ago I put some notes on WFB in Impromptus. (That column is here.) Want a few more notes? Just a few more?
know that he loved peanut butter. Ate it every morning of his life.
Took it everywhere he went (because sometimes you couldn’t get it). But
did you also know he had a thing for coffee ice cream? Yes — a real
jones for it. I introduced him to Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar
Crunch — one of the best things on the planet.
(Yes, I know that they are communists or whatever. Just eat the ice cream.)
2: Years ago, I had a spot of trouble finding housing in Manhattan. And
he said to me, “Do you know I’m a closet George-ite?” He meant the
19th-century American economist and social thinker Henry George (author
of Progress and Poverty).
I wish that Bill Buckley, and others whose education was good enough to
include exposure to the ideas of Henry George, had left/would leave
their closets. (Perhaps the reason has something to do with something
related to pluralistic ignorance; perhaps it is something more nefarious.)
Bill Buckley did mention Henry George repeatedly in his writings and
on the air, but in passing, as if to run it up the flag pole, rather
than as a confident advocate of an idea that might not be popular with
I attempted to post this response to a blog, and ran into a
technical error. But even without the post to which it was responding
-- which praised the so-called FairTax -- I though it worth sharing
I'm still in Henry George's camp. Why tax the results of individual
human effort -- stealing from the individual, or for that matter the
corporation that which he/it created -- BEFORE collecting the economic
value of that which the community created?