Pages I refer to often

  • Income Distribution in the US
    How is our income distributed? Well, it is pretty concentrated. How concentrated? Take a look.
  • 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!
  • Wealth Concentration Tables from 2004 SCF: Bottom 90%, Next 9% and Top 1%
    Aggregated data by net worth quantile, for various kinds of wealth. With calculations you won't find anywhere else!
  • Wealth Concentration Tables from 2004 SCF: 50-40-5-4-1
    These tables show how concentrated the ownership of various kinds of assets are. With calculations you won't find anywhere else! This version is less aggregated: Bottom 50%, Next 40%, Next 5%, Next 4% and Top 1%.


Books I Value

  • 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 and

Where Else Might You Look?

Sites I enjoy

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« Why Smart People should shun the "FairTax" concept | Main | Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: Rafe Esquith sort of sees it! »

April 28, 2008


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Great blog and great post. I'd like to add a little data in support of this post. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy publishes a report called "Who Pays?" that analyzes state tax burdens and how it affects different income classes. I recorded the average income of the bottom quintile, the middle quintile, and the top 1% of each state and also the composition of revenue (i.e. the percentage of revenues coming from the property tax, income tax, sales taxes, non-tax revenues, and other). Here is what I found out:

-- Out of the top 11 property tax states, 4 were in the top 10 poor incomes, while 0 of the bottom 10 states had top 10 poor incomes.

-- Out of the top 11 property tax states, 5 had top 10 median incomes, while only 1 bottom 10 state (Alaska) had a top 10 median income (note that Alaska has a form of LVT with their oil dividend).

-- Out of the top 11 property tax states, 4 had top 10 rich incomes, while none of the bottom states had top 10 rich incomes.

On the other end of the scale...

-- Out of the bottom 10 property tax states, 6 had poor incomes in the bottom 10, with only one top 10 property tax state (Montana) was in the bottom 10 of poor incomes.

-- Out of the bottom 10 property tax states, 7 were in the bottom 10 of median incomes, with Montana being the only top 10 property tax state to be in the bottom 10 of median incomes.

-- Out of the bottom 10 property tax states, 6 were in the bottom 10 of rich incomes, while 2 (Maine and Montana) of the top 10 property tax states were in the bottom 10 of rich incomes.

-- The poor in the top 11 property tax have an average income 26% higher than the bottom 10 states. Median incomes are 26% higher and rich incomes are 85% higher.

-- The poor in the top 10 income tax group have an average income only 3% higher than the bottom 11 states. Median incomes are only 7% higher and rich incomes are 24% higher.

-- Meanwhile the poor in the top 10 sales tax group have an average income that is 8% less than the bottom sales tax group. Median incomes are 17% lower and rich incomes are 13% lower.

So it seems clear: tax property (land, of course, and not the buildings) more to get significantly higher incomes across the board, taxing incomes doesn't make a big difference, and relying more on sales taxes kills your income.

Nicholas D. Rosen

I linked to this on my blog, and a friend commented that the "They have told you" part seemed paranoid, and got her nose out of joint. I defnded it as having a basis in fact. She wrote, "if this fellow is a friend, you might want to suggest rephrasing to something like: "you've been told X, maybe in a newspaper article or on T.V.; did you know that it's probably not so? Claims for X are based on Y, but Y just isn't so: [insert proof here]."

Make of this what you will.

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