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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« another post, of mouths and pairs of hands | Main | Philosophicus, on the FIRE sector »

December 19, 2012


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Thank you for bringing this chapter to light; I have posted a link to it on my weblog,

And, of course, Merry Christmas.


Mason Gaffney ( asked me to post this comment on his behalf:

There is one that is particularly illuminating and new, but unfortunate in containing, without apology, the offensive word “nigger”. That gives it some shock effect, for modern readers, and thus makes good reading but bad press. Historically, it may show that the labor unionists of 1887 included some racists, which is good history but, again, bad press. I would suggest somehow bowdlerizing this quote, because it is very good and important economics, showing George’s insight into capital theory. Retain the idea without the offensive word. Use a footnote to explain what happened, and the analogy with the modern neo-classical concept of “rent-seeking”: future rents have a present value, or, as the poet Thomas Campbell put it, “Coming events cast their shadows before them”.

The collection contains a chapter on “Chinese Labor Competition”. That title suggests a racist orientation, although one cannot say without reading the chapter. Certainly it was an important issue, one that historians must discuss. I believe that California was the last State to ratify the 15th Amendment guaranteeing the right to vote (but maybe it was Tennessee). The Chinese Exclusion Act lasted until China became our ally in W.W. II.

Note the sponsorship of this collection by the Mass. Dept of Labor Statistics. Illinois had one, too, under Gov. Peter Altgeld, which produced a famous report by our own Louis F. Post on the concentration of landownership in The Loop of Chicago.

The 1887 book was an anachronism, because that is the year when George lost the political support of organized labor and fell for Grover Cleveland.

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