Wealth and Want
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John Lincoln and the Lincoln Land Institute

John Lincoln (1866-1959) was one of a number of highly successful industrialists (on this website, see also: Fels) who devoted himself to promoting Georgist ideas during his lifetime. In 1946, he endowed the Lincoln Foundation, to teach and expound the ideas of Henry George as expressed in Progress and Poverty, apparently using language identical to that used by Robert Schalkenbach twenty years earlier in endowing his foundation.

Unfortunately, it appears that his heirs and the foundation's trustees have other values and priorities.  Many Georgists deeply regret the directions his heirs have taken that foundation.  While the Lincoln Land Institute acknowledges Henry George ceremonially (and has published a two-CD set of George's writings), otherwise little priority is given to the social, economic and justice issues Henry George spoke to — or the remedy he called for — and his message is, at best, highly diluted in the foundation's activities and spending.   A visitor to the Lincoln Land Institute comes away with an impression that most people there regard George as the crazy uncle in their attic, rather than as one of the great modern prophets and seers and social reformers, whose ideas they are employed to promote, and that few have read widely or deeply or thoughtfully in Henry George's writings or in the writings of contemporary Georgists, nor given much thought to issues of social and economic justice. Rather, they seem to seek to support the status quo.

On the other hand, there are signs that at least part of the Lincoln family is familiar with Georgist ideas; they sponsored a week-long session at the Chautauqua Institution in August 2005, which included a speech by Lindy Davies (Land and Justice, among the Essential Documents on this website) and another by Alanna Hartzok. Wealthandwant hopes that they will shift the primary direction of the well-funded Lincoln Land Institute toward the important work John Lincoln clearly intended it to do. They could make a tremendous contribution to social and economic justice in America — and to peace in the world.

WSJ article

Mason Gaffney: Introduction: The Power of Neo-classical Economics  (Introduction to The Corruption of Economics, London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1994)

Consider that there was a single-tax party, the Commonwealth land Party. In 1924 its Presidential candidate was William J. Wallace of New Jersey, with John C. Lincoln, brilliant Cleveland industrialist, for Vice-president (Moley, p.162).  In 1919 Georgists began working through the Manufacturers and Merchants Federal Tax League to sponsor a federal land tax, the Ralston-Nolan Bill. Drafted by Judge Jackson H. Ralston, it would impose a "1% excise tax on the privilege of holding lands, natural resources and public franchises valued at more than $10,000, after deducting all improvements" (Jorgensen, pp.8-9).12 In 1924 Congressman Oscar E. Keller of Minnesota reintroduced it (H.R. 5733). In spite of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, Progressivism still lived in Congress. In 1923, for the first and last time, income tax returns were made public, giving valuable data-ammunition to land taxers. Progressivism also lived in Wisconsin, where Professor John R. Commons in 1921 drafted the Grimstad Bill to focus the property tax on bare land values (Commons, 1922). Commons believed that 95% of "millionaire fortunes" consisted of land and franchise values (1903, p.253). Young State Assemblyman (later Professor) Harold Groves was among its supporters....   Read the whole article
Mason Gaffney:  Interview: Is There a Conspiracy in the Teaching of Economics and History within the American Education System?

TPR - How can my readers find out if what you're saying is really true? Name the most widely used economics textbooks in American universities right now and what they teach that is an obvious lie for the benefit of landed interests.

MG - I no longer use textbooks much, but there are dozens available for the more common courses. Some are less bad than others.

Strategies change over time. It is no longer common to attack George virulently, as was done in the period that my book covers, 1880-1930 or so. Today Georgism has receded as a political force, so modern strategies are less frantic and overt. Today, they trivialize, misrepresent, and brush off lightly.

Paul Samuelson, Robert Solow, Peter Mieszkowski, Theodore Schultz, and Edwin Mills, for example, casually pronounce that land rent is only 5% or so of total income, so a single land tax could not support government as we know it. They offer no support for this except to echo each other, and to cite some transparently irrelevant data from the US Dept. of Commerce. They are, tragically, encouraged in this stratagem by work subsidized and influenced by the Lincoln Foundation, an outfit originally funded to promote the ideas of Henry George, but soon coopted and diverted from its chartered purposes. They simply ignore the few careful studies of the matter, as by Michael Hudson, Allen Manvel, myself, and Steven Cord, that show much higher figures.  Read the whole article

Mason Gaffney:  Sounding the Revenue Potential of Land: Fifteen Lost Elements
Correcting for downward bias in standard data
f. Ernest Kurnow’s work under Lincoln and Moley
  Ernest Kurnow low-balled land and rent values in a chapter in Joseph Keiper, Ernest Kurnow, Clifford Clark, and Harvey Segal, 1961, Theory and Measurement of Rent (Philadelphia: Chilton Co.). In an introduction, the authors thank the Lincoln Foundation for financing their work, but then go on to thank David Lincoln and Raymond Moley personally for intellectual guidance. Then, extraordinarily, they omit the standard disclaimer absolving their advisors and taking full responsibility for the work that bears their names. This is a unique omission. Res ipsa loquitur: David Lincoln is speaking. That helps explain why researchers seeking full estimates of land values seek in vain at the Lincoln Institute, Lincoln’s alter ego.   Read the whole article

Mason Gaffney: In Memoriam, Stan Sapiro
As his last hurrah, Stanley sued the powerful Lincoln Foundation to make it carry out John C. Lincoln's will to propagate the ideas of Henry George as expressed in Progress and Poverty. Stan researched the case prodigiously, as was his wont, but by now his physical powers were waning and he had to turn the case over to others. It was an uphill battle fought on the defendant's home turf of Arizona; it finally stalled on a technicality. Through it all, however, Stan maintained friendly rapport with David Lincoln himself, just as he had earlier with Ronald Reagan. There was mutual respect there, and it is still to be hoped that Stan's earnest endeavors may have touched David's conscience.

Weld Carter, correspondence, August 25, 1984

It was a sad day for the Georgist movement when the Lincoln Foundation assumed the management of TRED conferences. Arlo Woolery is an extremely able administrator. But he is an assessor — not a Georgist. My crude estimate is that at least 90% of Lincoln funds are being channeled to improving assessment techniques, instead of ridding our socio-economic order of the evils of taxing buildings. . . . All that thunder you think you have been hearing has been old John C. turning over in his grave."

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Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper