|Wealth and Want
|... because democracy alone is not enough to produce widely shared prosperity.
Henry George: Salutatory, from the first issue of The Standard (1887)
Henry George: Thou Shalt Not Steal (1887 speech)
We are told, in the first place, by the newspapers, that you cannot abolish poverty because there is not wealth enough to go around. We are told that if all the wealth of the United States were divided up there would only be some eight hundred dollars apiece. Well, if that is the case, all the more monstrous is the injustice which today gives some people millions and tens of millions, and even hundreds of millions. If there really is so little, then the more injustice in these great fortunes.
But we do not propose to abolish poverty by dividing up wealth. We propose to abolish poverty by setting at work that vast army of men — estimated last year to amount in this country alone to one million — that vast army of men only anxious to create wealth, but who are now, by a system which permits dogs-in-the-manger to monopolize God’s bounty, deprived of the opportunity to toil.
Then, again, they tell us you cannot abolish poverty, because poverty always has existed. Well, if poverty always has existed, all the more need for our moving for its abolition. It has existed long enough. We ought to be tired of it; let us get rid of it. But I deny that poverty, such poverty as we see on earth today, always has existed. ...
We propose to abolish poverty, to tear it up by the roots, to open free and abundant employment for every person. We propose to disturb no just right of property. We are defenders and upholders of the sacred right of property — that right of property which justly attaches to everything that is produced by labor; that right which gives to all people a just right of property in what they have produced — that makes it theirs to give, to sell, to bequeath, to do whatever they please with, as long as in using it they do not injure any one else. That right of property we insist upon; that, we would uphold against all the world.
To a house, a coat, a book — anything produced by labor — there is a clear individual title, which goes back to the person who made it. That is the foundation of the just, the sacred right of property. It rests on the right of people to the use of their own powers, on their right to profit by the exertion of their own labor; but who can carry the right of property in land that far?
Who can claim a title of absolute ownership in land? Until one who claims the exclusive ownership of a piece of this planet can show a title originating with the Maker of this planet; until that one can produce a decree from the Creator declaring that this city lot, or that great tract of agricultural or coal land, or that gas well, was made for that one person alone — until then we have a right to hold that the land was intended for all of us.
Natural religion and revealed religion alike tell us that God is no respecter of persons; that He did not make this planet for a few individuals; that He did not give it to one generation in preference to other generations, but that He made it for the use during their lives of all the people that His providence brings into the world. If this be true, the child that is born tonight in the humblest tenement in the most squalid quarter of New York, comes into life seized with as good a title to the land of this city as any Astor or Rhinelander. ... read the whole article
Rev. A. C. Auchmuty: Gems from George, a themed collection of excerpts from the writings of Henry George (with links to sources)
The Georgist main agenda, as earlier noted, is economic justice. If one searches the term “economic justice” online, the first site that will appear is the Georgist website, progress.org. The starting point is that people are entitled to what they earn, but only to what they earn.50 The fruits of the commons generated in rent might also be distributed to citizens equally if not used to finance the general services of government. In practice this means the abolition of those taxes that represent an unjust capture of one’s personal property — taxes such as income, sales, and other nuisance taxes. It accepts, to be sure, the need to collect user fees, Pigouvian taxes, and perhaps sumptuary (sin) taxes. It argues aggressively for the collection of economic rent in support of government and, for any remaining surplus, its distribution as a citizens’ dividend. The justification for the collection of rent has several grounds:
The result of these factors leads to a greater equality in the income of each person.... read the whole article
Clarence Darrow: How to Abolish Unfair Taxation (1913)
Martin Luther King, Jr: Where Do We Go From Here? (1967)
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Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper