Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone is not enough to produce widely shared prosperity.
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Public Trough

When we permit those who own land to privatize the economic value of their land, we permit them to feed at what should be our common food-source. In a country where property rights are highly prized and treated as nearly sacred, this may seem like blasphemy. But the land was not made for the landowners; we are all land creatures, and rely on the land just as surely as we rely on air and water. As population increases, and technological progress accelerates, and public spending on infrastructure continues, all the effects show up in land values. Why should some of us be able to charge his fellow human beings for access to land?

It isn't that we shouldn't have to pay for the land we use; we should! But we should have the comfort of knowing that our payments for the land are going into the public till, as the fountain for future public spending, not into private or corporate pockets. And we should not have to pay twice — first for the use of the land and then through income and sales taxes — for the services and infrastructure that makes the same sites more valuable next year!

This may sound quite radical the first time you hear it, but sit with it a while, and you may find that it is a route — the route — to a more just and logically ordered society, to an economy in which all can thrive, to a country where we are all equal, and the next child born is accorded his due.

Louis Post: Outlines of Louis F. Post's Lectures, with Illustrative Notes and Charts (1894)


Direct taxes fall into two general classes: (1) Taxes that are levied upon men in proportion to their ability to pay, and (2) taxes that are levied in proportion to the benefits received by the tax-payer from the public. Income taxes are the principal ones of the first class, though probate and inheritance taxes would rank high. The single tax is the only important one of the second class.

There should be no difficulty in choosing between the two. To tax in proportion to ability to pay, regardless of benefits received, is in accord with no principle of just government; it is a device of piracy. The single tax, therefore, as the only important tax in proportion to benefits, is the ideal tax.

But here we encounter two plausible objections. One arises from the mistaken but common notion that men are not taxed in proportion to benefits unless they pay taxes upon every kind of property they own that comes under the protection of government; the other is founded in the assumption that it is impossible to measure the value of the public benefits that each individual enjoys. Though the first of these objections ostensibly accepts the doctrine of taxation according to benefits,12 yet, as it leads to attempts at taxation in proportion to wealth, it, like the other, is really a plea for the piratical doctrine of taxation according to ability to pay. The two objections stand or fall together.

Let it once be perceived that the value of the service which government renders to each individual would be justly measured by the single tax, and neither objection would any longer have weight. We should then no more think of taxing people in proportion to their wealth or ability to pay, regardless of the benefits they receive from government than an honest merchant would think of charging his customers in proportion to their wealth or ability to pay, regardless of the value of the goods they bought of him." 13

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Robert V. Andelson  The Earth is the Lord's

On another occasion he wrote:

The tax on land values is the most just and equal of all taxes. It falls only upon those who receive from society a peculiar and valuable benefit, and upon them in proportion to the benefit they receive. It is the taking by the community, for the use of the community, of that value which is the creation of the community. It is the application of the common property to common uses (George, P&P, 421).

And yet, my friends, in the topsy-turvy world in which we live, this provided fund goes mainly into the pockets of speculators and monopolists, while the body politic meets its needs by extorting from individual producers the fruits of honest toil. If ever there were any doubt about the perversity of human nature, our present system of taxation is the proof! Everywhere about us, we see the ironic spectacle of the community penalizing the individual for his industry and initiative, and taking away from him a share of that which he produces, yet at the same time lavishing upon the non-producer undeserved windfalls which it — the community — produces. And, as Winston Churchill put it, the unearned increment, the socially-produced value of the land, is reaped by the speculator in exact proportion, not to the service, but to the disservice, done. "The greater the injury to society, the greater the reward."

We hear constantly a vast clamor against the abuse of welfare. I do not for a moment condone such abuse. Yet I ask you, who is the biggest swiller at the public trough?

  • Is it the sluggard who refuses to seek work when there is work available?
  • Is it the slattern who generates offspring solely for the sake of the allotment they command?
  • Or is it the man — perhaps a civic leader and a pillar of his church — who sits back, and, with perfect propriety and respectability, collects thousands and maybe even millions of dollars in unearned increments created by the public, as his reward for withholding land from those who wish to put it to productive use.

Talk about free enterprise! This isn't free enterprise; this is a free ride.

But if that same person were to improve his site — if he were to use it to beautify his neighborhood, or to provide goods for consumers and jobs for workers, or housing for his fellow townsmen — instead of being treated as the public benefactor he had become, he would be fined as if he were a criminal, in the form of heavier taxes. What kind of justice is this, I ask you? How does it comport with the Divine Plan, or with the notion of human rights? Read the whole article

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