Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone is not enough to produce widely shared prosperity.
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Unto Whom Much Is Given

This is not a matter of charity. Rather, it is a matter of justice. Our current system gives a lot to the owners of choice land and the owners of scarce or needed natural resources. I'm not arguing that they've violated any laws; they are playing by the rules! But our rules are just plain wrong! We need to correct them, so that we collect from those who currently are permitted to privatize what are rightly our common resources, the annual value of those resources.

Henry George: The Condition of Labor — An Open Letter to Pope Leo XIII in response to Rerum Novarum (1891)

See how fully adequate is the cause I have pointed out. The most important of all the material relations of man is his relation to the planet he inhabits, and hence, the “impious resistance to the benevolent intentions of his Creator,” which, as Bishop Nulty says, is involved in private property in land, must produce evils wherever it exists. But by virtue of the law, “unto whom much is given, from him much is required,” the very progress of civilization makes the evils produced by private property in land more wide-spread and intense.

What is producing throughout the civilized world that condition of things you rightly describe as intolerable is not this and that local error or minor mistake. It is nothing less than the progress of civilization itself; nothing less than the intellectual advance and the material growth in which our century has been so preeminent, acting in a state of society based on private property in land; nothing less than the new gifts that in our time God has been showering on man, but which are being turned into scourges by man’s “impious resistance to the benevolent intentions of his Creator.” ...

The discoveries of science, the gains of invention, have given to us in this wonderful century more than has been given to men in any time before; and, in a degree so rapidly accelerating as to suggest geometrical progression, are placing in our hands new material powers. But with the benefit comes the obligation. In a civilization beginning to pulse with steam and electricity, where the sun paints pictures and the phonograph stores speech, it will not do to be merely as just as were our fathers. Intellectual advance and material advance require corresponding moral advance. Knowledge and power are neither good nor evil. They are not ends but means — evolving forces that if not controlled in orderly relations must take disorderly and destructive forms. The deepening pain, the increasing perplexity, the growing discontent for which, as you truly say, some remedy must be found and quickly found, mean nothing less than that forces of destruction swifter and more terrible than those that have shattered every preceding civilization are already menacing ours — that if it does not quickly rise to a higher moral level; if it does not become in deed as in word a Christian civilization, on the wall of its splendor must flame the doom of Babylon: “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting!” ... read the whole letter




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