Progress and Poverty

Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth: The Remedy is an 1879 book by social theorist and economist Henry George. It is a treatise on the questions of why poverty accompanies economic and technological progress and why economies exhibit a tendency toward cyclical boom and bust. George uses history and deductive logic to argue for a radical solution focusing on the capture of economic rent from natural resource and land titles.

Progress and Poverty is George's first book, which sold several million copies, exceeding all other books except the Bible during the 1890s. It helped spark the Progressive Era and a worldwide social reform movement around an ideology now known as 'Georgism'. Jacob Riis, for example, explicitly marks the beginning of the Progressive Era awakening as 1879 because of the date of this publication.[1] The Princeton historian Eric F. Goldman wrote this about the influence of Progress and Poverty:

For some years prior to 1952 I was working on a history of American reform and over and over again my research ran into this fact: an enormous number of men and women, strikingly different people, men and women who were to lead 20th century America in a dozen fields of humane activity, wrote or told someone that their whole thinking had been redirected by reading Progress and Poverty in their formative years. In this respect no other book came anywhere near comparable influence.[2]

Progress and Poverty had perhaps even a larger impact around the world, in places such as Denmark, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, where George's influence was enormous.[3] Contemporary sources and historians claim that in the United Kingdom, a vast majority of both socialist and classical liberal activists could trace their ideological development to Henry George. George's popularity was more than a passing phase; even by 1906, a survey of British parliamentarians revealed that the American author's writing was more popular than Walter Scott, John Stuart Mill, and William Shakespeare.[4] In 1933, John Dewey estimated that Progress and Poverty "had a wider distribution than almost all other books on political economy put together."[5]

Progress and Poverty
Progress and Poverty (1881 edition)
Cover of the 1881 edition
AuthorHenry George
CountryUnited States
SubjectsCapitalism, socialism, Georgism, tax policy, land, economic rent
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback)


Progress and Poverty seeks to explain why poverty exists notwithstanding widespread advances in technology and even where there is a concentration of great wealth such as in cities.

George saw how technological and social advances (including education and public services) increased the value of land (natural resources, urban locations, etc.) and, thus, the amount of wealth that can be demanded by the owners of land from those who need the use of land. In other words: the better the public services, the higher the rent is (as more people value that land). The tendency of speculators to increase the price of land faster than wealth can be produced to pay has the result of lowering the amount of wealth left over for labor to claim in wages, and finally leads to the collapse of enterprises at the margin, with a ripple effect that becomes a serious business depression entailing widespread unemployment, foreclosures, etc.

In Progress and Poverty, George examines various proposed strategies to prevent business depressions, unemployment and poverty, but finds them unsatisfactory. As an alternative he proposes his own solution: a single tax on land values. George defines land as "all natural materials, forces, and opportunities," as everything "that is freely supplied by nature." George's primary fiscal tool was a land value tax on the annual value of land held as private property. It would be high enough to end other taxes, especially upon labor and production, to provide limitless beneficial public investment in services such as transportation, since public investment is reflected in land value, and to provide social services such as a basic income. George argued that a land value tax would give landowners an incentive to use well located land in a productive way, thereby increasing demand for labor and creating wealth. This shift in the bargaining balance between resource owners and laborers would raise the general level of wages and ensure no one need suffer poverty. A land value tax would, among other things, also end urban sprawl, tenant farming, homelessness, and the cultivation of low value monoculture on high value land.

Soon after its publication, over three million copies of Progress and Poverty were bought, exceeding all other books written in the English language except the Bible during the 1890s. By 1936, it had been translated into thirteen languages and at least six million copies had been sold.[6] It has now been translated into dozens of languages.[7]


The following excerpt represents the crux of George's argument and view of political economy.[8]

Take now... some hard-headed business man, who has no theories, but knows how to make money. Say to him: "Here is a little village; in ten years it will be a great city—in ten years the railroad will have taken the place of the stage coach, the electric light of the candle; it will abound with all the machinery and improvements that so enormously multiply the effective power of labor. Will in ten years, interest be any higher?" He will tell you, "No!" "Will the wages of the common labor be any higher...?" He will tell you, "No the wages of common labor will not be any higher..." "What, then, will be higher?" "Rent, the value of land. Go, get yourself a piece of ground, and hold possession." And if, under such circumstances, you take his advice, you need do nothing more. You may sit down and smoke your pipe; you may lie around like the lazzaroni of Naples or the leperos of Mexico; you may go up in a balloon or down a hole in the ground; and without doing one stroke of work, without adding one iota of wealth to the community, in ten years you will be rich! In the new city you may have a luxurious mansion, but among its public buildings will be an almshouse.

An often cited passage from Progress and Poverty is The Unbound Savannah in which George discusses how the building of a community increases the value of land.[9]

Notable recognition

In a remarkably accurate prophecy, after completing Progress and Poverty, George wrote to his father: "It will not be recognized at first—maybe not for some time—but it will ultimately be considered a great book, will be published in both hemispheres, and be translated into different languages. This I know, though neither of us may ever see it here."[10]

Emma Lazarus wrote, "Progress and Poverty is not so much a book as an event. The life and thought of no one capable of understanding it can be quite the same after reading it," and even that reading it would prevent such a person, who also "prized justice or common honesty", from being able to ever again "dine or sleep or read or work in peace". Many famous figures with diverse ideologies, such as George Bernard Shaw, Friedrich Hayek, H. G. Wells,[11] and Leo Tolstoy, mark their first encounters with Progress and Poverty as literally life-changing experiences.

John Haynes Holmes wrote, "My reading of Henry George's immortal masterpiece marked an epoch in my life. All my thought upon the social question and all my work for social reform began with the reading of this book,".[12] He knew of "nothing more touching, in all the range of our American literature."[13] Holmes also said that "Progress and Poverty was the most closely knit, fascinating and convincing specimen of argumentation that, I believe, ever sprang from the mind of man."[14]

In 1930, during the Great Depression, George W. Norris entered an abridged version of 'Progress and Poverty' into the Congressional Record and later commented that an excerpt from the book was "one of the most beautiful things" that he "ever read on the preciousness of human liberty."[15]

Some readers have found George's reasoning so compelling that they report being unwillingly forced into agreement. Tom L. Johnson, a streetcar monopolist and future progressive reformer, read and reread Progress and Poverty, finally requesting assistance from his business associates to find flaws in George's reasoning. Johnson took the book to his lawyer and said, "I must get out of the business, or prove that this book is wrong. Here, Russell, is a retainer of five hundred dollars [$13,000 in 2015]. I want you to read this book and give me your honest opinion on it, as you would on a legal question. Treat this retainer as you would a fee."[16][17][18] Frank Chodorov, a pacifist libertarian of the American 'old right', claims to have read Progress and Poverty many times, and almost constantly for six months straight, before finally accepting George's conclusions.[19] The literary critic Horace Traubel wrote that "George died in the charge of battle. But his book is battle spared. It has been in all battles and has survived all. Antagonism no longer has surprises for it."[20]

Philip Wicksteed wrote that Progress and Poverty had opened "a new heaven and a new earth"[21] and that it was “by far the most important work in its social consequences that our generation or century [1882] has seen.”[22] Alfred Russel Wallace later echoed this opinion when hailing Progress and Poverty as "undoubtedly the most remarkable and important book of the present century," placing it even above Darwin's On the Origin of Species.[23] Nobel laureate Gary Becker said that Progress and Poverty was the first economics book he read, because Henry George "was famous in those days" and "influenced a lot of us in economics." Becker also said that the book was wonderful and had a lasting impact on his thinking.[24][25] Ilya Tolstoy said that the book was a revelation to his father.[26]

William Simon U'Ren wrote that he "went to Honolulu to die," but that a chance encounter with Progress and Poverty gave him a sense of purpose and renewed his desire to live. U'Ren went on to become a pioneering reformer of municipal elections and activist for direct democracy.[27]

Clarence Darrow wrote that he had "found a new political gospel that bade fair to bring about the social equality and opportunity that has always been the dream of the idealist."[28] Sara Bard Field wrote that Progress and Poverty was "the first great book I ever encountered", for how it impacted her thinking on poverty and wealth.[29]

Albert Einstein wrote this about his impression of Progress and Poverty: "Men like Henry George are rare unfortunately. One cannot imagine a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form and fervent love of justice. Every line is written as if for our generation."[30]

In the Classics Club edition forward, John F. Kieran wrote that "no student in that field [economics] should be allowed to speak above a whisper or write above three lines on the general subject until he has read and digested Progress and Poverty."[31] Kieran also later listed Progress and Poverty as one of his favorite books.[32] Michael Kinsley wrote that it is "the greatest economic treatise ever written."[33]

After reading selections of Progress and Poverty, Helen Keller wrote of finding "in Henry George’s philosophy a rare beauty and power of inspiration, and a splendid faith in the essential nobility of human nature."[34] Father Edward McGlynn, one of the most prominent and controversial Catholic priests of the time, was quoted as saying, "That book is the work of a sage, of a seer, of a philosopher, of a poet. It is not merely political philosophy. It is a poem; it is a prophecy; it is a prayer."[35]

Among many famous people who asserted that it was impossible to refute George on the land question were Winston Churchill, Leo Tolstoy, John Dewey, and Bertrand Russell. Tolstoy and Dewey, especially, dedicated much of their lives to spreading George's ideas. Tolstoy was preaching about the ideas in Progress and Poverty on his death bed.[36]

In his 1946 foreword to Brave New World, Aldous Huxley writes "If I were to rewrite the book, I would offer the Savage...the possibility of sanity...where community economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian".

See also


  1. ^ Frederick, Peter (1976). Knights of the Golden Rule the Intellectual as Christian Social Reformer in the 1890s. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813152313.
  2. ^ "Quotes: Notables on Henry George". Earth Rights Institute. Archived from the original on 2016-05-13. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
  3. ^ Boast, Richard (2008). Buying the land, selling the land : governments and Maori land in the North Island 1865–1921. Wellington N.Z.: Victoria University Press, Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN 9780864735614.
  4. ^ Rose, Jonathan (2010). The intellectual life of the British working classes. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300153651.
  5. ^ Dewey, John. "John Dewey's Foreword to Geiger's "The Philosophy of Henry George" (1933)". Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  6. ^ Hecht, Charles. "E. Haldeman-Julius A Confused Economist". Archived from the original on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-11. Retrieved 2014-12-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers (2000) 186, Penguin.
  9. ^ George, Henry (1879). Progress and Poverty.Chapter 19
  10. ^ Holmes, John Haynes. "Henry George – a biography". Archived from the original on 2014-12-09. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
  11. ^ Experiment in Autobiography; H. G. Wells
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-06-04. Retrieved 2014-12-05.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Holmes, John Haynes (January 1947). "Henry George and Karl Marx: A Plutarchian Experiment". American Journal of Economics and Sociology. 6 (2): 159–67. doi:10.1111/j.1536-7150.1947.tb00657.x. Archived from the original on 9 December 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-05-13. Retrieved 2014-12-05.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Putz, Paul Emory. "Summer Book List: Henry George (and George Norris) and the Crisis of Inequality". Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  16. ^ Warner, Hoyt Landon (January 1, 1964). Progressivism in Ohio 1897–1917. Ohio State University Press.
  17. ^ Majercak, Nicole. "Tom L. Johnson, America's Best Mayor". Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  18. ^ Howe, Frederic C. The Confessions of a Reformer. Kent, OH: Kent State UP, 1988.
  19. ^ Chodorov, Frank (1952). One is a Crowd. p. 22. ISBN 9781610163767. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  20. ^ Traubel, Horace (1896). "Progress and Poverty". The Conservator. 7–9: 252–53. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  21. ^ Laurent, John. Henry George's Legacy in Economic Thought. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Pub., 2005
  22. ^ Flatau, Paul (2004-06-22). "Jevons's one great disciple: Wicksteed and the Jevonian revolution in the second generation". History of Economics Review. 40 (Summer, 2004).
  23. ^ Buder, Stanley. Visionaries and Planners: The Garden City Movement and the Modern Community. New York: Oxford UP, 1990.
  24. ^ Becker, Gary. "Gary Becker Interview". Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  25. ^ Bryson, Phillip (2011). The economics of Henry George : history's rehabilitation of America's greatest early economist. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 145.
  26. ^ Tolstoy, Ilya (September–October 1928). "Leo Tolstoy and Henry George". Land and Freedom. XXVIII (5). Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  27. ^ Johnston, Robert (2003). The radical middle class: populist democracy and the question of capitalism in progressive era Portland, Oregon. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691126003.
  28. ^ Kersten, Andrew (2011). Clarence Darrow : American iconoclast. New York: Hill and Wang. ISBN 080909486X.
  29. ^ Fry, Amelia R. "Sara Bard Field: Poet and Suffragist". Calisphere. Suffragists Oral History Project. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  30. ^ Sklar, Dusty. "Henry George and Zionism". Archived from the original on 2014-10-28. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  31. ^ Kieran, John. "Forward to the Book Progress and Poverty by Henry George". Archived from the original on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  32. ^ Dirda, Michael (2004). An open book : coming of age in the heartland. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0393326144.
  33. ^ Michael Kinsley, "The Time is Right to Finally Destroy OPEC," The Wall Street Journal, March 5, 1987
  34. ^ "Progress & Poverty" Archived December 20, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Robert Schalkenbach Fdn..
  35. ^ Yardley, Edmund (1905). Addresses at the funeral of Henry George, Sunday, October 31, 1897. Chicago: The Public publishing company. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  36. ^ L'Estrange, Sarah (11 October 2007). "Jay Parini's Last Station: Tolstoy's Final Year". The Book Show. ABC. Radionational. Retrieved 6 December 2014.

Further reading

External links

Alexander Huie

Alexander Gordon Huie (16 October 1869 – 7 November 1964) was an Australian journalist and single tax campaigner.

Huie was born at Tayco in the Riverina to Scottish farmer Alexander Huie and Mary Eliza, née Carige, who had been born in British Grenada. His family all supported the temperance movement. Huie moved to Lake Cargelligo in 1883 to work as a carpenter, and read Henry George's Progress and Poverty in 1889. He became a correspondent for the Hillston Spectator and was appointed secretary of the local progress committee. He contested the seat of Lachlan in 1894 and would go on to unsuccessfully contest eleven more elections at all levels of government. In 1901 he became founding honorary secretary of the Sydney Single Tax League, although he supported Joseph Carruthers' Liberal and Reform Association at the 1904 and 1907 state elections.Huie founded the single tax journal the Standard in December 1905, remaining editor and secretary of the Single Tax League until December 1953. He had about 220 letters published in the Sydney Morning Herald between 1916 and 1962, and was a strong supporter of proportional representation. He married Annie Bertha Lark, née Bartlett, a Maltese-born widow, on 1 October 1921 in a Methodist ceremony at Ashfield, where they settled; Annie would predecease him in 1948. He regularly spoke in the Sydney Domain. Huie died in 1964 visiting Lake Cargelligo, where he is buried with Presbyterian forms.

Andrew Bisset (barrister)

Andrew Bisset (28 November 1801 in Montrose, Angus – 28 February 1891 Fortis Green, London), was a Scottish barrister and historical writer. His writing was an influence on Henry George, who cites Bisset’s Strength of Nations, in the notes to Progress and Poverty.


A cornucopian is a futurist who believes that continued progress and provision of material items for mankind can be met by similarly continued advances in technology. Fundamentally they believe that there is enough matter and energy on the Earth to provide for the population of the world.

Looking further into the future, they posit that the abundance of matter and energy in space would appear to give humanity almost unlimited room for growth.

The term comes from the cornucopia, the "horn of plenty" of Greek mythology, which magically supplied its owners with endless food and drink. Cornucopians are sometimes known as "boomsters", and their philosophic opponents—Malthus and his school—are called "doomsters" or "doomers."

Edward Robeson Taylor

Edward Robeson Taylor (September 24, 1838 – July 5, 1923) was the 28th Mayor of San Francisco serving from July 16, 1907 to January 7, 1910.

Edward Robeson Taylor was born on September 24, 1838 in Springfield, Illinois, the only son of Henry West Taylor and the former Mary Thaw of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (he was descended on his mother's side from the early colonial merchant, Andrew Robeson, of Philadelphia.) He was a lawyer and a poet in California before he became mayor, publishing an 1898 book of sonnets based on the paintings of William Keith. Taylor was appointed mayor due to the resignation of Charles Boxton, after his eight-day term. When he was sworn in, he became the oldest mayor of San Francisco to be sworn in at 68 years old and still currently holds the record today. He died in San Francisco on July 5, 1923. His remains are housed at the San Francisco Columbarium. The political economist Henry George credits Taylor for influencing his work on Progress and Poverty, one of the most popular and influential books in American history.

Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus (July 22, 1849 – November 19, 1887) was an American author of poetry, prose, and translations, as well as an activist. She wrote the sonnet The New Colossus in 1883, which includes "lines of world-wide welcome". Its lines appear inscribed on a bronze plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, installed in 1903, a decade and a half after Lazarus's death. The last stanza of the sonnet was set to music by Irving Berlin as the song "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor" for the 1949 musical Miss Liberty, which was based on the sculpting of the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World). The last stanza was also set by Lee Hoiby in his song "The Lady of the Harbor" written in 1985 as part of his song cycle "Three Women". Lazarus was also the author of Poems and Translations (New York, 1867); Admetus, and other Poems (1871); Alide: an Episode of Goethe's Life (Philadelphia, 1874); Poems and Ballads of Heine (New York, 1881); Poems, 2 vols. ; Narrative, Lyric and Dramatic; as well as Jewish Poems and Translations.

Frank Smith (British politician)

Francis Samuel Smith (1854 – 26 December 1940) was a British newspaper editor and Christian socialist politician, who contested a large number of elections before finally winning a parliamentary seat in his mid-70s.

Born in Chelsea, Smith was educated privately and ran an upholstery company in Sloane Street. He was active in the Chelsea Mission, and through that joined the Salvation Army in its early days. In 1884 he moved to the United States to quell a secessionist movement among the Salvationists there, then returned to the UK as the first leader of the Social Wing of the Salvation Army. On the voyage to America he read Henry George's book, Progress and Poverty which introduced him to Georgist ideas. In 1890, he co-wrote In Darkest England and the Way Out with William Booth. However, he left the movement later in the year, to involve himself in the labour movement, founding the Labour Army and Workers' Cry, a newspaper which he edited from two years. In 1892, he became editor of the Weekly Dispatch, holding the post for three years.

Smith stood unsuccessfully in Hammersmith at the 1892 general election, but he was elected to the London County Council, playing a key role on the body until 1913. He became a founding member of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), and was its first parliamentary candidate, at the Sheffield Attercliffe by-election, 1894. A close friend of its leader, Keir Hardie, he drew on some experience in radical journalism to assist with the relaunch of the Labour Leader. Smith also stood in Glasgow Tradeston at the 1895 general election, in the meantime involving himself in spiritualism and the Brotherhood Movement, emphasising that, for him, socialism was entirely compatible with religion. After the election, he undertook a speaking tour of the United States with Hardie. In 1901, he resigned his council seat and rejoined the Salvation Army, but continued as an active socialist, becoming Secretary of the National Right to Work Council in 1908.The ILP was a founding element of the Labour Party, and Smith stood under this label in many elections: the Taunton by-election, 1909, Croydon by-election, 1909, in Chatham in December 1910, Balham and Tooting in 1918, Birmingham West in 1922 and 1923, and Nuneaton in 1924. He finally won Nuneaton at the 1929 general election, his twelfth attempt to get into Parliament. Despite already being 74 years old, he acted as Parliamentary Private Secretary to George Lansbury from October 1930, but lost his seat at the 1931 general election.


Georgism, also called geoism and single tax (archaic), is an economic philosophy holding that, while people should own the value they produce themselves, economic value derived from land (often including natural resources and natural opportunities) should belong equally to all members of society. Developed from the writings of the economist and social reformer Henry George, the Georgist paradigm seeks solutions to social and ecological problems, based on principles of land rights and public finance which attempt to integrate economic efficiency with social justice.Georgism is concerned with the distribution of economic rent caused by natural monopolies, pollution, and the control of commons, including title of ownership for natural resources and other contrived privileges (e.g., intellectual property). Any natural resource which is inherently limited in supply can generate economic rent, but the classical and most significant example of 'land monopoly' involves the extraction of common ground rent from valuable urban locations. Georgists argue that taxing economic rent is efficient, fair, and equitable. The main Georgist policy recommendation is a tax assessed on land value. Georgists argue that revenues from a land value tax (LVT) can be used to reduce or eliminate existing taxes (for example, on income, trade, or purchases) that are unfair and inefficient. Some Georgists also advocate for the return of surplus public revenue to the people by means of a basic income or citizen's dividend.

Economists since Adam Smith and David Ricardo have observed that, unlike other taxes, a public levy on land value does not cause economic inefficiency. A land value tax also has progressive tax effects, in that it is paid primarily by the wealthy (the landowners), and it cannot be passed on to tenants, workers, or users of land. Advocates of land value taxes argue that they would reduce economic inequality, increase economic efficiency, remove incentives to under-utilize urban land, and reduce property speculation. The philosophical basis of Georgism dates back to several early thinkers such as John Locke, Baruch Spinoza, and Thomas Paine, but the concept of gaining public revenues mainly from land and natural resource privileges was widely popularized by Henry George and his first book, Progress and Poverty (1879).

Georgist ideas were popular and influential during the late 19th and early 20th century. Political parties, institutions and communities were founded based on Georgist principles during that time. Early devotees of Henry George's economic philosophy were often termed Single Taxers for their political goal of raising public revenue mainly from a land value tax, although Georgists endorsed multiple forms of rent capture (e.g., seigniorage) as legitimate. The term Georgism was invented later, and some prefer the term geoism to distinguish their beliefs from those of Henry George.

Henry George

Henry George (September 2, 1839 – October 29, 1897) was an American political economist and journalist. His writing was immensely popular in the 19th century, and sparked several reform movements of the Progressive Era. His writings also inspired the economic philosophy known as Georgism, based on the belief that people should own the value they produce themselves, but that the economic value derived from land (including natural resources) should belong equally to all members of society.

His most famous work, Progress and Poverty (1879), sold millions of copies worldwide, probably more than any other American book before that time. The treatise investigates the paradox of increasing inequality and poverty amid economic and technological progress, the cyclic nature of industrialized economies, and the use of rent capture such as land value tax and other anti-monopoly reforms as a remedy for these and other social problems.

The mid-twentieth century labor economist and journalist George Soule wrote that George was "By far the most famous American economic writer," and "author of a book which probably had a larger world-wide circulation than any other work on economics ever written."

Henry George theorem

The Henry George theorem, named for 19th century U.S. political economist and activist Henry George, states that under certain conditions, aggregate spending by government on public goods will increase aggregate rent based on land value (land rent) more than that amount, with the benefit of the last marginal investment equaling its cost. This general relationship, first noted by the French physiocrats in the 18th century, is one basis for advocating the collection of a tax based on land rents to help defray the cost of public investment that helps create land values. Henry George popularized this method of raising public revenue in his works (especially in Progress and Poverty), which launched the 'single tax' movement.

In 1977, Joseph Stiglitz showed that under certain conditions, beneficial investments in public goods will increase aggregate land rents by at least as much as the investments cost. This proposition was dubbed the "Henry George theorem", as it characterizes a situation where Henry George's 'single tax' on land values, is not only efficient, it is also the only tax necessary to finance public expenditures. Henry George had famously advocated for the replacement of all other taxes with a land value tax, arguing that as the location value of land was improved by public works, its economic rent was the most logical source of public revenue.Although the conditions specified in Stiglitz's paper do not strictly exist in reality, actual conditions are often close enough to the theoretical ideals that the great majority of government spending does indeed appear as increased land value. Subsequent studies have generalized the principle and found that the theorem holds even after relaxing the assumptions. Studies indicate that even existing land prices, which are depressed due to the existing burden of taxation on labor and investment, are great enough to replace taxes at all levels of governmentMore recent economists have discussed whether the theorem provides a practical guide for determining optimal population sizes of cities and private enterprises. Mathematical treatments of the theorem suggest that an entity obtains optimal population when the opposing marginal costs and marginal benefits of additional residents are balanced.

John Bates Clark

John Bates Clark (January 26, 1847 – March 21, 1938) was an American neoclassical economist. He was one of the pioneers of the marginalist revolution and opponent to the Institutionalist school of economics, and spent most of his career as professor at Columbia University.

Land value tax in the United States

Land value taxation (i.e. property tax applied only to the unimproved value of land) has a long history in the United States dating back from Physiocrat influence on Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. It is most famously associated with Henry George and his book Progress and Poverty (1879), which argued that because the supply of land is fixed and its location value is created by communities and public works, the economic rent of land is the most logical source of public revenue. and which had considerable impact on turn-of-the-century reform movements in America and elsewhere. Every single state in the United States has some form of property tax on real estate and hence, in part, a tax on land value. However, Pennsylvania in particular has seen local attempts to rely more heavily on the taxation of land value.

List of important publications in economics

This is a list of important publications in economics, organized by field.

Some reasons why a particular publication might be regarded as important:

Topic creator – A publication that created a new topic

Breakthrough – A publication that changed scientific knowledge significantly

Influence – A publication which has significantly influenced the world or has had a massive impact on the teaching of economics.

Mason Gaffney

Mason Gaffney (born October 18, 1923) is an American economist and a major critic of Neoclassical economics from a Georgist point of view. He earned his B.A. in 1948 from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Gaffney first read Henry George's masterwork Progress and Poverty as a high school junior. After serving in the southwest Pacific during World War II, this interest led him in 1956 to get a Ph.D. in Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. There he addressed his teachers' skepticism about Georgism with a dissertation entitled "Land Speculation as an Obstacle to Ideal Allocation of Land." Gaffney has been Professor of Economics at the University of California, Riverside since 1976.

Prosper Australia

Prosper Australia is a non-profit association incorporated in the State of Victoria, Australia dedicated to reforming taxes onto land as articulated by Adam Smith, the Physiocrats, John Stuart Mill, and most notably by Henry George in Progress and Poverty.

Protection or Free Trade

Protection or Free Trade is a book published in 1886 by the economist and social philosopher, Henry George. Its sub-title is An Examination of the Tariff Question with Especial Regard to the Interests of Labor. As the title suggests, George examined the debate between protectionism and free trade.George was opposed to tariffs, which were at the time both the major method of protectionist trade policy and an important source of federal revenue. He argued that tariffs kept prices high for consumers, while failing to produce any increase in overall wages. He also believed that tariffs protected monopolistic companies from competition, thus augmenting their power. Like Progress and Poverty, much of the book was devoted to attacking privileges, such as land monopoly, which limit trade and rob value from producers.

Largely as a result of this book, free trade became a major issue in federal politics. Protection or Free Trade was the first book to be read entirely into the Congressional Record. It was read aloud by five Democratic congressmen.

Samuel Seabury (judge)

Samuel Seabury (February 22, 1873 – May 7, 1958) was an American lawyer and politician from New York. Seabury is famous for dedicating himself to a campaign against the corrupt Tammany dominance of New York City politics. He later presided over the extensive 1930–32 investigations of corruption in the New York City municipal government, which became known as the 'Seabury Hearings'. Seabury became a Georgist after reading Progress and Poverty.

Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth or Spacecraft Earth is a world view encouraging everyone on Earth to act as a harmonious crew working toward the greater good.

The earliest known use is a passage in Henry George's best known work, Progress and Poverty (1879).

From book IV, chapter 2:

It is a well-provisioned ship, this on which we sail through space. If the bread and beef above decks seem to grow scarce, we but open a hatch and there is a new supply, of which before we never dreamed. And very great command over the services of others comes to those who as the hatches are opened are permitted to say, "This is mine!"

George Orwell later paraphrases Henry George in The Road to Wigan Pier:

The world is a raft sailing through space with, potentially, plenty of provisions for everybody; the idea that we must all cooperate and see to it that everyone does his fair share of the work and gets his fair share of the provisions seems so blatantly obvious that one would say that no one could possibly fail to accept it unless he had some corrupt motive for clinging to the present system.

In 1965 Adlai Stevenson made a famous speech to the UN in which he said:

We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft. We cannot maintain it half fortunate, half miserable, half confident, half despairing, half slave—to the ancient enemies of man—half free in a liberation of resources undreamed of until this day. No craft, no crew can travel safely with such vast contradictions. On their resolution depends the survival of us all.

The following year, Spaceship Earth became the title of a book by a friend of Stevenson's, the internationally influential economist Barbara Ward.

Also in 1966, Kenneth E. Boulding, who was influenced by reading Henry George, used the phrase in the title of an essay, The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth. Boulding described the past open economy of apparently illimitable resources, which he said he was tempted to call the "cowboy economy", and continued: "The closed economy of the future might similarly be called the 'spaceman' economy, in which the earth has become a single spaceship, without unlimited reservoirs of anything, either for extraction or for pollution, and in which, therefore, man must find his place in a cyclical ecological system".

(David Korten would take up the "cowboys in a spaceship" theme in his 1995 book When Corporations Rule the World.)

The phrase was also popularized by Buckminster Fuller, who published a book in 1968 under the title of Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. This quotation, referring to fossil fuels, reflects his approach:

…we can make all of humanity successful through science's world-engulfing industrial evolution provided that we are not so foolish as to continue to exhaust in a split second of astronomical history the orderly energy savings of billions of years' energy conservation aboard our Spaceship Earth. These energy savings have been put into our Spaceship's life-regeneration-guaranteeing bank account for use only in self-starter functions.

United Nations Secretary-General U Thant spoke of Spaceship Earth on Earth Day March 21, 1971 at the ceremony of the ringing of the Japanese Peace Bell: "May there only be peaceful and cheerful Earth Days to come for our beautiful Spaceship Earth as it continues to spin and circle in frigid space with its warm and fragile cargo of animate life."

Spaceship Earth is the name given to the 50 m diameter geodesic sphere that greets visitors at the entrance of Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park. Housed within the sphere is a dark ride that serves to explore the history of communications and promote Epcot's founding principles, "[a] belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere." A previous incarnation of the ride, narrated by actor Jeremy Irons and revised in 2008, was explicit in its message:

Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our planet has sailed through the universe of time, and for a brief moment, we have been among its many passengers….We now have the ability and the responsibility to build new bridges of acceptance and co-operation between us, to create a better world for ourselves and our children as we continue our amazing journey aboard Spaceship Earth.

David Deutsch has pointed out that the picture of Earth as a friendly "spaceship" habitat is difficult to defend even in metaphorical sense. The Earth environment is harsh and survival is constant struggle for life, including whole species extinction. Humans wouldn't be able to live in most of the areas where they are living now without knowledge necessary to build life-support systems such as houses, heating, water supply, etc.The term "Spaceship Earth" is frequently used on the labels of Emanuel Bronner's products to refer to the Earth.


A treatise is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay, and more concerned with investigating or exposing the principles of the subject.

Unearned increment

Unearned increment is an increase in the value of land or any property without expenditure of any kind on the part of the proprietor; it is an early statement of the notion of unearned income. It was coined by John Stuart Mill, who proposed taxing it so that it benefits every member of a society . Mill's concept was refined and developed by nineteenth-century economist Henry George in his book Progress and Poverty (1879).

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