Showing posts with label henry george. Show all posts
Showing posts with label henry george. Show all posts

Friday, December 07, 2012

Henry George

Green MP Caroline Lucas is supporting an annual land value tax, based on its market price, but, of course, with many "new" ideas this one has been proposed before. Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”

Henry George's book "Progress and Poverty" was very popular. The book's starting point was man's God-given right to the land. Private property in land was unjust as it restricted access to the land. As technological progress increased industrial production, the benefits, George argued, went not to the labourers or even to the capitalists but to the landlords in the form of increased rent. The remedy proposed in Progress and Poverty was the raising by the state of a tax equivalent to the rental value of the land. Not only would this "single" tax compensate the poor labourer for his lost birth right to the land, but it would obviate the need for other forms of taxation and be politically more acceptable than full land nationalisation.

Scotland proved the most receptive to his message. It was here after all with the Crofters' Revolt raging and the cities crowded with Highland and Irish exiles that the unacceptable face of landlordism was most apparent and keenly resented. The Presbyterian Scots also responded to the religious strain in Georgism. The Scottish Land Restoration League, a purely Georgite body was established in Glasgow with branches in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. "The land question" Henry George wrote to an English friend, "will never go to sleep in Auchtermuchty."