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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Henry George would have been for Social Security!

My least favorite "philosopher" is Ayn Rand. But one of my favorites is Henry George. I've been doing a series of investigations into the periphery of the Georgist and "Geoist" movements. Mostly because his own writings were at the General Level and the specifics were often developed by later disciples. Modern Georgists often sound like Austrian School folks or Randians to me. But Henry George is pretty clear. He wanted to tax land value as unearned rent. He wanted to reorganize energy, transportation and communications monopolies as utilities run in a manner analogous to the Post Office. Anyway. He also wanted to tax it in a redistributionist manner. This is from a speech he gave in 1885:

"So in this little town, where land values are very low as compared with such cities as Chicago and San Francisco, you could do many things for mutual benefit and public improvement did you appropriate to public purposes the land values that now go to individuals. You could have a great free library; you could have an art gallery; you could get yourselves a public park, a magnificent public park, too. You have here one of the finest natural sites for a beautiful town I know of, and I have travelled much. You might make on this site a city that it would be a pleasure to live in. You will not as you go now — oh, no! Why, the very fact that you have a magnificent view here will cause somebody to hold on all the more tightly to the land that commands this view and charge higher prices for it. The State of New York wants to buy a strip of land so as to enable the people to see Niagara, but what a price she must pay for it! Look at all the great cities; in Philadelphia, for instance, in order to build their great city hall they had to block up the only two wide streets they had in the city. Everywhere you go you may see how private property in land prevents public as well as private improvement." [Crime:]

The need for this is even more vital in our own time, where monopolies on land, technology, "intellectual property", communications, energy and transportation - are making people incredibly miserable. Taxing unearned rent and redistributing it as pensions makes sense in so many ways.

"But I have not time to enter into further details. I can only ask you to think upon this thing, and the more you will see its desirability. As an English friend of mine puts it: "No taxes and a pension for everybody;" and why should it not be? To take land values for public purposes is not really to impose a tax, but to take for public purposes a value created by the community. And out of the fund which would thus accrue from the common property, we might, without degradation to anybody, provide enough to actually secure from want all who were deprived of their natural protectors or met with accident, or any man who should grow so old that he could not work. All prating that is heard from some quarters about its hurting the common people to give them what they do not work for is humbug. The truth is, that anything that injures self-respect, degrades, does harm; but if you give it as a right, as something to which every citizen is entitled to, it does not degrade. Charity schools do degrade children that are sent to them, but public schools do not." [Crime]

Because taxes are paid in money. This also works to keep the rent flowing. Paying people a pension helps them pay the rent, which in turn, under an LVT regimen comes back to the Governments as LVT taxes. You can pay the pension in printed Cash, and then retire the notes when the LVT tax is collected. Creating a perfect circle.

Funny; Henry George would have been for social security, but funded it through taxes on economic rent. Ayn Rand was against Social Security, but found she needed it to survive when she got old and her argument came back to bite her. One of the two had genuine ethics.

Source and to read the entire quote in context:
"The Crime of Poverty":
Further Readings:

I'll be adding additional links later.

Ayn Rand:
Ayn Rand Collected Social Security:,_but_grabbed_social_security_and_medicare_when_she_needed_them
General Resources on Georgism:
Easier to Read Version:
Easier to Read Version:
The Single Tax Movement -- Arthur Nichols Young
Other Posts related to Georgism:
The Georgist Constitution:
Target of LVT = Unearnd Rents:
The Death of Henry George:
Spencer versus Locke and Henry George:
Henry George on Income Tax and Monopoly
Review of a Tale of Two Cities:
Virtue and Vice, an ethical system based on Justice:
Economic Rents are Private Taxes:
Holte's Law on Rothbard & LVT:
Common Property & the Commons: (no wonder Dan hates me) (Refers to George as a disciple of Locke)
Georgism in the Economist
Why Henry George Had a Point

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