How Much Land Does A Man Need?


At this market climax, let me remind all of the risks of compulsive, over-optimistic ambition.

In Leo Tolstoys’ tale, ‘How Much Land Does A Man Need?’ written in 1886, a wealthy peasant named Pahlom is told of the rich earth in the land of the Bashkirs beyond the Volga.

They are simple folk and he will be able to get all the land he wants from them without much trouble.

When Pahom reaches the land of the Bashkirs, they tell him that for a thousand roubles he can have as much land as he can walk around in a day.

Pahom, despising them for their lack of sophistication, is exultant. He is certain that he can enclose a huge distance.

Almost as soon as he starts out, however, he spots one attractive feature after another that he decides to include, a pond over there, or a stretch of land that would be good for flax.

Then, he notes that the sun is starting to go down.

Realizing that he risk everything, he runs faster and faster to make it back in time. ‘I have grasped too much’, he tells himself, ‘and ruined the whole affair’.

The effort kills him. He dies at the finishing post, and that is where he is buried.
‘Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed’, was Tolstoy’s conclusion.

Leo Tolstoy was a great supporter of Henry George’s lifework to untax labor and business and for government to take its revenues from the economic rents of the land.

2 Comments

  1. Gavin R. Putland08-08-2011

    Aw! You told everyone how the story ends!

    Anyway, here’s the full text:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6157/6157-h/6157-h.htm#2H_4_0016 .

  2. Paul Meleng09-08-2011

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Treasure#?source=patrick.net

    Report Video Issue

    Treasure Islands
    Apr 14, 2011

    Open Society Foundations Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition
    In his book Nicholas Shaxson takes a critical look at offshore tax havens which cost the U.S. $100 billion in lost tax revenue each year and claims that Britain and the United States are the world’s two most important tax havens. He was joined by Rebecca Wilkins to discuss how the U.S. and the U.K. perpetuate the use of tax havens and its impact on the global economy and developing world. They also responded to questions from members of the audience. Sarah Pray moderated.

    “Dirty Little Secrets: Tax Havens in the U.S. and U.K.” was an event held at Open Society Institute-Washington, D.C.

    1 hour, 20 minutes

    Book Treasure Islands. Serious research. Shows massive tax haven use facilitated by USA and UK at high levels along with massive theft of sovereign wealth by 3rd world rulers, enough to balance the national budgets had the tax not been evaded. A significant cause or contributor to GFC, to increasing unrest by a much better informed younger generation and the most obvious proof that an inescapable land and resource rent is the only right way to fund a nation, state, region, city and neighbourhood.

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