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Margarita Arias, Costa Rica:
Only those who have fought for the right to protect their own bodies from abuse can truly understand the rape and plunder of our forests, rivers and soils.
The whole of the land was in the hands of a few, and if the cultivators did not pay their rents, they became subject to bondage ..
Marcus Aurelius (121-180AD):
Poverty is the mother of crime.
The history of mankind is an immense sea of errors in which few obscure truths may be found.
Ambrose Bierce “The Devil’s Dictionary”:
“LAND, n. A part of the earth’s surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society, and is eminently worthy of the superstructure. Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some have the right to prevent others from living; for the right to own implies the right exclusively to occupy; and in fact laws of trespass are enacted wherever property in land is recognized. It follows that if the whole area of terra firma is owned by A, B and C, there will be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to exist.”
William Blackstone (1723-1780) “Commentaries”:
The earth, therefore, and all things therein, are the general property of all mankind, from the immediate gift of the creator.
…there is no foundation in nature or in natural law why a set of words upon parchment should convey the dominion of land.
Justice Louis Brandeis (US Supreme Court):
I find it very difficult to disagree with the principles of Henry George …. I believe in the taxation of land values only.
James Buchanan (1986):
The landowner who withdraws land from productive use to a purely private use should be required to pay higher, not lower, taxes.
Henry Thomas Buckle (1821-1862):
The landlords are perhaps the only large class whose interests are diametrically opposed to those of the people.
J Buma: “The Man from Georgia”
You’ll pay for the worst sin ever committed, a sin that more than anything else is dreadful in its consequences: The natural source of life for all you’ve treated as merchandise! And trying to escape the outcome, Of the world you’ve made a chaos.
Dr Helen Caldicott (Co-Founder, Physicians for Social Responsibility)
We have taken over the planet as if we owned it, and we call it progress because we think we are making it better, but in fact we are regressing. Species are dying in the wake of this ‘progress’, and we seem not to realise that our life depends on theirs … It is clear to me that unless we connect directly with the Earth, we will not have a clue why we should save it.
Hon. Clyde Cameron, AO, Australian Labor Party Politician:
I am certain that the ALP will once again produce the kind of statesmen who in yesteryears had the intelligence and the integrity to be right (and support the economic philosophy of Henry George)…. that will one day make it possible for Christians to truly say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881):
Properly speaking, the land belongs to these two: the almighty God and to all his children of men. (Past and Present)
A God’s message never came to a thicker-skinned people..
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) US steel magnate:
The most comfortable, but also the the most unproductive, way for a capitalist to increase his fortune is to put all his monies in sites and await that point in time when a society, hungering for land, has to pay his price.
GK Chesterton (1874-1936):
A citizen can hardly distinguish between a tax and a fine, except that a fine is generally lighter.
Winston Churchill (1874-1965):
It is quite true that the land monopoly is not the only monopoly which exists, but it is by far the greatest of monopolies – it is a perpetual monopoly, and it is the mother of all other forms of monopoly.
Nothing is more amusing than to watch the efforts of our monopolist opponents to prove that other forms of property and increment are exactly the same, and are similar in all respects to the unearned increment in land.
I have made speeches by the yard on the subject of land value taxation, and you know what a supporter I am of that policy.
Richard Cobden (1804-1865):
You who shall liberate the land will do more for your country than we have done in the liberation of its trade.
Look not to the politicians; look to yourselves.
Confucius (551-479 BC):
Once, natural resources were fully used for the benefit of all, and not appropriated for selfish ends. This was the age of the Great Commonwealth of peace and prosperity.
Clarence Darrow, US lawyer:
Henry George was one of the real prophets of the world; one of the seers of the world….His was a wonderful mind; he saw a question from every side.
The “single tax” is so simple, so fundamental, and so easy to carry into effect that I have no doubt that it will be about the last land reform the world will ever get. People in this world are not often logical.
Patrick Edward Dove “The Theory of Human Progression”:
The land is for the nation, and not for the aristocracy.
Sir Ronald East, Australian engineer
We have gone wrong on the land question, and everything else has gone wrong automatically. I believe that there is no greater or more urgent task of leadership for the engineer than to help the community to a clear understanding of the simple economic laws that govern the distribution of benefits from human activities.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955):
Men like Henry George are rare unfortunately. One cannot imagine a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form, and fervent love of justice.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882):
I find this vast network, which you call property, extended over the whole planet. I cannot occupy the bleakest crag of the White Hills or the Alleghany Range, but some man or corporation steps up to tell me it is his. Now, although I am very peaceable, and on my private account could well enough die, since it appears that there was some mistake in my creation, and that I have been missent to this earth, where all the seats were already taken, – yet I feel called upon in behalf of rational nature, which I represent, to declare to you my opinion, that if the Earth is yours, so also is it mine. All your aggregate existences are less to me a fact than is my own; as I am born to the earth, so the Earth was given to me, what I want of it, to till and to plant – I must tell you the truth practically; and take that which you call yours. It is God’s world and mine; yours as much as you want, mine as much as I want. Lecture delivered on 7 December 1841 in Boston, cited in “Enclaves of Economic Rent”, Fiske Warren, 1929
Whilst another man has no land, my title to mine, and your title to yours, is at once vitiated.
Hon. Sir Allen Fairhall (Australian Liberal Party Politician):
I have no doubt that present political differences would be vastly reduced and the progress of the nation towards social harmony with prosperity in equity would be hastened if the basic truths of the Georgist philosophy could be understood, accepted and applied.
Henry Ford (1863-1947):
We ought to tax all idle land the way Henry George said – tax it heavily so that its owners would have to make it productive.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790):
Our legislators are all landholders, and they are not yet persuaded that all taxes are finally paid by the land… therefore, we have been forced into the mode of indirect taxes.
All the property that is necessary to a man for the conservation of the individual and the propagation of the species, is his natural right which none may justly deprive him of; but all property superfluous to such purposes is the property of the public.
Milton Friedman (1976):
I share your view that taxes would best be placed on the land, and not on improvements.
Professor Mason Gaffney, New Palgrave Dictionary of Economic Thought 1987:
George’s blend of radicalism and conservatism can puzzle one, until it is seen as a reconciliation of the two. The system is internally consistent, but defies conventional stereotypes.
Henry George (1839-1897):
For justice to be done between men it is not necessary for the State to take the land; it is only necessary to take its rent.
Our primary social adjustment is a denial of justice. In allowing one man to own the land on which and from which other men must live, we have made them his bondsmen in a degree which increases as material progress goes on.
A tax on land values is of all taxes that which best fulfils every requirement of a perfect tax. As land cannot be hidden or carried off, a tax on land values can be assessed with more certainty and can be collected with greater ease and less expense than any other tax, while it does not in the slightest degree check production or lessen its incentive. It is, in fact, a tax only in form, being in nature a rent – a taking for the use of the community of a value that arises not from individual exertion but from the growth of the community. For it is not anything that the individual owner or user does that gives value to land. The value that he creates is a value that attaches to improvements. This, being the the result of individual exertion, properly belongs to the individual, and cannot be taxed without lessening the incentive to production. But the value that attaches to land itself is a value arising from the growth of the community and increasing with social growth. It therefore properly belongs to the community, and can be taken to the last penny without in the slightest degree lessening the incentive to production. (- Introduction to Protection or Free Trade)
Samuel Gompers (1850-1924) first president American Federation of Labor:
I believe in Land Value Taxation. I count it a great privilege to have been a friend of Henry George.
Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) in “Cura Pastoralis”:
Those who make private property of the gift of God pretend in vain to be innocent. For, in thus retaining the subsistence of the poor, they are the murderers of those who die every day for the want of it.
Walter Burley Griffin, designer of Canberra, and member of Chicago Single Tax Club “Progress” 1/9/1913:
Behind every radical movement you will find Single Taxers. Woodrow Wilson is surrounded by them.
Of all modern prophets and reformers, Henry George is the one whose arguments are absolutely unanswerable and whose forecast is sure.
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) in foreword to “Brave New World”:
If I were to re-write this book, I would offer a third alternative – the possibility of sanity – Economics would be decentralist and Henry Georgian.
Andrew Jackson veto of the Bank Bill 10 July 1832
Every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add…artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society–the farmers, mechanics, and laborers–who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826):
Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate their natural right.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784):
Some men weave their sophistry till their own reason is entangled.
Helen Keller (1880-1968):
Who reads will find in Henry George’s philosophy a rare beauty and power of inspiration, and a splendid faith in the essential nobility of human nature.
John F Kennedy (1917-1963):
If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
Martin Luther King JR, Strength to Love, 1963:
Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
A Testament of Hope: The Essential Speeches and Writings of Martin Luther King Jr: …. Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both. p.250
This revolution of values must go beyond traditional capitalism and communism. We must honestly admit that capitalism has often left a gulf between superfluous wealth and abject poverty, has created conditions permitting necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few, and has encouraged smallhearted men to become cold and conscienceless so that, like Dives before Lazarus, they are unmoved by suffering, poverty-stricken humanity. The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cutthroat competition and selfish ambition that inspire men to be more I-centered than thou-centered. Equally, communism reduces men to a cog in the wheel of the state. The communist may object, saying that in Marxian theory the state is an ‘interim reality’ that will ‘wither away’ when the classless society emerges. True–in theory; but it is also true that, while the state lasts, it is an end in itself. Man is a means to that end. He has no inalienable rights. His only rights are derived from, and conferred by, the state. Under such a system the fountain of freedom runs dry. Restricted are man’s liberties of press and assembly, his freedom to vote and his freedom to listen and to read.
Truth is found neither in traditional capitalism nor in classical communism. Each represents a partial truth. Capitalism fails to see the truth in collectivism. Communism fails to see the truth in individualism. Capitalism fails to realize that life is social. Communism fails to realize that life is personal. The good and just society is neither the thesis of capitalism nor the antithesis of communism, but a socially conscious democracy which reconciles the truths of individualism and collectivism.
….. The problems we now face must take us beyond slogans for their solution. In the final analysis, the right-wing slogans on ‘government control’ and ‘creeping socialism’ are as meaningless and adolescent as the Chinese Red Guard slogans against ‘bourgeois revisionism.’ An intelligent approach to the problems of poverty and racism will cause us to see the words of the Psalmist–‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof’–are still a judgment upon our use and abuse of the wealth and resources with which we have been endowed. pp.629-630
“Henry George is the capitalist’s last ditch.”
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865):
The land, the earth that God gave to man for his home, his sustenance and support, should never be the possession of any man, corporation, society or unfriendly government, any more than the air or water – if as much. An individual or enterprise requiring land should hold no more in their own right than is needed for their home and sustenance, and never more than they have in actual use in the prudent management of their legitimate business, and this much should not be permitted when it creates an exclusive monopoly. All that is not so used should be held for the free use of every family to make homesteads, and to hold them so long as they are occupied. A reform like this will be worked out some time in the future.
An individual or company should never hold more land than they have in actual use.
John C Lincoln:
The Lincoln Foundation was Founded to get people to see that ground rent belongs to the community and that it will be possible to abolish the taxation of wealth if it was collected by the community for community expenses. “Ground Rent not Taxes: The Natural Source of Revenue for the Government. An Economic Study by John C Lincoln” Exposition Press, New York 1957
[Trustees of The Lincoln Foundation need to re-visit the great industrialist’s express wishes as expressed in the unalterable purpose clause of the corporation’s Articles, instead of financially supporting individuals and bodies often at odds with that purpose clause. Indeed, those trustees who no longer support Lincoln’s principal aim have absolutely no place on the Lincoln Foundation.]
John Locke (1632-1704) “Some Considerations of the Lowering of Interest”:
It is in vain in a country whose great fund is land to hope to lay the public charge on anything else; there at last it will terminate. The merchant (do what you can) will not bear it, the laborer cannot, and therefore the landholder must: and whether he were best to do it by laying it directly where it will at last settle, or by letting it come to him by the sinking of his rents, which when they are fallen, everyone knows they are not easily raised again, let him consider.
Whenever, in any country, the proprietor ceases to be the improver, political economy has nothing to say in defence of landed property. When the “sacredness” of property is talked of, it should be remembered that any such sacredness does not belong in the same degree to landed property.
When land is not intended to be cultivated, no good reason can in general be given for its private property at all. “Principles of Political Economy”
The earth belongs in usufruct to the living and is given as a common stock for men to live and labor on.
… all the learned of his [Jesus’] country, entrenched in its power and riches were opposed to him, lest his labors should undermine their advantages.
David Lloyd-George (1863-1945):
Take the question of over-crowding; the land question in the towns bears on that. It is all very well to produce “Housing of Working Class” bills; they will never be effective until you tackle the taxation of land values.
Had the Law of Gravitation affected vested interests, it would have remained undiscovered.
Karl Marx (1818-1883):
Monopoly of land is the basis of monopoly in capital.
Rev Dr McGlynn (1837-1900):
I believe I am not guilty of any profanation of the Sacred Scriptures when I say, in all reverence: There was a man sent by God and his name was Henry George.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948):
There is enough for everybody’s need, but not enough for their greed.
James Michener (Gen McArthur’s economic aide):
No nation can avoid land reform. All it can do is to determine the course it will take: bloody revolution or taxation.
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873):
Landlords grow richer in their sleep without working, risking or economizing. The increase in the value of land, arising as it does from the efforts of an entire community, should belong to the community and not to the individual who might hold title.
Harvey Mitchell, Castlemaine “The Age” Melbourne 11/4/1990:
Economists are people who fail to comprehend at 40 things they would have no trouble in understanding at age four.
Moses (circa 1400 BC) Leviticus XXV:
The land shall not be sold forever; for the land is Mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with Me.
Dr JFN Murray, Australian real estate valuer:
Valuation is the most important subject in the social sciences, but it has always been outside the scope of economics as taught in the universities…. It is maintained that a re-integration of the theory of valuation with the main body of economic theory would lead to an advancement of learning and to a soundly-based national economy.
Anyone who really fears a revolution in America ought to re-read Henry George’s “Progress and Poverty”, one of the great social documents of our time….I have never known his premises to be shaken in the least.
William Ogilvie: Preface to his “Birthright in Land” (1782)
Augustus M Kelley edition (1970), p.xix:
When a child is born, we recognise that it has a natural right to its mother’s milk, and no one can deny that it has the same right to mother-earth. It is really its mother-earth, plus the dew and sunshine from heaven and a little labour, that supplies the milk and everything else required for its subsistence. The monster that would deprive the babe of its mother’s milk, or would monopolise the breasts of several mothers, to the exclusion of several children, is not more deserving of being destroyed than the monster who seizes absolute possession of more than his share of the common mother of mankind, to the exclusion of his fellow-creatures.
Thomas Paine (1737-1809):
Men did not make the earth…. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property…. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds.
William Penn (1644-1718) “Fruits of Solitude”:
If all men were were so far tenants to the public that the superfluities of gain and expense were applied to the exigencies thereof, it would put an end to taxes, leave not a beggar, and make the greatest bank for national trade in Europe.
Philadelphia’s first tax law 30/1/1693:
“Put to the vote: as many are of the opinion that a public tax upon the land ought to be raised to defray the public charge, say ‘yea’. – Carried in the affirmative, none dissenting.”
William Pitt (1759-1806):
My Lords and Gentlemen: A direct tax of 7% would be a dangerous experiment and one likely to incite revolt. But there is a method whereby you can tax the last rag from the back and the last bite from the mouth without causing a murmur against high taxes, and that is to tax a large number of articles of daily use so indirectly that the people will pay without knowing it. Their grumblings will then be of hard times, but they will not know that the hard times are caused by taxation.
Plato (circa 427-347BC):
When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust man less on the same amount of income.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919):
The burden of taxation should be so shifted as to put the weight upon the unearned rise in value of land itself, rather than upon the improvements.
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), “Social Contract”:
The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying, “This is mine”, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes, might not anyone have saved mankind by pulling up the stakes, filling in the ditch, and crying to his fellows, “Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”
There is no subjugation so potent as that which leaves the appearance of freedom.
Lord Bertrand Russell (1872-1970):
It is necessary that there should be rent, but that it should be paid to the state or to some body which performs public services.
Paul Samuelson (1970):
Pure land rent is in the nature of a “surplus” which can be taxed heavily without distorting production incentives or efficiency. A land value tax can be called “the useful tax on measured land surplus”.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950):
The greatest of evils and the worst of evils is poverty.
I went quite casually one night into a hall in London, and I heard a man deliver a speech which changed the whole current of my life. That man was an American, Henry George.
We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.
Herbert Simon (1978):
Assuming that a tax increase is necessary, it is clearly preferable to impose the additional cost on land by increasing the land tax, rather than to increase the wage tax the two alternatives open to the City (of Pittsburgh). It is the use and occupancy of property that creates the need for municipal services that appear as the largest item in the budget fire and police protection, waste removal, and public works. The average increase in tax bills of the city residents will be about twice as great with wage tax increase than with a land tax increase.
Adam Smith (1723-1790):
Ground rents are a species of revenue which the owner, in many cases, enjoys without any care or attention of his own. Ground rents are, therefore, perhaps a species of revenue which can best bear to have a peculiar tax imposed upon them.
As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed.
There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.
Adam Smith – Canons of Taxation:
- bear as lightly as possible on industry
- bear equally on all
- be easy to assess and collect
- be paid by the person on whom it is levied
- be certain in amount
1st Viscount Philip Snowden (1864-1937), UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, in connection with the 1930s depression:
There never was a time when the need was greater than it is today for the application of the philosophy and principles of Henry George to the economic and political conditions which are scourging the world … Permanent peace can only be established when men and nations have realised that natural resources should be a common heritage.
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) “Social Statics” Ch 9:
Equity does not permit property in land… The world is God’s bequest to mankind. All men are joint heirs to it….Our civilization is only partial….co-heirship of all men to the soil is consistent with the highest civilisation …and …equity sternly commands it to be done.
Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) “Tractus Politicus”:
The fields and the whole soil….should be public property, that is the property of him who holds the right of the commonwealth: and let him let them at a yearly rent to the citizens, whether townsmen or countrymen, and with this exception let them all be free or exempt from every kind of taxation in time of peace.
Peter Stuyvesant (1592-1672):
Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam (New York) regarding self-assessment of the value of land for the tax he imposed upon land speculation (15/1/1658) It is left to the device of the Burgomasters either to take the lot at the owner’s price for account of the City and sell it at this price to anyone who desires to build conformably to the ordinance, or else to leave it to the owner until it is built upon by him or others, when this charge, for good reason laid upon unimproved land, shall be taken off.
Dr Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925):
The land tax as the only means of supporting the government is an infinitely just, reasonable, and equitably-distributed tax, and on it we will found our new system.
When the State is most corrupt, then are laws most multiplied.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) Walden:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Civil Disobedience: There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day…. They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures and agriculture.
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil, to one who is striking at the root.
James Tobin (1981):
I think in principle it’s a good idea to tax unimproved land, and particularly capital gains (windfalls) on it. Theory says we should try to tax items with zero or low elasticity, and those include sites.
Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910):
People do not argue with the teachings of George, they simply do not know it…. He who becomes acquainted with it cannot but agree.
Of all indispensable alterations of the forms of social life there is in the life of the world one which is most ripe…. The method of solving the land problem has been elaborated by Henry George to a degree of perfection that under the existing state organisation and compulsory taxation, it is impossible to invent any better, more just, practical and peaceful solution.
Quite difficult matters can be explained even to a slow-witted man, if only he has not already adopted a wrong opinion about them; but the simplest things cannot be made clear even to a very intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he already knows, and knows indubitably, the truth of the matter under consideration.
The only thing now that would pacify the people now is the introduction of the Land Value Taxation system of Henry George. The land is common to all; all have the same right to it.
Solving the land question means the solving of all social questions…. Possession of land by people who do not use it is immoral – just like the possession of slaves.
The earth cannot be anyone’s property.
I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me and assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all possible means – except by getting off his back.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
When the missionaries first came, they had the bible and we had the land. Now we have the bible and they have the land.
Daniel Webster 1782-1852:
Labor in this country is independent and proud. It has not to ask the patronage of capital – but patronage solicits the aid of labor.
Henry George’s proposition, the single tax, will wait, I fancy, for years, since it is so fundamental, and mankind never attacks fundamental problems until it has exhausted all the superficial ones.
Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924):
All the country needs is new and sincere thought, coherently, distinctly and boldly uttered by men who are sure of their ground. The power of men like Henry George seems to me to mean that.
Given the current state of global ecologies and economies, is it not time to apply the solution advocated by these people, instead of accepting political prevarication? World economies and the global environment currently cry out more than ever for the need to change discredited revenue systems. Join us, to help bring about this essential reform.