|Wealth and Want|
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Note to My Georgist Friends
The documents I've chosen for this website are the result of my own quirky reading and research patterns, and my own initial skepticism about these ideas. If you'd like to nominate or submit other papers, please feel free to (mailto:email@example.com). Similarly if you see documents that should be hyperlinked together, and aren't, or additional theme pages that would help this website reach more audiences, please call those opportunities to my attention. If I've used some of your papers, I hope you approve! If you'd like to comment on them, or update them, please let me know. I'll happily add the material.
My late paternal grandparents (three of them, actually) were longtime Georgists, and my father and uncle took their first Georgist class as a teenager circa 1939 in New Jersey (see my grandmother's "My Introduction to Henry George"); my aunt and uncle met through HGSSS in Chicago. I grew up hearing about these ideas. I even hung around at some TRED conferences in the late 60's. When I got to college, even as an economics major (ever so briefly, after math and before American Studies), I did not encounter more than a passing paragraph about Henry George. (By the time I started college, I had received not one but two copies of P&P from my grandparents, lovingly inscribed. I don't think I ever went beyond the inscription.)
Largely through my own reading, before, during and after college, I became interested in religious and ethnic minority groups — those whose experience was, for various reasons, significantly different from the mainstream — and in issues of poverty and inequality. My grandparents did their gentle best to suggest that I might find some of the answers I was looking for in P&P, and I nodded and said I'd read it. (Never did, until rather recently.) We talked about what we saw around us, and of course they, who saw the cat (though, loving the three-dimensional furry type, never used that particular phrase), understood the root causes, and tried, through gentle, leading questions, to help me see what they saw. It just sounded like some sort of conspiracy theory to me. How could one "thing" ever be responsible for such a range of problems?
It wasn't until after they were gone, and I went to collect from their belongings the things that would be meaningful to family members (I filled an SUV to its roof with photos, two pieces of furniture, some household things I treasured from 25+ years of annual summer visits, and boxes and boxes of books, files and correspondence) that I got curious. Once home, my first pass through the files and correspondence was for genealogical clues I'd known to look for, and in the process of that, I came across the draft of a document that my grandfather had worked on over several years in the early 1980's, when his eyesight was in decline. It was called "A Clarion Call to Sanity, to Honesty, to Justice." The document had never quite gelled. But what was there got my attention. Maybe it was simply advancing age on my part, maybe it was that this paper intersected with something I'd been told about myself years back when I was in the middle of a career switch (I had taken some excellent aptitude tests which revealed that I had both many aptitudes and a peculiar, almost discordant, combination of them, for which the long term recommendation was that I either open my own business or "take on a grand cause" — advice I had mentally filed away but started making room for in my life). Maybe I'd found my "grand cause."
I approached Georgist ideas skeptically, a form of hypothesis-testing. But 4+ years later, they are still holding up and making sense. (How I wish I'd gotten there sooner, while I still had my grandparents' minds and experience to joust with while I explored. It would have been fun and far more efficient!) I worked my way through the materials in their files, starting with some of the shorter things (hey, when one isn't convinced, why start with a long book, right? ) One of the first things I hit was "Thou Shalt Not Steal." It resonated with me, and led me deeper into examining these ideas. I no longer remember the exact course of my explorations. But within about 6 months, I was attending my first CGO meeting, in Pittsburgh.
As we drove there from southwestern Connecticut, I told my husband and son about the ten or so people I hoped to meet there. (Seven were there, and one I've not yet met, though you'll find his works on this site.) I read them Weld's Clarion Call paper. It sounded dated to me, and I was mildly embarrassed by that —- two of the issues it was most concerned about were fiat inflation and nuclear war, both of which seemed quite distant issues as of Labor Day, 2001. Still, much of the paper was still inspiring to me. Once at CGO, I put faces to a lot of names, met face to face someone against whom I'd bid on ebay and with whom I'd been corresponding. I sat with laptop, and took notes, shared with several of those I met the idea I had for a Georgist website, asking them for caution flags — and got nothing but green lights. My first meeting was a very steep learning curve.
I told them then, and I'll tell you: I still regard myself as a very young Georgist, not so much chronologically, but in terms of my experience with these ideas. I'm self-taught. I read P&P, slowly, then moved on to SP, and SPE, unabridged. Interestingly, in the early 90's, I had a copy of a small white book from the UK which was a collection of HG quotes, and many of them had made a lot of sense to me. (Eventually, I hope to scan that book, and provide links from each quote into the original texts.)
Were it not for the internet, I would probably not have gotten so actively involved in seeking to share this movement. I'm not a pen and paper person, and while books are wonderful, a reality is that they meet a relatively small audience today. But as more people get on the internet, it is possible to meet the curious where they are — or rather be available for the curious to find us — if only we can provide material they're looking for. My website idea was one designed around the interests of the audience. The structure has evolved a great deal since that first summer, but the focus is pretty much the same.
Events in the six months following that CGO meeting also led me to think about my grandfather's paper further — first 9/11, which made the issue of nuclear war not sound quite so remote as it had a few weeks before, then huge inflation in the Argentine currency, with all its attendant misery for the Argentine people.
All of this is to say that my reading has been a function of the documents in my grandparents' files and what I've been attracted to online, based on my quirky research style. Your favorites may not be here. I'd be interested in knowing what inspired and inspires you.
Further, if you have in mind other themes that you think would be useful means to share our ideas, I'd welcome your suggestions. Some of these themes originated in the 180 or so Georgist documents on this website. Others began as a way to organize material in response to my frustrated attempts to talk back to various guests on CSPAN whose analyses, as Bill Vickrey would have put it, would benefit from an application of the ideas of Henry George. I hope to mine P&P as I have the other 160 documents; now that the system is set up, it is not particularly difficult.
I've borrowed shamelessly from other Georgist sites (always with full attribution in the form of a link at the top of the page!) and from a range of nonGeorgist studies. I hope that this website will bring more people to those sites, which contain much information that will resonate for them. My background is in consumer products marketing, and quantitative people analysis. I hope that I can bring those skills to sharing our movement with a wide audience, and create the curiosity in them that all of us have.
How You Can Help
What you see on this website is the first two layers of what is to be a much larger website. The Georgist material is the foundation.
To the extent that I've added value to the documents I've included, I hereby grant Georgist license for the use of my contributions: use the material I've created in whatever way you see fit to further share these ideas. Create your own themed pages for specific people or groups, formatted and linked as you think best.
*My grandparents were Weld Carter (1900-1989) and Marjorie Carter (1902-1963), and Weld's second wife, Jessie Tredway Matteson Carter (1911-2001). It was Jessie's first husband, Archie Matteson, who taught a P&P course in Westwood, NJ (described fictionally by Marjorie in the early 40's) which the entire family took in 1939 or so. Both Jessie and Archie remained family friends (I know Weld saw Archie at a Georgist gathering in Bryn Mawr circa 1978), and after Marjorie's death, Weld married Jessie, who had worked for John Monroe at the Chicago HGSSS since sometime in the 1940s. (Her books are stamped "JTMatteson, HGSSS, desk copy"). Jessie's father had known Weld's father (they were boyhood chums in rural Chatham, Pittsylvania, Virginia, and continued their acquaintance when both moved to NYC as young men in the 1890s) and their grandmothers were fast friends — though due to the vagaries of Weld's life as a young man, he was not aware of this.
Weld and Marjorie were "on tour" (eventually living in a 28' Airstream for years at a time) on behalf of RSF in the 50s and early 60s, visiting university economics faculty to encourage interest in HG's ideas. A document he developed during that period as an introduction to Henry George is on this website. In the late 60s, funded largely by RSF, Weld began working with Mase Gaffney, Arthur Becker and others to develop the Committee on Taxation, Resources and Economic Development (TRED). In the years Weld was involved, TRED convened twelve annual conferences resulting in twelve volumes of contemporary Georgist literature. Some of these books are still available from the RSF.
Jessie is a particular inspiration to me. She attempted to send off an activist letter every day. I attribute my "letter to the editor" interest to her, and am grateful, again, for electronic media which permit me to do mine without ever putting a piece of paper in a typewriter or a stamp on a letter.
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Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper