Have you thought about the implications of it being harder and harder, decade
by decade, for our young people to get a start in life? In families where
there is sufficient income, they continue to live with their parents well
20s, returning home after college, and their families of origin may keep
homes large enough to house them and their spouses and children, just in
Parents may help with down payments on homes, or help pay their rent.
money is scarce, one's opportunities are very different, and one's hopes
may be a good deal lower.
What is it we say about living in a nation dedicated to the proposition
that all are created equal? How can we make that real in the world of the
I submit that we must start with Henry George's Remedy: make land common
property. Yes, I
know what Clarence Darrow said: “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 reform the world will ever get. People in this world
are not often logical.”
What kind of society do we want to leave our children and grandchildren? Do
we love them enough to work to create it?
William Ogilvie: An Essay on the Right
of Property in Land (Scotland, 1782)
What is it that in England restrains the early marriages of the poor
and industrious classes of men? Alas! not the Marriage Act but a system
of institutions more difficult to be reformed; establishing in a few hands
that monopoly of land by which the improvable as well as the improved value
of the soil is engrossed. It is this which chiefly occasions the difficulty
of their finding early and comfortable settlements in life, and so prevents
the consent of parents from being given before the legal age. It is this
difficulty which even after that age is passed still withholds the consent
of parents, restrains the inclinations of the parties themselves, and keeps
so great a number of the lower classes unmarried to their thirtieth or
fortieth years, perhaps for their whole lives. ... Read the entire essay
H.G. Brown: Significant
Paragraphs from Henry George's Progress & Poverty:
12. Effect of Remedy Upon Various Economic Classes (in the unabridged P&P: Part
IX: Effects of the Remedy — Chapter 3. Of the effect upon individuals
When it is first proposed to put all taxes upon the value of land, all landholders
are likely to take the alarm, and there will not be wanting appeals to
the fears of small farm and homestead owners, who will be told that this
is a proposition
to rob them of their hard-earned property. But a moment's reflection will
show that this proposition should commend itself to all whose interests as
do not largely exceed their interests as laborers or capitalists, or both.
And further consideration will show that though the large landholders may
lose relatively, yet even in their case there will be an absolute gain. For,
increase in production will be so great that labor and capital will gain
very much more than will be lost to private landownership, while in these
and in the greater ones involved in a more healthy social condition, the
whole community, including the landowners themselves, will share.
- It is manifest, of course, that the change I propose will greatly benefit
all those who live by wages, whether of hand or of head -- laborers,
operatives, mechanics, clerks, professional men of all sorts.
- It is manifest, also, that it will benefit all those who live partly
by wages and partly by the earnings of their capital -- storekeepers, merchants,
manufacturers, employing or undertaking producers and exchangers of
from the peddler or drayman to the railroad or steamship owner -- and
- it is likewise manifest that it will increase the incomes of those whose
incomes are drawn from the earnings of capital.
Take, now, the case of the homestead owner -- the mechanic, storekeeper, or
professional man who has secured himself a house and lot, where he lives, and
which he contemplates with satisfaction as a place from which his family cannot
be ejected in case of his death. He will not be injured; on the contrary, he
will be the gainer. The selling value of his lot will diminish -- theoretically
it will entirely disappear. But its usefulness to him will not disappear. It
will serve his purpose as well as ever. While, as the value of all other lots
will diminish or disappear in the same ratio, he retains the same security
of always having a lot that he had before. That is to say, he is a loser only
as the man who has bought himself a pair of boots may be said to be a loser
by a subsequent fall in the price of boots. His boots will be just as useful
to him, and the next pair of boots he can get cheaper. So, to the homestead
owner, his lot will be as useful, and should he look forward to getting a larger
lot, or having his children, as they grow up, get homesteads of their own,
he will, even in the matter of lots, be the gainer. And in the
present, other things considered, he will be much the gainer. For though
he will have
taxes to pay upon his land, he will be released from taxes upon his house
and improvements, upon his furniture and personal property, upon all that
his family eat, drink and wear, while his earnings will be largely increased
by the rise of wages, the constant employment, and the increased briskness
of trade. His only loss will be, if he wants to sell his lot without getting
another, and this will be a small loss compared with the great gain. ... read the whole chapter
William F. Buckley, Jr.: Home
The real estate boom is a familiar phenomenon. Most people are predicting
that it will, if not burst, at least wilt. But the basic components aren't
going to change, not unless we have a catastrophe of sorts, something economists
don't feel obliged to integrate into their speculations.
The components are:
- a relatively wealthy community;
- the hard desire to own one's own house, along with the ambition to make
it more and more comfortable and pleasing;
- the dependence of building sites on immediate amenities (sewage, power);
- strategic sources of nourishment (jobs).
The convenience of infinitely available land faded as urbanization brought
on heavy dependence on elements that weren't always available to homes on
the range. Schools and hospitals are not only useful for educating children
and curing the infirm. They are necessary to attract affluent home buyers.
Jon Gertner, writing for The New York Times Magazine, gives a useful
account of the home-building industry. Here are some basic indices.
- We have 34 million rented apartments at this point and 74 million owner-occupied
- The pool is being fed
- by immigrants seeking houses,
- by children growing and seeking their own homes, and
- by the elderly wanting a second house in which to vacation or retire.
- The home-building industry has constructed about 13.5 million single-family
homes since the mid-1990s.
So why is the cost of housing so high?
We learn that the average new house nationwide now sells for nearly $300,000.
The writer tells us, "I asked (a builder) what our children -- my kids
are both under 8, I told him -- would be paying when they're ready to buy.
"'They're going to live with us until they're 40,' (the builder) said
matter-of-factly. 'And when they have their second kid, then we'll finally
kick them out and make them pay for the house that we paid for. And that
house will cost them 45 to 50 percent of their income.'" ...
Henry George, the eminent social philosopher of a century ago, turned the
attention of planners and economists, however briefly, to the indefeasible
factor of land scarcity. Capital and labor can increase; land cannot.
Accordingly, George was the apostle of the single tax. It aimed most directly
at land speculators. ... read the whole