Wealth and Want
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Thomas Shearman

a founding partner of the law firm Shearman and Sterling,

Louis Post: Outlines of Louis F. Post's Lectures, with Illustrative Notes and Charts (1894)

Note 2: In "Progress and Poverty," book viii, ch. iv, Henry George speaks of "the effect of substituting for the manifold taxes now imposed, a single tax on the value of land"; but the term did not become a distinctive name until 1888.

The first general movement along the lines of "Progress and Poverty" began New York City election of 1886, when Henry George polled 68,110 votes as an independent candidate for mayor, and was defeated by the Democratic candidate, Abram S. Hewitt, by a plurality of only 22,442, the Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, polling but 60,435. Following that election the United Labor Party was formed, the Syracuse Convention in August, 1887, by the exclusion of the Socialists, came to present the central idea of "Progress and Poverty" as distinguished from the Socialistic propaganda which until then was identified with it. Coincident with the organization of the United Labor Party the Anti-Poverty Society was formed; and the two bodies, one representing the political and the other the religious phase of the idea, worked together until President Cleveland's tariff message of 1887 appeared. In this message Mr. George saw the timid beginnings of that open struggle between protection and free trade to which he had for years looked forward as the political movement that must culminate in the abolition of all taxes save those upon land values, and he responded at once to the sentiments of the message. But many protectionists, who had followed him because they supposed he was a land nationalizer, now broke away from his leadership, and the United Labor Party and the Anti-Poverty Society were soon practically dissolved. Those who understood Mr. George's real position regarding the land question readily acquiesced in his views as to political policy, and a considerable movement resulted, which, however, for some time lacked an identifying name. This was the situation when Thomas G. Shearman, Esq., wrote for the Standard an article on taxation in which he illustrated and advocated the land value tax as a fiscal measure. The article had been submitted without a caption, and Mr. George, then the editor of the Standard, entitled it "The Single Tax." This title was at once adopted by the "George men," as they were often called, and has ever since served as the name of the movement it describes. ...

To retain Rent for common use it is not necessary to abolish land-titles, nor to let land out to the highest bidder, nor to invent some new mechanism of taxation, nor in any other way to directly change existing modes of holding land for use, or existing machinery for collecting public revenues. "Great changes can be best brought about under old forms."109 Let land be held nominally as it is now. Let taxes be collected by the same kind of machinery as now. But abolish all taxes except those that fall upon actual and potential Rent, that is to say, upon land values.

110. Thomas G. Shearman, Esq., of New York, author of the famous magazine article on "Who Owns the United States," estimates that sixty-five per cent of the present annual value of the land in the United States would pay all the present expenses of American government — federal, state, county, and municipal.

Q2. Would the single tax yield revenue sufficient for all kinds of government?
A. Thomas G. Shearman, Esq., of New York, estimates that sixty-five per cent of the rent that the land in the United States now yields actually and potentially to its owners, would be sufficient. But whether it would or not is as yet an unimportant question. If all revenues ought to be raised from land values, then no revenues should be drawn from other sources while any land value remains in private possession. Until land values are exhausted the taxation of labor cannot be excused. ... read the book

Charles B. Fillebrown: A Catechism of Natural Taxation, from Principles of Natural Taxation (1917)

Q57. Would the single tax yield sufficient revenue for all government purposes, local, state, and national?
A. Careful estimates by Mr. Thomas G. Shearman indicate that all present taxes amount to not much more than one half of the annual site value of the land. But he said:

The honest needs of public government grow faster than population and fully as fast as wealth itself. Local taxation will increase rapidly; and it ought to do so..... This does not imply that ground rent will not be sufficient to supply many, possibly all, of those additions to human happiness which Henry George has pictured in such glowing words. But such extensions of the sphere of government must take place gradually; or they will be ruinous failures, simply because the state cannot at once furnish the necessary machinery for their successful operation. ... read the whole article



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Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper