Wealth and Want
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Productive Activity

"Investing" in land doesn't create anything. It merely siphons the entrepreneur's dollars away from creating jobs, buying equipment and materials. We should be pursuing strategies which encourage productive activity, and avoid discouraging it! Land Value Taxation is perhaps the very best strategory for this.

Henry George: The Condition of Labor — An Open Letter to Pope Leo XIII in response to Rerum Novarum (1891)

Your Holiness will see from the explanation I have given that the reform we propose, like all true reforms, has both an ethical and an economic side. By ignoring the ethical side, and pushing our proposal merely as a reform of taxation, we could avoid the objections that arise from confounding ownership with possession and attributing to private property in land that security of use and improvement that can be had even better without it. All that we seek practically is the legal abolition, as fast as possible, of taxes on the products and processes of labor, and the consequent concentration of taxation on land values irrespective of improvements. To put our proposals in this way would be to urge them merely as a matter of wise public expediency.


... read the whole letter

Rev. A. C. Auchmuty: Gems from George, a themed collection of excerpts from the writings of Henry George (with links to sources)

THE fundamental principle of human action — the law that is to political economy what the law of gravitation is to physics — is that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion. . . . Now, under this principle, what, in conditions of freedom, will be the terms at which one man can hire others to work for him? Evidently, they will be fixed by what the men could make if laboring for themselves. The principle which will prevent him from having to give anything above this except what is necessary to induce the change, will also prevent them from taking less. Did they demand more, the competition of others would prevent them from getting employment. Did he offer less, none would accept the terms, as they could obtain greater results by working for themselves. Thus, although the employer wishes to pay as little as possible, and the employee to receive as much as possible, wages will be fixed by the value or produce of such labor to the laborers themselves. If wages are temporarily carried either above or below this line, a tendency to carry them back at once arises. — Progress & Poverty Book III, Chapter 6 — The Laws of Distribution: Wages and the Law of Wages

THE effect of all the circumstances which give rise to the differences between wages in different occupations may be included as supply and demand, and it is perfectly correct to say that the wages in different occupations will vary relatively according to differences in the supply and demand of labor — meaning by demand the call which the community as a whole makes for services of the particular kind, and by supply the relative amount of labor which, under the existing conditions, can be determined to the performance of those particular services. But though this is true as to the relative differences of wages, when it is said, as is commonly said, that the general rate of wages is determined by supply and demand, the words are meaningless. For supply and demand are but relative terms. The supply of labor can only mean labor offered in exchange for labor, or the produce of labor, and the demand for labor can only mean labor or the produce of labor offered in exchange for labor. Supply is thus demand, and demand supply, and in the whole community, one must be coextensive with the other. — Progress & Poverty Book III, Chapter 6 — The Laws of Distribution: Wages and the Law of Wages

THUS, although they may from time to time alter in relation to each other, as the circumstances which determine relative levels change, yet it is evident that wages in all strata must ultimately depend upon wages in the lowest and widest stratum — the general rate of wages rising or falling as these rise or fall.

Now, the primary and fundamental occupations, upon which, so to speak, all others are built up, are evidently those which procure wealth directly from nature; hence the law of wages in them must be the general law of wages. And, as wages in such occupations clearly depend upon what labor can produce at the lowest point of natural productiveness to which it is habitually applied; therefore, wages generally depend upon the margin of cultivation, or, to put it more exactly, upon the highest point of natural productiveness to which labor is free to apply itself without the payment of rent. — Progress & Poverty Book III, Chapter 6 — The Laws of Distribution: Wages and the Law of Wages

... go to "Gems from George"



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