Henery George’s Progress and Poverty is one of the most thought-provoking books I have ever read. If you’re interested in economy, politics, and you like ideas, you should read Progress and Poverty.
Henry George was a printer by trade. He ran for mayor of New York City in 1886 and 1897. His Progress and Poverty made him one of the most famous Americans of his day.
The key point of George’s treats is the single tax. The basic idea is that land is the basis for all economic activity. As such, George proposes a single tax society where land is owned by society. Those who use the land are taxed for the right to use it. Nothing else besides the use of land is taxed. That’s why George’s plan is known as the single tax.
I’m not delusional. I recognize there is no chance America will ever adopt the single tax. While reading the book, though, I couldn’t help myself from thinking the single tax makes a lot of sense. Land wouldn’t go unused, because people would be penalized for holding land vacant. If land use was the only tax, people wouldn’t have to pay income and/or sales taxes.
Obviously, adopting the single tax would require many details to be worked through. But I have become so interested in the idea that I paid my 20 dollars and joined the Henry George Institute. As time goes by, I will post entries about what I learn and how my thoughts change.
If you have read Progress and Poverty, please share your thoughts. If you read the book, which is free, I would love to hear from you.