Quotes and Statements


Quotes and Statements

Land Rights and Land Value Capture

Economists' Quotes

Economists’ Quotes

Many economists, across the political spectrum, have urged the use of land value capture for public benefit (site rental or land value taxation) as a means to derive public monies rather than taxes on capital and labour. The following is a collection of quotes from some of the greatest economists who have advocated this approach.

Henry George
Adam Smith

David Hume
John Stuart Mill
The Physiocrats
Karl Marx
John Kenneth Galbraith
Paul Samuelson
Milton Friedman
Herbert Simon
James Tobin
James Buchanan
William Vickrey
Michael Hu
dson

Herman E. Daly
James Robertson
John Maynard Keynes
Philip Snowden
Joseph Stiglitz

Nicolaus Tideman
Fred Foldvary
Arthur P. Becker
Harry Gunnison Brown
Economists’Letter to Michail Gorbachev


Henry George (1839 – 1897)

American political economist and the most influential proponent of the public capture of land rent for public benefit combined with the elimination of taxes on labor and production. He was the author of Progress and Poverty, written in 1879, Social Problems, Protection or Free Trade, The Land Question, Our Land and Land Policy, and The Science of Political Economy.
What has destroyed every previous civilization has been the tendency to the unequal distribution of wealth and power.

Almshouses and prisons are as surely the marks of `material progress' as are costly dwellings, rich warehouses, and magnificent churches.

It is not enough that men should vote; it is not enough that they be theoretically equal before the law. They must have liberty to avail themselves of the opportunities and means of life. They must stand on equal terms with reference to the bounty of nature.

The equal right of all men and women to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air. It is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men and women have a right to be in this world and others do not.

Our primary social adjustment is a denial of justice. In allowing one man to own the land on which and from which other men must live, we have made them his bondsmen in a degree which increases as material progress goes on. This is the subtle alchemy that in ways they do not realize is extracting from the masses in every civilized country the fruits of their weary toil; that is instituting a harder and more hopeless slavery in place of that which has been destroyed; that is bringing political despotism out of political freedom, and must soon transmute democratic institutions into anarchy.

Do what we may, we can accomplish nothing real and lasting until we secure to all the first of those equal and inalienable rights with which.... man is endowed by his creator - the equal and inalienable right to the use and benefit of natural opportunities.

For justice to be done between men it is not necessary for the State to take the land; it is only necessary to take its rent

Social reform is not to be secured by noise and shouting, by complaints and denunciations, by the formation of parties, or the making of revolutions; but by the awakening of thought and the progress of ideas. Until there be correct thought there cannot be right action; and when there is correct thought, right action will follow."

The wrong that produces inequality; the wrong that in the midst of abundance tortures men with want or harries them with the fear of want; that stunts them physically, degrades them intellectually, and distorts them morally, is what alone prevents harmonious social development.

If you would realize what land is, think of what men would be without land. If there were no land, where would be the people? Land is not merely a place to graze cows or sheep upon, to raise corn or raise cabbage. It is the indispensable element necessary to the life of every human being. We are all land animals; our very bodies come from the land, and to the land they return again.

To abolish these taxes would be to lift the whole enormous weight of taxation from productive industry. The needle of the seamstress and the great manufactory; the cart-horse and the locomotive; the fishing boat and the steamship; the farmer's plow and the merchant's stock, would be alike untaxed. All would be free to make or to save, to buy or to sell, unfined by taxes, un-annoyed by the tax-gatherer. Instead of saying to the producer, as it does now, "The more you add to the general wealth the more shall you be taxed!" the state would say to the producer, Be as industrious, as thrifty, as enterprising as you choose, you shall have your full reward! You shall not be fined for making two blades of grass grow where one grew before; you shall not be taxed for adding to the aggregate wealth.

...the value of land is at the beginning of society nothing, but as society develops by the increase of population and the advance of the arts, it becomes greater and greater. In every civilized country, even the newest, the value of the land taken as a whole is sufficient to bear the entire expenses of government. In the better developed countries it is much more than sufficient. Hence it will not be enough merely to place all taxes upon the value of land. It will be necessary, where rent exceeds the present governmental revenues, commensurately to increase the amount demanded in taxation, and to continue this increase as society progresses and rent advances.

The way to secure equality is plain. It is not by dividing the land. It is by calling upon those who are allowed possession of pieces of land giving special advantage to pay to the whole community, the rest of the people, and including themselves, to the whole people, a fair rent or premium for that privilege as using the fund so obtained for the benefit of the people. What we would do would be to make the whole people the general landlord, to have whatever rent is paid for the use of the land, to go, not into the pockets of individual landlords, but into the treasury of the community, where it could be used for the common benefit.

This truth involves both a menace and a promise. It shows that the evils arising from the unjust and unequal distribution of wealth, which are becoming more and more apparent as modern civilization goes on, are not incidents of progress, but tendencies which must bring progress to a halt; that they will not cure themselves, but, on the contrary, must, unless their cause is removed, grow greater and greater, until they sweep us back into barbarism by the road every previous civilization has trod.

It is not enough that men should vote; it is not enough that they be theoretically equal before the law. They must have liberty to avail themselves of the opportunities and means of life; They must stand on equal terms with reference to the bounty of nature.

Social reform is not to be secured by noise and shouting, by complaints and denunciations, by the formation of parties, or the making of revolutions; but by the awakening of thought and the progress of ideas. Until there be correct thought there cannot be right action; and when there is correct thought, right action will follow.

Near the window by which I write, a great bull is tethered by a ring in his nose. Grazing round and round, he has wound the rope about the stake until he stands a close prisoner, tantalized by the rich grass he cannot reach, unable even to toss his head to rid him of the flies that cluster on his shoulders.
The bull, a very type of massive strength, who because he has not wit enough to see how he might be free, suffers want in sight of plenty, and is helplessly preyed upon by weaker creatures, seems to me to be no unfit emblem of the working masses.
But until they trace effect to cause, until they see how they are fettered and how they may be freed, their struggles and outcries are as vain as the bull. Nay they are vainer. I shall go out and drive the bull in the way that will untwist this rope. But who shall drive men into freedom?

The elder Mirabeau, we are told, ranked the proposition of Quesnay, to substitute one single tax on rent (the impot unique) for all other taxes as a discovery equal in utility to the invention of writing or the substitution of the use of money for barter.


Adam Smith (~1723 - 1790)



Ground rents are a species of revenue which the owner, in many cases, enjoys without any care or attention of his own. Ground rents are, therefore, perhaps a species of revenue which can best bear to have a peculiar tax imposed upon them.

Every improvement in the circumstances of society tends either directly or indirectly to raise the real rent of land, to increase the wealth of the landlord. - Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations, Book I, p. 275)

Ground-rents, and the ordinary rent of land, are, therefore, perhaps, the species of revenue which can best bear to have a peculiar tax imposed upon them…. The annual produce of the land and labour of the society, the real wealth and revenue of the great body of the people, might be the same after such a tax as before. . . . [A tax of this kind would be] much more proper to be established as a perpetual and unalterable regulation, or as what is called a fundamental law of the commonwealth, than any tax which was always to be levied according to a certain valuation. - Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations, pp. 844, 834)

A tax upon ground-rents would not raise the rents of houses. It would fall altogether upon the owner of the ground-rent, who acts always as a monopolist, and exacts the greatest rent which can be got for the use of his ground." - Adam Smith, (1720 - 1790)

Adam Smith (~1720-1790), the father of economics, wrote in his classic, The Wealth of Nations, that

Both ground rents and the ordinary rent of land are a species of revenue which the owner, in many cases, enjoys without any care or attention of his own... Ground rents seem, in this respect, a more proper subject of peculiar taxation... Nothing can be more reasonable than that a fund which owes its existence to the good government of the state should be taxed peculiarly. (Vol 3, Book 5, Ch 2, Pt 2, Art 1, P 289)

More from Adam Smith:

Such was the case with Adam Smith, who said some things that might surprise people.

First, while he celebrated truly competitive capitalism, he didn’t trust capitalists very much. Consider these quotes:

All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

Second, he believed that workers deserve a living wage:

It is but equity … that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerable well fed, clothed and lodged.

Third - and here’s a real shocker - he believed that the wealthy should pay more in taxes:

The subjects of every state ought to contribute toward the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.

Fourth, he believed in the necessity of public investments in infrastructure and public goods. He spoke of the duty of government to support

public institutions and those public works, which, though they may be in the highest degree advantageous to a great society, are, however, of such a nature that the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, and which it therefore cannot be expected that any individual or small number of individuals should erect or maintain.

If he were alive today, he would probably consider education and health care as examples of this kind of public goods.
Smith and his Scottish Enlightenment allies were not ideologues and were better psychologists than those today who view humans as organic calculating machines. They were pretty, well, enlightened. They recognized that a good society and a healthy capitalist economy depended on a shared prosperity.


David Hume

As Smith’s dear friend the philosopher David Hume put it in 1752:

Every person, if possible, ought to enjoy the fruits of his labour, in a full possession of all the necessaries, and many of the conveniences of life. No one can doubt, but such an equality is most suitable to human nature, and diminishes much less from the happiness of the rich than it adds to that of the poor.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), English philosopher, economist, and social reformer wrote:

Landlords grow rich in their sleep without working, risking or economizing. The increase in the value of land, arising as it does from the efforts of an entire community, should belong to the community and not the individual who might hold title... When the 'sacredness of property' is talked about it should always be
remembered that any such sacredness does not belong in the same degree to landed property. No man made the land. It is the general inheritance of the whole species.

A tax on rent falls wholly on the landlord. There are no means by which he can shift the burden upon anyone else. It does not affect the value or price of agricultural produce, for this is determined by the cost of production in the most unfavourable circumstances, and in those circumstances, as we have so often demonstrated, no rent is paid. A tax on rent, therefore, has no effect other than its obvious one. It merely takes so much from the landlord and transfers it to the State.


The Physiocrats

The French physiocrats, (27) Dr. Francois Quesnay (1694-1774) and (28) Baron A. R. Jacques Turgot (1727-1781) simplified this thought and coined the phrase "l'impot unique" ("the single tax"). One of the Enlightenment's wise men, Mirabeau the Elder, held that their discovery would be a "social advance equal to the inventions of writing and money."

Thus the form of assessment which is the most simple, the most regular, the most profitable to the state, and the least burdensome to the tax-payers, is that which is made proportionate to and laid directly on the source of continually regenerated wealth (land). - Francois Quesnay, (1694 - 1774), French physician and economist around whom the Physiocrats were formed.

Karl Marx (1818-1883)
As with Smith, Marx points out that land values rise automatically - without any effort on the part of the landowner - permitting the landowner to increase his ground-rents and siphon off from profits and wages the benefits of increased productivity.

[As capitalist production develops], landed property acquires the capacity to capture an ever-increasing portion of this surplus-value by means of its land monopoly and thereby, of raising the value of its rent and the price of the land itself. The capitalist still performs an active function in the development of this surplus-value and surplus-product. But the landowner need only appropriate the growing share in the surplus-product and the surplus-value, without contributing anything to this growth.

[Rent is extracted by the land owner despite] the palpable and complete passiveness of the owner, whose sole activity consists….in exploiting the progress of social developments, towards which he contributes nothing and for which he risks nothing, unlike the industrial capitalist.

From the point of view of a higher economic form of society, the private ownership of the globe on the part of some individuals will appear as absurd as the private ownership of one man by another. Even a whole society, or even all societies together, are not the owners of the globe. They are only its possessors, its users, and they have to hand it down to the coming generations in an improved condition. - (Das Kapital, vol. III, p. 901-2.

Landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed.

Landlords - without lifting a finger or taking any risks - appropriate surplus value from those "active" in agricultural production - their capitalist tenant farmers and the laboring farmhands.



John Kenneth Galbraith

Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1946 and 2000

If a tax were imposed equal to the annual use value of real property ex its improvement, so that it would now have no net earnings and hence no capital value of its own -- progress would be orderly and its fruits would be equitably shared.

Galbraith is perhaps the most known of twentieth century economists. As a Keynesian and an institutionalist, and as a progressive liberal, his books on economic topics (e.g., American Capitalism, The Affluent Society, The New Industrial State) were bestsellers. Galbriath taught at Harvard University and served in the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson; and among other roles served as U.S. ambassador to India under Kennedy.


Paul Samuelson

Winner, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, 1970

Our ideal society finds it essential to put a rent on land as a way of maximizing the total consumption available to the society. ...Pure land rent is in the nature of a 'surplus' which can be taxed heavily without distorting production incentives or efficiency. A land value tax can be called 'the useful tax on measured land surplus'.

Paul Samuelson, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has worked in the following fields:
Welfare economics, in which he co-developed the Lindahl-Bowen-Samuelson conditions as criteria for deciding whether an action will improve welfare;
Public finance theory, in particular the optimal allocation of resources in the presence of both public goods and private goods;
International economics, in which he co-developed two international trade models: the Balassa-Samuelson effect, and the Heckscher-Ohlin model (with the Stolper-Samuelson theorem); Monetary economics, where he devised the overlapping generations model as a way to analyze economic behavior.



Milton Friedman

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, 1976.

There's a sense in which all taxes are antagonistic to free enterprise -- and yet we need taxes. ...So the question is, which are the least bad taxes? In my opinion the least bad tax is the property tax on the unimproved value of land, the Henry George argument of many, many years ago.

Land should be taxed as much as possible and improvements as little as possible.


Herbert Simon

Winner, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, 1978

Assuming that a tax increase is necessary, it is clearly preferable to impose the additional cost on land by increasing the land tax, rather than to increase the wage tax.

It is not unreasonable to describe Herbert Simon as a genius whose abilities spanned several fields. Simon made outstanding contributions to cognitive psychology, computer science, public administration, economics, sociology and philosophy.

He was awarded the ACM's A.M. Turing Award along with Allen Newell in 1975 for making "basic contributions to artificial intelligence, the psychology of human cognition, and list processing." In 1978 he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics "for his pioneering research into the decision-making process within economic organizations". He coined the terms "bounded rationality" and "satisficing" in this context.

Herbert Simon has been credited for revolutionary changes in microeconomics. He is responsible for the concept of organizational decision-making as it is known today. He was also the first to discuss this concept in terms of uncertainty; i.e. it is impossible to have perfect and complete information at any given time to make a decision. While this notion was not entirely new, Simon is best known for its origination. It was in this area that he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1978.


James Tobin

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, 1981

I think in principle it's a good idea to tax unimproved land, and particularly capital gains (windfalls) on it. Theory says we should try to tax items with zero or low elasticity, and those include sites.

James Tobin served as an economic advisor for John F. Kennedy and taught at Yale University for many years. In 1955 he won the John Bates Clark medal and in 1981 the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.

Tobin advocated and developed the ideas of Keynesian economics. He argued that governments should intervene in the economy in order to stabilise output and avoid recessions. His academic work included pioneering contributions to the study of investment, monetary and fiscal policy and financial markets. Furthermore, he proposed an econometric model for censored endogenous variables, the well known "Tobin model".

He also suggested a tax on foreign exchange transactions, now commonly known as the "Tobin tax", designed to reduce speculation. He suggested that the proceeds of the tax could be used to fund projects for the benefit of developing countries, or to support the United Nations.



James Buchanan

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, 1986

The landowner who withdraws land from productive use to a purely private use should be required to pay higher, not lower, taxes.



William Vickrey

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, 1996

Economists are almost unanimous in conceding that the land tax has no adverse side effects. ...Landowners ought to look at both sides of the coin. Applying a tax to land values also means removing other taxes. This would so improve the efficiency of a city that land values would go up more than the increase in taxes on land.


Michael Hudson

Author of Super Imperialism and other works:

politically, taxing economic rent has become the bête noir of neoliberal globalism. It is what property owners and rentiers fear most of all, as land, subsoil resources and natural monopolies far exceed industrial capital in magnitude. What appears in the statistics at first glance as "profit" turns out upon examination to be Ricardian or "economic" rent.


Herman E. Daly

The windfall Rent from higher resource prices would be captured by the government and become public income - a partial realization of Henry George's ideal of a single tax on Rent. Using Rent to finance a minimum income could substitute for a considerable number of bureaucratic welfare programs.


James Robertson

Former British cabinet economist, author and co-founder of The Other Economic Network:

Tax the site-value of all land in its unimproved state. This tax was first proposed by the 19th century American economist Henry George. We should envisage the eventual removal of all taxes on incomes and value added, savings and financial capital. Taxes will take the form of Rents and charges reasonably paid in exchange either for the use of resources that would otherwise be available for other people, or for damage caused to other people."

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John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)

There have been times when it was probably the craving for the ownership of land, independently of its yield, which served to keep up the rate of interest... The high rates of interest from mortgages on land, often exceeding the probable net yield from cultivating the land, have been a familiar feature of many agricultural economies ... The competition of a high interest-rate on mortgages may well have had the same effect in retarding the growth of wealth from current investment in newly produced capital-assets, as high interest rates on long-term debts have had in more recent times


First Viscount Philip Snowden (1864-1937)

British economist and politician, between the 20th century's world wars modernized this thought.

There never was a time when the need was greater than it is today for the application of the philosophy and principles of Henry George to the economic and political conditions which are scourging the whole world. The root cause of the world's economic distress is surely obvious to every man who has eyes to see and a brain to understand. So long as land is a monopoly, and men are denied free access to it to apply their labor to its uses, poverty and unemployment will exist. Permanent peace can only be established when men and nations have realized that natural resource should be a common heritage, and used for the good of all mankind... I am of the opinion that rent belongs to society and that no single person has the right to appropriate and enjoy what belongs to society.


Joseph E. Stiglitz

Nobel Prize in economics in 2001, former World Bank Chief Economist

In 1999 he was fired from his position as Chief Economist with the World Bank after he began to speak about his concerns. In an interview in 2001 with Greg Palast, a writer for The Observer (London), Stiglitz described in detail the four-step plan used by the international banking institutions to extract wealth from around the world. In his view the process leads to financial barbarism, pillage and plunder and has resulted in immense suffering, starvation and destruction. “It has condemned people to death,” Stiglitz said bluntly in the interview.

When Palast asked Stiglitz what he would do to help developing nations, Stiglitz proposed radical land reform and an attack at the heart of “landlordism,” including excessive rents charged by the propertied oligarchies worldwide. When Palast asked why the Bank didn’t follow his advice, Stiglitz answered, “If you challenged it (property rights in land), that would be a change in the power of the elites. That’s not high on their agenda.” (From Greg Palast, “The World Bank’s former Chief Economist - including how the IMF and US Treasury fixed the Russian elections,” The Observer (London) October 10, 2001)


Nicolaus Tideman

Economics professor

To collect through taxation the addition to the rental value of land that is attributable to public services is only to require people to pay for what they receive. (From p. 133 in "The Economics of Efficient Taxes on Land" in Land and Taxation (Nicolaus Tideman, editor), London, Shepheard-Walwyn, 1994.)


Fred Foldvary

Economics professor

If land value is taxed, the land will not flee, shrink, or hide. (From: The Ultimate Tax Reform: Public Revenue from Land Rent)

When you collect the land rent like a bear collects honey, then those holding land idle will put it to good use so that it is worth paying the rent. If they need to keep providing honey to keep the land, they will work like bees. When idle land becomes well used, it is like growing more land."

From: Henry Plottre and the Magically Expanding Land, The Progress Report
www.progress.org/2007/fold519.htm

Arthur P. Becker

Economics professor, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee

“The drain of the economic rent of land is the most pervasive income drain of all. Since land and its services are supplied by nature, the economic rent of land constitutes a surplus payment for production and therefore one variety of nonproductive income. Because all economic activity requires the use of land for space and for other resources as well, the drain imposed by land rents for leasing or land values for purchase is inevitable and enormous, ranging all the way from choice urban land sites to oil lands. …”


Harry Gunnison Brown

His 1932 text, The Economic Basis of Tax Reform, is arguably the classic exploration of the effects of taxation on economies. The reader is urged to read this text in full for a comprehensive explanation of why both logic and ethics recommend the shifting of public revenue to location rental values and other sources of rent. On the moral argument alone, Brown asks and answers the most important question:

What is there in our economic life more significant – more portentous, indeed – than the fact that a majority must pay the relatively few for the privilege of living and of working on those parts of the surface of the earth which geological forces and community development have made desirable?

If, therefore, we were to untax capital and draw sufficient additional revenue to make up the loss, by heavier taxes on the geologically-produced and community-produced value of land, this would certainly provide a greater reward to those who save and invest in capital. - “The Keynes-Hansen Demand for Labor Notion,” from a speech delivered at Franklin and Marshall College


Economists’ Letter to Mikhail Gorbachev

On the initiative of economist Nicolaus Tideman, 30 persons signed a letter dated November 7, 1990, advising Gorbachev to capture land rent to smooth the transition to a market economy. All but two of the signers were Ph.D. economists, many of them extremely prominent. Three of the signers, Franco Modigliani, Robert Solow and James Tobin, had been awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. One other signer, William Vickrey, was subsequently awarded that prize.

Open letter to Mikhail Gorbachev

November 7, 1990

Mikhail Gorbachev, President
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Dear Mr. Gorbachev:

The movement of the Soviet Union to a market economy will greatly enhance the prosperity of your citizens. Your economists have learned much from the experience of nations with economies based in varying degrees on free markets. Your plans for freely convertible currency, free trade, and enterprises undertaken and managed by individuals who receive the profit or bear the losses that result from their decisions are all highly commendable. But there is a danger that you will adopt features of our economies that keep us from being as prosperous as we might be. In particular, there is a danger that you may follow us in allowing most of the rent of land to be collected privately.

It is important that the rent of land be retained as a source of government revenue. While the governments of developed nations with market economies collect some of the rent of land in taxes, they do not collect nearly as much as they could, and they therefore make unnecessarily great use of taxes that impede their economies--taxes on such things as incomes, sales and the value of capital.

Social collection of the rent of land and natural resources serves three purposes. First, it guarantees that no one dispossesses fellow citizens by obtaining a disproportionate share of what nature provides for humanity. Second, it provides revenue with which governments can pay for socially valuable activities without discouraging capital formation or work effort, or interfering in other ways with the efficient allocation of resources. Third, the resulting revenue permits utility and other services that have marked economies of scale or density to be priced at levels conducive to their efficient use.

The rental value of land arises from three sources. The first is the inherent natural productivity of land, combined with the fact that land is limited. The second source of land value is the growth of communities; the third is the provision of public services. All citizens have equal claims on the component of land value that arises from nature. The component of land value that arises from community growth and provision of services is the most sensible source of revenue for financing public services that raise the rental value of surrounding land. These services include roads, urban transit networks, parks, and public utility networks for such services as electricity, telephones, water and sewers. A public revenue system should strive to collect as much of the rent of land as possible, allocating the part of rent derived from nature to all citizens equally, and the part derived from public services to the governmental units that provide those services. When governments collect the increase in land value that results from the provision of services, they are able to offer services at prices that represent the marginal social cost of these services, promoting efficient use of the services and enhancing the rental value of the land where the services are available. Government agencies that use land should be charged the same rentals as others for the land they use, or services will not be adequately financed and agencies will not have adequate incentive or guidance for economizing on their use of land.

Some economists might be tempted to suggest that the rent can be collected publicly simply by selling land outright at auction. There are a number of reasons why this is not a good idea. First, there is so much land to be turned over to private management that any effort to dispose of all of it in a short period would result in an extreme depression in prices offered. Second, some persons who could make excellent use of land would be unable to raise money for the purchase price. Collecting rent annually provides access to land for persons with limited access to credit. Third, subsequent resale of land would enable speculators to make large profits unrelated to any productive services they offer, resulting in needless inequity and dissatisfaction. Fourth, concern about future political conditions would tend to depress offers. Collecting rent annually permits the citizens of future years to capture the benefits of good future public policies. Fifth, because investors tend to be averse to risk, general uncertainty about the future will tend to depress offers. This risk aversion is sidestepped by allowing future rental payments to be determined by future conditions. Finally, the future rent of land can more justly be claimed by future generations than by today's citizens. Requiring annual payments from the users of land allows each year's population to claim that year's rent. While the proceeds of sales could be invested for the benefit of future generations, not collecting the money in advance guarantees the heritage of the future against political excesses.

The attached Appendix provides a brief technical discussion of issues of the duration of rights to use land, the transfer of land, the assessment of land, social protection against the abuse and subsequent abandonment of run-down property, and redistribution among localities to adjust for differences in natural per capita endowments. While these issues need to be addressed, none of them present insoluble problems.

A balance should be kept between allowing the managers of property to retain value derived from their own efforts to maintain and improve property, and securing for public use the naturally inherent and socially created value of land. Users of land should not be allowed to acquire rights of indefinite duration for single payments. For efficiency, for adequate revenue and for justice, every user of land should be required to make an annual payment to the local government, equal to the current rental value of the land that he or she prevents others from using.

Sincerely,

Nicolaus Tideman, Professor of Economics
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

William Vickrey, President for 1992
American Economic Association

Mason Gaffney, Professor of Economics
University of California, Irvine

Lowell Harriss, Professor Emeritus of Economics
Columbia University

Jacques Thisse, Professor of Economics
Center for Operations Research and Econometrics
University Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Charles Goetz, Joseph M. Hartfield Professor of Law

University of Virginia School of Law

Gene Wunderlich, Senior Agricultural Economist
Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Daniel R. Fusfeld, Professor Emeritus of Economics
University of Michigan

Elizabeth Clayton, Professor of Economics
University of Missouri at St. Louis

Robert Dorfman, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy
Harvard University

Carl Kaysen, Professor of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tibor Scitovsky, Emeritus Eberle Professor of Economics
Stanford University

Richard Goode
Washington, D.C.

Susan Rose-Ackerman, Eli Professor of Law and Political Economy
Yale Law School

James Tobin, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Economics

Yale University

Richard Musgrave, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy
Harvard University

Franco Modigliani, Professor Emeritus of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Warren J. Samuels, Professor of Economics
Michigan State University

Guy Orcutt, Professor Emeritus of Economics
Yale University

Eugene Smolensky, Dean of the School of Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley

Ted Gwartney, Real Estate Appraiser and Assessor
Anaheim, California

Oliver Oldman, Learned Hand Professor of Law
Harvard University

Zvi Griliches, Professor of Economics
Harvard University

William Baumol, Professor of Economics

Princeton University

Gustav Ranis, Frank Altschul Professor of International Economics
Yale University

John Helliwell, Prefessor of Economics
University of British Columbia

Giulio Pontecorvo, Professor
Graduate School of Business, Economics and Banking, Columbia University

Robert Solow, Institute Professor of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Alfred Kahn
Ithaca, New York

Harvey Levin, Augustus B. Weller Professor of Economics
Hofstra University

The names of individuals appear in the order in which they agreed to sign the letter. No individual speaks for any organization with which he or she is affiliated.

Appendix on Technical Issues

All individuals and enterprises should have the right to continue using the land they have been using, for as long as they are prepared to pay the rent of that land. The amount of rent to be paid will vary as the economy evolves. As is traditional in countries with market economies, if land is needed for some public purpose such as a highway, the judicial process should guarantee the user fair compensation for any improvements that have been made in good faith. Every user of land should also have the right to transfer ownership of the improvements on the land, together with the right to continue using the land upon payment of rent, to any buyer on any terms upon which they mutually agree.

For the rent of land to be collected publicly, land must be assessed, and then reassessed regularly. The assessment process is simplified by the fact that land rental values tend to change smoothly with location. Initially, a map of the value of land can be made by auctioning scattered sites on a rental basis, and then interpolating for the value of other sites, based on the experience of Western appraisers and assessors regarding the manner in which the value of land varies systematically. To update assessments in future years, the assessment office would auction sites that had been relinquished by their users, or sites with improvements that were almost fully depreciated, that had been acquired in voluntary transactions. Interpolation would again be used to estimate the rent of sites that had not been transferred.

With all or nearly all of the rent of land collected publicly, it would be necessary to guard against the possibility that users of land with fully depreciated improvements would abandon their property, leaving the State to demolish the improvements in preparation for the next use of the site. This potential problem can be avoided by requiring every user of land to post a government bond as a "security deposit" that the land will not be abandoned in a run-down condition. Interest on the bond could be applied to the annual rent.

Collection of the rent of land is best managed by local governments, but justice, as well as efficiency in migration incentives, requires that the part of rent that is attributable to nature rather than community development be shared on an equal per capita basis. Thus there is need of clearinghouse mechanism, into which all localities would deposit collections of rent from nature in excess of the average per capita amount, and from which other localities would receive compensation for their deficiencies of rent from nature, relative to the average per capita amount.

Philosophers, Statesmen and Other Notables

Philosophers, Statesman and Other Notables on the Land Problem and Land Value Capture / Taxation

John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Tom Paine, Leo Tolstoy, Winston Churchill, Mikhail Gorbachev, Sun Yat-Sen, Ambrose Bierce, David Lloyd George, Robert Pollok, Abraham Lincoln, Bertrand Russell, Ralph Nader, Karl Marx, Lenin, Gifford Pinchot, Horace Greeley, Pierre Joseph Proudhon, William Blackstone, Baruch Spinoza, Thomas Carlyle, Herbert Spencer, Voltaire, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Xun Quang Xunzi, Confucius, Mencius, Walt Whitman, Lanklin Currie, Jackson H. Ralston, Martin Luther King, Agnes de Mille, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Olgivie, Sir Ronald East, Teddy Roosevelt, Tom L. Johnson, Robert Ingersoll, Walter Mondale, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jomo Kenyatta, Alfred Deakin, Eli Siegel, Thomas Berry, Chief Seattle, Patricia Mische, Alexander Cockburn, Nancy Birdsall


John Locke (1632 - 1704):

God gave the world in common to all mankind.

Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826) author of the Declaration of Independence wrote:

The earth is given as a common stock for men to labor and to live on... Wherever in any country there are idle lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. Everyone may have land to labor for himself, if he chooses; or, preferring the exercise of any other industry, may exact for it such compensation as not only to afford a comfortable subsistence, but wherewith to provide for a cessation from labor in old age." (Notes on Virginia, 1791)


Mark Twain (1835 - 1910):

The earth belongs to the people. Every increase of population, extension of trade, every advance in the arts and sciences would, as we all know, increase the value of land, and the competition that would naturally arise would continue to force rents upward, so much so, that in many cases the tenants would have little or nothing left for themselves.


Tom Paine (1737 - 1809),who authored Common Sense which catalyzed the American Revolution and coined the phrase "the United States of America", wrote:

Men did not make the earth ... it is the value of the improvement only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property... Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds... from this ground-rent ... I ... propose ... to create a National Fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person ... (a) sum. (Agrarian Justice, 1795-6)


Leo Tolstoy (1828 - 1910):

Solving the land question means the solving of all social questions... possession of land by people who do not use it is immoral – just like the possession of slaves.

Winston S. Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1940-1945, 1951-1955, Winner 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature:

Land, which is a necessity of human existence, which is the original source of all wealth, which is strictly limited in extent, which is fixed geographical position –- land, I say, differs from all other forms of property in these primary and fundamental conditions.

I have made speeches by the yard on the subject of land value taxation, and you know what a supporter I am of that policy.

It is quite true that the land monopoly is not the only monopoly which exists, but it is by far the greatest of monopolies -- it is a perpetual monopoly, and it is the mother of all forms of monopoly.

Nothing is more amusing than to watch the efforts of our monopolist opponents to prove that other forms of property and increment are exactly the same, and are similar in all respects to the unearned increment in land.

It does not matter where you look or what examples you select, you will see that every form of enterprise, every step in material progress is undertaken only after the land monopolist has skimmed the cream off for himself and everywhere today, the man who wishes to put land to the highest use is forced to pay a preliminary fine in land values to the man who is putting it to an inferior use, or no use at all. All comes back to the land value.


Mikhail Gorbachev (b. 1931):

Natural rent must be a part of public revenue -- what they don't earn but rather what they simply receive from the nation.


Sun Yat-Sen, 1866-1925) Chinese revolutionary, "Father of the Nation", first president of the Republic of China, co-founder of the Kuomintang wrote:

The teachings of Henry George will be the basis of our program of reform... The (land tax) as the only means of supporting the government is an infinitely just, reasonable, and equitably distributed tax, and on it we will found our new system. The centuries of heavy and irregular taxation for the benefit of the Manchus have shown China the injustice of any other system of taxation.

When modern, enlightened cities levy land taxes, the burdens upon the common people are lightened, and many other advantages follow. If Canton city should now collect land taxes according to land values, the government would have a large and steady source of funds for administration. The whole place could be put into good order.

But at present, the rising land values in Canton all go to the landowners themselves -- they do not belong to the community. The government has no regular income, and so to meet expenses it has to levy all sorts of miscellaneous taxes upon the common people. This burden upon the common people is too heavy; they are always having to pay out taxes and so are terribly poor -- and the number of poor people in China is enormous. The reasons for the heavy burdens upon the poor are the unjust system of taxation practiced by the government, and the unequal distribution of land power and the failure to solve the land problem. If we can put the land tax completely into effect, the land problem will be solved and the common people will not have to endure such suffering.


Ambrose Bierce (The Devil's Dictionary, 1911):

LAND, n. A part of the earth's surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society.... Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some have the right to prevent others from living; for the right to own implies the right exclusively to occupy; and in fact laws of trespass are enacted wherever property in land is recognized. It follows that if the whole area of terra firma is owned by A, B and C, there will be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to exist.

David Lloyd George:

The Landlord is a gentleman who does not earn his wealth. He has a host of agents and clerks that receive for him. He does not even take the trouble to spend his wealth. He has a host of people around him to do the actual spending. He never sees it until he comes to enjoy it. His sole function, his chief pride, is the stately consumption of wealth produced by others.

Robert Pollok:

With one hand he put a penny in the urn of poverty, and with the other took a shilling out.

Abraham Lincoln, (1809-1865) President of the United States, 1861 to 1865. First President of the Republican Party, known as "the Great Emancipator":

The land, the earth God gave to man for his home, sustenance and support, should never be the possession of any man, corporation, society or unfriendly government, any more than the air or water -- if as much. An individual or company, or enterprise, acquiring land should hold no more than is required for their home and sustenance, and never more than they have in actual use in the prudent management of their legitimate business, and this much should not be permitted when it creates an exclusive monopoly.

Bertrand Russell, (1872-1970), British philosopher and mathematician who received the highest score in history on the Cambridge University entrance exam, wrote:

The mere abolition of rent would not remove injustice, since it would confer a capricious advantage upon the occupiers of the best sites and the most fertile land. It is necessary that there should be rent, but it should be paid to the state or to some body which performs public services; or, if the total rental were more than is required for such purposes, it might be paid into a common fund and divided equally among the population.

Ralph Nader, U.S. attorney and political activist, advocate of consumer rights, feminism, environmentalism and democratic government. Greens candidate for President, founder of almost fifty non-profit organisations:

Site-value property taxation may also spark greater development in cities by taxing land, not buildings. Unlike traditional taxation -- which rewards developers who put up cheap, tacky housing and strip malls -- site-value taxation gives developers the incentive to build gracious, durable buildings. Allowances for affordable housing, however, need to be part of site-value schemes.

We need a big debate on different kinds of taxation, to talk about how corporations are freeloading on public services and getting tax breaks while taxes are falling on workers and smaller businesses. We need to open a debate about land taxation and Henry George, to tax bad things, not good things, and not to tax people who go to work every day.

By 1875, Karl Marx recognized the monopoly power of the land. In a letter, he wrote (making much of his earlier criticism on taxing land values moot):

In present-day society the instruments of labour are the monopoly of the landowners (the monopoly of property in land is even the basis of the monopoly of capital) and the capitalists … the capitalist is usually not even the owner of the land on which his factory stands.

Lenin, as quoted by Raymond Robins after an interview following the war, Globe Democrat, St Louis, Jan 27, 1934:

The proper application of Georgian taxation of land values is a tax upon the mentality of a people beyond the capacity of a Nation not ten percent of whom have learned to read. They can't understand it. They can only understand socialism at present. Some day, with a higher level of intelligence, we may adopt the taxation of land values and enjoy economic freedom, but not now.

Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946), first head of the US Forest Service in the early 1900s challenged the logging of public land, which was infamously corrupt. He said:

The earth … belongs of right to all its people and not to a minority, insignificant in numbers but tremendous in wealth and power… The people shall get their fair share of the benefit which comes from the development of the country which belongs to us all… with equal opportunity for all and special privileges for none. (Breaking New Ground; 1947; p 509-510)

Horace Greeley (1811-1872), the anti-slavery crusader, elaborated:

Whenever the ownership of the soil is so engrossed by a small part of the community that the far larger part are compelled to pay whatever the few may see fit to exact for the privilege of occupying and cultivating the Earth, there is something very much like slavery.

Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), French journalist/anarchist, elaborated:

As long as land monopoly is maintained, the few can take possession of what Nature free of charge has granted to everyone, and usury will penetrate the whole society, and we will have banks, which instead of being servants for the exchange of goods will become powerful extorters.

William Blackstone (1732-1780), British judge, wrote:

The earth, therefore, and all things therein, are the general property of all mankind, from the immediate gift of the Creator."

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher, wrote

The whole soil should be public property.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish historian who christened economics “the dismal science”, asked, "Who can or who could sell us the earth? Actually the earth belongs to these two:

the almighty God and all his children who have ever worked on it or who will ever have worked on it or who will ever have to work on it. No generation of men can or could with even the highest solemnity and exertion sell the earth according to any other principle.

Herbert Spencer (1820-1910), British philosopher and more famous than Marx at the time, said:

Equity does not permit property in land... The world is God's bequest to mankind. All men are joint heirs to it.

Voltaire (1694-1778) had his character Candide say:

The fruits of the earth are a common heritage of all, to which each man has equal right.

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), said:

You are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to no one.

Xun Quang Xunzi, 3rd c. BC:

Heaven has its reasons, Earth has its resources, Man has his political order, thus forming with the first two a triad. But he would err if he failed to respect the ground rules of this triad and infringed on the other two.

Confucius (BC 551-479), Chinese philosopher, said:

"When the Great Way prevailed, natural resources were fully used for the benefit of all and not appropriated for selfish ends... This was the Age of the Great Commonwealth of peace and prosperity.

Mencius, the philosopher and contemporary of Confucius in ancient China, said:

In the market places, charge land-rent, but don't tax the goods; or make concise regulations and don't even charge rent. Do this, and all the merchants in the realm will be pleased and will want to set up shop in your markets. At the borders, make inspections but don't charge tariffs, then all the travelers in the realm will be pleased and will want to traverse your highways.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892):

The greatest country, the richest country, is not that which has the most capitalists, monopolists, immense grabbings, vast fortunes, with its sad, sad soil of extreme, degrading, damning poverty, but the land in which there are the most homesteads, freeholds-where wealth does not show such contrasts high and low, where all men have enough-a modest living-and no man is made possessor beyond the sane and beautiful necessities.

To head up the Federal Reserve and to be the nation's Economic Advisor, US President Franklin Roosevelt appointed a Harvard man, the Canadian Lanklin Currie, who said:

Controlling land was the key to civilization... It is a striking example of our economic illiteracy that we have more or less quietly acquiesced in the private appropriation of socially created gains, letting fortunate owners and their heirs levy tribute or claim a share of the national income to which they have contributed nothing… The rise in land values (and, to a small extent, building) that results from growth in numbers and income of a community is a reflection of pure scarcity. It arises from the community and should belong to the community. Ecistics, 244, March 1976, p 137-143.

Jackson H. Ralston (1857-1946), Washington, D.C. attorney said:

Until the Single Tax makes all our mineral resources equally available to all the community, thus destroying the special profits now accruing to those able to hold land out of use, the most oppressive trusts in existence will find their way clear to retain their power, despite anti-trust laws, interstate commerce laws, and all the publicity we may by law give their operations.

Martin Luther King, Jr.:

I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
- “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”

An intelligent approach to the problems of poverty and racism will cause us to see the words of the Psalmist - "The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof" - are still a judgment upon our use and abuse of the wealth and resources with which we have been endowed. - A Testament of Hope: The Essential Speeches and Writings of Martin Luther King Jr., pp 629-630.

Agnes de Mille (1905-1993), famous choreographer and granddaughter of Henry George:

We have reached the deplorable circumstance where in large measure a very powerful few are in possession of the earth's resources, the land and all its riches, and all the franchises and other privileges that yield a return. These monopolistic positions are kept by a handful of men who are maintained virtually with- out taxation . . . we are yielding up sovereignty.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82)American poet:

Grimly the spirit of progress looks into the law of property and accuses men of driving a trade in the great, boundless providence which has given the air, the water, and the land to men to use and not to fence in and monopolize.

William Ogilvie (1736 - 1819), Scottish scholar and writer:

The earth having been given to mankind in common occupancy, each individual seems to have by nature a right to possess and cultivate an equal share. This right is little different from that which he has to the free use of the open air and running water; though not so indispensably requisite at short intervals for his actual existence, it is not less essential to the welfare and right state of his life through all its progressive stages.

Sir Ronald East (1899 - 1994):

With our system of land tenure, each generation pays an ever-increasing tribute to the landowner. Nearly all the benefit of mechanical invention and discovery, scientific and agricultural development, increased efficiency of labour, improved methods of business go not to the worker, employer or investor industrial stocks, but to the investor in land. It is thus that great fortunes are made - by unearned increment.

U.S. Congressman William J. Coyne, in 1990 letter to the chair of the D.C. Committee on Finance and Revenue:

...You are considering a differential property tax for the District of Columbia. When I was on the Pittsburgh City Council, Pittsburgh adopted a similar tax. A Nobel Prize-winning economist assured me we were on sound ground. Opponents, however, insisted higher land taxes would drive business away, reduce the housing supply, drive up housing prices and retard development. After passage, just the opposite happened. Pittsburgh immediately experienced a commercial building boom. Many derelict buildings were replaced. Despite a housing slump nationwide and in our metropolitan area, housing construction in the city reached new heights. Our consistently low housing prices have been a factor in making Pittsburgh one of the most livable cities in the nation.

Teddy Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th president of the US and a loser against George in the 1886 mayoral race for New York City, said:

The burden of taxation should be so shifted as to put the weight upon the unearned rise in the value of land itself, rather than improvements, the effect being to prevent the undue rise of rents.

Tom L. Johnson (1876-1934), millionaire industrialist and mayor of Cleveland, hired economists to disprove George. When none could, he concluded:

What the world needs is justice, not benevolence. To the extent the law grants special favors to some, do the people suffer. The greatest special privilege is land monopoly, made possible by the exemption from taxation of land values. So long as it is permitted to any man to take what doesn't belong to him through monopolizing nature's resources and the private ownership of public utilities, plenty of men of my kind will always be ready to jump in and do the stealing. My mission is to take what people are stupid enough to let me take, and to show them how they can put an end to the system which enriches me and impoverishes them. (Christian Science Weekly, 1933)

Ed Dodson, U.S. mortgage analyst, author:

What effects the value of land is demand for the location. To the extent the location is subject to a payment of an annual tax that equals its rental value, the price the owner can obtain in a sales transaction will - all things being equal - be quite low because there is no imputed income stream to be capitalized.

Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899) American political leader and orator:

Now, the land belongs to the children of nature. Nature invites into this world every babe who is born. And what would you think of me, for instance, tonight, if I had invited you here - nobody had charged anything, but you had been invited - and when you got here you had found one man pretending to occupy a hundred seats, another fifty, another seventy five, and thereupon you were compelled to stand up - what would you think of the invitation? It seems to me that every child of nature is entitled to his share of land, and that he should not be compelled to beg the privilege to work the soil of a babe that happened to be born before him.

US Senator Walter Mondale said:

The federal government could further the taxation of land values. It could levy such a federal tax itself and this would be much preferable to taxes on labor and capital investment.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), ex-US president who in 1950 voted for Henry George to enter into the Hall of Fame, wondered:

why the world's resources could not be internationalized, since raw materials represented the world's basic needs, they should belong to and serve everybody.

Jomo Kenyatta, (1889 - 1978), prime minister of Kenya:

When the white man came we had the land and they had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed and when we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.

Alfred Deakin, (1857 - 1919), Australia's second prime minister:

The whole of the people have the right of the ownership of land and the right to share in the value of land itself, though not to share in the fruits of land which properly belong to the individuals by whose labour they are produced.

Eli Siegel, an American poet and philosopher, in his 1946 essay “Ownership: Some Moments,” stated:

How the earth should be owned is the major economic question of this time; as it is the oldest.

In another essay, “Self and World” he declared:

The world should be owned by the people living in it. Every person should be seen as living in a world truly his.

Thomas Berry:

Humans in their totality are born of the earth. We are earthlings. The earth is our origin, our nourishment, our support, our guide... Thus the whole burden of modern earth studies is to narrate the story of the birth of humans from our Mother Earth.

Chief Seattle:

“This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Patricia Mische:

The more we grow in awareness of our own sacred source, the more we discover that our own sacred source is the sacred source of each person and all that is in the universe.

Alexander Cockburn:

Windfall land value increases are created by government actions, roads, sewer lines, light rail, re-zoning, etc. The people should share in the ballooning value of land.

Nancy Birdsall, founding president of the Center for Global Development, formerly in senior positions at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Inter-American Development Bank, and formerly executive VP at the Inter-American Development Bank:

The key to East Asia's success seemed to be its low initial levels of inequality, which were associated with the legacy of postwar redistribution of farm land in the northern economies and with subsequent high public investments in education, agricultural extension, and other programs in rural areas… Land inequality (and unequal access to education) when combined with poor markets for land and credit may also be destructive for growth itself, and especially for growth that benefits the poor. Some evidence suggests that large landowners captured most of the benefits of agricultural growth in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s. In contrast, in Indonesia, where small farmers provide the bulk of agricultural production, agricultural productivity and growth were greater in that period, and were better for the rural poor. (The Boston Review, March/April 2000)

Quotes on the Land Ethic

Quotes on the Land Ethic

Chief Seattle

Gerard Winstanley

Henry George

Aldo Leopold

Sir Allen Fairhall

David Lloyd George

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Thomas Carlyle

Voltaire

James Fintan Lalor

Leo Tolstoy

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Phillip Snowden

Jomo Kenyatta

Alfred Deakin

Pope St. Gregory I

Frank A.W. Lucas

Pope John Paul II

Murray Bookchin

Gifford Pinchot

Baruch Spinoza

William Blackstone

Lanklin Currie

Martin Luther King

Eli Siegel

Thomas Berry

Patricia Mische

Erik Eckholm

Robert Scrofani

Jakob von Uexkull

Emer Ó Siochrú

Annie Dillard

Douglas Frazier

Thaddeus Stevens

James Howard Kunstler


Chief Seattle, (ca. 1854) Led the Pacific Northwest Indian tribe, the Dwamish, to adapt peacefully to the loss of their land to white settlers. In his 1855 concession speech to his tribe and recently arrived representatives of the US Government, he said:

How can you buy or sell the sky – the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us... Every part of this earth is sacred to us.

Chief Seattle:

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every hillside, every valley, every clearing and wood, is holy in the memory and experience of my people. Even those unspeaking stones along the shore are loud with events and memories in the life of my people. The ground beneath your feet responds more lovingly to our steps than yours, because it is the ashes of our grandfathers. Our bare feet know the kindred touch. The earth is rich with the lives of our kin.

Chief Seattle:

This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.


Gerard Winstanley,
(1609? - 1660?) a leader of the 17th century Diggers movement:

None ought to be lords or landlords over another, but the earth is free for every son and daughter of mankind to live free upon.


Henry George,
(1839-1897) American political economist, author of Progress and Poverty and other works:

If you would realize what land is, think of what men would be without land. If there were no land, where would be the people? Land is not merely a place to graze cows or sheep upon, to raise corn or raise cabbage. It is the indispensable element necessary to the life of every human being. We are all land animals; our very bodies come from the land, and to the land they return again.


Aldo Leopold, in A Sand County Almanac (1949):

When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. There is no other way for land to survive the impact of mechanized man.


Sir Allen Fairhall, Liberal Australian Federal MP 1949-1969 and Minister in Menzies, Holt, McEwen, and Gorton governments:

Around the world the demand for land rights becomes ever more strident. The possibility of eventual confrontation between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' on the land question awaits only an awakening by the landless masses to the enormity of the crime involved in the denial of what must be surely the most basic of human rights to share equitably in the bounty of the earth."


David Lloyd George, (1916-1922) 1st Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:

We want to do something to bring the land within the grasp of the people. We want to put an end to the system whereby the land of this country is retailed by the ounce, so that there should not be an extra grain of breathing spaces. . . .The resources of the land are frozen by the old feudal system. I am looking forward to the spring-time, when the thaw will set in, and when the people and the children of the people shall enter into the inheritance that has been given them from on high.


Jean Jacques Rousseau, (1712-1778) A philosopher of the Enlightenment whose political ideas influenced the French Revolution:

You are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to no one.

Jean Jacques Rousseau in A Discourse on the Origins of Inequality:

The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself as saying ‘this is mine’ and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: ‘Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.’

Thomas Carlyle, (1795-1881), Scottish historian who christened economics the dismal science:,

Who can or who could sell us the earth? Actually the earth belongs to these two: the almighty God and all his children who have ever worked on it or who will ever have worked on it or who will ever have to work on it. No generation of men can or could with even the highest solemnity and exertion sell the earth according to any other principle.


Voltaire, (1694-1778 )French Enlightenment writer and philosopher had his character Candide say:

The fruits of the earth are a common heritage of all, to which each man has equal right.


James Fintan Lalor,
(1807 - 49), Irish patriot:

The Irish Famine of 1846 is example and proof. The corn crops were sufficient to feed the island. But the landlords would have their rents in spite of famine and in defiance of fever. They took the whole harvest and left hunger to those who raised it. Had the people of Ireland been the landlords of Ireland, not a human creature would have died of hunger, nor the failure of the potato been considered a matter of any consequence.


Leo Tolstoy,
(1828 - 1910):

The land is common to all; all have the same right to it.


Ralph Waldo Emerson,
(1803 -1882), noted American poet and essayist:

Whilst another man has no land, my title to mine, and your title to yours, is at once vitiated.


Jomo Kenyatta,

(1889 - 1978), prime minister of Kenya:

When the white man came we had the land and they had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed and when we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.


1st Viscount Phillip Snowden,
(1864 - 1937), British Chancellor of the Exchequer:

There never was a time when the need was greater than it is today for the application of the philosophy and principles of Henry George to the economic and political conditions which are scourging the world … Permanent peace can only be established when men and nations have realised that natural resources should be a common heritage.


Alfred Deakin,
(1857 - 1919), Australia's second prime minister:

The whole of the people have the right of the ownership of land and the right to share in the value of land itself, though not to share in the fruits of land which properly belong to the individuals by whose labour they are produced.


Pope St. Gregory I,
The Great, (540 - 604) in Cura Pastoralis:

Those who make private property of the gift of God pretend in vain to be innocent. For, in thus retaining the subsistence of the poor, they are the murderers of those who die every day for the want of it.


Frank A.W. Lucas,
President (1955-59) of International Union for Land Value Taxation and Free Trade, and former Judge of the Supreme Court Of South Africa:

The world's problems can all be reduced to difficulties arising from injustice, from disregard of the dignity and of the inherent natural rights of the individual. The law of human progress is the moral law. In no country do we find real freedom for the individual. The greatest inroad on that freedom is made by our present land system. It places the landless at the mercy of the landlords who, because of that system, have the power to determine the conditions on which the former may obtain permission to live and work.


Pope John Paul II,
in Mexico in 1979:

There is always a social mortgage on all private property, in order that 'goods may serve the general purpose that God gave them. The land is held in stewardship for humanity.


Murray Bookchin,
Social ecology founder in Remaking Society:

The earth can no longer be owned; it must be shared. Its fruits, including those produced by technology and labor, can no longer be expropriated by the few; they must be rendered available to all on the basis of need.


Gifford Pinchot,
(1865-1946), first head of the US Forest Service in the early 1900s challenged the logging of public land said in Breaking New Ground:

"The earth … belongs of right to all its people and not to a minority, insignificant in numbers but tremendous in wealth and power… The people shall get their fair share of the benefit which comes from the development of the country which belongs to us all… with equal opportunity for all and special privileges for none."


Baruch Spinoza, (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher:

The whole soil should be public property.


William Blackstone,
(1732-1780), British judge:

The earth, therefore, and all things therein, are the general property of all mankind, from the immediate gift of the Creator.


Lanklin Currie , Appointed by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt to head up the Federal Reserve and to be the nation's Economic Advisor:

Controlling land was the key to civilization... It is a striking example of our economic illiteracy that we have more or less quietly acquiesced in the private appropriation of socially created gains, letting fortunate owners and their heirs levy tribute or claim a share of the national income to which they have contributed nothing… The rise in land values….that results from growth in numbers and income of a community is a reflection of pure scarcity. It arises from the community and should belong to the community.


Martin Luther King, Jr.,
(1929-1968):

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.

An intelligent approach to the problems of poverty and racism will cause us to see the words of the Psalmist – ‘The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.’ - are still a judgment upon our use and abuse of the wealth and resources with which we have been endowed.


Eli Siegel,
(1902-1978) American poet and philosopher, in his 1946 essay Ownership - Some Moments:

How the earth should be owned is the major economic question of this time; as it is the oldest.

In another essay, Self and World he declared:

The world should be owned by the people living in it. Every person should be seen as living in a world truly his.


Thomas Berry,
(1914-) Catholic priest, cultural historian and ecotheologian or ‘Earth scholar’:

Humans in their totality are born of the earth. We are earthlings. The earth is our origin, our nourishment, our support, our guide... Thus the whole burden of modern earth studies is to narrate the story of the birth of humans from our Mother Earth.


Patricia Mische,
Co-Founder, Global Education Associations:

The more we grow in awareness of our own sacred source, the more we discover that our own sacred source is the sacred source of each person and all that is in the universe.


Erik Eckholm, wrote in his lucid World Watch monograph, "The Dispossessed of the Earth … Land Reform and Suitable Development:

Many of the international community's widely shared goals-the elimination of malnutrition, the provision of jobs for all, the slowing of runaway rural-urban migration, the protection of productive soils and ecologically vital forests -- are not likely to be achieved without radical changes in the ownership and control of the land. It is a delusion to think that the basic needs of the world's poorest people will be met without renewed attention to the politically sensitive land tenure question. It is even a greater delusion to think that the dispossed of the earth will watch their numbers grow and their plight worsen without protesting. The issue of land reform will not go away."

In the U.S., where only one in every twenty-eight people live on a farm, changes in the size and the ownership of farms today are generating questions about the implications for employment, resource use and community welfare. In Africa, Asia and Latin America, where three-fourths of the world's people, the control of farmland remains the principal key to wealth, status and power. Hundreds of millions of families are struggling to improve their lives through agriculture without secure access to the basis of agricultural life-farmland.


Robert Scrofani, California high school teacher, former director, Henry George School of Social Science of Northern California:

The patterns of land ownership shape patterns of human relationships. They help determine the possibility and pace of economic change. To ignore the land tenure question, and in fact, not to give it the primary focus of our energy will guarantee that our efforts will fail. Man has a continuous relationship to land, in agrarian as well as industrial societies, in poor as well as rich nations. Changing the relationship of the people to the land is the stuff of revolution -- political, economic and ethical. For even the most economically advanced countries, landownership remains a significant source of wealth and influence.


Jakob von Uexkull,
founder of the "Alternative Nobel Prizes" (the Right Livelihood Awards):

Without fair compensation, all talk of the 'global commons' or the 'common heritage of mankind' will be seen by the poor as another attempt to expropriate their resources.


Emer Ó Siochrú,
Land and Housing Group, FEASTA, Ireland:

This common right of each human being to benefit from the Earth's natural capital should be protected and respected by legitimate governments at the appropriate level.


Annie Dillard,
(1945 -) Pulitzer Prize-winning American author:

There is only us; there never has been any other.


Douglas Frazier,
United Auto Workers President, said before the National Conference on Alternate State and Local Policies in 1979:

One day, we are going to ask ourselves, did anyone make the oil and minerals and then put them in the ground? We will then realize that they belong to all of us.


Thaddeus Stevens, (1792-1868) Powerful Civil War congressman from south central Pennsylvania, USA. He was Speaker of the House for many years, a radical advocate of the abolition of slavery and the major proponent of land reform during Reconstruction. Stevens wanted the fertile plantation lands of the South to be allocated to the freed slaves and poor whites. In his view this plan would also help to solve the race problem by uniting freed slaves and poor whites on an economic basis. He said:

No people will ever be republican in spirit and practice where a few own immense manors and the masses are landless. Small independent landholders are the support and guardians of republican liberty.

Stevens wanted the large landholdings seized, with forty acres and a mule to farm them allotted to each former slave. This would do justice to those whose uncompensated labor had cleared and cultivated the southern land, he reasoned. He envisioned a land of productive and independent small farms. After this allocation there would still remain millions of acres - 90 percent of the land in fact - which could be sold to help pay the national debt, reduce taxes, and provide pensions for Union soldiers and reimbursement for citizens whose property had been destroyed during the war. - Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, Thaddeus Stevens: Confiscation and Reconstruction, The Hofstadter Aegis: A Memorial (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974).


James Howard Kunstler,

Our system of property taxes punishes anyone who puts up a decent building made of durable materials. It rewards those who let existing buildings go to hell. It favors speculators who sit on vacant or underutilized land in the hearts of our cities and towns. In doing so it creates an artificial scarcity of land on the free market, which drives up the price of land in general and encourages even more scattered development, i.e., suburban sprawl..." - from his book, The Geography of Nowhere

Country-Specific Quotes

Quotes on Land Ethics and Land Value Capture – Country Specific

Note: If you have suggestions for additional country-specific quotes please send Contact Us form

Argentina

Australia

Austria

Bangladesh

Brazil

Canada

China

Cuba

France

Germany

Greece

India

Ireland

Japan

Kenya

Netherlands

Nigeria

Philippines

Russia

Republic of South Africa

Taiwan

United Kingdom

United States

Argentina

Argentina SWOT Analysis

While profiting of the land as a trade object and not collecting land rent, property rights become a mechanism to live off other people's work.... the monopolizing of lands and the private appropriation of land rent are extremely violent acts. - Héctor Raúl Sandler, Director, Instituto de Capacitacion Economica - Para la constitucion de una nueva economia nacional

http://www.icepal.com.ar/
Argentina: Country of the Permanent Crisis
Unveiling the Mystery: Roots of the Argentinean Crisis
Develando El Misterio Para El Libro

Australia


Alfred Deakin said (first Prime Minister of Australia):

The whole of the people have the right to the ownership of land and the right to share in the value of land itself, though not to share in the fruits of land which properly belong to the individuals by whose labour they are produced.


Walter Burley Griffin (1876 - 1937), designer of Canberra, and member of Chicago Single Tax Club:

Without being familiar with political affairs in Australia, I cannot refrain from extending congratulations to your Government on the stand it has taken to maintain for the Commonwealth in perpetuity the rental value of the capital site. Failure to do this everywhere is largely responsible for distortion and prevention of natural city growth, nowhere better exemplified than in our own capital, Washington, where speculative holdings perverted the development from a splendid start with far-seeing plan, and where the financial benefits of the nation's backing are now accruing to private individuals. (In a letter to the Minister of Home Affairs in September 1912)


Clyde Cameron (Federal Minister for Labour in the 1972- 1975 Whitlam government):

Rent is not a tax! It is merely giving to the community a rental equivalent of the special advantage of being allowed to hold the exclusive possession of a piece of land which due to its location or productivity, gives its possessor an advantage others don't enjoy.

It is better to pay a small amount of land tax (rent) on your block of land than to pay a large amount in income tax and indirect taxation.

I do not deny that all taxes, with the exception of those on economic rent and inherited wealth, have some [adverse] employment and economic growth effects. - John Howard, Liberal, Prime Minister of Australia

We of the Australian Labor Party have always believed that the land is the patrimony of the people and that nobody has a complete and absolute title to it. ...The land belongs to the people, and its use must be safeguarded and protected at all times ... We have always believed in the land tax, and when happy days come again we shall restore the measure imposing the tax to the statute book of this country. - Arthur Calwell, Leader, Australian Labor Party, Hansard, Vol 221, pp 165-170 passim

Around the world the demand for land rights becomes ever more strident. The possibility of eventual confrontation between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' on the land question awaits only an awakening by the landless masses to the enormity of the crime involved in the denial of what must be surely the most basic of human rights to share equitably in the bounty of the earth. - Sir Allen Fairhall, Liberal, Federal MP 1949-1969 and Minister in Menzies, Holt, McEwen, and Gorton governments.

Was ever so simple a remedy offered to a sick world? Cease imposing taxation on anything that is the result of human effort, and collect your public revenue by taking the only element of value that remains, i.e., the rent of land - then expect to see poverty disappear and an equitable distribution of wealth established. Such in brief is the message of him in whom the force of a powerful intellect was joined to fervid passions. - Edward John Craigie, Independent, SA MP (1930-1941)

The Australian aborigines, many of whom lived in harmony with nature, testified at a British Parliament hearing in 1988:

our land claim doesn't take one piece of land from anybody." How? They instead claimed a share Rent – from which they could restore their culture.

Austria

Austrian Green Party (below in “From Taking to Sharing”) advocates the Environmental Tax Shift and a social salary.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh business news on land tax
By F. H. M. Masoom, Financial Express, March 20, 2007

The owners of the properties whose value increase year to year enjoy the unearned increment without contributing anything towards the development of the country. To tax them is most justified and not to tax them is unethical.

Brazil

John Paul II said in Brazil in 1991:

The high concentration of land ownership demands a just agrarian reform. It has no justification whatsoever.

Canada

David Suzuki, the British Columbia geneticist and TV show host, authored an article distributed thru-out Canada (1995 Feb 11) that seconded Herman Daly (#s 15, 43, 116, & 121):

Raise the bulk of public revenue from taxes on thru-put either at the depletion or pollution end. Keep progressivity by taxing very high incomes and subsidizing very low incomes.

The Green Party (Canada) believes that taxation is a tool that should be used to achieve policy objectives. Resource use taxes and land value levies should be used to provide incentives to businesses and citizens to conserve energy and resources and to use land more efficiently.

Green Party of British Columbia leader, Tom Hetherington, in spring 2000 said:

Our tax shift program is built on five points: by taxing pollution we would scrap small business taxes; by taxing resource consumption we would slash income tax; by taxing land values we would control urban sprawl; by taxing high energy draw development projects we would encourage sustainable town centers; by taxing automobile use we would ease grid lock and encourage public transit.

British Columbia's Victorian Transportation Policy Institute, run by Todd Litman lists a bibliography of over 70 entries on funding transit from rent in the Online TDM Encyclopedia (www.vtpi.org).

The six eastern provinces in Canada have always used the capital system. The four western provinces have adopted the site valuation system in part. The rural areas in the three prairie provinces reduced the taxes on improvements a full 100% early in this century. Between 1903 and 1913 western Canada, under the capital system, experienced a boom of disastrous proportions. During that period land values in Regina increased from $10,490,720 in 1909 to $82,490,720 in 1914 - increase $71,718,390, or 684%; in Edmonton from $5,314,405 to $191,283,979 - increase $185,969,575, or 3500%; in Calgary from $2,289,655 to $120,801,588 - increase $118,511,933, or 5180%. During the boom both rural and urban municipalities in a frantic but belated effort to check it began to adopt the site value system. It was too late. All four provinces reeled under the shock of the depression. There was a disastrous crash in both land and improvement values. Its effects lasted until well into the thirties. During this period some municipalities increased their taxes on improvements in part. It has been claimed that these developments prove that the site value system was a failure. The facts are that in its early days it never had a chance to succeed. Most of the urban municipalities have continued to exempt improvements from taxation by percentages that run from small to as high as 70%.

For more information or copies of reports and studies by the Canadian Research Committee on Taxation, contact us.

Chartered by the CanadianGovernment since 1964 as a non-profit organisation.

China

Xun Quang Xunzi, 3rd c. BC:

Heaven has its reasons, Earth has its resources, Man has his political order, thus forming with the first two a triad. But he would err if he failed to respect the ground rules of this triad and infringed on the other two.

Confucius (BC 551-479), Chinese philosopher, said:

When the Great Way prevailed, natural resources were fully used for the benefit of all and not appropriated for selfish ends... This was the Age of the Great Commonwealth of peace and prosperity.

Mencius, the philosopher and contemporary of Confucius in ancient China, said:

In the market places, charge land-rent, but don't tax the goods; or make concise regulations and don't even charge rent. Do this, and all the merchants in the realm will be pleased and will want to set up shop in your markets. At the borders, make inspections but don't charge tariffs, then all the travelers in the realm will be pleased and will want to traverse your highways. 2A: 5. A new translation by Charles Muller. www.human.toyogakuen-u.ac.jp/~acmuller/contao/. (Tom Sherrard.)

Dr. Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), father of modern China, wrote:

The teachings of Henry George will be the basis of our program of reform... The (land tax) as the only means of supporting the government is an infinitely just, reasonable, and equitably distributed tax... The centuries of heavy and irregular taxation for the benefit of the manchus have shown China the injustice of any other system of taxation.

When modern, enlightened cities levy land taxes, the burdens upon the common people are lightened, and many other advantages follow. If Canton city should now collect land taxes according to land values, the government would have a large and steady source of funds for administration. The whole place could be put into good order.

But at present, the rising land values in Canton all go to the landowners themselves -- they do not belong to the community. The government has no regular income, and so to meet expenses it has to levy all sorts of miscellaneous taxes upon the common people. This burden upon the common people is too heavy; they are always having to pay out taxes and so are terribly poor -- and the number of poor people in China is enormous. The reasons for the heavy burdens upon the poor are the unjust system of taxation practiced by the government, and the unequal distribution of land power and the failure to solve the land problem. If we can put the land tax completely into effect, the land problem will be solved and the common people will not have to endure such suffering.

Sun Yat Sen, Chinese revolutionary, "Father of the Nation", first president of the Republic of China, co-founder of the Kuomintang

China raises one of its rates on some land
China Information Daily, 2007

The rate for annual land-use taxes was increased to triple the previous rate, which varied depending on the city size and type of land use. The reason for the increase, according to government sources, was an attempt at "bringing better control and better planning to the development and redevelopment of land." Property prices have skyrocketed because of run-away land investment, and these, as well as other measures, are the government's attempt to cool investment and thereby avoid a potential market crash.

Cuba

...one of the most cogent and audacious thinkers, ...George's book was a revelation not only for the workers, but also for the intellectuals. Only Darwin, in the natural sciences, left an impression comparable to that of George in the social sciences. ...His devotion can be compared to the love of Nazareen, expressed in the language of our times. ... - José Martí, leader of the Cuban independence movement and noted poet and writer

France

Thus the form of assessment which is the most simple, the most regular, the most profitable to the state, and the least burdensome to the tax-payers, is that which is made proportionate to and laid directly on the source of continually regenerated wealth (land). - Francois Quesnay, (1694 - 1774), French physician and economist around whom the Physiocrats were formed.

The French physiocrats, (27) Dr. Francois Quesnay (1694-1774) and (28) Baron A. R. Jacques Turgot (1727-1781) simplified this thought and coined the phrase "l'impot unique" ("the single tax"). One of the Enlightenment's wise men, Mirabeau the Elder, held that their discovery would be a "social advance equal to the inventions of writing and money."

Voltaire (1694-1778) had his character Candide say:

The fruits of the earth are a common heritage of all, to which each man has equal right.

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), said:

You are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to no one.

Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), French journalist/anarchist, elaborated:

As long as land monopoly is maintained, the few can take possession of what Nature free of charge has granted to everyone, and usury will penetrate the whole society, and we will have banks, which instead of being servants for the exchange of goods will become powerful extorters.

Germany

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), German philosopher, noted:

Whether it is the man or the earth I own, the bird or its food, it is essentially the same thing.

Silvio Gesell (1862-1930), German reformer, earned fame for the successful application of his monetary reform in Austria between the world wars. John Maynard Keynes and Irving Fisher cited his proposal of allowing local currencies and requiring savers to buy stamps for their savings, so people would spend instead, keeping bills circulating. In his main work, The Natural Economic Order through Free Land and Free Money, Gesell rejected the association of "blood" with "land". The whole earth is an integral organ; everyone should be free to travel and settle anywhere. Gesell advocated an open world market without monopolies, customs frontiers, and colonial conquest. Inspired by Henry George, whose Single Tax on land value had become known in Germany, Gesell called upon government to buy land and lease it to the highest bidder and to forgo taxation. Since the amount of Rent depends on population density, Gesell would distribute Rent to mothers, freeing them from working fathers, letting the sexes relate for love. Gesell's reform is a third way, "a market economy without capitalism".

The German Institute for Economic Research, contracted by Greenpeace, concluded in their Economic Bulletin (v 31, n 7) that:

an energy tax returned to firms as a reduction in employers' social insurance contributions and to private households as a per capita allowance ("eco bonus") would be feasible in legal terms and have positive effects even if implemented in a single country.

German Green Margrit Kennedy (#128) in Interest And Inflation Free Money (1988, p 32) elaborates:

a combination of private use and communal ownership would be the most advantageous solution for achieving social justice and allowing individual growth... (society) would buy up all its land and lease it out to its inhabitants... The constitution of ... Germany describes land as an asset which carries a 'social' responsibility. (Editor comment: But why buy the land? If society is to compensate landholders, why not the landless?)

Dr. Margrit Kennedy (cited above in “Property of whom?”) claimed that the increase in German land and building value from 1950 to 1980 was enough to give every German DM800 a month for life. (Editor note: One wonders how much the dividend would be from only the land value.)

Greece

Princess Alice of Greece (1885-1967), mother of Prince Philip, the consort to the Queen of England, wrote:

I have studied Henry George. The idea of a Single Tax could contribute to the economic restoration of our country. (Athens daily paper, Proia, 22 May 1927)

India

Punjab News, 28 January 2007
By G.S.Bhalla, professor in the department of Commerce and Business Management, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

Taxing unearned income is preferable to taxing earned income. The tax shift to resource use and community-generated land values will distribute income more fairly without dependence on income and business taxation to redistribute income. Taxing unearned income (resources, land) and not earned income (jobs, profits) will reduce the rich-poor gap since the rich are always in a better position to capture unearned or windfall income by their ability to hold assets that they do not have to consume. Pay for what you take, not for what you make. Businesses should not be taxed for hiring people or for earning a profit, but should be charged for using resources and polluting the planet. People should not be taxed for earning an income or purchasing products but should be charged for the value of land they own and the resources used in the products they buy. Resource use and polluting are privileges not rights, and businesses and consumers should pay for these privileges.

Ireland

The Irish Famine of 1846 is example and proof. The corn crops were sufficient to feed the island. But the landlords would have their rents in spite of famine and in defiance of fever. They took the whole harvest and left hunger to those who raised it. Had the people of Ireland been the landlords of Ireland, not a human creature would have died of hunger, nor the failure of the potato been considered a matter of any consequence. - James Fintan Lalor, (1807 - 49), Irish patriot

The Irish Green Party's Manifesto (1989) states:

The land tax, used together with energy and other ('sin') taxes (and user fees) as a source of funding of guaranteed basic income, is a means of ensuring that everyone shares in the wealth of the land by virtue of citizenship.

FEASTA LAND & HOUSING GROUP - Rampant inflation in land and house prices has been a defining characteristic of Ireland's 'Tiger Economy'. This trend has in several ways been beneficial for the Government parties, for developers, landowners, mortgage lenders, estate agents, private sector landlords and many property owners. At the same time the younger first-time buyer, tenants and the poor have suffered. Many young families are now heavily indebted for cheaply built houses located far from their workplace and from public/community facilities. Tenants are also paying exorbitant rents to live near their college or place of employment. Though much has been written about the housing crisis our policy makers and mainstream commentators have little to offer in terms of solutions it would seem.

Land Value Tax: Unfinished Business November 2004 by Emer Ó Siochrú This paper is reprinted, with permission, from the book A Fairer Tax System For A Fairer Ireland, published by the CORI Justice Commission. The book also contains papers by Tom Dunne and Richard Douthwaite. It can be downloaded in its entirety from the CORI website, in PDF format, at www.cori.ie/justice/publications/papers/A_Fairer_Tax_System.pdf.

Quotes found in Land Value Tax: Unfinished Business

I would abolish land monopoly by simply taxing all land, exclusive of improvements, up to its full value...In other words, I would recognize private property in the results of labour, and not in land. - Davitt, Michael, Some Suggestions for the Final Settlement of the Land Question(1902)

Thus the land question remained possibly the most potent political issue in rural Ireland long after independence and one of the great determinants of political survival and decline. (P229-30 Dooley.) Dooley, Terence, Land for the People; The land Question in Independent Ireland, 2004, UCD Dublin

This common right of each human being to benefit from the Earth's natural capital should be protected and respected by legitimate governments at the appropriate level. - Emer Ó Siochrú

In Ireland, one of the reasons why it is expensive to buy a house is that it is cheap to own one, there being no property taxes (rates) on residences and the exchequer (or, rather, taxpayers who do not have a mortgage) pays some of the interest relief. This subsidized ownership raises the demand for housing, to the benefit of builders, landowners and mortgage lenders. 32 (P118, Bristow) Bristow, J, Taxation in Ireland : An Economist Perspective, 2004, Institute of Public Administration, Dublin

When the particular identity most of us inherited was taking shape in the later 19th century, affinity with the land was at the heart of it. Perhaps this is an opportune time to look back at the ideals that shaped that evolving modern Irish sense of identity. If we can recover it and bring it to fruition it perhaps never fully attained in the past, perhaps we may be able to shape it to an authentic mode of bioregionalism appropriate to Ireland: authentic in the way it is grounded in tradition, but fuelled by the advances and insights of modern ecology and modern agricultural principles of sustainability and environmental responsibility. 36 (Feehan, John, P. 526) Feehan, John, Farming in Ireland, 2003, Faculty of Agriculture UCD

For contacts with those interested in land value taxation for Ireland connect with FEASTA - The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability. Contact the FEASTA Land and Housing Group Chair, Emer O-Siochru. Email: land at feasta dot org

Japan

Gen. Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), commander of the US occupation force in Japan after World War II, hired Carl Shoup to help him reform land holding and thereby rebuild Japan. Their revision of the Japanese Constitution reversed the rent ratio between owners (whose portion dropped from 2/3 to 1/3) and tenants (whose rose from 1/3 to 2/3).

Kenya

When the white man came we had the land and they had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed and when we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible. - Jomo Kenyatta, (1889 - 1978), prime minister of Kenya

Netherlands

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher, wrote:

The whole soil should be public property.

Nigeria

A method described in Native Races and Their Rulers, a book explaining the scheme of land tenure introduced by the "Land and Native Rights Proclamation" of Northern Nigeria, 1910, shows how this can be grafted on to tribal custom to confer complete security of tenure and avoid exploitation of workers and land speculation.

The Philippines

Philippines business news on land tax
By Antonio V. Osmeña, Sun Star, April 11, 2007

In many urban areas, particularly those of high population concentration, vacant land or lots with blighted structures should be assessed and taxed in excess of their contribution to overall real estate market value, in order to stimulate its use, to discourage the holding of vacant urban land for speculative purposes, and to encourage improvement of blighted structures.

Filipino writer and theologian Charles Avila, in his profoundly important book entitled Ownership: Early Christian Teachings, explored the early church fathers' view of property rights in land. He contrasted these teachings to Roman property rights law. In his chapter on "The Concept of Ownership" Avila states:

The concentration of property in private hands began very early in Rome and was indeed based on the foundational and legitimizing idea of absolute and exclusive individual ownership in land. This was the same idea which would come to form the basis of the slave-owning, the feudal, and the capitalist (including the pseudo-socialist, or state-capitalist) economic systems successively. Modern civilization has not yet discarded this antiquated ownership concept, which was originally derived from ancient Rome. In fact, it seems to us, this is one of the main roots of the present global crisis, in which the rich become richer because the poor become poorer.

Avila further noted that "the distinction in legal terminology between "real" and "personal" property is the survival in words of an ancient real distinction between property held in both theory and practice as common by its very nature and property which was the fruit of one's labor." Avila said that modern social thinkers:

advocate the promotion of social justice without stopping to think that individual ownership of nature's bounty might be socially unjust in itself. And yet patristic thought insisted long ago that there can be no real justice, or abolition of poverty, if the koina, the common natural elements of production, are appropriated in ownership by individuals.

Russia

The only indubitable means of improving the position of the workers, which is at the same time in conformity with the will of God, consists in the liberation of the land from its usurpation by the landlords. … The most just and practicable scheme, in my opinion, is that of Henry George, known as the single-tax system. Leo Tolstoy, Christian anarchist, pacifist, author "War and Peace" “Resurrection” "Anna Karenina" widely regarded as one of the greatest novelists of all time

The only thing that would pacify the people now is the introduction of the Land Value Taxation system of Henry George. The land is common to all; all have the same right to it. - Leo Tolstoy, (1828 - 1910)

This sin (of land ownership) can be undone, not by political reform, nor Socialist schemes for the future, not by revolution in the present, and still less by philanthropic assistance or government organisation for the purchase and distribution of land amongst the peasants ….The method of solving the land problem has been elaborated by Henry George to a degree of perfection that under the existing state organisation and compulsory taxation, it is impossible to invent any better, more just, practical and peaceful solution. - Leo Tolstoy, (1828 - 1910)

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), who kept a photo of George on his desk and whose dying words to passengers on a train were to tax land alone, told the Russian Czar and the world that

people do not argue with the teachings of George, they simply do not know it. And it is impossible to do otherwise with his teaching, for he who becomes acquainted with it cannot but agree.

By 1875, Marx recognized the monopoly power of the land. In a letter, he wrote (making much of his earlier criticism on taxing land values moot):

In present-day society the instruments of labour are the monopoly of the landowners (the monopoly of property in land is even the basis of the monopoly of capital) and the capitalists … the capitalist is usually not even the owner of the land on which his factory stands.

The proper application of Georgian taxation of land values is a tax upon the mentality of a people beyond the capacity of a Nation not ten percent of whom have learned to read. They can't understand it. They can only understand socialism at present. Some day, with a higher level of intelligence, we may adopt the taxation of land values and enjoy economic freedom, but not now. - Lenin, as quoted by Raymond Robins after an interview following the war, Globe Democrat, St Louis, Jan 27, 1934

V. I. Lenin (1870-1924), who read Progress and Poverty and decided in favor of the gospel according to Karl Marx, complemented George by critiquing him: "George's program was alright for individualist democracy – but collectivism was now forced by the machine age." (LAND AND FREEDOM, 1942, July/August)

Proceeds from the exploitation and sale of resources often greatly exceeds the costs of exploitation, creating "economic rents," part of which can and should be captured for the budget. Rent taxation is desirable because it does not affect decisions about investment, production techniques or the timing and quantity of output. By comparison, most other forms of taxation...do affect these decisions and can threaten the optimal exploitation of resources.- Christine E. Wallich, "Fiscal Decentralization: Intergovernmental Relations in Russia," World Bank Paper No. 6, 1992

On November 7, 1991, on the initiative of economist Nic Tideman, 27 prominent economists signed a letter (November 7, 1990) advising Gorbachev to capture land rent to smooth the transition to a market economy. Eight of the signers won the Nobel Prize, including: James Buchanan, Franco Modigliani, Herbert Simon, Robert Solow, James Tobin and William Vickrey. Go to: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Open_letter_to_Mikhail_Gorbachev(1991)

Republic of South Africa

The world's problems can all be reduced to difficulties arising from injustice, from disregard of the dignity and of the inherent natural rights of the individual. The law of human progress is the moral law. In no country do we find real freedom for the individual. The greatest inroad on that freedom is made by our present land system. It places the landless at the mercy of the landlords who, because of that system, have the power to determine the conditions on which the former may obtain permission to live and work.

Our proposed land value policy would enable less developed countries to help themselves and, over a not very long period, to embark on the works they need. Possession of the freehold is not essential to improvement of land. The long leases which have been the vogue in many prosperous countries are convincing proof of that. Actually, however, it is easily possible to provide a title with all the security of freehold under our policy, while retaining for the community all the value conferred on the land by the presence of the community. The application might have to vary accord -mg to whether the country is highly industrialized or is still in the tribal state, but in essentials it will be the same. – Frank A.W. Lucas, President (1955-59) of International Union for Land Value Taxation and Free Trade, and former Judge of the Supreme Court Of South Africa.

In respect of development Mr Moriarty Joburg Councillor is quoted in Property Rates Act; Beware the Unintended Fallout by Kevin O Grady Business Day Editor at Large June 30th 2004:

Opposition parties are watching the process carefully, and Mike Moriarty, the Johannesburg leader of the Democratic Alliance, admits that predictions of massive rates increases are based on a "fairly facile analysis".

Yet Moriarty is worried about other likely consequences of the new law, favouring as it does the owners of vacant land over developers of property.

"The biggest failing of this act was the lack of a provision for a place like Johannesburg to either tax a lower tax on the improvements or a comparatively higher tax on the land, or have no tax on the improvements at all," he says."

If you're going to have a big discount on an empty piece of land, and if you're going to face a heavier burden by having improvements on your property, well that's a disincentive to build houses.

"It's going to have an effect on the economy, like it or not, and I don't think government saw it coming."

Mr Y. Carrim MP the then Chairperson of the Parliamentary Local Government Portfolio Committee when he introduced the notion during the Property Rates Bill hearings: That you could have variable valuations in the Bill with the two options: land or improvements. He repeated that it was possible to do this in the Bill.

Extract from Parliamentary Monitoring Group minutes 13 Aug 2003

Taiwan

There is probably no country between Japan and Israel where there has been such an improvement in the material and social well-being of the little man, as in Taiwan, or where he has greater control over the important decisions affecting his immediate livelihood. The rural progress of the farmers has not been subsidized by taxes on the urban and industrial sectors but paid out of the farmer's increased productivity. - James Grant, former president of the Overseas Development Council and current Director of UNESCO

The productive farmers of Taiwan had gained access to their own land, a promise made a quarter century before Sun Yat Sen. The productivity and the incentive generated by land being held in the hands of the tiller meant that the income of the lowest fifth of the population could increase. The ratio of income from the richest twenty percent to the poorest twenty percent declined from 15:1 in 1950 before land reform to 4.5:1 in 1969.

United Kingdom

John Locke (1632-1704), English philosopher, reminded them:

When the 'sacredness' of property is talked of, it should be remembered that any such sacredness does not belong in the same degree to landed property.

Adam Smith (1720-1790), the father of economics, wrote in his classic, The Wealth of Nations, that:

Both ground rents and the ordinary rent of land are a species of revenue which the owner, in many cases, enjoys without any care or attention of his own... Ground rents seem, in this respect, a more proper subject of peculiar taxation... Nothing can be more reasonable than that a fund which owes its existence to the good government of the state should be taxed peculiarly…" Vol 3, Book 5, Ch 2, Pt 2, Art 1, P 289

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), English philosopher and economist, wrote:

Landlords grow rich in their sleep without working, risking or economizing. The increase in the value of land, arising as it does from the efforts of an entire community, should belong to the community and not the individual who might hold title.

William Ogilvie (1736 - 1819):

The earth having been given to mankind in common occupancy, each individual seems to have by nature a right to possess and cultivate an equal share. This right is little different from that which he has to the free use of the open air and running water; though not so indispensably requisite at short intervals for his actual existence, it is not less essential to the welfare and right state of his life through all its progressive stages.

In England in 1648 the Diggers were sounding a lot like land rights prophets. Gerrard Winstanley, in his New Law of Righteousness, clearly saw the forces at play when he said "The rich, in their enclosure saying ‘this is mine’ and the poor upon the commons saying ‘this is ours, the earth and its fruits are common.’ ... Leave off dominion and lordship one over another for the whole bulk of mankind are but one living earth! - Leonard Hamilton, ed., Gerrard Winstanley: selections from his works (London: The Cresset Press,1944)

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish historian who christened economics “the dismal science”, asked:

Who can or who could sell us the earth? Actually the earth belongs to these two: the almighty God and all his children who have ever worked on it or who will ever have worked on it or who will ever have to work on it. No generation of men can or could with even the highest solemnity and exertion sell the earth according to any other principle.

Tom Paine (1737-1809), who authored Common Sense which catalyzed the American Revolution and coined the phrase "the United States of America", wrote:

Men did not make the earth ... it is the value of the improvement only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property... Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds... from this ground-rent ... I ... propose ... to create a National Fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person ... (a) sum. (Agrarian Justice, 1795-6)

Herbert Spencer (1820-1910), British philosopher and more famous than Marx at the time, said:

Equity does not permit property in land... The world is God's bequest to mankind. All men are joint heirs to it.

The Landlord is a gentleman who does not earn his wealth. He has a host of agents and clerks that receive for him. He does not even take the trouble to spend his wealth. He has a host of people around him to do the actual spending. He never sees it until he comes to enjoy it. His sole function, his chief pride, is the stately consumption of wealth produced by others. - David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1916-1922

William Blackstone (1732-1780), British judge, wrote:

The earth, therefore, and all things therein, are the general property of all mankind, from the immediate gift of the Creator.

Our moral thoughts are usually cast ultimately into a theological form, and so the land reformer's case is generally opened by a statement like ' the land is God's common gift to all.' Cast in its severely economic form, however, the point is equally effective. Rent is a toll, not a payment for service. By it social values are transferred from social pools into private pockets, and it becomes the means of vast economic exploitation... Rent is obviously a common resource. Differences of fertility and value of site must be equalised by rent, and it ought to go to common funds and be spent in the common interest. - Ramsey MacDonald, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1924 and 1929 – 1935

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher and mathematician who received the highest score in history on the Cambridge University entrance exam, wrote:

The mere abolition of rent would not remove injustice, since it would confer a capricious advantage upon the occupiers of the best sites and the most fertile land. It is necessary that there should be rent, but it should be paid to the state or to some body which performs public services; or, if the total rental were more than is required for such purposes, it might be paid into a common fund and divided equally among the population.

Winston Churchill noted:

land monopoly is not the only monopoly, but ... it is the mother of all other ... monopolies

Winston Churchill:

Land, which is a necessity of human existence, which is the original source of all wealth, which is strictly limited in extent, which is fixed geographical position – land, I say, differs from all other forms of property in these primary and fundamental conditions.

Winston Churchill put it nearly a century ago, when he was a Liberal:

Roads are made… services are improved…and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of these improvements is effected by the labour and cost of other people and by the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived.

I have made speeches by the yard on the subject of land value taxation, and you know what a supporter I am of that policy.

It is quite true that the land monopoly is not the only monopoly which exists, but it is by far the greatest of monopolies -- it is a perpetual monopoly, and it is the mother of all forms of monopoly.

Nothing is more amusing than to watch the efforts of our monopolist opponents to prove that other forms of property and increment are exactly the same, and are similar in all respects to the unearned increment in land.

Winston S. Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1940-1945, 1951-1955, Winner 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature:

It does not matter where you look or what examples you select, you will see that every form of enterprise, every step in material progress is undertaken only after the land monopolist has skimmed the cream off for himself and everywhere today, the man who wishes to put land to the highest use is forced to pay a preliminary fine in land values to the man who is putting it to an inferior use, or no use at all. All comes back to the land value.

David Lloyd George (1863-1945), British Prime Minister (1917-22) from the Liberal Party, said in a speech at New Castle (1903 Mar 4):

The land question in the towns bears upon (over-crowding). It is all very well to produce 'Housing of Working Class' bills. They will never be effective until you tackle the taxation of land values.

First Viscount Philip Snowden (1864-1937), British economist and politician, between the 20th century's world wars modernized this thought:

There never was a time when the need was greater than it is today for the application of the philosophy and principles of Henry George to the economic and political conditions which are scourging the whole world. The root cause of the world's economic distress is surely obvious to every man who has eyes to see and a brain to understand. So long as land is a monopoly, and men are denied free access to it to apply their labor to its uses, poverty and unemployment will exist. Permanent peace can only be established when men and nations have realized that natural resource should be a common heritage, and used for the good of all mankind... I am of the opinion that rent belongs to society and that no single person has the right to appropriate and enjoy what belongs to society.

Sir Ronald East (1899 - 1994) "With our system of land tenure, each generation pays an ever-increasing tribute to the landowner. Nearly all the benefit of mechanical invention and discovery, scientific and agricultural development, increased efficiency of labour, improved methods of business go not to the worker, employer or investor industrial stocks, but to the investor in land. It is thus that great fortunes are made - by unearned increment."

The British Green Party's (in #26) platform (1986) claims:

Rent should never have been allowed to fall into private hands... it should now go back to everybody: it should reduce the burden on effort-based taxes in financing social services and the Basic Income Scheme.

The rent/land issue is the root cause of poverty…In time, the public appropriation of rent may come to be seen not as a tax, but as the means by which the common wealth of society is collected and distributed for the benefit of all. - Mark Braund: The Possibility of Progress

None ought to be lords or landlords over another, but the earth is free for every son and daughter of mankind to live free upon. - Gerard Winstanley, (1609? - 1660?) A leader of the 17th century Diggers movement

The mere abolition of rent would not remove injustice, since it would confer a capricious advantage upon the occupiers of the best sites and the most fertile land. It is necessary that there should be rent, but it should be paid to the state or to some body which performs public services; or, if the total rental were more than is required for such purposes, it might be paid into a common fund and divided equally among the population. - Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, logician and political activist

There never was a time when the need was greater than it is today for the application of the philosophy and principles of Henry George to the economic and political conditions which are scourging the world … Permanent peace can only be established when men and nations have realised that natural resources should be a common heritage. - 1st Viscount Phillip Snowden, (1864 - 1937), British Chancellor of the Exchequer

A tax on rent falls wholly on the landlord. There are no means by which he can shift the burden upon anyone else. It does not affect the value or price of agricultural produce, for this is determined by the cost of production in the most unfavourable circumstances, and in those circumstances, as we have so often demonstrated, no rent is paid. A tax on rent, therefore, has no effect other than its obvious one. It merely takes so much from the landlord and transfers it to the State. - John Stuart Mill, (1806 - 1873) English philosopher and social reformer, and an acknowledged major intellectual figures of the 19th century

Ex-British cabinet economist James Robertson of TOES in his Future Wealth (1989; p 105-6):

tax the site-value of all land in its unimproved state. This tax was first proposed by the 19th century American economist Henry George. We should envisage the eventual removal of all taxes on incomes and value added, savings and financial capital. Taxes will take the form of Rents and charges reasonably paid in exchange either for the use of resources that would otherwise be available for other people, or for damage caused to other people.

In his 1994 essay, "Benefits & Taxes", he argues the feasibility of a basic income in lieu of other entitlements.

Green Party of Britain (#8 & #130) in their Manifest for a Sustainable Society (1988)

Without this (tax), the economic pressures of the present land system (including land speculation) will defeat all attempts to remedy ecological and allied problems.

The UK's Town and Country Planning Association, a legacy of Ebenezer Howard (#1) proposes the Property Tax Shift and their journal published research on the potential of land value taxation by Tony Vickers (Vol. 69, Part 5, 2000).

United States

Chief Seattle led the Pacific Northwest Indian tribe, the Dwamish, to adapt peacefully to the loss of their land to white settlers. In his 1855 concession speech to his tribe and recently arrived representatives of the US Government, he said:

How can you buy or sell the sky – the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us... Every part of this earth is sacred to us.

William Bradford, skipper of The Mayflower, leader of the Pilgrims, and colonizer of Massachusetts, described how to fund their new theocracy in New England in his History of Plimoth Plantation, Book II (pp 358-60 of the original manuscript). Residents would pay Rent for their lot, not taxes on their output.

William Penn (1644-1718), Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, was one of the first to recognize this attractive possibility. He said:

If all men were so far tenants to the public that the superfluities of grain and expense were applied to the exigencies thereof, it would put an end to taxes.

Tom Paine (1737-1809), who authored Common Sense which catalyzed the American Revolution and coined the phrase "the United States of America", wrote:

Men did not make the earth ... it is the value of the improvement only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property... Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds... from this ground-rent ... I ... propose ... to create a National Fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person ... (a) sum. (Agrarian Justice, 1795-6)

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of the Declaration of Independence and with Ben Franklin the most inventive and intellectual of the Founding Fathers, wrote:

The earth is given as a common stock for men to labor and to live on... Wherever in any country there are idle lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. Everyone may have land to labor for himself, if he chooses; or, preferring the exercise of any other industry, may exact for it such compensation as not only to afford a comfortable subsistence, but wherewith to provide for a cessation from labor in old age. (Notes on Virginia, 1791)

Abraham Lincoln:

I respect the man who properly named these villains land sharks. They are like the wretched ghouls who follow a ship and fatten on its offal.

The land, the earth God gave to man for his home, sustenance and support, should never be the possession of any man, corporation, society or unfriendly government, any more than the air or water -- if as much. An individual or company, or enterprise, acquiring land should hold no more than is required for their home and sustenance, and never more than they have in actual use in the prudent management of their legitimate business, and this much should not be permitted when it creates an exclusive monopoly.

Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82):

Grimly the spirit of progress looks into the law of property and accuses men of driving a trade in the great, boundless providence which has given the air, the water, and the land to men to use and not to fence in and monopolize.

Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, 1861 to 1865. First President of the Republican Party, known as "the Great Emancipator":

It is the value of the improvement, only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor, therefore, of cultivated lands, owes the community a ground-rent (for I know of no better term to express the idea) for the land which he holds; and it is from this ground-rent that the fund proposed in this plan is to issue.

The earth is given as a common stock for men to labor and to live on ... Wherever in any country there are idle lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right". - Thomas Jefferson, (1743 - 1846)

Every increase of population, extension of trade, every advance in the arts and sciences would, as we all know, increase the value of land, and the competition that would naturally arise would continue to force rents upward, so much so, that in many cases the tenants would have little or nothing left for themselves. - Mark Twain, (1835 - 1910)

When we learn that the value of land belongs to all of us, then we will be free men -- no need to legislate to keep men and women from working themselves to death; no need to legislate against the white slave traffic. ...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 land reform the world will ever get. People in this world are not often logical. - Clarence Darrow, American lawyer, leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union, defender of John T. Scopes in the so-called "Monkey" Trial of 1925.

We ought to tax all idle land the way Henry George said -- tax it heavily, so that its owners would have to make it productive. - Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company and developer of the modern assembly line used in mass production.

I believe that Henry George was one of those really great thinkers produced by our country. - Franklin D. Roosevelt, (1882 - 1945)

Helen Keller said of George:

Who reads shall find in Henry George's philosophy a rare beauty and power of inspiration, and a splendid faith in the essential nobility of human nature.

Horace Greeley (1811-1872), the anti-slavery crusader, elaborated:

Whenever the ownership of the soil is so engrossed by a small part of the community that the far larger part are compelled to pay whatever the few may see fit to exact for the privilege of occupying and cultivating the Earth, there is something very much like slavery.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), the third great economist in the triumvirate with Smith and Marx, put this analysis in modern economese:

There have been times when it was probably the craving for the ownership of land, independently of its yield, which served to keep up the rate of interest... The high rates of interest from mortgages on land, often exceeding the probable net yield from cultivating the land, have been a familiar feature of many agricultural economies ... The competition of a high interest-rate on mortgages may well have had the same effect in retarding the growth of wealth from current investment in newly produced capital-assets, as high interest rates on long-term debts have had in more recent times. (The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, 1936, pp. 250, 358, 241)

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) decided:

The land, the earth God gave to man for his home, sustenance and support, should never be the possession of any man, corporation, society or unfriendly government, any more than the air or water if as much... an individual or company or enterprise requiring land should hold no more than is required for their home and sustenance, and never more than they have in actual use in the prudent management of their legitimate business, and this much should not be permitted when it creates an exclusive monopoly. (Abraham Lincoln and the Men of His Time, Browne, Dr. Robert)

Site-value property taxation may also spark greater development in cities by taxing land, not buildings. Unlike traditional taxation -- which rewards developers who put up cheap, tacky housing and strip malls -- site-value taxation gives developers the incentive to build gracious, durable buildings. Allowances for affordable housing, however, need to be part of site-value schemes.

We need a big debate on different kinds of taxation, to talk about how corporations are freeloading on public services and getting tax breaks while taxes are falling on workers and smaller businesses. We need to open a debate about land taxation and Henry George, to tax bad things, not good things, and not to tax people who go to work every day. - Ralph Nader, U.S. attorney and political activist, advocate of consumer rights, feminism, environmentalism and democratic government. Greens candidate for President, founder of almost fifty non-profit organisations.

Green Party presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, Ralph Nader (#59):

We subsidize the use of automobiles with highway budgets and tax subsidies for parking facilities. We also pay for automobiles with military expenditures that ensure the flow of oil from foreign lands and underwrite the cleanup costs of gasoline and oil spills that harm the ecosystem… Unlike traditional taxation – which rewards developers who put up cheap, tacky housing and strip malls – site-value taxation gives developers the incentive to build gracious, durable buildings. Allowances for affordable housing, however, need to be part of site-value schemes. (San Francisco Bay Guardian, 1998 May 12, thanks to Adam Monroe)

Public Citizen (founded by Ralph Nader, #53) in their booklet, The Road to Trillion Dollar Energy Savings: A Safe Energy Platform (1984; p 22) "Reduce taxes on people and increase taxes on nonrenewables".

Get America Working, founded by an ex-Carter Administration EPA official, Bill Drayton, at their website say:

By eliminating the payroll tax entirely, and replacing it with a tax on our natural resource wealth, the economy will grow by leaps and bounds.

The Oregon Governor's Growth Commission recommended using the rise in site value after expanding the Urban Growth Boundary to fund new infrastructure (1999 Jan).

Alternatives to Growth Oregon's President Andy Kerr writes in their “25 Actions to End Growth in Oregon” (2000 Aug) among other excellent ideas:

6. Shift the property tax on land and improvements to a tax only on land.

Minnesota's Environmental Quality Board in its “Smart Signals: Economics for Lasting Progress” said the current property tax discourages urban redevelopment. The agency recommended increasing taxes on land values and decreasing taxes on buildings, thus lessening the penalties for structural improvements (Tax News Update, Vol 12, No 12, Dec 21, www.sustainableeconomy.org)

The Maryland Municipal League endorsed the system as a way to promote revitalization.

The Green Mountain state, Vermont, in 1973 passed a tax on speculative gain from dealing land.

Natural Resources Council of Maine introduced a similar bill in 1988

A tax on unimproved urban location values is the only for which the ability to pay is actually created by the taxing community through the enormous community investment needed to make land in that location richly saleable. The only pertinent question therefore, is how much of this community-created ability-to-pay does the community want to take back in taxes and how much does it want to leave to the location owner. And to the extent that the land tax falls on a value created by the community rather than by the owner it conforms closely to the principle of taxation in proportion to benefits received. Perry I. Prentice

Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a coalition that includes ISLR (#20) promotes the green tax shift in general, notes its power to curb sprawl, but des not specifically support the green Property Tax Shift. me3.org/projects/greentax/. The Environmental League of Massachusetts (#22) offers lots of useful info on the green tax shift in general and the property tax shift in particular. James R. Gomes, President; 14 Beacon St, Ste 714, Boston, MA 02108; (617) 742-2553; fax: (617) 742-9656; elm@environmentalleague.org

The Center for Global Change at the University of Maryland was drafting a detailed position on shifting taxes from goods to bads and subsidies from bads to goods (1997).

Alan Durning and Yoram Bauman of Northwest Environment Watch, a spin-off of WorldWatch (#105), wrote Tax Shift (1998), the best treatment to date of the tax shift.

The Center for a Sustainable Economy of DC co-organized the first US conference focusing exclusively on the green tax shift in Seattle (1998 Dec).

Their cohorts, Sustainable America of New York (in #58), offer a tax kit explaining the various shifts, including the property tax one.

The Oregon Environmental Council introduced into the 1999 session of the state legislature a bill to study the complete tax shift, including the property tax shift. Their op-eds, and those of their co-author, Alan Durning (#101), appear often in the Northwest press: The OregoniaN, The Daily Journal of Commerce of both Portland and Seattle, The Olympian, and Vancouver, BC's The Georgia Straight.

Friends Of the Earth – England, Wales, & Northern Ireland:

to modernize the economy and industrial activity, and improve living conditions for poor people, thru environmental improvements, four central planks should underpin the taxation (and revenue) side of that strategy and its sustainability objectives: (a) carbon/nuclear based taxes (energy), (b) virgin minerals/raw materials (resources), (c) toxic chemicals (environmental quality), and (d) land-value taxation (land). LVT would be a powerful incentive to reuse, redevelop, and refurbish land and buildings on a sustainable basis. It would remove the tax exemption from landowners who left land derelict and provide an incentive for clearing and decontaminating land. (2001 Spring, Land & Liberty, London, UK)

I think in principle it's a good idea to tax unimproved land, and particularly capital gains (windfalls) on it. Theory says we should try to tax items with zero or low elasticity, and those include sites. - James Tobin, (1918 - ) American winner of the Nobel Prize for economics

Whilst another man has no land, my title to mine, and your title to yours, is at once vitiated. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, (1803 -1882), noted American poet and essayist

Tom L. Johnson (1876-1934), millionaire industrialist and mayor of Cleveland, hired economists to disprove George. When none could, he concluded:

What the world needs is justice, not benevolence. To the extent the law grants special favors to some, do the people suffer. The greatest special privilege is land monopoly, made possible by the exemption from taxation of land values. So long as it is permitted to any man to take what doesn't belong to him through monopolizing nature's resources and the private ownership of public utilities, plenty of men of my kind will always be ready to jump in and do the stealing. My mission is to take what people are stupid enough to let me take, and to show them how they can put an end to the system which enriches me and impoverishes them. (Christian Science Weekly, 1933)

The patterns of land ownership shape patterns of human relationships. They help determine the possibility and pace of economic change. To ignore the land tenure question, and in fact, not to give it the primary focus of our energy will guarantee that our efforts will fail. Man has a continuous relationship to land, in agrarian as well as industrial societies, in poor as well as rich nations. Changing the relationship of the people to the land is the stuff of revolution -- political, economic and ethical. For even the most economically advanced countries, landownership remains a significant source of wealth and influence. – Robert Scrofani, California high school teacher

Banker pushes land tax
By Jo Mannies, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 15, 2007 (via Joe Casey)

Retired investment banker, Rex Sinquefield, plans to invest millions in upcoming years in an effort to shape Missouri's future. He also helped to establish the Show-Me Institute, a free-market think tank based in Clayton. He believes that state income taxes, as well as earnings taxes in St. Louis and Kansas City, hurt job growth and economic prosperity. He proposes replacing St. Louis' earnings tax with a land tax that would be separate from a property tax.

Alanna Hartzok, Earth Rights Institute, The Charleston Gazette, April 16, 2007

The money that the paper-title-holding companies demand and receive from the working companies is entirely "resource rent" and rightly belongs to the people of West Virginia. If West Virginians were to capture resource rent, the unearned income now going to outsider paper-title-holding, non-working companies, then taxes on both workers' wages and on the rightful profits of working business owners could and should be substantially reduced.

Vermont Fair Tax Coalition, suggests passing “legislation that would enable cities and towns in Vermont to use land value taxation.” (“Tax Reform that Agrees with Vermont”, 1999 March)

The Sierra Club supports the split-rate tax (also known as the land value tax) as a measure to promote urban redevelopment and discourage sprawl development at the municipal level." (adopted 1996 June). Such was their spokesperson's testimony at a public hearing. At the national club's website is a milder endorsement . Club Director Carl Pope wrote “Reclaiming the Commons” (SIERRA magazine, 2002 September/October) on the moral basis for sparing Earth which also applies to sharing Earth.

1000 Friends of Maryland, which includes the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (1996, modeled after the original 1000 Friends of Oregon), seeks legislation that would also “enable counties to adopt the (land) tax system.”

1000 Friends of Pennsylvania supports Philadelphia's effort to shift its property tax from buildings to locations.

GEO (Grassroots Economic Organizing) Newsletter, a left green bimonthly from Pennsylvania (1999 Jan-Feb): “Replace ineffective property taxes … tax land but not improvements and thereby penalize speculative land holdings …”

The National Neighborhood Coalition (NNC), based in Washington, DC, whose members include not just environmentalists but also advocates for housing, development, labor, civil rights, and faith-based groups, in their Smart Growth Tool Kit (2002) recommend splitting the property tax into two rates, taxing “land more heavily than what is built on it. (this) encourages landowners to develop their property more intensively than traditional property tax systems, which can promote land speculation or abandonment. Although local economic development has been the primary rationale for the tax – most notably in several Pennsylvania cities, including Pittsburgh – the split-rate tax also shows promise as a component of a broader anti-sprawl program.”

The American Planners Assoc. showed how LVT reduces land consumption in their Journal (1999 Winter) and in their Public Investment (June), a special edition of their Planning Advisory Service Memos, reprinting “Financing Community Redevlopment Through Value Capture”, both by our friend Tom Gihring, Ph.D., consultant on a project that won a 1999 Nat. Award for Planning, and a worker in war-torn Bosnia.

The Oregon 2000 Commission, appointed by then Governor Vic Atiyeh, listed Site Value Taxation (SVT) as a growth and cost control measure in their Preliminary Report (1979).

The US Department of Transportation issued a report by Erskine Walther at the Transportation Institute at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro and Lester A. Hoel of the University of Virginia et al (1990) who pointed out mass transit could be funded in part from the increase in site value around transit stops. Enticing people to ride rather than drive helps clean the air and makes in-fill, rather than sprawl, feasible.

Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946), first head of the US Forest Service (under Teddy Roosevelt who once lost a race to Henry George yet later began the US Park system), in the early 1900s challenged the logging of public land, which was infamously corrupt. He said:

The earth … belongs of right to all its people and not to a minority, insignificant in numbers but tremendous in wealth and power… The people shall get their fair share of the benefit which comes from the development of the country which belongs to us all… with equal opportunity for all and special privileges for none. (Breaking New Ground; 1947; p 509-510)

Redefining Progress had a cover article in The Atlantic Monthly (1995 October) on its two main programs:

(a) “correct the GNP to account for social and ecological costs” and (b) “replace taxes on labor and enterprise with ones on natural resources.”

And with taxes on sites, too, they later added in their 1999 report. A former writer for the Christian Science Monitor and for Redefining Progress, Jonathan Rowe (2002 April 30) gave the moral basis:

The commons, the heritage of us all, includes the gifts of nature, such as oceans and atmosphere, wilderness areas, and the quiet of the night.

The founder of Redefining Progress, Ted Halstead, added the capstone in “A Politics for Generation X”:

America could raise trillions of dollars by charging fair market value for the use of common assets – the oil and coal in the ground, the trees in our national forests, the airwaves and the electromagnetic spectrum – and the rights to pollute our air. Charge fair market value for the use of common assets and return the proceeds directly to each American citizen.

Land monopoly in America is not apparent due to her big middle class. Yet according to a 1978 U.S. Department of Agriculture study, less than 3% of the population owned more than 95% of the privately held land.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), the steel magnate, noted:

The most comfortable, but also the most unproductive way for a capitalist to increase his fortune, is to put all monies in sites and await that point in time when a society, hungering for land, has to pay his price.

Will Rogers (1879-1935), cowboy humorist, put it succinctly:

Invest in land; they ain't makin' it any more.

Teddy Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th president of the US and a loser against George in the 1886 mayoral race for New York City, said:

The burden of taxation should be so shifted as to put the weight upon the unearned rise in the value of land itself, rather than improvements, the effect being to prevent the undue rise of rents.

Henry Ford (1863-1947), said:

We ought to tax all idle land the way Henry George said – tax it heavily, so that its owners would have to make it productive. (LIBERTY between world wars, article by Donald Wilheim)

Jack Kemp wrote:

Property taxes could profitably be revised to fall more heavily on land, rather than, as at present, penalizing property improvements. (American Renaissance, p 96)

US Senator Walter Mondale said:

The federal government could further the taxation of land values. It could levy such a federal tax itself and this would be much preferable to taxes on labor and capital investment.

Washington, D.C. attorney Jackson H. Ralston (1857-1946) said:

Until the Single Tax makes all our mineral resources equally available to all the community, thus destroying the special profits now accruing to those able to hold land out of use, the most oppressive trusts in existence will find their way clear to retain their power, despite anti-trust laws, interstate commerce laws, and all the publicity we may by law give their operations.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), ex-US president who in 1950 voted for Henry George to enter into the Hall of Fame, wondered:

why the world's resources could not be internationalized, since raw materials represented the world's basic needs, they should belong to and serve everybody. (Cook, Blanche; The De-classified Eisenhower; 1985, p. 229)

Douglas Frazier, United Auto Workers President, said before the National Conference on Alternate State and Local Policies in 1979, July 3-5:

one day, we are going to ask ourselves, did anyone make the oil and minerals and then put them in the ground? We will then realize that they belong to all of us.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959), architect who'd design structures to avoid removing trees, wrote in The Living City (c. 1958, p. 162):

Henry George showed us the only organic solution of the land problem.

Columnist Molly Ivins wrote:

Henry George must be in his grave spinnin' like a cyclotron. We, the people at large, make the land more desirable; and then the landowners want us to pay them because we won't allow them to poison the air or to pollute the rivers. (1995 March)

THE NEW REPUBLIC in 1979 ran an article by David Hapgood stating:

The land tax would encourage the more intensive use of less land, reduce suburban sprawl, revive our ailing cities, lower the cost of shelter and, if uniformly applied, end the senseless wars among communities caused by the property tax. (Here again many traditional economists agree with George.)

Brookings Institution's 2000 summer Review contains "Nothing left to Lose: Only Radical Strategies Can Help America's Most Distressed Cities" by Edward Hill and Jeremy Nowak who say:

Cities should replace the business property tax with a tax on the market value of land (to) encourage businesses to place as much capital on property as is economically justifiable. … The land component of the residential property tax should be assessed on an equal basis with the business land tax, again providing incentives to develop in neighborhoods with low land values, as well as preventing speculative land banking.

Thaddeus Stevens was a Civil War congressman from south-central Pennsylvania, USA. He was Speaker of the House for many years, a radical advocate of the abolition of slavery and the major proponent of land reform during Reconstruction. He wanted the fertile plantation lands of the South to be allocated to the freed slaves and poor whites. In his view this plan would also help to solve the race problem by uniting freed slaves and poor whites on an economic basis:

No people will ever be republican in spirit and practice where a few own immense manors and the masses are landless ... Small independent landholders are the support and guardians of republican liberty.

Stevens wanted the large landholdings seized, with forty acres and a mule to farm them allotted to each former slave. This would do justice to those whose uncompensated labor had cleared and cultivated the southern land, he reasoned. He envisioned a land of productive and independent small farms. After this allocation there would still remain millions of acres - 90 percent of the land in fact - which could be sold to help pay the national debt, reduce taxes, and provide pensions for Union soldiers and reimbursement for citizens whose property had been destroyed during the war. - Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, Thaddeus Stevens: Confiscation and Reconstruction, The Hofstadter Aegis: A Memorial (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974).

Martin Luther King, Jr.:

I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. - “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”

An intelligent approach to the problems of poverty and racism will cause us to see the words of the Psalmist - "The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof" - are still a judgment upon our use and abuse of the wealth and resources with which we have been endowed. - A Testament of Hope: The Essential Speeches and Writings of Martin Luther King Jr., pp 629-630.

Joseph E. Stiglitz is one of three economists to win the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001. In 1999 he was fired from his position as Chief Economist with the World Bank after he began to speak about his concerns. In an interview in 2001 with Greg Palast, a writer for The Observer (London), Stiglitz described in detail the four-step plan used by the international banking institutions to extract wealth from around the world. In his view the process leads to financial barbarism, pillage and plunder and has resulted in immense suffering, starvation and destruction. “It has condemned people to death,” Stiglitz said bluntly in the interview.

When Palast asked Stiglitz what he would do to help developing nations, Stiglitz proposed radical land reform and an attack at the heart of “landlordism,” including excessive rents charged by the propertied oligarchies worldwide. When Palast asked why the Bank didn’t follow his advice, Stiglitz answered, “If you challenged it (property rights in land), that would be a change in the power of the elites. That’s not high on their agenda.” (From Greg Palast, “The World Bank’s former Chief Economist - including how the IMF and US Treasury fixed the Russian elections,” The Observer (London) October 10, 2001)

Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899) American political leader and orator:

Now, the land belongs to the children of nature. Nature invites into this world every babe who is born. And what would you think of me, for instance, tonight, if I had invited you here - nobody had charged anything, but you had been invited - and when you got here you had found one man pretending to occupy a hundred seats, another fifty, another seventy five, and thereupon you were compelled to stand up - what would you think of the invitation? It seems to me that every child of nature is entitled to his share of land, and that he should not be compelled to beg the privilege to work the soil of a babe that happened to be born before him.

Agnes de Mille (1905-1993), grand- daughter of Henry George:

We have reached the deplorable circumstance where in large measure a very powerful few are in possession of the earth's resources, the land and all its riches, and all the franchises and other privileges that yield a return. These monopolistic positions are kept by a handful of men who are maintained virtually with- out taxation . . . we are yielding up sovereignty.

Quotes from the Ancients, Spiritual and/or Religious Sources

Quotes from the Ancients, Scriptural and/or Religious

We welcome additions of quotes and viewpoints on land ethics and policies from all religions of the world. Please send material using the contact form

Leviticus 25:23 -

Moses, says the Bible (Leviticus
25:23), heard Jehovah say circa BC 1400:

The land shall not be sold forever; for the land is
mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. (King James
Version)

No land shall be sold in
perpetuity, because the land belongs to Me and you are lodgers and tenants with
Me. (Modern Language)

And remember, the land is mine,
so you may not sell it permanently. You are merely my tenants and
sharecroppers! (Living Bible)

The land shall not be
sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners
with me. (Revised Standard)

Nehemiah 5:11 -

Restore, I pray you, to them even this day, their
lands, their vineyards, their olive yards, and their houses, and also the
hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye
exact of them. (King James Version)

Restore today, I earnestly ask of you, their
fields, their vineyards, their oliveyards and their houses, as well as the
hundredth part of the money, the grain, the new wine and the oil which you have
exacted from them. (Modern Language)

Restore their fields, vineyards, oliveyards, and
homes to them this very day and drop your claims against them. (Living Bible)

Return to them this very day their fields, their
vineyards, their olive orchards and their houses and the hundredth of money,
grain, wine, and oil which you have been exacting of them. (Revised Standard)

Ecclesiastes 5:9 -

Wise Solomon
declared:

Moreover the profit of
the earth is for all. The king himself is served by the field. (King James Version)

After all, a king
devoted to the field is an advantage to the land. (Modern Language)

And over them all is
the king. Oh, for a king who is devoted to his country! Only he can bring forth
order from this chaos. (Living Bible)

But in all, a king
is an advantage to a land with cultivated fields. (Revised Standard)

Isaiah 5:8

Woe unto them that
join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they
may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! (King James Version)

Woe to those joining house to house, who unite field to
field until there is no more room; you shall be made to live alone in the
middle of the land. (Modern Language Version)

You buy up property so others have no place to live.
Your homes are built on great estates so you can be alone in the midst of the
earth! (Living Bible)

Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to
field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the
midst of the land. (Revised Standard)

Talmudic Teachings

The ancient rabbis in
their discussions about the finer and little known details of Jubilee.

Talmudic rabbinical
discussions considered how fairly to partition the land of Canaan among the
tribes under Joshua. Those with poorer land were to be given more acreage and
those with more fertile land would be given less. As for land disadvantageously
situated, the adjustment was to be made by money; that is to say, those holding
land nearer the city (Jerusalem) should pay into the common treasury the
estimated excess of value pertaining to it by reason of its superior situation,
while those holding land of less value, by reason of its distance from the
city, would receive from the treasury a money compensation. Upon the more
valuable holdings was to be imposed a tax, or lease fee, the measure of which
was the excess of their respective values over a given standard, and the fund
thus created was to be paid out in due proportions to those whose holdings were
in less favorable locations. In this, then we see affirmed the doctrine that
natural advantages are common property, and may not be diverted to private
gain.

- The Gemara, Baba Bathra, (122, A ) href="http://www.come-and-hear.com/bababathra/bababathra_122.html">http://www.come-and-hear.com/bababathra/bababathra_122.html

See also an essay by Solomon Solis Cohen, The Land Question in the
Talmud

Tiberius Gracchus

(Roman, BC 162? -133):

The
private soldiers fight and die to advance the wealthy and luxury of the great,
and they are called masters of the world, while they have not a foot of ground
in their possession.

Pliny the Elder

(Roman naturalist, 23-79), concluded,

Land
monopoly ruined Rome.

Aristotle

(384-322 BC) wrote that in the 7th century
BC:

the whole land (of Attica) was in the hands of a few, and if the
cultivators did not pay their rents, they became subject to bondage...
(The Constitution of Athens)

Pope St. Gregory I (540-604):

The earth of which they are born is common
to all and, therefore, the fruit that the earth brings forth belongs without distinction to all.

Those who make private
property of the gift of God pretend in vain to be innocent. For, in thus
retaining the subsistence of the poor, they are the murderers of those who die
every day for the want of it.

Ambrose:

How far, O ye rich, do you push your mad
desires? Shall ye alone dwell upon the earth? Why do you cast out all the
fellow sharers of nature and claim it all for yourselves? The earth was made in
common for all. Why do you arrogate to yourselves, exclusive right to the soil?

St. George the Great:

(Pope
590 - 604) rebuked the Romans when he said:

They wrongfully think they are
innocent who claim for themselves the common gift of God.

Clement of Alexandria:

(The
functions of property) -to be shared, to minister to
and serve the welfare of all; not for personal advantage as
being entirely one's own but for those in need; to
achieve autarkeia and to foster koinonia - constitute the
very essence of Clement's view of property.

St. John Chrystostom:

God
in the beginning did not make one man rich and another poor; nor did he
afterwards take and show to anyone treasures of gold, and deny to the others
the right of searching for it; rather he left the earth free to all alike. Why
then, if it is common, have you so many acres of land, while your neighbor has
not a portion of it?

Augustine:

He
(according to Avila's research) saw that the poor are poor because they have
been deprived by the propertied few of the wealth that should belong to all. He
laid the blame for this unjust situation squarely on the doorstep of an
absolutist and exclusivist legal right of private ownership. He reminded his
audience that they were all made from one mud and sustained
on one earth under the same natural conditions, having the same
essence and called to the same destiny. He rejected the legalized status quo as
inappropriate for human living. Holding that legal arrangements of property
rights were of human origin, he asserted that they should be changed, in theory
and in practice, in function of a faith-informed ethic based on the true
meaning of ownership.

Basil the Great:

He
saw that a privileged few were exceedingly rich, ostentatious, and powerful,
inasmuch as wealth, particularly the wealth-producing resource, land, was
concentrated in the hands of the few. He taught a philosophy of ownership based
on the view that God was Father and giver and Provider for all, and that
therefore a few must cease stealing the food-producing resources that God had
destined for the use of all.

Basil
admits a certain right of laborers to the product of their labor but asks the
landlords by what right they exercise ownership over their vast estates:
Which things, tell me, are yours? Whence have you brought them into
being? Whatever you have produced, or brought into being, may justly be
yours. However, it is land that has made the landlords rich, and land is not
something they have brought into being. Speaking to the rich Basil said:

You
are like one occupying a place in a theatre, who should prohibit others from
entering, treating that as one's own which was designed for the common use of
all.... If each one would take that which is sufficient for one's needs,
leaving what is in excess to those in distress, no one would be rich, no one
poor. Did you not come naked from the womb? Will you not return naked into the
earth?

Jesus pointed to Old Testament teachings regarding land
ethics. According to some contemporary theologians, one of the tasks of the
mission of Jesus was to restore the original intent of the Jubilee. In Luke
4:18 (by way of Isaiah 61:1-3): He has anointed me to preach good news to the
poor… to proclaim release of captives… To set at liberty those who are
oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

Catholic:

Pope Paul VI said in Mexico in 1979:

There is always a social mortgage on all private
property, in order that 'goods may serve the general purpose that God gave
them. The land is held in stewardship for humanity.

Pope John Paul II said in Brazil in 1991:

The
high concentration of land ownership demands a just agrarian reform. It has no
justification whatsoever. In Brussels in 1985 he said: It is
only fair to revise the distribution of income and to control the revenues from
speculations and investments which do not proceed from labor.

The land is a gift of
the Creator to all men and therefore its richness cannot be distributed among a
limited number of people while others are excluded from its benefits. - Pope
John Paul II, Bahia Blanca, Brazil, 1986

God
intended the earth and all things in it for the use of all peoples, in such a
way that the goods of creation should abound equitably in the hands of all,
according to the dictate of justice, which is inseparable from charity. - Pastoral
Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Vatican II

The
right of land ownership and of free bargaining in land are subordinated to the
fundamental right of man to obtain the necessities of life. In the force of the
fundamental claim of the Commonwealth there is no unconditional right of land
ownership. - Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 1967

Every
man, as a living being gifted with reason, has in fact from nature the
fundamental right to make use of the material goods of the earth. - Pope Pius
XII

Methodist:

All
creation is the Lord's and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and
abuse it. We believe that Christian faith denies to any person or group of
persons exclusive and arbitrary control of any other part of the created
universe.

Episcopalian:

People
without land or without any control over the value of land lack security in a
major dimension of their lives. - National Bishops General Convention, Action
Proposal for Economic Justice, 2/22/88

A
great deal of what is amiss alike in rural and in urban areas could be remedied
by the taxation of the value of sites as distinct from the buildings erected
upon them. - William Temple, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, in Christianity
and Social Order

Equity
insists that we cease levying taxes on the fruits of human toil, and make the
monopoly value of land be the exclusive basis of taxation. - Episcopal Bishop
C.D. Williams

Martin Luther King, Jr. -

I am sure that each of
you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at
effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it
understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. - Letter from Birmingham City Jail

An intelligent
approach to the problems of poverty and racism will cause us to see the words
of the Psalmist - The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof
- are still a judgment upon our use and abuse of the wealth and resources with
which we have been endowed. - A Testament of Hope: The Essential Speeches and Writings of Martin Luther King Jr., pp 629-630.

Theologian Charles Avila, in his profoundly important book entitled "Ownership:
Early Christian Teachings, "explored the early church fathers' view of
property rights in land. He contrasted these teachings to Roman property rights
law. In his chapter on The Concept of Ownership Avila states:

The
concentration of property in private hands began very early in Rome and was
indeed based on the foundational and legitimizing idea of absolute and
exclusive individual ownership in land. This was the same idea which would come
to form the basis of the slave-owning, the feudal, and the capitalist
(including the pseudo-socialist, or state-capitalist) economic systems
successively. Modern civilization has not yet discarded this antiquated
ownership concept, which was originally derived from ancient Rome. In fact, it
seems to us, this is one of the main roots of the present global crisis, in
which the rich become richer because the poor become poorer. - Charles Avila, "Ownership: Early Christian Teachings",
Orbis Books, Maryknoll, 1983 p. 8

Avila further noted
that the distinction in legal terminology between real and
personal property is the survival in words of an ancient real
distinction between property held in both theory and practice as common by its
very nature and property which was the fruit of one's labor. Avila said
that modern social thinkers:

advocate
the promotion of social justice without stopping to think that individual
ownership of nature's bounty might be socially unjust in itself. And yet
patristic thought insisted long ago that there can be no real justice, or
abolition of poverty, if the koina, the common natural elements of production,
are appropriated in ownership by individuals.

Theologian John B. Cobb, Jr. with Herman Daly in "For The Common Good" (1989):

(Henry George's) specific proposal about taxation can be supported on the
basis of a shared rejection of the idea of land as only a commodity... Since
this tax would rise as the value of the land rose, or would fall as it fell,
there would be no basis for speculation in land... farmers would have no reason
to oppose zoning that kept taxes on agricultural lands appropriate to the
profits that can be realized from farming... Whereas a higher tax on buildings
encourages holding land unused or allowing buildings to deteriorate, a higher
tax on land encourages efficient use of the property.

Theologian Walter Brueggeman explains in "Land: The Foundation of Humanness":

The acceptable year is the year of the Jubilee when the land was to
be returned to the original holders. The release of captives is the
release of debt slaves who had lost their land because they could not pay the
mortgage. A crucial aspect of Jesus' mission was the reassertion of the land
rights of the poor and displaced.

Father Matthew Fox, founder of creation spirituality, in "A Spirituality Named
Compassion" (1979) said:

Henry George sees his movement as an alternative... By taxing land more than we do and in a special way, we will be able to tax work and income derived from it considerably less...

ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVES – Two Articles

Land Reforms - Absentee Landlordism

The Islamic Law on Land Tax and Rent: The Peasants’ Loss of Property Rights as Interpreted in the Hanafite Literature of the Mamlu7k and Ottoman Period.

Land Reforms - Absentee Landlordism

Abid Ullah Jan

With Mr. Nawaz Sharif once again becoming Prime Minister of the country, the nation, more or less, has been witnessing the same thing as that of Ms. Benazir Bhutto, ex-Prime Minister, in the matter of enforcement of Shari‘ah as laid down in the Book of Allah (SWT) and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW). There is enough material in evidence to prove the lack of political will to enforce the supremacy of Qur’an and Sunnah in Pakistan. In fact, there has been lack of the courage of faith in Allah (SWT) and His Prophet (SAW) to stand against the dominance of the West in this respect.

However, despite all the difference of opinion between me and Mr. Nawaz Sharif in the process of Islamization, which I had closely witnessed and personally experienced as Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court during 1990-92, I wholeheartedly welcome his move to take over possession by resumption of 1.25 million acres of land, from illegal occupants, identified as being the land in excess of the ceilings of land holdings fixed by the Land Reforms Regulations of 1972 and the Central Act 2 of 1977 and distribute the same among landless peasants.

Not only that, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, in his address to the nation on June 11, 1998, also announced, though by a sketchy indication, for taking over possession of land from those feudal lords, jagirdars and zamindars (of Punjab), waderas (of Sindh), the sardars (of Baluchistan), and khawaneen (of NWFP) who got the land as reward from the British rulers (or as bribe from the past governments) in consideration of their services rendered by them or their ancestors, to strengthen the British Raj over the Indian Subcontinent, bartering the interests of the Muslims and hatch conspiracies against the Muslim Rule of India.

The first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan — which was also performing the function of federal legislature and whose first leader of the House was also the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shaheed-e-Millat Liaqat Ali Khan — passed a Resolution in or about 1950, whereby the provincial governments of East Pakistan, Punjab, N.W.F.P., Sindh, and Baluchistan were urged to take steps for abolition of Jagirdari/Zamindari system from their respective provinces. The Provincial Assembly of East Pakistan passed a law whereby necessary steps were taken to abolish the Jagirdari/Zamindari system from East Pakistan. In consequence, the Jagirdar/Zamindar, as a class, was no more an effective power in the political arena of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and the middle class was able to get entry into politics and wield power. This was evident from the provincial elections in East Pakistan held in 1954 wherein Jugtoo Front was able to capture thumping majority in the Assembly, so much so that even late Noor-ul-Amin, the Chief Minister of East Pakistan, and a senior Muslim League leader, was defeated by a student.

On the other hand, N.W.F.P., Sindh, and Baluchistan took no step in the direction of abolition of Zamindari System. Only the Punjab Provincial Tenancy Act of 1887 was amended which proved to be of no consequence so far as the Zamindari system was concerned. It may be added that the first Chairman of the Pakistan Planning Commission, late Zahid Hussain — who was also the first Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan — in his report on the first Five Years Plan had opined that it was necessary to abolish the Jagirdari/Zamindari system for strengthening the economic, political, and democratic system in the country.

In India, by passing of the Abolition of Zamindari Act, 1953, all the Zamindaris and Jagirdaris (including over five hundred states of Jagirdars and Nawabs) were abolished, except that Khud Kasht/Seer, under self cultivation to the extent of about 16 or 17/30 acres, all the lands were resumed by the Government of India. Zamindars were issued Money Bonds in consideration of the lands resumed, payable in eight equal yearly installments. These Bonds were made negotiable and transferable in open market. This Abolition of Zamindari Act of India 1953 influenced a great deal the political climate of the country. Democracy was strengthened and the country became self-sufficient in food in about a decade.

In Pakistan, “Land Reforms” has been a soaring subject. No elected Government, so far, could dare to go against the interests of the Feudal Lords as they formed and still form majority or at least have a sizeable number in the National Assembly as well as in all the Provincial Assemblies. The first step was, however, taken by Gen. Mohammad Ayub Khan under the cover of Martial law by promulgating M.L.R. 64 in 1959 for resumption of land for distribution among landless peasants, by setting the ceiling of land at 500 acres for irrigated land and 1000 acres for un-irrigated land. This ceiling was, in fact, very high; nevertheless, all kinds of leases were exempted from the operations of M.L.R. 64. According to Shaikh Rashid of Pakistan People’s Party, the said law reform was merely an eyewash.

In 1972, Z. A. Bhutto — who took reins of power from Gen. Yahya Khan in December 1971 after the debacle of East Pakistan — appointed his own-self as President and Chief Martial Law Administrator of Pakistan with the connivance of Army Generals who felt demoralized for unprecedented defeat in the entire Muslim history. Bhutto promulgated again under the cover of Martial Law, Land Reforms Ordinance 1972 (Martial Law Regulation 115) whereby a land-owner could retain up to 150 acres of irrigated land and 300 acres of un-irrigated land. Later on by Act 2 of 1977 the ceiling of irrigated land was reduced to 100 acres, but the laws were not enforced in their true spirit, perhaps due to political pressure, deceit, maneuverings, and undue influence of all concerned.

In 1979, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq promulgated an Ordinance whereby Shariat Benches were constituted in all the four High Courts and the Supreme Court of Pakistan; 67 Shariat petitions were filed in 1979-80 challenging the M.L.R. 115 and the law reforms Act 2 of 1977 before the said Benches. After about 15 months, the Federal Shariat Court was constituted on June 26, 1980. The FSC started hearing of these petitions in right earnest in August 1980 and after hearing very long arguments of all the parties, a detailed judgement was pronounced by it on December 13, 1980.

The majority judgement of Federal Shariat Court (Mr. Justice Karimullah Durrani, contra) in Muhammad Ameen Vs. Islamic Republic of Pakistan (P.L.D. 1981 F.S.C. 23) held that the 1973 Constitution takes away power of the Court to declare invalid laws providing for acquisition of any class of property for certain purposes and fixing limits as to the ownership of property notwithstanding any provisions having not been made in such laws for payment of compensation. It was thus observed that things declared valid by Constitution can not be declared invalid or bad by Courts, nor can the Court declare any provision of Constitution as repugnant to Islamic injunctions. Declaration of repugnancy with Shariah of the provision of law placing ceiling on ownership or reducing same amounts to declaration of such constitutional provisions as bad which declare such law either valid or untouchable by the Courts. What cannot be done directly cannot also be done indirectly. Thus, the ceiling placed on property validated by Article 253 of the Constitution and Land Reforms Regulation 1972 and Land Reforms Act 1977 were held to be immune from challenge to such extent in courts including Federal Shariat Court.

The Federal Shariat Court, however, by majority judgement (Mr. Karimullah Durrani contra) held that even otherwise on merits the provisions relating to fixing ceiling of land and taking over the land by governments in excess of such ceiling were not repugnant to the injunctions of Islam. (For details, see PLD 1981 FSC 23).

In Appeals by the Petitioners in 1981 and few others the matter was taken up by the Supreme Court Shariat Appellate Bench which held by its majority judgement, after about nine years, on August 10, 1989, made effective from March 23, 1990. (Mr. Justice Nasim Hasan Shah, contra) that “prescription of maximum ceiling of land-owner’s holding was un-Islamic. It was thus held by the Supreme Court that the Provisions of the Land Reforms Regulation of 1972 and the Land Reforms Act of 1977 whereby the maximum holding which a landowner could own and provision for the vesting of all land in excess of the aforesaid ceiling in the Government were invalid and the restrictions were repugnant to the injunctions of Islam.

In accordance with the opinion of the majority, it was held that following provisions of the Regulation, the Act and the Punjab Tenancy Act 1887 to the extent indicated against each, are repugnant to the Injunctions of Islam:

1. - “Paragraph 2 clause (7) of the Regulation (which defines the term “person”) in so far as it includes Islamic Wakf for the purposes of other paragraphs of the Regulation which are being held wholly or partly repugnant in injunctions of Islam.

2. - The whole of Paragraph 7 (declaring void transfers of land or areas in excess of 150 acres held by a land-owner), 8 (fixing a ceiling of 150 acres as the maximum holding of an individual), 9 (surrender of Shamilat land or share in Shamilat in excess of maximum holding of 150 acres), 10 (fixing maximum of 100 acres of civil servants), 13 vesting of excess land in Government) and 14 (resumption of land obtained in exchange of land allotted in the border area) and consequentially paragraph 18 (land granted to tenants out of the excess land vested in Government) of the Regulation.

3. - Paragraph 15 (dealing with stud and livestock farms), 16 (dealing with Shikargahs), 19 (dealing with utilization of land under orchards, studs or live stock farms) and 20 (utilization of land under resumed Shikargahs) in so far as they ignore the rights and obligations, the terms and conditions of the grant, lease, as the case may be, in resuming the stud and livestock farms, Shikargahs and Orchards and dealing further with them under Paragraphs 19 and 20 thereof.

4. - Paragraph 17 of the Regulation (relating to religious charitable and educational societies) in so far as it relates to Wakf and all other institutions which can validly fall within the definition of Islamic Wakf, and consequential to that extent paragraph 21 (which relates to utilization of land resumed from religious, charitable and educational societies also.” (Qazalbash Waqf’s Case PLD 1990, S C, 99).

It may, however, be stated that the Supreme Court’s findings are based on the assumption that the ownership of the landlords on all fours was legally valid. Legally, the Shariat Appellate Bench could not go into the factual questions of and mode of the acquisition of ownership, whether valid or not in the eye of Shari‘ah. Thus the Government is likely to face difficulties in resuming the land under the provisions of MLR 115 and Act 2 1977 as announced by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in view of the above findings of the Supreme Court, unless possession has already been taken over by the Government prior to March 23, 1990. Or the Government files a Review Petition against the said judgement in the Supreme Court and is able to obtain an order in its favor, or make suitable amendments in the Constitution to overcome the said difficulties. However, there seems to be no impediment in setting up a high powered National Commission for Lands with some knowledgeable person to head the same, to make country-wide inquiries and investigations as to the mode of acquisition of the lands by the landlords and their predecessors-in-interest, whether valid or not in the eye of Shari‘ah. The Supreme Court has also observed about the formation of a Commission in its judgement (see PLD 1990 S.C., 99, p. 263).

And now to conclude, here is a very important point: The terms of reference for the above said Commission may include to inquire into the legal position in the light of Shari‘ah, about the status of land or creation of Pakistan whether the land was Kharaji or Ushri? In case the Commission gives a finding that on August 14, 1947, the status and nature of the agricultural lands, within the territory of Pakistan, was Kharaji, the land will be treated as State-owned, and the problem will stand solved. Only the necessary amendment in the Constitution will have to be made and new law shall have to be enacted accordingly.

Absentee Landlordism

A most pertinent question that is being agitated in Pakistan print media in relation to our agricultural economy is that of “Absentee Landlordsim,” which has proved itself to be the greatest impediment to our agricultural progress and development.

This has given birth to another question whether agricultural land can be leased out against specified rent or against a fixed part of the produce of land, or against a fixed sum of money. This question, in fact, dates back to the early formative period of Islam. There are found two divergent views as emerged out of interpretation of ahdith on the subject known as muzara‘ah, (lease of bare land for a certain part of its produce) which has been discussed in detail in almost every compilation of ahadith and every authentic book on fiqh, in separate chapters to denote its importance.

According to the first point of view, muzara‘ah is invalid in Islamic Law. Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Auza‘i, and Imam Ibn Hazam hold this view. They maintain that if the landlord gives to the tenant bare land for one-third or one-fourth of the produce, it is a case of hazard, chance, or risk, as the crop sometime is abundant and sometime it fails.

This point of view, which invalidates any lease of agricultural land under the Islamic law, is reported to be based on various marfu‘ ahadith — traditions whose chain of transmission is directly linked to the Prophet (SAW). Following are the main traditions in this respect, as quoted in Landlord and Peasant in Early Islam by Dr. Ziaul Haque (Islamabad, 1977):

1. - Jabir (RAA) says that the Prophet (SAW) said: One who owns land must cultivate it himself, or bestow it free, i.e., lend it to another person to let him cultivate it. If he does not do this, he must retain his land. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Buyu‘)

2. - Jabir (RAA) says that the Prophet (SAW) prohibited lease of land against any rent or part of land’s produce. (Ibid.)

3. - Abu Al-Najashi, mawla (client)of Rafi‘ bin Khadij (RAA) reports that Rafi‘ bin Khadij says that Zuhayr bin Rafi‘, his uncle, said that the Prophet (SAW) had forbidden them from a matter which was very beneficial for them. Rafi‘ asked him about this matter, saying that whatever the Prophet (SAW) had said must be right. Zuhayr said that the Prophet (SAW) had asked him as to what they were doing with their agricultural lands. He told the Prophet (SAW) that they were leasing them against whatever grew on the rivulet or the streamlet; or against camel loads of dates or barley. The Prophet (SAW) thereupon forbade them saying that they should cultivate their lands themselves, or they should let some other people cultivate them (free of charge), or they must simply withhold the lands. (Ibid.)

4. - Nafi‘ (RAA) stated that Abdullah bin Umar (RAA) used to lease his land. Ibn Umar went to see Rafi‘ (RAA) to ask him about the problem of land lease, and he (Nafi‘) also accompanied him. When Ibn Umar asked him about the problem, Rafi‘ replied that the Prophet (SAW) had banned it. (Ibid., another variant in Sahih Bukhari)

5. - Abu Hurayra (RAA) said that the Prophet (SAW) declared: One who owns land must till it himself or give it free to his brother, or otherwise he must withhold it. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Buyu‘ and Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Al-Ijarah)

6. - Abu Sa‘eed Al-Khudri said that the Prophet (SAW) had banned muzabana and muhaqala. He explained that muhaqala was lease of land. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Buyu‘)

7. - Abdullah bin Umar (RAA) said that the Prophet (SAW) prohibited lease of land. (Ibid.)

Ibn Hazam says that all these Companions (RAA) transmit the categorical ban on lease of land. This is tantamount to tawatur, the transmission of ahadith on the authority of numerous Companions (RAA) about whose reliability a presumption is attached that they all cannot tell lie. For detailed discussion, see Nizam-i-Zamindari aur Islam by Maulana Muhammad Tasin (Majlis-e-Ilmi, Karachi)

On the other hand, a majority of jurists hold a different view. According to them, muzara‘ah is legal and permissible against a certain part of its produce, cash or kind. The jurists rely upon the following ahadith in support of justification for the practice of muzara‘ah. They have been recorded in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim and other standard compilations of ahadith.

1. - Nafi‘ bin Umar (RAA) says that the Prophet (SAW) made an economic transaction with the farmers of Khaybar with the stipulation that they would pay half of the produce of grain and fruit. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Al-Muzari‘ah)

2. - Abdullah bin Umar (RAA) says that the Prophet (SAW) gave Khaybar to the Jews on the condition that they would cultivate it and work on it, and would get half of the produce. (Ibid.)

3. - Nafi‘ bin Umar (RAA) says that the Prophet (RAA) gave to the Jews of Khaybar the date-palms and land of Khaybar, that would cultivate it with their own capital and would pay to the Prophet half of the produce. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab All-Buyu‘)

4. - Nafi‘ bin Umar (RAA) says that when the Prophet (SAW) had conquered Khaybar, he wanted to expel the Jews from the land. They asked him to let them stay on the land on the condition that they would cultivate it and would retain half of the produce for themselves. The Prophet (SAW) approved of this and said, “we shall, as long as we wish, let you stay on the land.” They were thus allowed to stay until the time of Umar bin Khattab (RAA) who exiled them. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Al-Muzari‘ah)

5. - Ibn Abbas says that the Prophet (SAW) gave the lands and date-palms of Khaybar for half of the produce. (Sunnan Ibn Majah, Kitab Al-Ruhun and Ibn Hanbal, IV, no. 2255)

Imam Abu Yusuf gives five forms of muzara‘ah-tenure in his famous book Kitab Al-Kharaj which, according to him, are valid in Shari‘ah.

1. - Free-tenure, in which landlord gives his land free to his brother without charging him any rent; the cultivator uses his own seed, animals and instruments; the entire crop belongs to him. If this is a kharaji land, the landowner will pay the Kharaj, if an ushri land, the tiller will pay the ushr. This was also stated to be the opinion of Abu Hanifa.

2. - Partnership-tenure, in which the landlord and the cultivator cooperate and share the expenses and seed and till the land together; they share the produce equally. If this is an ushri land, ushr will be paid from the produce, if kharaji land, kharaj will be borne by the landowner.

3. - Lease of bare land for money, in which bare land is leased for a fixed sum of money for one year or two, and which is currently known in Pakistan as muqala‘ah. This is valid in law. The landlord will pay the kharaj, if this is a kharaji land. If it is an ushri land, landowner will pay the ‘ushr. This is also the opinion of Abu Hanifa. According to Imam Abu Hanifa if it is a kharaji land, ushr is paid by the person who owns the crop, viz., the tenant in this case.

4. - Muzara‘ah-tenancy, in which land is given for one third or one fourth of its produce. Abu Hanifa does not allow it, for it is a fasid or irregular tenancy; in his opinion, if any laborer is employed for such a tenancy he must be given a definite wage equivalent to his labor (and not an indeterminate share in the crop); thus the kharaj (or the ushr) is paid by the landlord. Abu Yusuf disagrees with him; he says that this type of muzara‘ah is valid if all the conditions relating to it are fulfilled. Kharaj will be paid by the landlord if it is a kharaji land. In case of its being an ushri land, ushr is paid by both of them.

5. - Labor-tenancy, in which the landlord who owns also animals and seed calls upon a laborer or tiller to till the land for one sixth or one seventh share of the crop. For Abu Hanifa, again, this type of hiring labor for indeterminate wages is improper (fasid) because the crop belongs to the landlord and the laborer must be paid his wages commensurate with his labor. Abu Yusuf insists that this is all valid because their stipulations are based on traditions (aathar) of the Companions (RAA).

Now, we have seen as stated above, the two divergent views of the jurists, based on two versions of ahadith, on the question of muzara’ah. In Pakistan, the second view prevails in actual practice. I have suggested above the formation of a National Commission for Lands to determine the nature of agricultural land in Pakistan as on August 14, 1947, in the eye of Shari‘ah whether it is kharaji or ushri. It may now be added that in case the said Commission concludes that the lands in Pakistan are ushri, as held by Mufti Muhammad Shafi in his took Islam Ka Nizam-e-Arazi, it may address to itself the question of muzara‘ah in the eye of Shari‘ah. The question may, however, be determined after recording the statements of various Ulama (having juristic acumen) of Pakistan and India and, if needed, from other Muslim countries.

However, let it be noted that the problem can be resolved only if a critical analysis of the traditions is made taking full account of the history of the doctrine. Only that set of hypotheses is possible which can be verified with adequate evidence. The proposed Commission’s main task will be to investigate and give all the available evidence both in points of isnad and of history to find out which of these versions has greater antecedent probability than the other, not in sense that a certain hypothesis stands confirmed, if particulars are found, but rather in the sense of making positive a priori judgment which can adequately provide explanation more than the other possible alternative assumptions. (Landlord and Peasant in Early Islam, by Dr. Ziaul Haque, Islamabad, 1977). If it is deemed necessary, resort may be had to collective ijtihad, by the pious jurists (Al-Fuqaha Al-Abideen) as narrated by Ali (RAA). In case the Commission comes to the conclusion that muzara‘ah tenancy is valid in Islam, preferring the second version of ahadith, it may make necessary recommendations for eradicating the vices that have crept in the system, after examining the existing laws on the subject in the light of the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). In the present economic scenario, it is imperative that overall and multi-dimensional reforms are made in the agricultural sector.

There is, however, a very big question here: Will the present Government, or for that matter any future Government dominated by the Feudal Lords, undertake this Hallunstic task? The answer perhaps obvious.

SATO REV.DOC 1/2/2007 8:40:08 AM

483 - JOURNAL OF LAW - RELIGION [Vol. XV

THE ISLAMIC LAW ON LAND TAX AND RENT: THE PEASANTS’ LOSS OF PROPERTY RIGHTS AS INTERPRETED IN THE HANAFITE LITERATURE OF THE MAMLUK AND OTTOMAN PERIOD.

By Baber Johansen. London and New York: Croom Helm, Methuen 1988. Pp. 143.

ISBN: 0-709-91496-2.

This book is a challenging work arguing that Islamic law stopped developing after the tenth century. Joseph Schacht, Noel J. Coulson, and Chafik Chehata, who have contributed greatly to advancing the study of Islamic law,1 are unanimous in supporting this view. The author plans to “demonstrate, with special reference to the development of Hanafite law in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, . . . the structural changes that occurred between the tenth and sixteenth centuries.” (2)2 He focuses on “land tax and rent” as inter-related key concepts of the Hanfite law, by noting that the Middle East is a cereal-growing agricultural region.

The author divides the history of Islamic law into three periods: pre-classical (eighth to tenth century), classical (tenth to twelfth century) and post-classical (twelfth to nineteenth century). His intention is to compare the Hanafite doctrine on the forms of land tax and tenancy contracts through these periods.

Chapter One, “The Birth of the Kharaj Payer,” shows the basic legal principle that governs the Hanafite position on taxation. According to the Hanafite jurists, the land tax (kharaj) was a tax payable by the proprietors of landed property. Johansen relates that “this aspect of kharaj as a tax on private landed property is not generally acknowledged by Western scholars.” (7) The Hanafite doctrine, different from other Sunni schools, does not define kharaj as a tax, the payment of which implies acknowledging state-held title of ownership to land. If so, then who paid the tax, the tenant or the lessor? According to Abu Hanifa (ca. 699-767), the founder of the Hanafite school, it was always the proprietor who paid the kharaj. However, his disciples of the eighth and ninth centuries tried to shift the tax burden from the lessor to the tenant. How was this shift possible if we consider that this legal doctrine was part of Islamic law?

Chapter Two, “The Contract of Tenancy,” answers this question.

Through the tenancy contract (ijara), arable land was transformed into rent-yielding property because tenants could reap profits from the usufruct of the land, like dealing in commodities. However, the Hanafite jurists in Balkh and Bukhara during the classical period were faced with “the problem of whether it is the owner of Arabic arable lands or the person who makes unauthorised use (ghash) of them who has to pay the land tax.” (40) The attempt by jurists to assimilate the tenancy relationship to ghash marked the beginning of a new legal doctrine concerning land tax and rent. The author explains that the new tenancy relationship was described in terms of the unequal and hierarchical relationships between the tenant and lessor that characterized the share-cropping contract (muzara ’a).

Chapter Three, “The Share-cropping Contract,” deals with this

muzara’a contract that legally gave proprietors the right to collect rent from the cultivators of their fields. The author supposes that the contract was first used on state, iqta’ (lands assigned by caliph) and waqf

(foundation) lands, and then later applied to other forms of landed property. His point is that the status of peasants who provided only labor or land in the muzara’a was much worse than the status of tenants working under a tenancy contract (ijara). Consequently, “[i]n the Mamluk and Ottoman periods the peasant ceases to be regarded as a

kharaj payer and an owner of landed property.” (69)

Chapter Four, “The Death of the Proprietors,” discusses the Hanafite response to a new movement in Islamic history. From the second half of the tenth century, rural society in the Middle East underwent fundamental changes under the iqta’ system, which was first implemented in Buwayid Iraq.3 Army officers were assigned iqta’s, from which they collected revenues in return for their military services. The author emphasizes that “this practice . . . tended to obscure the difference between tax and rent.” (80) In other words, the peasant ownership of small holdings gradually disappeared under the iqta’

system. Faced with this new situation, the Hanafite jurists during the late Mamluk and the early Ottoman periods set out to reform their classical doctrine which stated that the obligation to pay rent can only result from use of land under a contract. They tried to legalize the relationship between landlord and peasant in iqta’ and waqf. That is to say, they reinterpreted the legal doctrine held during the classical period by Hanafite jurists in Central Asia who assimilated tenancy relationships to the unauthorized use of arable lands.

This new legal doctrine was based on the notion of the “death of the kharaj payer” proposed by a fifteenth-century Egyptian mufti (a jurist who gives authoritative legal opinions). The situation was as if the proprietors who were obliged to pay kharaj died one after another, without leaving heirs. According to the author, this notion served to explain and legalize the tenant status of peasants who no longer enjoyed property rights under the iqta’ system. (85) As Chapter Five, “The Ottoman Muftis’ New Doctrine on Tax and Rent,” shows clearly, the Hanafite muftis during the Ottoman period developed a new doctrine on tax and rent, based on the writing of jurists of the late Mamluk period. Contrary to the view that Islamic law remained unchanged after the tenth century, the Hanafite jurists and muftis strove to reform their legal doctrine until the nineteenth century.

The author succeeds in proving that Islamic law developed even after the tenth century via an elaborate examination of the texts, resulting in the discovery in changes in the Hanafite legal doctrines. Some readers may find it difficult to follow the process of the author’s detailed arguments, while others may wonder why no jurist tried to reform the legal doctrine on tax and rent during the early Mamluk period, when the iqta’ system was at its height. Furthermore, Egyptian peasants under the Mamluks, called fallahun or muzari ’un, were, after irrigation by the annual flood of the Nile, customarily allocated land to be cultivated not according to muzari ’un contracts but rather under

qabala contracts with their iqta’ holders.4 This shows that contracts between iqta’ holders and cultivators did not lose their significance even in the Mamluk period, a point that diverges from Johansen’s conclusions.

The Islamic Law on Land Tax and Rent is an important monograph that shows clearly the developmental process of the Hanafite legal doctrine from the tenth century on. Johansen enables his readers to see that Islamic law has evolved through the adaptation of its doctrine to social changes throughout its history. His work provides us with the joy of touching an author’s spirit as he challenges established theory.

JOURNAL OF LAW - RELIGION [Vol. XV

Reviewed by Tsugitaka Sato †

† The University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Humanities, Tokyo, Japan.

(satotg at yk dot rim dot or dot jp)

1. Joseph Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic Law (Oxford: Oxford U. Press 1964); Noel J.

Coulson, A History of Islamic Law (Edinburgh: Edinburgh U. Press 1964); Chafik Chehata,

Etudes de droit muselman (Paris: Presses universitaires de France 1971).

2. All citations in the text refer to the book under review.

SATO REV.DOC 1/2/2007 8:40:08 AM

3. Concerning the iqta’ system in the Middle East, see Sato Tsugitaka, State and Rural

Society in Medieval Islam (Leiden: Brill 1997).

SATO REV.DOC 1/2/2007 8:40:08 AM

4. Id. at 192-197, 236.

SATO REV.DOC 1/2/2007 8:40:08 AM

On Henry George

Notables on Henry George

Leo Tolstoy

Emma
Lazarus

José
Martí

Daniel
C. Beard

Samuel
Gompers

Louis
D. Brandeis

Clarence
Darrow

Silvio
Gesell

href="#_Nicholas_Murray_Butler">Nicholas Murray Butler

Sun
Yat-sen

Max
Hirsch

Princess Alice of Greece

John
Dewey

Charles
A. Beard

Albert
Einstein

John
Haynes Holmes

Helen
Keller

John
Kieran

E. F.
Goldman

Rutherford
B. Hayes

Grover
Cleveland

Woodrow
Wilson

Franklin
D. Roosevelt

Raymond
Moley

Henry
Ford

Philip
Snowden

Frank
Lloyd Wright

href="#_Franklin_D._Roosevelt_1">Franklin D. Roosevelt

Kirkpatrick
Sale

Ernest
Callenbach

Paul
Ekins

Jonathan
Porritt

Mike
Nickerson

Brian
Czech

Matthew
Fox

John
B. Cobb, Jr.

Harold
Gilliam

Molly
Ivins

James
Howard Kunstler

The
Utne Reader

Institute
for Local Self-Reliance

Herman
E. Daly

James
Robertson

Aldous
Huxley

Charles Avila

Agnes
de Mille

American Heritage

Leo Tolstoy (1828 - 1910) Christian anarchist, pacifist, author
"War and Peace," "Resurrection,"Anna Karenina;" widely
regarded as one of the greatest novelists of all time:

The only indubitable means of improving the position of the
workers, which is at the same time in conformity with the will of God, consists
in the liberation of the land from its usurpation by the landlords. …The most
just and practicable scheme, in my opinion, is that of Henry George, known as the
single-tax system.

Leo Tolstoy:

This sin (of land ownership) can be undone, not by
political reform, nor Socialist schemes for the future, not by revolution in
the present, and still less by philanthropic assistance or government
organisation for the purchase and distribution of land amongst the peasants
….The method of solving the land problem has been elaborated by Henry George to
a degree of perfection that under the existing state organisation and
compulsory taxation, it is impossible to invent any better, more just,
practical and peaceful solution.

Leo Tolstoy:

People do not argue with the teachings of George, they
simply do not know it. And it is impossible to do otherwise with his teaching,
for he who becomes acquainted with it cannot but agree.

Leo Tolstoy:

The only thing that would pacify the people now is
the introduction of the Land Value Taxation system of Henry George. The land is
common to all; all have the same right to it.

Emma Lazarus

(1849-87) A famous poet in her
day, authored the lines inscribed on the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free.

Addressed to the "wretched refuse" of the earth in
1883, she tried to welcome them as equals in the American dream. She was a strong
supporter of Henry George and his land rights and land tax policy proposals.

José Martí

(1853-1895)
Leader of the Cuban independence movement and noted poet and
writer...one of the most cogent and audacious thinkers:

George's book was
a revelation not only for the workers, but also for the intellectuals. Only
Darwin, in the natural sciences, left an impression comparable to that of
George in the social sciences. ...His devotion can be compared to the love of
Nazareen, expressed in the language of our times.

Daniel C. Beard (1850-1941) American naturalist
who founded the Boy Scouts of America:

I believe in Henry George...
I have long been a worker for the Single Tax cause.

Samuel Gompers (1850-1924), founded the
American Federation of Labor and who campaigned for George:

I believe in the Single Tax. I count it a great
privilege to have been a friend of Henry George and to have been one of those
who helped to make him understood in New York and elsewhere...

Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941) United States
Supreme Court Justice:

I find it
very difficult to disagree with the principles of Henry George... I believe in
the taxation of land values only.

Clarence Darrow (1859-1938) Lawyer of Scopes
Monkey Trial fame:

Henry George was
one of the real prophets of the world; one of the seers of the world... His was
a wonderful mind; he saw a question from every side... When we learn that the
value of land belongs to all of us, then we will be free men – no need to
legislate to keep men and women from working themselves to death; no need to
legislate against the white slave traffic.

Silvio Gesell (1862-1930) German reformer,
earned fame for the successful application of his monetary reform in Austria
between the world wars. In his main work, "The
Natural Economic Order" through Free Land and Free Money, Gesell rejected
the association of "blood" with "land"

The whole earth is
an integral organ; everyone should be free to travel and settle anywhere."
Gesell advocated an open world market without monopolies, customs frontiers,
and colonial conquest. Inspired by Henry George, whose Single Tax on land value
had become known in Germany, Gesell called upon government to buy land and
lease it to the highest bidder and to forgo taxation. Since the amount of Rent
depends on population density, Gesell would distribute Rent to mothers, freeing
them from working fathers, letting the sexes relate for love.

Nicholas Murray Butler (1862-1947) President of Columbia University, Nobel Peace Prize:

Consider Georgist economics with a just sense of their permanent
importance and with regard to the soundness of their underlying principles.
Sound economists in every land accept and support economic opportunity as
fundamental.

Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), father of modern
China:

The teachings of Henry George
will be the basis of our program of reform... The (land tax) as the only means
of supporting the government is an infinitely just, reasonable, and equitably
distributed tax... The centuries of heavy and irregular taxation for the
benefit of the Manchus have shown China the injustice of any other system of
taxation.

Max Hirsch (1877-1968) Banker, investor,
and author:

Abolish special
privileges and Government interference in industry. Give to all equal natural
opportunities – equal rights to the inexhaustible storehouse of Nature – and
wealth will distribute itself in exact accordance with justice. This, the ideal
of Henry George, is what I would place before our people.

Princess Alice of Greece (1885-1967), Mother of Prince
Philip, the consort to the Queen of England:

I have studied Henry George.
The idea of a Single Tax could contribute to the economic restoration of our
country.

John Dewey (1859-1952) Philosopher and
educator:

Henry George is one of the
great names among the world's social philosophers. It would require less than
the fingers of the two hands to enumerate those who, from Plato down, rank with
him... No man, no graduate of a higher educational institution, has a right to
regard himself as educated in social thought unless he has some firsthand
acquaintance with the theoretical contribution of this great American
thinker.

Charles A. Beard (1874-1948) Historian and
author of "An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution":

Of all the American
economists since the early days of the republic, none treated as
comprehensively the interfiliation of economy and civilization as George
did.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955):

Men like Henry George are rare,
unfortunately. One cannot imagine a more beautiful combination of intellectual
keenness, artistic form, and fervent love of justice.

Rev. John Haynes Holmes (1879-1964), co-founder of the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People:

"Progress and Poverty" was the most closely knit,
fascinating and convincing specimen of argumentation that, I believe, ever
sprang from the mind of man.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) (American

author,
activist
and lecturer,
the first title=Deafblindness>deafblind person to graduate from college:

Who reads shall
find in Henry George's philosophy a rare beauty and power of inspiration, and a
splendid faith in the essential nobility of human nature.

John Kieran (1892-1981) American writer, amateur naturalist and
radio and href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_program"
title="Television program">television href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_personality" title="Radio personality">personality:

No one should be allowed to speak above a whisper or write more than
ten words on the general subject (of economics) unless he has read and digested
"Progress and Poverty".

E. F. Goldman Princeton historian:

For some years prior to 1952 I was working on a history
of American reform and over and over again my research ran into this fact: an
enormous number of men and women, strikingly different people, men and women
who were to lead 20th century America in a dozen fields of humane activity,
wrote or told someone that their whole thinking had been redirected by reading "Progress
and Poverty" in their formative years. In this respect no other book came
anywhere near comparable influence, and I would like to add this word of
tribute to a volume which magically catalyzed the best yearnings of our fathers
and grandfathers.

Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893), 19th U.S.
President, from his personal diary:

In church it occurred to me that
it is time for the public to hear that the giant evil and danger in this
country, the danger which transcends all others, is the vast wealth owned or
controlled by a few persons. Money is power. In Congress, in state
legislatures, in city councils, in the courts, in the political conventions, in
the press, in the pulpit, in the circles of the educated and the talented, its
influence is growing greater and greater. Excessive wealth in the hands of the
few means extreme poverty, ignorance, vice, and wretchedness as the lot of the
many… Henry George is strong when he portrays the rottenness of the present
system. We are, to say the least, not yet ready for his remedy. We may reach
and remove the difficulty by changes in the laws regulating corporations,
descents of property, wills, trusts, taxation, and a host of other important
interests, not omitting lands and other property.

Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), 22nd and 24th
president of the US, whom George worked with on trade:

I have always regarded Henry
George as a man of honest and sincere convictions and ever held a high opinion
of him.

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), 28th president of the
US and founder of the League of Nations, said:

This country needs a new
and sincere thought in politics, coherently, distinctly and boldly uttered by
men who are sure of their ground. The power of men like Henry George seems to
me to mean that.

Wilson put Louis F. Post, a Georgist, into the post of
labor secretary who founded Labor Day on the Monday closest to George's
birthday.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd president of the
US said:

I believe that Henry George was one of the really great thinkers
produced by our country.

About financing transportation, he wrote, 1939:

The
man who, by good fortune, sells a narrow right-of-way for a new highway makes a
handsome profit through the increase in value of all of the rest of his land.
That represents an unearned increment of profit – a profit which comes to a
mere handful of lucky citizens and which is denied to the vast majority.

Raymond Moley (1886-1975) One of the three economists of U.S. President Franklin
D. Roosevelt's Brain Trust (which was so important that reputedly even FDR had
to have an appointment to meet with them), a leading "New Dealer" who became its bitter
opponent:

The basic assumptions of Henry George are sound. Nothing could be more
useful than to bring these fundamentals to the attention of perplexed
Americans.

Henry Ford (1863-1947) Founder of the Ford Motor Company
and father of modern assembly lines used in mass production:

We ought to
tax all idle land the way Henry George said – tax it heavily, so that its
owners would have to make it productive.

First Viscount Philip Snowden (1864-1937) British economist
and politician, British Chancellor of the Exchequer:

There never was a time when the need was greater
than it is today for the application of the philosophy and principles of Henry
George to the economic and political conditions which are scourging the whole
world. The root cause of the world's economic distress is surely obvious to
every man who has eyes to see and a brain to understand. So long as land is a
monopoly, and men are denied free access to it to apply their labor to its
uses, poverty and unemployment will exist. Permanent peace can only be
established when men and nations have realized that natural resource should be
a common heritage, and used for the good of all mankind... I am of the opinion
that rent belongs to society and that no single person has the right to
appropriate and enjoy what belongs to society.

1st Viscount Phillip Snowden:

There never was a time when the need was greater than
it is today for the application of the philosophy and principles of Henry
George to the economic and political conditions which are scourging the world …
Permanent peace can only be established when men and nations have realised that
natural resources should be a common heritage

Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959), architect who'd
design structures to avoid removing trees, wrote in "The Living City":

Henry George showed us the only organic solution of
the land problem

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) President of the United States:

I believe that Henry George
was one of those really great thinkers produced by our country.

Kirkpatrick Sale, New York Greens founder and a
NATION columnist, in his "Human Scale" (1980):

The Georgist principles
provide a way for a community to secure its financial interest in a rational
economy of usufruct

Ernest Callenbach, Author of "Ecotopia",
wrote in 1988:

If I'd heard of
Georgism before publishing (his classic), I would have incorporated Georgist
tax policies into its economic system

Paul Ekins, with Mayer Hillman and Robert
Hutchinson in "The Gaia Atlas of Green Economics" (1992):

Taxes need to be shifted away from labor and on to
the use of resources and the environment. One such tax, first proposed by the
American reformer Henry George more than a hundred years ago, is land value
taxation

Jonathan Porritt, Co-founder of the British Green
Party in his "Seeing Green" (1984):

The Liberals have given up trying to get across the ideas of Henry
George. And that's a pity ... the only way to break the monopoly of
landownership (is) some form of land tax

Mike Nickerson, Author and operator of Canada's
Sustainability Project which with members of parliament promoted the
"Well-Being Measurement Act":

Writing
another book will have to wait. The Georgian perspective will be included
without doubt

Brian Czech, in "Shoveling Fuel" (2000)
cited both the tax shift and the social salary and later added:

If I had read Dr. Mason Gaffney's Corruption of Economics prior
to writing Shoveling Fuel, I also would have had a lot more to say about Henry
George. After reading Corruption and a paper by Bill Batt from New York, I can
see the connection of Georgist to ecological economics.

Matthew Fox, Founder of creation spirituality, in "A Spirituality Named
Compassion" (1979):

Henry George sees his
movement as an alternative... By taxing land more than we do and in a special
way, we will be able to tax work and income derived from it considerably
less..

Theologian John B. Cobb, Jr. with Herman Daly in their "For
The Common Good" (1989):

(George's) specific proposal
about taxation can be supported on the basis of a shared rejection of the idea
of land as only a commodity... Since this tax would rise as the value of the
land rose, or would fall as it fell, there would be no basis for speculation in
land... farmers would have no reason to oppose zoning that kept taxes on
agricultural lands appropriate to the profits that can be realized from
farming... Whereas a higher tax on buildings encourages holding land unused or
allowing buildings to deteriorate, a higher tax on land encourages efficient
use of the property

Harold Gilliam, San Francisco CHRONICLE
environmental columnist (Aug 20, 1989):

Another way out of the
(land) cost dilemma might be to look for some variation on the proposals of
that 19th century San Francisco economist and prophet-ahead-of-his-time, Henry
George, author of the classic "Progress and Poverty"... Why not a land
tax--paid when the land changes hands--to capture some portion of the increase
in value resulting from population growth? And why not channel that revenue
into incentives for affordable housing?"

Molly Ivins (1944-2007) href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States" title="United States">American
newspaper columnist,
political
commentator
, and title=Bestseller>best-selling title=Author>author:

Henry George must be in his grave spinnin' like a
cyclotron. We, the people at large, make the land more desirable; and then the
landowners want us to pay them because we won't allow them to poison the air or
to pollute the rivers.

James Howard Kunstler, former Rolling Stone editor and
contributor to New York Times Magazine, in his "Home From Nowhere" (1996):

Reform of our property tax system along the lines
advocated by Henry George is a straightforward means for restoring the economic
health of our ailing towns and cities - no smoke, no mirrors, no voodoo

The Utne Reader, in listing Pittsburgh among its
"Ten Most Underrated Towns in America", noted that the city's "unique
tax system, inspired by 19th-century economic theorist Henry George, assesses
land at a higher rate than buildings, thus encouraging historic preservation,
discouraging downtown parking lots, and reducing sprawl.

Institute for Local Self-Reliance:

Can a land tax reduce sprawl and strengthen urban economies? The
evidence is persuasive though not conclusive. Political economist Henry George
first proposed a land value tax over 100 years ago, as a way to eliminate land
speculation and make more land available for production.

Herman E. Daly, Ex-World Bank Economist in "Steady-State
Economics" (1977):

The windfall
Rent from higher resource prices would be captured by the government and become
public income - a partial realization of Henry George's ideal of a single tax
on Rent. Using Rent to finance a minimum income could substitute for a
considerable number of bureaucratic welfare programs

James Robertson, Ex-British cabinet economist.
Co-Founder of The Other Economic Summit in his "Future Wealth" (1989):

…tax the site-value of all land in its unimproved state. This tax was
first proposed by the 19th century American economist Henry George. We should
envisage the eventual removal of all taxes on incomes and value added, savings
and financial capital. Taxes will take the form of Rents and charges reasonably
paid in exchange either for the use of resources that would otherwise be
available for other people, or for damage caused to other people.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) in the preface to
his "Brave New World Revisited":

If I were now to rewrite the
book, I would offer a third alternative ... the possibility of sanity.
Economics would be decentralist and Henry Georgian.

Charles Avila

in his book "Ownership: Early
Christian Teachings":

On first reading Henry George
(Progress and Poverty) almost twenty years ago when doing research for this
volume, I was particularly struck by the similarity of his arguments, and even
analogies, to those of the fourth century Christian philosophers on the topic
of land ownership

Avila continues:

Henry George, the great American political economist and
land rights philosopher (1839-1897), eloquently confronted the enigma of the
wealth gap in his masterwork "Progress and Poverty" and set forth both an
ethical and practical method for holding and sharing the land as a sacred trust
for all. He made a clear distinction between property in land and property in
wealth produced by labor on land. He said that private property in human made
wealth belonged to the producer and that the state should not tax wealth
produced by human labor.

Agnes de Mille (1905-1993) Famous dance choreographer and grand-daughter
of Henry George:

We have
reached the deplorable circumstance where in large measure a very powerful few
are in possession of the earth's resources, the land and all its riches, and
all the franchises and other privileges that yield a return. These monopolistic
positions are kept by a handful of men who are maintained virtually with- out
taxation . . . we are yielding up sovereignty

"American Heritage" published a list of "ten
books that shaped the American character" (1985 April/May) compiled by
Jonathan Yardley. With George's classic "Progress and Poverty" were titles
by writers who endorsed his idea, such as "The Jungle" by Upton
Sinclair (1878-1968) and" The Shame of Cities" by Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936).

Open Letter to Mikhail Gorbachev

Open letter to Mikhail Gorbachev (1991)

On the initiative of economist Nicolaus Tideman, 30 persons signed a letter dated November 7, 1990, advising Mikhail Gorbachev to capture land rent to smooth the transition to a market economy. All but two of the signers were Ph.D. economists, many of them extremely prominent. Three of the signers, Franco Modigliani, Robert Solow and James Tobin, had been awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. One other signer, William Vickrey, was subsequently awarded that prize.

The Letter:
November 7, 1990

Mikhail Gorbachev, President
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Dear Mr. Gorbachev:

The movement of the Soviet Union to a market economy will greatly enhance the prosperity of your citizens. Your economists have learned much from the experience of nations with economies based in varying degrees on free markets. Your plans for freely convertible currency, free trade, and enterprises undertaken and managed by individuals who receive the profit or bear the losses that result from their decisions are all highly commendable. But there is a danger that you will adopt features of our economies that keep us from being as prosperous as we might be. In particular, there is a danger that you may follow us in allowing most of the rent of land to be collected privately.

It is important that the rent of land be retained as a source of government revenue. While the governments of developed nations with market economies collect some of the rent of land in taxes, they do not collect nearly as much as they could, and they therefore make unnecessarily great use of taxes that impede their economies--taxes on such things as incomes, sales and the value of capital.

Social collection of the rent of land and natural resources serves three purposes. First, it guarantees that no one dispossesses fellow citizens by obtaining a disproportionate share of what nature provides for humanity. Second, it provides revenue with which governments can pay for socially valuable activities without discouraging capital formation or work effort, or interfering in other ways with the efficient allocation of resources. Third, the resulting revenue permits utility and other services that have marked economies of scale or density to be priced at levels conducive to their efficient use.

The rental value of land arises from three sources. The first is the inherent natural productivity of land, combined with the fact that land is limited. The second source of land value is the growth of communities; the third is the provision of public services. All citizens have equal claims on the component of land value that arises from nature. The component of land value that arises from community growth and provision of services is the most sensible source of revenue for financing public services that raise the rental value of surrounding land. These services include roads, urban transit networks, parks, and public utility networks for such services as electricity, telephones, water and sewers. A public revenue system should strive to collect as much of the rent of land as possible, allocating the part of rent derived from nature to all citizens equally, and the part derived from public services to the governmental units that provide those services. When governments collect the increase in land value that results from the provision of services, they are able to offer services at prices that represent the marginal social cost of these services, promoting efficient use of the services and enhancing the rental value of the land where the services are available. Government agencies that use land should be charged the same rentals as others for the land they use, or services will not be adequately financed and agencies will not have adequate incentive or guidance for economizing on their use of land.

Some economists might be tempted to suggest that the rent can be collected publicly simply by selling land outright at auction. There are a number of reasons why this is not a good idea. First, there is so much land to be turned over to private management that any effort to dispose of all of it in a short period would result in an extreme depression in prices offered. Second, some persons who could make excellent use of land would be unable to raise money for the purchase price. Collecting rent annually provides access to land for persons with limited access to credit. Third, subsequent resale of land would enable speculators to make large profits unrelated to any productive services they offer, resulting in needless inequity and dissatisfaction. Fourth, concern about future political conditions would tend to depress offers. Collecting rent annually permits the citizens of future years to capture the benefits of good future public policies. Fifth, because investors tend to be averse to risk, general uncertainty about the future will tend to depress offers. This risk aversion is sidestepped by allowing future rental payments to be determined by future conditions. Finally, the future rent of land can more justly be claimed by future generations than by today's citizens. Requiring annual payments from the users of land allows each year's population to claim that year's rent. While the proceeds of sales could be invested for the benefit of future generations, not collecting the money in advance guarantees the heritage of the future against political excesses.

The attached Appendix provides a brief technical discussion of issues of the duration of rights to use land, the transfer of land, the assessment of land, social protection against the abuse and subsequent abandonment of run-down property, and redistribution among localities to adjust for differences in natural per capita endowments. While these issues need to be addressed, none of them present insoluble problems.

A balance should be kept between allowing the managers of property to retain value derived from their own efforts to maintain and improve property, and securing for public use the naturally inherent and socially created value of land. Users of land should not be allowed to acquire rights of indefinite duration for single payments. For efficiency, for adequate revenue and for justice, every user of land should be required to make an annual payment to the local government, equal to the current rental value of the land that he or she prevents others from using.

Sincerely,

Nicolaus Tideman, Professor of Economics
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

William Vickrey, President for 1992
American Economic Association

Mason Gaffney, Professor of Economics
University of California, Irvine

Lowell Harriss, Professor Emeritus of Economics
Columbia University

Jacques Thisse, Professor of Economics
Center for Operations Research and Econometrics
University Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Charles Goetz, Joseph M. Hartfield Professor of Law
University of Virginia School of Law

Gene Wunderlich, Senior Agricultural Economist
Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Daniel R. Fusfeld, Professor Emeritus of Economics
University of Michigan

Elizabeth Clayton, Professor of Economics
University of Missouri at St. Louis

Robert Dorfman, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy
Harvard University

Carl Kaysen, Professor of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tibor Scitovsky, Emeritus Eberle Professor of Economics
Stanford University

Richard Goode
Washington, D.C.

Susan Rose-Ackerman, Eli Professor of Law and Political Economy
Yale Law School

James Tobin, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Economics
Yale University

Richard Musgrave, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy
Harvard University

Franco Modigliani, Professor Emeritus of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Warren J. Samuels, Professor of Economics
Michigan State University

Guy Orcutt, Professor Emeritus of Economics
Yale University

Eugene Smolensky, Dean of the School of Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley

Ted Gwartney, Real Estate Appraiser and Assessor
Anaheim, California

Oliver Oldman, Learned Hand Professor of Law
Harvard University

Zvi Griliches, Professor of Economics
Harvard University

William Baumol, Professor of Economics
Princeton University

Gustav Ranis, Frank Altschul Professor of International Economics
Yale University

John Helliwell, Prefessor of Economics
University of British Columbia

Giulio Pontecorvo, Professor
Graduate School of Business, Economics and Banking, Columbia University

Robert Solow, Institute Professor of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Alfred Kahn
Ithaca, New York

Harvey Levin, Augustus B. Weller Professor of Economics
Hofstra University

The names of individuals appear in the order in which they agreed to sign the letter. No individual speaks for any organization with which he or she is affiliated.

Appendix of Gorbachev Letter on Technical Issues:

All individuals and enterprises should have the right to continue using the land they have been using, for as long as they are prepared to pay the rent of that land. The amount of rent to be paid will vary as the economy evolves. As is traditional in countries with market economies, if land is needed for some public purpose such as a highway, the judicial process should guarantee the user fair compensation for any improvements that have been made in good faith. Every user of land should also have the right to transfer ownership of the improvements on the land, together with the right to continue using the land upon payment of rent, to any buyer on any terms upon which they mutually agree.

For the rent of land to be collected publicly, land must be assessed, and then reassessed regularly. The assessment process is simplified by the fact that land rental values tend to change smoothly with location. Initially, a map of the value of land can be made by auctioning scattered sites on a rental basis, and then interpolating for the value of other sites, based on the experience of Western appraisers and assessors regarding the manner in which the value of land varies systematically. To update assessments in future years, the assessment office would auction sites that had been relinquished by their users, or sites with improvements that were almost fully depreciated, that had been acquired in voluntary transactions. Interpolation would again be used to estimate the rent of sites that had not been transferred.

With all or nearly all of the rent of land collected publicly, it would be necessary to guard against the possibility that users of land with fully depreciated improvements would abandon their property, leaving the State to demolish the improvements in preparation for the next use of the site. This potential problem can be avoided by requiring every user of land to post a government bond as a "security deposit" that the land will not be abandoned in a run-down condition. Interest on the bond could be applied to the annual rent.

Collection of the rent of land is best managed by local governments, but justice, as well as efficiency in migration incentives, requires that the part of rent that is attributable to nature rather than community development be shared on an equal per capita basis. Thus there is need of clearinghouse mechanism, into which all localities would deposit collections of rent from nature in excess of the average per capita amount, and from which other localities would receive compensation for their deficiencies of rent from nature, relative to the average per capita amount.

On Money

Bankers

William Paterson, founder of the Bank of England in 1694, then a privately owned bank:

The bank hath benefit of interest on all moneys which it creates out of nothing.

Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812), founder of the House of Rothschild:

Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws.

The Rothschild brothers of London writing to associates in New York, 1863:

The few who understand the system will either be so interested in its profits or be so dependent upon its favours that there will be no opposition from that class, while on the other hand, the great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantage that capital derives from the system, will bear its burdens without complaint, and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests.

Sir Josiah Stamp, President of the Bank of England in the 1920s, the second richest man in Britain:

Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The Bankers own the Earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create deposits, and with the flick of a pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the fortunes like mine will disappear, and they ought to disappear, for this world would be a happier and better world to live in. But if you wish to remain slaves of the Bankers and pay for the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create deposits.

Reginald McKenna, as Chairman of the Midland Bank, addressing stockholders in 1924:

I am afraid the ordinary citizen will not like to be told that the banks can and do create money. And they who control the credit of the nation direct the policy of Governments and hold in the hollow of their hand the destiny of the people.

H W White, Chairman of the Associated Banks of New Zealand, to the New Zealand Monetary Commission, 1955:

The banks do create money. They have been doing it for a long time, but they didn't realise it, and they did not admit it. Very few did. You will find it in all sorts of documents, financial textbooks, et cetera. But in the intervening years, and we must be perfectly frank about these things, there has been a development of thought, until today I doubt very much whether you would get many prominent bankers to attempt to deny that banks create it."

Politicians

Thomas Jefferson, US President 1801-9:

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France:

When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.

Thomas Jefferson in the debate over The Re-charter of the Bank Bill (1809):

If the American people ever allow private banks to control issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and the corporations will grow up around them, will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

Karl Marx writing in the Communist Manifesto (1848):

Money plays the largest part in determining the course of history.

Abraham Lincoln, US President 1861-5. He created government issue money during the American Civil War and was assassinated:

The government should create, issue and circulate all the currency and credits needed to satisfy the spending power of the government and the buying power of consumers. By adoption of these principles, the taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest. Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity.

Otto von Bismark (1815-1898), German Chancellor, after the Lincoln assassination:

The death of Lincoln was a disaster for Christendom. There was no man in the United States great enough to wear his boots and the bankers went anew to grab the riches. I fear that foreign bankers with their craftiness and tortuous tricks will entirely control the exuberant riches of America and use it to systematically corrupt civilisation.

Captain Henry Kerby MP, in an Early Day Motion tabled in 1964:

That this House considers that the continued issue of all the means of exchange - be they coin, bank-notes or credit, largely passed on by cheques - by private firms as an interest-bearing debt against the public should cease forthwith; that the Sovereign power and duty of issuing money in all forms should be returned to the Crown, then to be put into circulation free of all debt and interest obligations ...

Ralph M Hawtry, former Secretary to the Treasury:

Banks lend by creating credit. They create the means of payment out of nothing.

The Earl of Caithness, in a speech to the House of Lords, 1997:

... our whole monetary system is dishonest, as it is debt-based ... We did not vote for it. It grew upon us gradually but markedly since 1971 when the commodity-based system was abandoned.

Others

Leo Tolstoy, Russian writer;

Money is a new form of slavery, and distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal - that there is no human relation between master and slave.

Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company:

It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.

Major L L B Angus:

The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The process is, perhaps, the most astounding piece of sleight of hand that was ever invented. Banks can in fact inflate, mint and un-mint the modern ledger-entry currency.

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908- 2006), former professor of economics at Harvard, writing in Money: Whence it came, where it went (1975):

The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it. The process by which banks create money is so simple the mind is repelled. With something so important, a deeper mystery seems only decent."