Quotes on Land Ethics and Land Value Capture – Country Specific
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Republic of South Africa
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
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.
Austrian Green Party (below in “From Taking to Sharing”) advocates the Environmental Tax Shift and a social salary.
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.
John Paul II said in Brazil in 1991:
The high concentration of land ownership demands a just agrarian reform. It has no justification whatsoever.
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.
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.
...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
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.
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.)
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)
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.
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
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).
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
Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher, wrote:
The whole soil should be public property.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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).
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)
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; email@example.com
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.