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Georgism (also called Geoism or Geonomics) is an economic philosophy and ideology which holds that people own what they create, but that things found in nature, most importantly land, belong equally to all. The Georgist philosophy is based on the writings of the economist Henry George (1839–1897), and is usually associated with the idea of a single tax on the value of land.
Georgists argue that a tax on land value is economically efficient, fair, and equitable; and that it can generate sufficient revenue so that other taxes (e.g. taxes on profits, sales or income), which are less fair and efficient, can be reduced or eliminated. A tax on land value has been described by many as a progressive tax, since it would be paid primarily by the wealthy, and would reduce economic inequality.
Main tenets 
Henry George is best known for his argument that the economic rent of land should be shared equally by the people of a society rather than being owned privately. George held that people own what they create, but that natural resources, most importantly land, belong equally to all. George believed that although scientific experiments could not be carried out in political economy, theories could be tested by comparing different societies with different conditions and through thought experiments about the effects of various factors. Applying this method, George concluded that many of the problems that beset society, such as poverty, inequality, and economic booms and busts, could be attributed to the private ownership of the necessary resource, land.
In Progress and Poverty George argued: "We must make land common property." He believed there was an important distinction between common and collective property. Although equal rights to land could be achieved by nationalizing land and then leasing it to private parties, George preferred taxing unimproved land value. A land value tax would not overly penalize those who had already bought and improved land, and would also be less disruptive and controversial in a country where land titles have already been granted.
Some Georgists have observed that in modern states, privately created wealth is socialized via the tax system (through income tax, etc.), but socially created wealth from community created land values are privatized and owned by private individuals and corporations. They argue that the opposite would be the case when a single tax on land value is implemented; that socially created wealth is taxed and used by the community, while privately created wealth remains private as no other taxes are levied.
Additionally, a land value tax would be a tax on wealth, not a tax on income or production, and so would be a form of progressive taxation tending to reduce economic inequality. Thus, a defining argument for Georgism is that it taxes wealth in a progressive manner, reducing inequality, and yet it also reduces the strain on businesses and productivity.
Economic properties 
Standard economic theory suggests that a land value tax would be extremely efficient – unlike other taxes, it does not reduce economic productivity. Nobel laureate Milton Friedman described Henry George's tax on unimproved value of land as the "least bad tax", since unlike other taxes, it would not impose an excess burden on economic activity (leading to "deadweight loss"); hence, a replacement of other more distortionary taxes with a land value tax would improve economic welfare.
Ground-rents are a still more proper subject of taxation than the rent of houses. 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. More or less can be got for it according as the competitors happen to be richer or poorer, or can afford to gratify their fancy for a particular spot of ground at a greater or smaller expense. In every country the greatest number of rich competitors is in the capital, and it is there accordingly that the highest ground-rents are always to be found. As the wealth of those competitors would in no respect be increased by a tax upon ground-rents, they would not probably be disposed to pay more for the use of the ground. Whether the tax was to be advanced by the inhabitant, or by the owner of the ground, would be of little importance. The more the inhabitant was obliged to pay for the tax, the less he would incline to pay for the ground; so that the final payment of the tax would fall altogether upon the owner of the ground-rent.
Other taxes 
Georgists also argue that all economic rent (i.e., unearned income) collected from natural resources (land, mineral extraction, the broadcast spectrum, tradable emission permits, fishing quotas, airway corridor use, space orbits, etc.) and extraordinary returns from natural monopolies should accrue to the community rather than a private owner, and that no other taxes or burdensome economic regulations should be levied. Modern environmentalists find the idea of the earth as the common property of humanity appealing, and some have endorsed the idea of ecological tax reform as a replacement for command and control regulation. This would entail substantial taxes or fees for pollution, waste disposal and resource exploitation, or equivalently a "cap and trade" system where permits are auctioned to the highest bidder, and also include taxes for the use of land and other natural resources.
Revenue uses 
Georgists suggest two uses for the revenue from a land value tax. The revenue can be used to fund the state (allowing the reduction or elimination of other taxes), or it can be redistributed to citizens as a pension or basic income (or it can be divided between these two options). If the first option were to be chosen, the state could avoid having to tax any other type of income or economic activity. In practice, the elimination of all other taxes implies a very high land value tax, higher than any currently existing land tax. Introducing a high land value tax would cause the price of land titles to decrease correspondingly, but George did not believe landowners should be compensated, and described the issue as being analogous to compensation for former slave owners.
Synonyms and variants 
Most early advocacy groups described themselves as Single Taxers, and George endorsed this as being an accurate description of the philosophy's main political goal – the replacement of all taxes with a land value tax. During the modern era, some groups inspired by Henry George emphasize environmentalism more than other aspects, while others emphasize his ideas concerning economics.
Some devotees are not entirely satisfied with the name Georgist. While Henry George was well known throughout his life, he has been largely forgotten by the public and the idea of a single tax of land predates him. Some people now use the term "Geoism", with the meaning of "Geo" deliberately ambiguous. "Earth Sharing", "Geoism", "Geonomics", and "Geolibertarianism" (see libertarianism) are also preferred by some Georgists; "Geoanarchism" is another one. These terms represent a difference of emphasis, and sometimes real differences about how land rent should be spent (citizen's dividend or just replacing other taxes); but all agree that land rent should be recovered from its private recipients.
Georgist ideas heavily influenced the politics of the early 20th century. Political parties that were formed based on Georgist ideas include the Commonwealth Land Party, the Justice Party of Denmark, the Henry George Justice Party, and the Single Tax League.
In the UK in 1909, the Liberal Government included a land tax as part of several taxes in the People's Budget aimed at redistributing wealth (including a progressively graded income tax and an increase of inheritance tax). This caused a crisis which resulted indirectly in reform of the House of Lords. The budget was passed eventually—but without the land tax. In 1931, the minority Labour Government passed a land value tax as part III of the 1931 Finance act. However, this was repealed in 1934 by the National Government before it could be implemented. In Denmark, the Georgist Justice Party has previously been represented in Folketinget. It formed part of a centre-left government 1957–60 and was also represented in the European Parliament 1978–79. The influence of Henry George has waned over time, but Georgist ideas still occasionally emerge in politics. In the 2004 Presidential campaign, Ralph Nader mentioned Henry George in his policy statements.
Several communities were also initiated with Georgist principles during the height of the philosophy's popularity. Two such communities that still exist are Arden, Delaware, which was founded in 1900 by Frank Stephens and Will Price, and Fairhope, Alabama, which was founded in 1894 by the auspices of the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation.
The German protectorate of Jiaozhou Bay (also known as Kiaochow) in China fully implemented Georgist policy. Its sole source of government revenue was the land value tax of six percent which it levied on its territory. The German government had previously had economic problems with its African colonies caused by land speculation. One of the main aims in using the land value tax in Jiaozhou Bay was to eliminate such speculation, an aim which was entirely achieved. The colony existed as a German protectorate from 1898 until 1914, when seized by Japanese and British troops. In 1922 the territory was returned to China.
Georgist ideas were also adopted to some degree in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and Taiwan. In these countries, governments still levy some type of land value tax, albeit with exemptions. Many municipal governments of the USA depend on real property tax as their main source of revenue, although such taxes are not "Georgist" as they generally include the value of buildings and other improvements, one exception being the town of Altoona, Pennsylvania, which only taxes land value.
Institutes and organizations 
Various organizations still exist that continue to promote the ideas of Henry George. According to the The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, the periodical Land&Liberty, established in 1894, is "the longest-lived Georgist project in history". Also in the U.S., the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy was established in 1974 founded based on the writings of Henry George, and "seeks to improve the dialogue about urban development, the built environment, and tax policy in the United States and abroad". The Henry George Foundation continues to promote the ideas of Henry George in the UK. The IU, is an international umbrella organisation that brings together organizations worldwide that seek land value tax reform.
Although both advocated workers' rights, Henry George and Karl Marx were antagonists. Marx saw the Single Tax platform as a step backwards from the transition to communism. He argued that, "The whole thing is... simply an attempt, decked out with socialism, to save capitalist domination and indeed to establish it afresh on an even wider basis than its present one." Marx also criticized the way land value tax theory emphasizes the value of land, arguing that, "His fundamental dogma is that everything would be all right if ground rent were paid to the state."
Fred Harrison provides a full treatment of Marxist objections to land value taxation and Henry George in "Gronlund and other Marxists – Part III: nineteenth-century Americas critics", American Journal of Economics and Sociology, (November 2003).
George has also been accused of exaggerating the importance of his "all-devouring rent thesis" in claiming that it is the primary cause of poverty and injustice in society. More recent critics have claimed that increasing government spending has rendered a land tax insufficient to fund government. Georgists have responded by citing a multitude of sources showing that the total land value of nations like the US is enormous, and more than sufficient to fund government.
Murray Rothbard criticized Georgism in Man, Economy, and State as being incongruent with subjective value theory, and further stating that land is irrelevant in the factors of production, trade, and price systems.
Notable people influenced by Georgism 
Political Figures 
Military Figures 
See also 
- Economic democracy
- Excess burden of taxation
- Progress and Poverty
- Protection or Free Trade
- Tragedy of the anticommons
- Geoanarchism: A short summary of geoism and its relation to libertarianism – by Fred Foldvary
- "Social Justice In Australia: Introductory Kit." Williams, Karl. 
- Heavey, Jerome F. (07 2003). "Comments on Warren Samuels' "Why the Georgist movement has not succeeded"". American Journal of Economics and Sociology 62 (3): 593–599. JSTOR 3487813. "human beings have an inalienable right to the product of their own labor"
- Land Value Taxation: An Applied Analysis, William J. McCluskey, Riël C. D. Franzsen
- Progress and Poverty – "Introduction: The Problem of Poverty Amid Progress
- George, Henry (1879). "2". Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth VI. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
- Common Rights vs. Collective Rights
- Foldvary, Fred E. "Geo-Rent: A Plea to Public Economists". Econ Journal Watch (April 2005)
- The Wealth of Nations Book V, Chapter 2, Article I: Taxes upon the Rent of Houses.
- Introduction to Earth Sharing,
- Socialism, Capitalism, and Geoism – by Lindy Davies
- Geonomics in a Nutshell
- Geoism and Libertarianism by Fred Foldvary
- "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. 2004-08-28. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- Fairhope Single Tax Corporation
- Silagi, Michael and Faulkner, Susan N., , Land Reform in Kiaochow, China: From 1898 to 1914 the Menace of Disastrous Land Speculation was Averted by Taxation, The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, volume 43, Issue 2, pp. 167–177
- Gaffney, M. Mason. "Henry George 100 Years Later". Association for Georgist Studies Board. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
- The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, vol. 62, 2003, p. 615
- "About the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy". Lincolninst.edu. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- "The Henry George Foundation". Retrieved 2009-07-31.
- The IU. "The IU". Retrieved 2008-10-31.
- Karl Marx – Letter to Friedrich Adolph Sorge in Hoboken
- 14 Gronlund and other Marxists – Part III: nineteenth-century Americas critics | American Journal of Economics and Sociology, The | Find Articles at BNET
- Critics of Henry George
- Looking For Rents In All the Right Places
- Rothbard, Murray (1962). Man, Economy, and State: A Treatise on Economic Principles. Van Nostrand.
- Fred Foldvary's website
- Mason Gaffney's homepage
- Andelson Robert V. (2000). Land-Value Taxation Around the World: Studies in Economic Reform and Social Justice Malden. MA:Blackwell Publishers, Inc. p. 359.
- Quotes from Nobel Prize Winners Herbert Simon stated in 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 — the two alternatives open to the City (of Pittsburgh). It is the use and occupancy of property that creates the need for the municipal services that appear as the largest item in the budget — fire and police protection, waste removal, and public works. The average increase in tax bills of city residents will be about twice as great with wage tax increase than with a land tax increase."
- December 2010 video, in which Stiglitz calls Henry George a "great progressive" and advocates for the land tax
- Bill Vickrey – In Memoriam
- People's Budget
- The Life of Henry George, Part 3 Chapter X1
- "Hughes, William Morris (Billy) (1862–1952)". Australian Dictionary of Biography: Online Edition.
- Arcas Cubero, Fernando: El movimiento georgista y los orígenes del Andalucismo : análisis del periódico "El impuesto único" (1911–1923). Málaga : Editorial Confederación Española de Cajas de Ahorros, 1980. ISBN 84-500-3784-0
- Trescott, P. B. (1994). Henry George, Sun Yat-sen and China: more than land policy was involved. The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 53, 363–375.
- Transcript of a speech by Darrow on taxation
- Lane, Fintan. The Origins of Modern Irish Socialism, 1881–1896.Cork University Press, 1997 (pp. 79, 81).
- Suzanne La Follette: The Freewoman
- Leubuscher, F. C. (1939). Bolton Hall. The Freeman. January issue.
- Justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal
- Martin Luther King, Jr. (2010). Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos Or Community?. Beacon Press. pp. ix–xxi. ISBN 978-0-8070-0067-0.
- Magie invented The Landlord's Game, predecessor to Monopoly
- "Oregon Biographies: William S. U'Ren". Oregon History Project. Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society. 2002. Archived from the original on 2006-11-10. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
- Carlson, Allan. The New Agrarian Mind: The Movement Toward Decentralist Thought in Twentieth-Century America Transaction Publishers, 2004 (p. 51).
- Harrison, F. (1989). Aldous Huxley on 'the Land Question'. Land & Liberty. May – June issue.
- Fred Harrison's website
- "Progress & Poverty". Robert Schalkenbach Fdn..
- Schor, Esther (2006). Emma Lazarus. Random House. Author of "The New Colossus", on the Statue of Liberty, and the poem "Progress and Poverty", named after George's book, of which she said, “The life and thought of no one capable of understanding it can be quite the same after reading it.”
- Henry George: Unorthodox American by Albert Jay Nock
- A Great Iniquity.. Leo Tolstoy once said of George, "People do not argue with the teaching of George, they simply do not know it".
- Shaw, George (1984). The Intelligent Women's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism. Transaction Publishers.
- "Archimedes" by Mark Twain
- Samuel Brittan. "Tax the ground they walk on". Financial Times.
- William F. Buckley, Jr. Transcript of an interview with Brian Lamb, CSpan Book Notes, April 2–3, 2000
- "Bill Moyers at the Howard Zinn Lecture". YouTube. 2010-11-12. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- Philippe Legrain (2010-03-23). "Tax the ground they walk on". Prospect (magazine). Retrieved 2011-09-01.
- Co-founder of the Henry George Club, Australia.
- "Frank Lloyd Wright on Henry George's Remedy". Wealthandwant.com. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- Bertrand Russell (1992). The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, 1903-1959. Psychology Press. p. 492.
- Bertrand Russell (1962). Freedom versus Organization. W. W. Norton & Company.
- http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/russell-bertrand_admiration-for-henry-george-1960.jpg Letter addressed to a Mr. Krumreig
- Thomas B. Buell (1974). The Quiet Warrior. Boston: Little, Brown.
- "Single Taxers Dine Johnson". New York Times May 31, 1910.
- "Henry George". Ohio History Central: An Online History of Ohio History.
- Muse return with new album The Resistance "Sure, he has already launched into a passionate soliloquy about Geoism (the land-tax movement inspired by the 19th-century political economist Henry George)".
- Two lettrs written in 1934 to Henry George's daughter, Anna George De Mille. In one letter Einstein writes, "Men like Henry George are rare unfortunately. One cannot imagine a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form and fervent love of justice."
- Transcript of 1942 interview with Henry Ford in which he says, "The time will come when not an inch of the soil, not a single crop, not even weeds, will be wasted. Then every American family can have a piece of land. 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 George, The Scholar" – A Commencement Address Delivered by Francis Neilson at the Henry George School of Social Science, June 3, 1940.
||This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (March 2012)|
- Center for the Study of Economics
- Henry George Biography
- Henry George Foundation of America
- The Henry George Institute
- Henry George Papers, New York Public Library
- The Henry George School, founded 1932
- Prosper Australia (formerly the Henry George League)
- Robert Schalkenbach Foundation
- Understanding Economics
- Georgist Education Association
- Henry George Foundation, founded 1929
- Some mildly critical private comment