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Geolibertarianism is a political movement and ideology specializing in tax reform that synthesizes libertarianism and Georgism (alternatively geoism). It is normally associated with the libertarian left or the radical center.[1][2]

Geolibertarians hold that geographical space and raw natural resources—most importantly, land—are common assets which all individuals share an equal right to access, not capital wealth to be privatized; therefore, individuals must pay compensation (i.e., according the rental value determined by the market, absent any improvements) to the community for the privilege of holding private title. On this proposal, economic rent is paid not for the mere occupancy or use of land, as neither the community nor the state rightfully owns the commons, but rather as an objectively assessed indemnity due for the legal right to exclude others from that land and for the protection of one's title by government force. Some geolibertarians also support Pigovian taxes on pollution and severance taxes to regulate natural resource depletion, both activities which negatively affect land values.

They simultaneously agree with the standard libertarian position that each individual possesses an exclusive right to the fruits of his or her labor as private property, as opposed to produced goods being owned collectively by society or by the government acting to represent society, and that "one's labor, wages, and the products of labor" should not be taxed. Also, with the current libertarian mainstream they advocate "full civil liberties, with no crimes unless there are victims who have been invaded."[1]

Geolibertarians are generally influenced by the Georgist "Single Tax" movement of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, but the ideas behind it pre-date Henry George, and can be found in different forms in the writings of John Locke, the French Physiocrats, Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, James Mill (John Stuart Mill's father), David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, and Thomas Spence.

Property rights[edit]

Thomas Paine inspired the Citizen's Dividend and stated, "Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds."[3]

Geolibertarians consider land to be the common property of all humankind. They say that private property is derived from an individual's right to the fruits of their labor. Since land was not created by anyone's labor, it cannot be rightfully owned. Thus, geolibertarians recognize a right to secure possession of land (land tenure), on the condition that the full rental value be paid to the community. This, they say, has the effect of both giving back the value that belongs to the community and encouraging landholders to only use as much land as they need, leaving unneeded land for others.[4]

Perhaps the best summary of geolibertarianism is Thomas Paine's assertion in his 1797 pamphlet Agrarian Justice that "Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements 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." On the other hand, Locke wrote that private land ownership should be praised, as long as its product was not left to spoil and there was "enough, and as good left in common for others"; when this Lockean proviso is violated, the land earns rental value. Some would argue that "as good" is unlikely to be achieved in an urban setting because location is paramount, and that therefore Locke's proviso in an urban setting requires the collection and equal distribution of ground rent.

Some geolibertarians claim that the same reasoning justifies a pollution tax for degrading the value of the natural commons. The common and inelastic character of the radio wave spectrum (which economically is defined as "land") is understood to justify the taxation of its exclusive use, as well.[5]

This strict definition of property as the fruits of labor makes geolibertarians fervent advocates of free markets.

Political proposals[edit]

Geolibertarians generally advocate distributing the land rent to the community via a land value tax, as proposed by Henry George and others before him. For this reason, they are often called "single taxers". Fred E. Foldvary coined the word geo-libertarianism in an article so titled in Land and Liberty.[6][verification needed] In the case of geoanarchism, the voluntary form of geolibertarianism as described by Foldvary, rent would be collected by private associations with the opportunity to secede from a geocommunity (and not receive the geocommunity's services) if desired.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Foldvary, Fred E. Geoism and Libertarianism. The Progress Report". Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  2. ^ Karen DeCoster, Henry George and the Tariff Question,, April 19, 2006.
  3. ^ * Wikisource link to Agrarian Justice. Wikisource. 
  4. ^ Liam (2011-06-12). "Geolibertarianism – The Social Contract Fallacy". Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  5. ^ "Basis of Taxation". 2005-08-12. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  6. ^ May/June 1981, pp. 53–55.
  7. ^ Foldvary, Fred E. (2001-07-15). "Geoanarchism". Retrieved 2009-04-15. 

External links[edit]