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Mason Gaffney

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Mason Gaffney
Born(1923-10-18)October 18, 1923
White Plains, New York, United States
DiedJuly 16, 2020(2020-07-16) (aged 96)
Redlands, California, United States
Academic career
InstitutionUniversity of California, Riverside
FieldPublic economics
School or
Classical economics
Alma materHarvard University
Reed College
University of California, Berkeley
InfluencesHenry George, Austrian School

Merrill Mason Gaffney (October 18, 1923 – July 16, 2020[1]) was an American economist and a major critic of Neoclassical economics from a Georgist point of view.[2] Gaffney first read Henry George's masterwork Progress and Poverty as a high school junior.[3] This interest led him to Harvard University in 1941 but, unimpressed with their approach to economics he left in 1942 to join the war effort. After serving in the southwest Pacific during World War II he earned his B.A. in 1948 from Reed College in Portland, Oregon.[4] In 1956 he gained a Ph.D. in economics at the University of California, Berkeley.[5] There he addressed his teachers' skepticism about Georgism with a dissertation titled "Land Speculation as an Obstacle to Ideal Allocation of Land." Gaffney was Professor of Economics at the University of California, Riverside from 1976 onwards.[6] He died in July 2020 at the age of 96.[7]


Gaffney was a professor of economics at several universities; a journalist with TIME, Inc.; a researcher with Resources for the Future; the head of the British Columbia Institute for Economic Policy Analysis,[8] which he founded; an economic consultant to several businesses and government agencies; and a frequent speaker on economic topics, domestic and foreign, and in political campaigns. He was elected as a Director of Robert Schalkenbach Foundation in 1984.[5][6]

Gaffney had a wide and varied professional career. His professional positions included:


Gaffney published many books and articles on public finance, land use, economics, taxation, and public policy. These include:

  • Gaffney, M. Mason. Concepts of financial maturity of timber and other assets. (Raleigh: North Carolina State College, 1957).
  • LAND: A Special Issue (of House and Home Magazine)
  • Gaffney, Mason. Extractive Resources and Taxation: Proceedings (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967) (some pages available on Dr. Gaffney's personal site)
  • Gaffney, Mason; Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources.; Alaska Legislature Interim Committee on Oil and Gas Taxation and Leasing Policy. Oil and gas leasing policy: alternatives for Alaska in 1977: a report. (1977)
  • Gaffney, Mason (1994). Tideman, Nicholas (ed.). "Land as a Distinctive Factor of Production" (PDF). Land and Taxation. London: Shepheard-Walwyn.
  • Gaffney, M. (1997). What price water marketing?: California's new frontier. The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 56, 475-520.
  • Gaffney, M., Harrison, F., & Feder, K. The Corruption of Economics. (London: Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers) Ltd., 1994) ISBN 0-85683-160-3 (hardback), ISBN 978-0-85683-244-4 (paperback). In this book, Gaffney shows how Neoclassical economics was designed and promoted by landowners and their hired economists to divert attention from George's extremely popular insight that since land and resources are provided by nature, and their value is given by society, they - rather than labor or capital - should provide the tax base to fund government and its expenditures.[10]
  • Gaffney, Mason. After the Crash: Designing A Depression Free Economy. (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell (Publishers), 2009) ISBN 978-1-4443-3358-9 (hardback), ISBN 978-1-4443-3307-7 (paperback). This anthology of papers and essays by Gaffney provides a detailed explanation for the business cycle through a synthesis of Georgist, Austrian, and other schools of economic thought. It is both a pointed critique of Neoclassical economics and a prescription for a financial sector that is self-correcting, rather than crisis-prone. Includes introduction by editor Clifford Cobb. Available through the Robert Schalkenback Foundation in HardCover and Paperback Archived August 15, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.


  1. ^ Johnston, David Cay (July 26, 2020). "Mason Gaffney, Who Argued for Taxing Only Land, Dies at 96". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 31, 2020. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  2. ^ Gaffney, Mason. The Corruption of Economics: Neo-classical Economics as a Strategem against Henry George (PDF). London: Shepheard-Walwyn. pp. 29–164.
  3. ^ Löhr, Dirk; Harrison, Fred, eds. (2017). Das Ende der Rentenökonomie – Wie wir globale Wohlfahrt herstellen und eine nachhaltige Zukunft bauen können. Marburg, Germany: Metropolis. p. 14. ISBN 978-3-7316-1226-1.
  4. ^ Löhr, Dirk; Harrison, Fred, eds. (2017). Das Ende der Rentenökonomie – Wie wir globale Wohlfahrt herstellen und eine nachhaltige Zukunft bauen können. Marburg, Germany: Metropolis. p. 17. ISBN 978-3-7316-1226-1.
  5. ^ a b "Gaffney, Mason: Professor of Economics". UCR Faculty Listing. Archived from the original on July 20, 2002.
  6. ^ a b "Mason Gaffney Brief Biography". masongaffney.org. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  7. ^ "Mason Gaffney: A Tribute from RSF" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 24, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  8. ^ M. Mason Gaffney, 1976. Interviewed by Derek Reimer. Aural History Programme, Provincial Archives of British Columbia, Victoria, B.C. V8V IX4
  9. ^ Mason Gaffney, A Tribute from RSF
  10. ^ Foldvary, Fred E. (2017). "Ein neues Konzept – Mason Gaffney, der ultimative Heterodoxe". In Löhr, Dirk; Harrison, Fred (eds.). Das Ende der Rentenökonomie – Wie wir globale Wohlfahrt herstellen und eine nachhaltige Zukunft bauen können. Marburg, Germany: Metropolis. pp. 119–145. ISBN 978-3-7316-1226-1.

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