Henry George and the Single-Tax

William F. Buckley, Jr.

[An interview with Brian Lamb, C-Span Book Notes, 2-3 April, 2000]

CALLER: Mr. Buckley, it's a pleasure to talk to you.

William F. Buckley, Jr.(WFB): Thank You.

CALLER: I've heard you describe yourself as a Georgist, a follower of Henry George, but I haven't heard much in having you promote land value taxation and his theories, and I'm wondering why that is the case.

W.F.B.: It's mostly because I'm beaten down by my right-wing theorists and intellectual friends. They always find something wrong with the Single-Tax idea. What I'm talking about Mr. Lamb is Henry George who said there is infinite capacity to increase capital and to increase labor, but none to increase land, and since wealth is a function of how they play against each other, land should be thought of as common property. The effect of this would be that if you have a parking lot and the Empire State Building next to it, the tax on the parking lot should be the same as the tax on the Empire State Building, because you shouldn't encourage land speculation.

Anyway I've run into tons of situations were I think the Single-Tax theory would be applicable. We should remember also this about Henry George, he was sort of co-opted by the socialists in the 20s and the 30s, but he was not one at all. Alfred J. Nock's book on him makes that plain. Plus, also, he believes in only that tax. He believes in zero income tax.

You look bored (addressing Brian Lamb)!

B.L.: No, no. As a matter of fact I was going to ask you about this little book ("Lexicon, A Cornucopia of Wonderful Words for the Inquisitive Word Lover"). I'm fascinated by it. I'm going to see if you can pronounce the word, the-fear-of-having-peanut-butter-stuck-to-your-roof-of-your-mouth, This little book starts off and the fellow's name, is it Jesse Sheidlower?...

W.F.B.: I think so.

B.L.: S-H-E-I-D-L-O-W-E-R? You've never read it (the Introduction to "The Lexicon").

W.F.B.: No. I never have.

B.L.: (Quoting the book) "The first time I met William F. Buckley, we were both members of a televised panel discussing word. The moderator introduced me with a pop-quiz to test my credentials asked me to define the word..." Is it USUFRUCT?

W.F.B.: Usufruct, yeah.

B.L. (Quoting the book) "I felt smug as I recite the right to enjoy another's property as long as you don't damage it. Then Mr. Buckley leaned into his microphone and quoted an entire paragraph on usufruct from the political economist, Henry George.

W.F.B.: Oh for heaven's sake!

B.L.: And this little book has..

W.F.B.: The land belongs to those in usufruct.