The Principles of Natural Taxation

Charles B. Fillebrown

[Reprinted from the book, Natural Taxation, Showing the Origin
and the Progress of Plans For the Payment
of All Public Expenses from Economic Rent
Published by A.C. McClurg, 1917 (Chicago)/ Preface]

Whose courtesy, interest and obliging cooperation have greatly forwarded this volume, it is respectfully dedicated by The Compiler.

Students of Progress and Poverty are haunted by the glimpses of worthies more or less ancient who, in the last century, have previsioned the doctrine of Henry George. The object of this compilation is to trace the metamorphosis of the land question into the rent question; of the equal right to land into the joint right to the rent of land; of the common use of the earth into the collective enjoyment of ground rent; of the nationalization of land into the socialization of its rent; of private property in land, including the private appropriation of its rent, into the public appropriation of that rent without disturbance of the private ownership of land. The undertaking, thus presented, is to disclose the genesis, and observe the development, of conception of economic rent and the evolution of this concept in the minds of man, closely followed as it has been by the idea of the taxation of economic rent, and its corollaries. "Rents and the taxation of rent" would be accurately suggestive of the aim and compass of the book. The arrangement of its contents is intended to be in the order of importance to the reader, the studied aim being to satisfy his economic understanding with the least mental exertion.

A multitude of lawgivers and philosophers, from Moses down, to the had been invoked from time to time to solve the great social questions of the world by putting the superabundance of the earth within reach of its millions, but in their teaching nothing whenever is found of the nature and office of economic rent. It is only within the last hundred years that any of the authorities on the land problem appear to have been impressed with the truth that the answer to their questions is to be found in the cause, magnitude, and treatment of economic rent. It is wonderfully interesting, moreover, to note with what rapidity this truth has grown into the understanding of those with more recent years have given it their consideration. Incidentally, this book challenges a host of economic errors and omissions, collective or individual, grave or venial, among which are: (1) that the indestructible properties of the soil are a source of rent; (2) that agricultural value should not equally with urban values be classed as site values; (3) that to "appropriate rent by taxation" means the abolition of the institution of private property in land; (4) that the joint right to the rent of land is a logical deduction from the equal right to land itself; (5) failure to emphasize Henry George's distinct transition from common right to land to joint right to rent; 6 omission to emphasize the fact that the assessed value of land is the untaxed value; 7 that when the storekeeper's rent is raised, he has got to raise the price of his goods. While this body is a revision and enlargement of A Single Tax Handbook for 1913, which it was thought might reappear at intervals, it is issued with the idea of permanence, as representing the best authorities, early and late, upon the development of the idea.

Only those writers are given leading space in this collection who have been pioneers and specialists in this field of thought. Numerous other writers whose names have been associated, some of the intimately, with Henry George cannot claim classification with him when tested by the tenets which they have advocated. An analysis of the real views of these writers will be given in appendix. Much care has been exercised in trying to make this analysis just and fair, although the compiler is fully conscious that in criticism is not easy to avoid mistakes. Those who are curious as to the proofs or doubtful of the truth of what is offered may easily assure themselves by reference to original texts. The intent has been that anything of questionable pertinence, or anything that may hinder the mind from direct approach to the subject, should find its subordinate place in an Appendix, in order that the volume proper may be reserved for the collection of what so far as possible may be relied upon as sound doctrines.

It is hoped that the student will find here most of the essential facts and principles of taxation clarified by persistent discussion and backed by the agreement of the ablest economic authorities. A very complete index service for the ready location of even scattered references.

For many excellencies in this book, I am under lasting obligation for the suggestions of my friends who have read the whole manuscript, Mr. Bolton Hall, Mr. Charles T. Root and Mr. Alexander MacKendrick.

PREFACE Ch. 1 - Adam Smith
Ch. 2 - John Stuart Mill Ch. 3 - Patrick Edward Dove
Ch. 4 - Edwin Burgess Ch. 5 - John MacDonnell
Ch. 6 - Henry George Ch. 7 - Edward McGlynn
Ch. 8 - Thomas G. Shearman, Pt 1 Ch. 8 - Thomas G. Shearman, Pt 2
Ch. 9 - A Burdenless Tax to the Threefold to Support Upon Which the Single Tax Rests Ch. 10 - Land -- the Rent Concept -- the Property Concept
Ch. 11 - Taxation and Housing Ch. 12 - Thirty Years of Henry George
Ch. 13 - Henry George and the Economists Ch. 14 - The Professors and the Single Tax
Ch. 15 - A Catechism of Natural Taxation ...