A Proposal for Structuring and Developing
a Dynamic Georgist Movement
[2 January, 2000]
In previous years I presented the following model for the
organization of a Georgist movement. Ted Gwartney presented an outline
of it at the convention in NewJersey/New York in 1997, but it was
never presented to a larger constituency nor was it discussed and
critiqued and it was certainly not inspected and considered by the
very persons in each of the major Georgist organizations who should be
most concerned. So, here goes again.
Our principal need is to create a unified, integrated,
synergistically operating assembly of the various disparate entities
which currently exist.
As our organizations operate presently, there is no focus, no
coordination, and no movement.
The various organizations came into existence at different times,
launched By different benefactors, in response to different conditions
of the day, as they saw them, but without a vision of the larger,
encompassing, unified organizational structure essential to build an
effective movement. (Some of our organizations also need to look
inward to revise their constitutions in order to function effectively
in today's environment and advance toward the attainment of our common
mission.) The time to create such a structure and to logically
integrate the various disparate bits and pieces of our current "movement"
is now. And there are a number of propelling forces that can drive us
toward fulfilling our mission.
(1) New officers and key operating personnel with professional
caliber knowledge of the science of economics, managerial skills, and
an enlarged scope of the Georgist movement have and are joining the
boards of our major organizations or associating with them as older
members of these boards retire.
(2) The Lincoln Foundation, with its (now) $350 million in assets is
currently being legally challenged to redirect its assets and efforts
to SUPPORTING, rather than disparaging and undermining the fundamental
philosophy and thrust of our movement.
(3) New communication technology opens infinitely many pathways to
reach huge audiences. Professional, academically renowned economists
and social scientists have endorsed and aligned their work with
Georgist principles, if not with existing Georgist organizations.
(4) In all, the various components are in place or can be
constructed, obtained or assembled to create an impactful Georgist
movement which can bring about the cultural change, social
accommodation, and political applications required for the
implementation of Georgist principles, internationally, nationally, by
states, and by localities.
The required components are these:
1. A Theoretical and Applied Research Organization
We need to assemble a cadre of qualified professional economists and
social and political scientists, with Ph.D.'s or the equivalent, to
proactively determine, plan and conduct the theoretical and applied
research and model building required to assemble the body of evidence
and data required to establish the efficacy and practicality of
George's proposals (re collection of ground rent, fees for the use or
depletion of natural resources). These professionals must be paid to
do this work. We cannot depend on random, big-hearted, volunteer
efforts. Presently, a very small number of ad hoc applications for
funding are presented to the Schalkenbach Foundation and the Henry
George School and some have been parsimoniously funded. But they bear
little, if any, relationship to one-another, few, if any quality
control parameters exist, and there is little if any follow through to
utilize the products of these research and development projects. The
Center for the Study of Economics (CSE) presently conducts a highly
limited number of studies of site worth in municipalities-primarily in
Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, critical and fundamental data needs go
unanswered. We must have accurate data on the total real value of
land, the full value of natural resources-minerals, timber, water; the
value of government granted franchises, leases (timber cutting,
grazing, concession locations), and legitimate licenses. This needs to
be assembled for the nation as a whole, state by state, and county by
county, preferably with supporting GIS (Geographic Information
Systems) maps. This must include legal research as to requirements and
prospects in each state, at the Federal level, and, also, municipal
property tax research. Without this, we can't build credibility for
George's proposals or establish their practicality. The activities of
the Center for the Study of Economics, the American Institute of
Economic Research, and even the Lincoln Institute could be integrated
2. An Education Organization
The Henry George School -- which would serve universities and
professional associations, junior colleges and college extension
divisions, high-schools, and adult education programs, including those
of civic organizations and church affiliated programs. It would
develop educational products using new communications technology. The
correspondence institute (The Henry George Institute) would be merged
with the School and its reach infinitely expanded through the use of
the Internet and new media. Key instructional staff would be
professional (not lay) educators well versed in educational product
development and the use of the new media as well as traditional
classroom instruction. The services of lay educators and volunteers
could certainly be integrated here, but not as the principal
operatives. It would have a far broader scope of operation than the
existing Henry George Schools of Social science. It would use the
output of the research organization described above.
3. Political/Lobbying/Popular Outreach Organization (of
individuals and affiliate organizations)
Merges the HGF (Henry George Foundation) & CGUSA (Common
Ground-USA), combines their functions and operations and adds a legal
challenge function. Governed as a democratic open membership
organization designed for numerous chapters & thousands of
members, nationwide & beyond. Local chapters and affiliate
organizations (such as the Wisconsin Property Owners League and Alanna
Hertzok's Earthrights League) address local issues as well as
contribute toward the projects of the national organization.
4. A Publishing Organization
The Schalkenbach Foundation, governed by a restricted board of
publication professionals, qualified social science scholars and
business/management professionals to fulfill the publishing (including
the new media) requirements of the three primary organizations noted
herein; . Acts proactively to develop new writers and publications
focused on contemporary issues as well as reactively. Reprints HG
classics and related classics, using top quality publication standards
and processes; publishes scholarly and popular publications & a
popular magazine corresponding to Reason (magazine published by the
Libertarians). Archives and maintains a computerized database of
articles, books, and publications subdivided by issue, topic, title,
author, date, etc., which can be accessed through the Internet. The
Internet can and should become a primary mode of publication and
distribution of these publications and could generate a major part of
5. A Coordinating body
The Council of Georgist Organizations -- composed of key management
representatives of the 4 organizations noted above, coordinate the
plans, programs & projects of these organizations and provide the
following professionally generated support services:
A. Public Relations/Publicity Staff to serve each & all of the
four functional organizations with releases, articles, radio/TV
interviews/presentations & networking assistance.
B. Fundraising Support Staff to serve all of the 4 functional
organizations with grant applications & professional fundraising
campaigns keyed to projects & general operation.
I propose further that each of the 4 organizations described above
adopt a common name if Alanna Hertzok would cede the title she
developed and uses for her organization -- Earthrights.
The organizations above would then be renamed:
(1) The Earthrights Research Association,
(2) The Earthrights School of Social Science,
(3) The Earthrights Political League
(4) The Earthrights Publishing Foundation.
This would in one word describe our common purpose and mission in an
appealing, contemporary and emotionally compelling manner. This is
what we're about and what Henry George was about.
Clifford Cobb makes the valid point that arrangements required for
Social Justice (collection and equitable distribution of economic
rent) cannot be attained without widespread cultural change
encompassing value systems. "If the environment isn't right,
seeds won't sprout." I contend that what has taken thousands
and/or hundreds of years to come about in ages past can be
precipitated in just a few seasons now, given the revolution in
communication technology. Look at what the fashion and music industry
accomplishes every year, all over the world. The Civil Rights movement
precipitated radical cultural change through legislation first.
Dan Sullivan makes the valid point that widespread change grows from
local political action geared to compelling local issues--oppressive
payroll taxes, sprawl, slums, homelessness. But these "local"
issues are seldom unique and can be addressed in a wholesale manner,
given today's advertising / PR / political campaign technology.
Politicians communicate and spread the word among themselves very
rapidly. So do special interest groups such as the Greens, real tax
reform groups, community development organizations, etc. We can
organize and operate to accommodate today's realities. See what the
environmentalists have accomplished, or the Humanists (relative to
maintaining separation of church and state).
We delude ourselves in assuming that only one approach is right or
that the time and circumstances must be right. To achieve radical
social change we need to employ engineering systems technology with
many coordinated arrangements going in parallel simultaneously. It's
no big deal. This can be accomplished in time for and launched at our
September convention. It would require that each of our key
organizations engage in intensive strategic planning and information
exchange starting now, the first days of the new millenium. We need to
adapt to this new millenium and we, engaged in this discussion, need
to make this happen. Where there is a will there is a way.