What the Single Tax Means To Me

Henry B. Tawresey

[An essay orginally titled "A Great Truth Has Many Doors."
Reprinted from Land and Freedom, March-April 1929]

I take no sides in the controversy between those who stress the economic or fiscal view in Single Tax work and those who think we should dwell on the moral issue. There is plenty of work for both and probably each can do his best work along the line that appeals to him. Neithcr view can be ignored; if you argue the fiscal side you don't get far before it is apparent that somebody is going to lose advantages he has been enjoying, and you are compelled to take up the moral side to justify your position. If you stress the right of all men to the use of the earth, you can hardly get started until you are compelled to explain how it can be secured, along with the exclusive right of occupancy which is essential. So after all it is only a controversy as to which side is the best selling talk to get one interested; each can probably sell best by following the methods which appeal to him, and it is astonishing that so many Single Taxers can get so hot under the collar about it both methods arrive at the same goal or else they don't arrive at any goal which is more usual. Anyone who thinks his particular way of talking Single Tax is the only pure or orthodox way, is simply a bigot.

As for myself, the fiscal side seems the best beginning; it was through that side that I first became interested. I had been an absolute free-trader so far as import tariffs are concerned for years before I had any capacity to form an idea of my own, and as I arrived at manhood saw no reason to change that view. It was only gradually that I came to see that the abolition of import taxes was only a step toward true free trade, that free trade required that all taxes on the instruments, the processes and the products of production, must be abolished.

Then, after being satisfied that it would be expedient, I was up against the moral question, is it just? and it took me a year or two more to arrive at the point where I was ready to say I was a Single Taxer.