John T. Tetley
[Reprinted from The Gargoyle, October 1965]
The Henry George School is an educational institution, tax-exempt,
and non-political. It cannot therefore endorse any political issue or
As an individual, I of course, might take any part I desire in
politics, but since I am Director of the New Jersey school, I refrain
from so doing. I feel that no matter how careful I am to clearly state
I am acting as an individual, my statements and or actions are likely
to be "associated" with the school. It goes without saying
that others active with the school should be cautious so as not to
involve the school in statements they may make.
It is the practice of the school in educational efforts, to seek and
present facts, then encourage individuals to reach their own
conclusions. In this article I merely wish to set forth a few facts in
connection with the immediate political activity in New Jersey. This
year a Governor is to be elected. The two major parties will offer
candidates and the present Governor, Richard J. Hughes will seek
re-election. State Senator Wayne Dumont, Jr., will oppose Hughes as
the candidate of the other regular party. A third candidate is Robert
Schlachter running as an independent.
One of the leading issues of the campaign is state finance and
taxation. Hughes favors a sales tax but has stated he will "accept"
an income tax, lottery, or other means of raising revenue. Dumont
indicates he will promote income tax. Schlachter will run on the
platform of no new taxes, declaring economy in state and local
government would obviate the necessity of additional revenue.
The Henry George School of New Jersey in presenting the basic course
in Fundamental Economic principles endeavors to indicate three most
- Distinction between natural resources and man-made products.
- Source of governmental revenue -- taxation a means of
- Limited government, operated with economy and efficiency.
Action can be taken immediately for more efficient and economical
local and state government, as well as Federal, This is both a short
and a long term program but the start ought to be made.
It must be recognized that taxes are not sources of government
revenue. Once this is understood, all forms of taxation -- sales,
income, property; may be seen in their true perspective. It will be
recognised that the portion of the general property, or real estate
tax, which is assessed against land falls upon natural resources. The
portion of this tax which is assessed against improvements (buildings)
personal, and business-personal property falls upon man made products.
Economics indicates the only way to obtain material things is to
produce them. Any interference with production -- taxes, or government
controls and regulation -- tend to reduce production. Therefore, a
part of the general property tax, sales and income taxes, definitely
interfere with and lessen production.
The portion of the general property tax which falls upon land cannot
decrease production but rather tends to increase it by lowering rents,
selling price of land and discouraging holding land out of use for
speculation. It follows that attention ought be given to the proper
assessing of land for taxation. If this is done and all land is
assessed at its true or market value as the Constitution of the State
provides, an increase in revenue from this source should be
The longer term program should aim at the reducing and eventually
eliminating sales and income taxes, excise and other taxes, including
those on improvements, personal and business-personal property. With
efficient and economic operation of local, state and Federal
Government and reduction of the activities of all government, the
revenue which might be obtained from the one source (natural
resources) might conceivably furnish the bulk if not the entire
revenue needed for government.
"Economics" teaches us what might be expected. It is up to
us to act politically in such manner as our knowledge of economics,
taxation and government directs.