Teaching, Expounding and Propagating
the Ideas of Henry George as Set Forth
in Progress and Poverty
John T. Tetley
[Reprinted from The Gargoyle, October, 1976]
Henry George has been classified as an economist, a social
philosopher, a reformer. By many his name is linked with "Single
Tax". Just what were the ideas he set forth in his book, Progress
The full title of the book includes "An Inquiry Into The Cause
of Industrial Depressions and Of Increase Of Want With Increase of
Wealth -- THE REMEDY."
He wrote: "To Those Who, Seeing the Vice and Misery That Spring
From The Unequal Distribution of Wealth and Privilege, Feel the
Possibility of a Higher Social State and Would Strive For Its
I believe, George intended much more than a mere tax reform, and he
ought be considered more than an "economist". Unfortunately "Reformer"
has an unsavory connotation, and perhaps, even "social
philosopher" may to some persons, imply "socialistic".
But to those who will be fair and impartial, I think they may consider
the ideas set forth by George in Progress & Poverty, to be
"a higher social state." And by that -- equality of
opportunity and freedom.
So, likewise, did George mention two methods of bringing about his
proposal. One by taxation, another by abolishing land titles, as they
Today, there are those who consider they are teaching, expounding and
propagating the ideas of Henry George as set forth in his book Progress
and Poverty by devoting their time, energy and funds toward
changing the general property tax, increasing the amount to be
collected .from the land value, and decreasing the amount from value
of improvements. This would be a fiscal reform -- a tax reform and
should to some extent modify the present system of land tenure.
Presumably by assessing land at 100% of market value the tax on land
would, if the rate was high, bring unused land into use and tend
toward equality of opportunity.
There are others who direct their activities toward bringing about a
change in the land-tenure system directly, whereby the full annual
rental value of land will be collected, this not being considered a
tax, or a fiscal reform, but rather a complete change in our land
tenure system as proposed by George.
There is also method to be considered. An educational program is
necessary to effect either tax or a direct land tenure change. And
following education there must be legislation. Is "legislative
action" a part of "teaching, expounding and propagating?"
There can be no question, the Henry George Schools devote their
activities toward education and do not engage in political action.
There are some other Georgist organizations which do specifically
engage in political action. There need be no conflict. As I see it
such organizations which specifically engage in political action are "teaching,
expounding and propagating the ideas of Henry George as set forth in
Progress and Poverty.
Maybe there is a legal question involved? Maybe a person with
knowledge of the law might read this article and would volunteer a