Organization Proposals
for the Georgist Movement

Gilbert M. Tucker

[An address delivered at the Henry George Congress held at Detroit, Michigan.
Reprinted from Land and Freedom, November-December 1938]

The subject assigned me is Co-ordination of Ideas, -- but perhaps I can stretch it to cover the co-ordination of activities, for, while correct thought must precede right action, unless thought leads to action it is of but little value.

Co-ordination means co-operation and this means union. Today the most vital need of the Single Tax movement is a greater degree of unity and team work and, to have this, we must sooner or later develop a broad nation-wide organization of those who put faith in the philosophy of Henry George. I hope the time is not far distant when we can look for aggressive political action and, when this time comes, we shall need an organization more or less on the lines of the present-day political parties. Why not start to build such an organization now. Even today we should learn Hiawatha's lesson of tieing our little sticks into a strong bundle that can not be broken.

I am not advocating a new organization to displace any of those now functioning so well nor to overlap in their fields far from it. Rather an association which shall strengthen them and reinforce their work and fortify their position. Something to co-ordinate their work and to attempt the things that no organization today is fitted to do.

Such an organization should be broad, general and national, and of a nature to enlist all Georgeists, without splitting hairs over fine points and distinctions which can well be relegated to the background, pending the achievement of our great purpose. Therefore I would make its platform brief, broad and general one to which all can subscribe without mental reservation. I suggest:

We favor the collection of all ground rent for the support of government and the abolition of all taxation save that on land values.

To make its membership broad and general and comprehensive, and to keep the interest of its members alive I would suggest two things: First, very low dues, of course with provision for classes of members who could and would pay larger fees. Tentatively I would suggest: Dues of $1.00 a year, including subscription to the Freeman.

Dues of $3.00 a year including both Freeman and LAND AND FREEDOM.

And we might also have a class of associates who would pay no dues but who would subscribe to our platform, for such a list would be invaluable for the use of the schools and for recruiting, and it is not always policy to start by asking each convert to pay anything or to become a formal "joiner," just as soon as they "see the cat."

Of course headquarters should be maintained, with a paid executive and whatever office staff is desirable and necessary.

In order to place major control in the hands of those who have demonstrated loyalty, and willingness, and ability to serve, I suggest that some plan be worked out to give to the organizations something like proportional representation in management. Control might be centered in a board to have either membership or votes selected by our active organizations, such, for instance, as the School, the Schalkenbach Foundation, the Henry George Fund, the Fellowship, the Manhattan Single Tax Club, etc., each group having voice proportioned to the number of their members who become affiliated with the national organization. Such a policy would have the two-fold I advantage of stimulating the formation of other Single Tax groups, as for instance, local chapters of the Fellowship, of graduates of the school, and of bringing support to the national organization. What would be the functions of such a body?

  1. Maintain full up-to-date lists of

    (a) Active Single Taxers,

    (b) Sympathisers,

    (c) Interested outsiders on whom we should work and who should be constantly followed up.

    Such lists should be open to all legitimate use which will further the cause.
  2. Serve as a clearing house for ideas and activities, co-ordinating programmes.
  3. Support and encourage approved programmes, discouraging those that are unwise or overlap. Particularly should it formulate broad political programmes and policies, endorsing, aiding or checking programmes according to circumstances, and, if the time is ripe for political action, concentrating where conditions are most promising. Just as an illustration: What should we do in California? Is the time ripe to work for extension of Pittsburgh plan? Is it wise to bring our philosophy before the coming New York State Constitutional Convention?
  4. Stimulate educational programmes, aid in starting classes and recruiting teachers and students. A live list of those interested or even sympathetic would be invaluable in these matters. Consider further extension of educational work. I believe there is a vast untilled field of opportunity in extending our courses of study to new fields and suggest courses in the following:

    (a) Promotion of peace, to bring the thousands of pacifists, using the word in its broadest and unobjectionable sense, into our camp. This would give us an entering wedge in churches, schools, colleges, etc. And of course such study should be based wholly on the economic causes of war, keeping away from neutrality, disarmament, dum-dum bullets and other futile and half-way measures.

    (b) Housing: to bring housing reformers into our faith. This should embrace also the appeal to construction and building trades and professions and we should endeavor to make real estate operators see the gain in freeing buildings from taxation.

    (c) Business aspects, dealing with the beneficial effects on all industry and business life, showing industrial leaders how they would benefit.

    (d) The labor problem. The approach to this is too obvious to need elaboration. Bring out the basic principles of economics, skidding over such matters as the Malthusian doctrines lightly and stressing the identity of the interests of labor and capital and showing that wages and interest are essentially twin-brothers, and are both the reward of labor, the one direct and immediate, and the other the reward of thrift deferred and prolonged.

    (e) Fallacies of socialism, communism and kindred cults. This would go far to counteract the impression that we are reds and would help to enlist support of conservative elements and perhaps to win financial support for our work.

    (f) Perhaps the purely ethical and religious side of our philosophy, stressing that, as McGlynn put it, our present system is a flat denial of "the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God." This, I believe, would find easy entrance into the churches.

    These are only suggestions and some have proposed that we follow our basic course with such courses, but this, I think, is putting the cart before the horse, and I don't see it that way. The object is to make pacifists, housing reformers, business men, etc., Single Taxers, and not to train Single Taxers in these particular phases of our philosophy. Make builders and architects and building material trades see how we can help them. Make the manufacturers and machinery people see that we would give them tax exemption on their products and operations. These subjects should be introductions rather than follow-ups to our philosophy.
  5. General publicity. I am glad the school is using the methods of advertising and believe a wise and carefully planned advertising campaign, under expert guidance, would bring results. The single "ad" of the Citizens National Committee brought them in $59,000 for their work, and brief notice of the starting of an extension class in Albany, in the newspapers and not paid for, brought us more than a dozen students and students of very high calibre, including two bankers. I believe carefully planned advertising in building and business papers, might bring us very material support from manufacturers and professions and might lead to formal endorsement and support by various trade associations. This might easily lead to valuable contacts with many groups.

    Aside from newspaper and magazine advertising there are limitless opportunities for publicity along other lines. I have had a good deal of experience in health work with visual exhibits at fairs, conventions, etc., and I know they can be made to bring results. What is to be done at the coming World's Fair in New York? Am sure much could be done and that it might prove invaluable in recruiting students.
  6. Contact and follow specific groups and individuals, Rustgard, Crusaders, Citizens National Committee, machinery people, National Association of Manufacturers, Chrysler School, Political parties, etc. Get Republican support in fighting fallacies of New Deal, Democratic support in fighting tariffs and in supporting Hull. Watch the newspapers and follow up the news. And this pays.
  7. Publications. Membership would aid LAND AND FREEDOM and the Freeman. Aid and advise authors and see that new Single Tax books mention and advertise our school and present activities. Get away from present inertia or shall we say bad manners of those who fail even to answer letters, or to acknowledge contributions.

    Organize to sell helpful books and this can be done with profit, as I know.
  8. Most important, keep converts busy. Don't let our rich harvest of students rust away but give them something to do. All too often new converts say yes, that is all true, but there is nothing I can do about it and frankly, today, there is often very little. Mere membership in an organization helps some, reading current journals helps more, but being given a job helps most. What can our newer converts do? They can:

    (a) Study and read so that they shall be more competent and qualified to take an active part.

    (b) Teach and enlist students, and help in organizing classes (as Brown has done).

    (c) Extend our teachings into such groups as I have indicated, peace, housing, politics, business groups, etc.

    (d) Letters to the press and particularly follow-up letters.

    (e) Sell books, get them into libraries, get them read, and start circulating libraries. Wish the general association could make up small traveling libraries of about a dozen books and place them in local hands to be loaned out, perhaps at a moderate charge like many of the libraries in our cities, and perhaps to be sold.

    (f) Research and writing. Make studies of assessment rolls to show how the Single Tax would actually work in concrete cases. This is needed.