By now, some of our readers may be aware of the controversy regarding the portrayal of the Georgist cause in a recent Wall Street Journal article. While many thought that the Georgist philosophy and movement were unfairly portrayed, some contend that this is a useful moment to reflect upon the strategies we employ, the modes of communication we utilize to engage people outside the Georgist ranks, and our vision of the future. Below you’ll find a link to the original article. We invite you to add your comments to the growing chorus on the WSJ website. You’ll also find a letter from Mark Sullivan, Administrative Director of Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, offering some reflections on the incident and a special offer from RSF.
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By Ianthe Jeanne Dugan (Wall Street Journal)
Dear Fellow Georgists,
These are my personal comments, but it concludes with an offer from RSF.
We are perhaps upset not so much by any errors in the WSJ article as by its facts, which are of course somewhat selective. The article revealed at least two disturbing facts: our minimal success in reaching and recruiting the general public and policy-makers; and our members’ by and large lack of support for the movement itself, as demonstrated by the mere $1,000 that Charles Ashira was able to raise for his proposed “Henry George – the Movie”. This support was to be raised via the Foundation for Economic Justice, as tax-deductible contributions (as well as via direct investment). Yet the response was embarassingly and hopelessly inadequate. I know this lack of support is not only a problem for Charles Ashira. The Georgist organizations I have been involved with (going back more than 30 years) all consistently have this problem. Georgists, by and large, are not putting their money where their mouth is. There are exceptions, generous Georgists, and we should be very grateful for them.
Polly spotted, and admirably corrected, the one statement we can honestly dispute as a matter of fact, and it was made by Lincoln’s Ingram, not by the author of the article, who simply reported the (again, selective) fact of Ingram’s statement. What else can we do to respond? And on what grounds? In its July 2003 issue, The American Journal of Economics and Sociology published a 50+ page symposium on “Henry George and His Legacy” (based on an EEA session that responded to Warren Samuel’s memorandum “Why the Georgist Movement Has Not Succeeded”). Is it time to revisit this issue in a similarly formal and organized fashion? It seems we are now doing it informally via the internet. In any case, RSF is willing to send a complimentary copy of this AJES issue, while the supply lasts, to each person who requests it. Please send any requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. (RSF does not have the rights to reproduce it, so we cannot send electronic copies.) Perhaps we can turn the WSJ negative publicity into an opportunity to move forward.
Mark A. Sullivan
Robert Schalkenbach Foundation
90 John Street, Suite 501
New York, NY 10038
Tel: 212-683-6424 Fax: 212-683-6454