12. (2013 March) What You Can Do: WSJ Controversy

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.

It’s a Lonely Quest for Land-Tax Fans, But, by George, They Press On
Acolytes of 19th-Century Economist Try Movies, Cartoon, Tours; ‘Uphill Struggle’
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 books@schalkenbach.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
Administrative Director
Robert Schalkenbach Foundation
90 John Street, Suite 501
New York, NY 10038
Tel: 212-683-6424 Fax: 212-683-6454

13. (2013 March) What You Can Do: Commenting Around the Web

Take a look at these recent comments by Georgists on timely articles from around the internet. Why not add your voice to these or other relevant articles, op-eds, blog posts, etc.?

Wyn Achenbaum (commenting on Frank Bruni’s column about the election of a new pope):
I hope that when people re-read Rerum Novarum (Pope Leo’s encyclical), they will also take a careful look at the open letter that the American economist and social philosopher Henry George wrote in response, entitled “The Condition of Labor.” He challenged some of the points, taking a mega-pixel picture which contrasted with the encyclical’s less than precise thinking.

“The Condition of Labor” is available online, and I commend it to your attention. Henry George was among the most widely known and read Americans of his day, and all too little known now. (“Progress and Poverty” and “Social Problems” are the two books I’d encourage you to read; you might also look for his speeches “The Crime of Poverty” and “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”)

We’d be better off if more of our 99% were acquainted with his ideas.

Jeffery J. Smith (commenting on a favorable mention of land value tax in Slate):
The thing that many taxists and redistributionists might be overlooking is that once society recovers and shares all of its spending for land and resources and for privileges like patents and corporate charters, then there won’t any longer be any undue fortunes to envy, no longer any poverty to pity, and no need to tax at all since rents can be recovered via fees, dues, and leases. Still, it’s great to get a plug from an articulate commentator for any variant of geonomic reform. Thanks, Slate! 

14. (2013. March) RSF News: Special Book Offer

The Science of Economics

Science of Economics Maclaren

Leon MacLaren (1910–1994) was a barrister, politician, philosopher and the founder of the School of Economic Science. He considered the true goal of Economics to be the discovery of the conditions which allow every individual to find a fulfilling life. In his view, science was a study of laws that exist in nature, whilst economics was a study of the humanities, with the interaction of human nature and the natural universe at its heart.

MacLaren defined economics as ‘the study of the natural laws which govern the relationships between people in society’.

This book is based on a three-year course prepared by MacLaren for the School of Economic Science in London in the late 1960s. The editor, Raymond Makewell, presents the original subject matter revised with more recent examples and statistics from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and USA.

Instead of making supply and demand the starting point, it begins with the simple observation that all material wealth is ultimately derived from land, and, where goods are exchanged the first requirement is trust, or a system of credit. From this starting point the major characteristics of the modern economy such as banking, companies or corporations, international trade, taxation and trade cycles are examined in terms of the conditions that govern how and why they evolved and how they operate today.

The framework in which the economy operates is examined in terms of how the system of land tenure and the concepts of property evolved in the English-speaking world, the role of government in economic affairs, and the degree of economic freedom. This reveals how the current economic situation denies people access to all that they need to work and produce wealth for themselves.

Injustice is the inevitable result and poverty its inseparable companion.

Editor: Raymond Makewell
Paperback 368pp
ISBN: 9780856832918
RSF: S3291
2013 Shepheard-Walwyn
List Price: $23.00

Click here to order.

15. (2013 March) At the Margins: Quips and Quotes

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
~Elie Wiesel

“When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: ‘Whose?’ ”
~Don Marquis