Georgist Economics

Georgist Economics is a theory developed by Henry George, an economic genius born to the United States over one hundred years ago. He lived with little formal education during the beginning industrialization of the US from 1839-1897.  The book, Progress and Poverty, was written with George’s spare time, outlining the problems he saw with the U.S economy.

George had an idea, one that many are trying to incorporate to today’s markets. This was the idea that all taxes should be abolished for one tax on all “common” assets of mankind. His thought was that everything belonged to everyone collectively, especially land. George thought that land belonged to everyone, and that it was the beginning of our economic system in the U.S.  Land was the bottom, then it required labor to work that finite land, and that resulted in capital. His plan was to levy a tax on all land, average it all and have all people pay one tax on that land. This would support the entire U.S budget.  He didn’t have the same publicity that other economists of his day. This resulted in almost no one reading or incorporating his theories except select cities, namely Arden, Delaware in the U.S.

On June 2 at 11 a.m. four panelist will discuss Georgist Economics at the 2009 USSEE Conference:  Science and policy for a sustainable future.   The panel will be led by Jeff Smith, President, Forum on Geonomics.  Here is a sample of their abstracts.

  • Alanna Hartzok from the Earth Rights Institute; Land Rights And Land Value Capture. “Land Value Capture is a public revenue policy recommended for national action by consensus of all UN member states in both the UN Habitat II Agenda in 1996 and The Vancouver Action Plan, the 1976 founding document for UN Habitat.”
  • Bill Batt; Georgist Economics and Ecological Economics.  “Ecological Economics lacks a moral framework….Georgist Economics, which many argue is a very compatible framework, is explicitly moral. By amending Georgist economics to ecological economics, each becomes that much stronger and more cogent. This presentation explains the moral dimension of Georgism and how it fits with Ecological Economics.”
  • Gary Flomenhoft; An Inventory of Potential Economic Rent on Common Assets in Vermont. “Valuation of potential economic rent from minerals, spectrum, land, internet, fish and wildlife, forests, atmosphere, groundwater, surface water, and wind in Vermont was conducted in Spring of 2008. This report will summarize the results as a potential funding source for state government or social dividend as originally proposed by Henry George.”
  • Dr. Joshua Farley from the University of Vermont; Vermont’s Common Asset Trust: A Practical Application of Georgist Ecological Economics. “This paper explains how a CAT policy integrates Georgist and Ecological Economic policy principles. I will explain why certain assets are likely to be managed more sustainable, fairly and efficiently as common property than as private property.”

We look forward to having you join us at the 2009 USSEE Conference in Washington, DC at the American University.  It will be held May 31 – June 3.  The USSEE website is the place to check for regular schedule and speaker updates. If you have any questions, please contact secretariat@ussee.org.