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The truly inspiring teachings of Henry George
Whilst researching the history and philosophy of husbandry, and looking at its practical development and application for the 21st century, the works of 19th century writer, Henry George, repeatedly came to the fore.

If, like us, you are concerned about the plight of the planet and all that dwells upon it, and have yet to arrive at a workable alternative, then you too may well find inspiration in the wisdom of Henry George, as we have done.
Henry George was a famous 19th century American whose main work, Progress and Poverty, was first published in 1879. Although a bestseller in its day, selling over three million copies worldwide and becoming the best selling book of its time excepting the bible, his work is not widely known today.

In essence, the book's enquiry was to question why, amidst all the wealth-creating ability of modern industrial economies, poverty and inequality were so prevalent. The parallels between today and the late 19th century are many, strong and important.

Throughout his life Henry George gained a deep understanding of global economics, which led him to propose a more just way to organise things.

Because, in George's view, all wealth was produced by the combination of natural resources and human effort, then the exclusive ownership of the natural resources inevitably leads to an international economic set up where all the wealth flows to the 'owners' of the natural resources. Those dispossessed of any ownership of resources can exist only on the sale of their labour, and the ruthless forces of the competitive marketplace will always lead the returns for the sale of labour to be reduced to bare survival level. George demonstrated that wages for the sale of human effort would always tend to reduce to the level at which, for the same expenditure of effort, a living could be made at the margins of cultivation where no rent need to be paid for the use of natural resources. This is happening on a global basis today just as it was in his day. The poverty and injustice attached to the lives of people today who do not own any natural resources is very apparent in every country.

"Why admidst all the wealth-creating ability of modern industrial economies are poverty and equality still so prevalent?"

A change in taxation
Henry George proposed that all taxation on human activity, effort and possession should be gradually reduced, and at the same time gradually increase taxation solely on the exclusive use of the natural resources, which he argued were legally as well as morally the property of the whole of humanity as a planetary community.

At any given time it is the humans who are alive on the planet who are responsible for doing a good job of husbandry of the planet. Holders of the right to the exclusive use of parts of the planet need to pay a market determined 'rent' for the use of those natural resources, this rent to be paid to the whole community of the planet through revenue-raising authorities similar to those currently in existence, i.e., the tax man. Therefore the things needing to be taxed would include the privileged or exclusive use of land and sea, including everything found in or under it, as well as the air, taking into account the maintenance of its quality.

George was careful to differentiate between the land and the structures or improvements on the land which were the legitimate property of the people who built or owned them, and so were not to be subject to taxation.

Hope for the future?
Our present political economic system would do well to transform itself in this direction. By taxing the earth's geographical, physical resources rather than the efforts and/or property gained by the people, we could arrive at a more just economy, whereby all who require a stake in the planet should be able to have such a stake. By following the direction Henry George argued for, the immense wealth which humanity can create would be shared justly by fair returns for the effort each individual or group exerts, thus bringing about a more economically just and sustainably thriving world. The environmental future of the planet would be more secure because self interest would at last be conjoined with the interests of planetary husbandry and international economic justice.

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"What man has produced belongs to the individual producer; what God has created belongs equally to all men ... therefore abolish all taxation save on the value of land."

More about Henry George at Wikipedia

Read Henry George's seminal work: Progress and Poverty

About £10, or less from Amazon MarketPlace. Beware edited and abridged versions that sometimes skew George's original content!)

Available from Amazon.co.uk - here
Available from Amazon.com - here

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