Georgist Economic Philosophy;  in 3 parts
Land is a finite community resource, and we should all be paying charges for its use to the community. Tribal societies have always understood who the ultimate landowner is. Graham Hart, Georgist Education Association. 1st of 3 parts

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First of 3 parts

Republished on the World Wide Web, January 1997, from a booklet published September 1987 by
THE GEORGIST EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, INC., 10 Broome Street (off Douglas Avenue, one street from Canning Highway), South Perth, Western Australia, 6151; Telephone (08) 9367 5386 (international +61 8 9367 5386);
Internet address:

  The term Georgist 'philosophy' refers to the economic analysis and social philosophy advanced by the United States economist Henry George. Central to this philosophy is the idea that land values, which are due to natural and social processes, should be the source of public revenue, eliminating taxes on labour, thrift and industry. It advocates equal rights for all, special privileges for none.


1. Governments shall collect for public revenue the site rental value of land (exclusive of improvements).

2. There shall be no taxation of the products and rewards of labour and capital in the production of wealth, nor upon the exchange or consumption of wealth.

3. Governments shall be confined to functions which by their nature are necessary monopolies in which there can be no freedom of competition compatible with justice, equality and efficiency.

4. The distribution of wealth arising from the application of labour and capital to land either directly or indirectly including the rendering of services for the satisfaction of human desires is to

and rent,
measured under conditions of free market competition.

  (The full application of 3 and 4 can only be attained subject to the implementation of 1 and 2.)

CONTENTS of Part 1 (this document)
1. Human Rights 6. Misappropriated Rent
2. The Land 7. Natural Public Revenue
3. Wealth 8. Involuntary Unemployment
4. Rental Value of Land 9. Wealth Producers
5. Exclusive Occupation 10. Full Employment Restored
CONTENTS of Part 2
11. Monopoly and Speculation 16. Australian Land for Australians
12. Site Revenue Collection 17. Encourage Land Use--Discourage Speculation
13. Freedom of Information 18. Australia--Populate or Perish
14. Banking and Money in a Prosperous Economy 19. Democratic Elections
15. Three-Year Phasing-in Period 20. Proportional Representation


CONTENTS of Part 3
21. Governments Should Consult the People 27. Transitional Hardship
22. By-Elections 28. The Public Service
23. "Taxation--the Power to Destroy" 29. Protective Tariffs
24. Taxation Must be Abolished 30. Artificial Wage Fixing
25. The Family--the Central Unit of Society 31. Economic Recovery
26. Site Rent Revenue--Potential 32. Social Justice and Responsibility

Georgist Economic Philosophy
First of 3 Parts
  An all-embracing fiscal reform for the liberation of all people from
* involuntary unemployment
* the ever-widening gap between fabulous unearned wealth and abject poverty
* the wasteful expenditure and tyranny of governments
* public debt passed on to our children (taxpayers of the next generation)
* with exorbitant rates of spurious interest.

1. Human Rights

  COMMON RIGHTS in the Common-wealth--the Earth--the People's Estate--the Gift of the Creator to all Mankind, from which and upon which all must live.

  INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS to the product of each person's labour--Free of all taxation.

2. The Land

  The land must be held in Sacred Trust to serve the needs of this and all future generations; its life-sustaining qualities must be preserved, by
* the prevention of soil erosion, salination and pollution,
* from the rape of renewable resources (forest wealth), and by
* the maximum conservation of non-renewable resources (mineral wealth)
subject to the needs of all people throughout the world, particularly those living in countries poorly endowed with natural resources, to freely exchange their products for basic wealth of this country.

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3. Wealth

  All wealth arises from labour, applied directly or indirectly to land, aided by the use of capital. Land is the source of all wealth, but land itself is not wealth until labour is applied to extract, modify, change the form or location of natural resources in order to satisfy human desires. This we call production and exchange.

  In a disorderly society land may be exchanged for wealth, which is a breach of trust, and causes land to be confused with wealth.

4. Rental Value of Land

  The rental value of land arises when people congregate in closely settled communities, to promote specialised production and exchanges in order to increase living standards, from the presence and activity of all the people collectively, and from the functions of government which are necessary to provide communications and reticulated services, etc.

  The rental value of land is not created by the owner or occupier of particular sites--it belongs to the living generation, and is the natural source of public revenue, which increases with the growth of population and advancing technology.

  The site rental value of land increases enormously with the density of population--from a few dollars an acre [or a hectare] in remote regions, to peak at a million dollars an acre in a city of a million inhabitants.

Picture of man walking towards bull, caught by rope wound around post  
"Near the window by which I write, a great bull is tethered by a ring in his nose.   Grazing round and round he has wound his rope about the stake until now he stands a close prisoner, tantalised by the rich grass he cannot reach, unable even to toss his head to rid him of the flies that cluster on his shoulders.

This bull, a very type of massive strength, who, because he has not wit enough to see how he might be free, suffers want in sight of plenty, and is helplessly preyed upon by weaker creatures, seems to me to be no unfit emblem of the working masses.

But until they trace effect to cause, until they see how they are fettered and how they may be freed, their struggles and outcries are as vain as those of the bull.   Nay they are vainer.   I shall go out and drive the bull in the way that will untwist the rope.   But who shall drive men to freedom?"--Introduction to Protection or Free Trade 1888 by Henry George.

Picture and wording by courtesy of  Geonomics (USA and UK)

5. Exclusive Occupation

  The holders of each particular site should pay annually or by instalments to the rest of the community (the government) the rental value (determined by market forces) of the site chosen as best suited to their purpose, in return for the right of exclusive occupation. Sub-tenants would pay their share to the titleholder or leaseholder.

  All honest workers with hand or brain would prosper, paying only the market-assessed rental value of land held, exclusive of improvements, as their contribution to public revenue. Corporate bodies of joint owners would be assessed just the same as individual landholders.

Georgist Economic Philosophy; Graham Hart_ Georgist Economic Philosophy; Graham Hart

6. Misappropriated Rent

  Nearly all fabulous fortunes arise originally from misappropriated rent in the most densely populated parts of the earth, and not because of greater superiority in energy or intelligence.

  The richest man in the world, a Japanese [in 1987], is said to be worth 29 billion dollars. His income, if the return on his fortune was only 1% per year, would amount to more during say one hour's sleep than a skilled engineer could earn in one year. The same conditions may be seen to apply in Australia proportionately to population density.

7. Natural Public Revenue

  When governments collect their natural income, all forms of taxation could be abolished. Taxation destroys incentive, enterprise, and equal opportunity,
creates crime, corruption, frustrations leading to addictive forms of escapism, plus
suicide, rape, murder, broken homes, and every form of social disorder.

8. Involuntary Unemployment

  The basic cause of what I call the crime of involuntary unemployment and poverty, is to deprive willing workers of access to land under attractive conditions.

  When not taken for public revenue, site rent is capitalised as land price, which increases because of an artificial scarcity created by those who monopolise more land than they can use--speculating in land rather than putting it to use.

  Deprived of access to land, man will die. Given restricted access only, man will live a frustrated unnatural existence. Labour and Capital, therefore, have no alternative other than to attempt to meet the extortionate demands of land speculators. Some business enterprises may succeed with difficulty. Many will fail.

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9. Wealth Producers

  It is almost impossible for wealth producers in competitive industry to
* pay rent or exorbitant mortgage interest on land price,
* plus vicious taxation,
* plus spurious interest on borrowed capital and on the national debt,
* plus the cost of inflation (another form of indirect taxation),
and survive.   The economy staggers on, grinding slowly to collapse, delayed only by Trade Union-imposed counter-monopolies which artificially increase the wages of those in the most powerful industries, and propped up by tariffs and subsidies etc., which protect the more influential capital investors. Such measures only postpone the inevitable day of reckoning.

  Governments, moreover, as the largest employers and users of wealth, must buy back their own taxes, because taxes increase production costs, which are added to the prices of goods and services. The need for public revenue is more than doubled by such crazy finance.

  The alternative we advocate is for the government to collect the rental value of land for public revenue, and to abolish all stupid and immoral forms of taxation.

  Only about one third of present public revenue would be needed if taxes were abolished, and publicly-generated revenue was diverted to the treasury.

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10. Full Employment Restored

  Full employment would be restored. Soul-destroying dole queues would end. Inflation could be abolished, and the public debt, passed to posterity, would be exposed as a criminal offence, unacceptable by any standards of human behaviour.

  The cost of dealing (ineffectively) with the alarming increase in crime, vandalism, and anti-social behaviour would be drastically reduced. (It is currently [1987] costing the taxpayer $40,000 to keep a prison inmate for one year.)

  The regimentation and bureaucratic interference with Australian industry (that requires proportionately four times as many public servants as Japan, and is probably the highest in the English-speaking world) would cease.

  The collection of rent for public revenue would not increase prices, because rent is already an ingredient in the cost structure. On the contrary, costs would be reduced, because land previously held idle or under-developed would become available for use. The greater supply of land would cause rent to fall, and valuable land would have to be put to use to earn the rent.

  There is no way of using land without the employment of labour and capital, competition for which would increase real wages and create full employment.

  Rent would simply be diverted from monopolists and speculators to those to whom it rightly belongs-- the living generation--as their government's natural revenue.


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(Copied from September 1987 booklet, put on WWW 27 December 1996; last revised 21 August 1998)
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For electoral purposes, authorised by John Charles Massam, 10 Broome St., South Perth, 6151, Western Australia

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