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Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry in the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth... The Remedy Paperback – December 12, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 599 pages
  • Publisher: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation; Unabridged edition (December 12, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0911312587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0911312584
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

In this volume three very different aspects of the late nineteenth-century debate on poverty are bound together: the American Henry George's Progress and Poverty, a response by a British businessman, Isaac B. Cooke, and a description by Andrew Mearns of the reality of poverty in the world's richest city. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Dan Sullivan on July 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Derided by superficial socialists as defending private propery in the fruits of one's labor, and by superficial liberatarians as defending common rights of access to the earth, Progress and Poverty is actually a tour-de-force assertion of the classical liberal position that the earth and its rent are common property. It thoroughly demonstrates, with clear and rigorous logic, what Marx realized far too late in his life -- that the monopoly of capital was not a natural phenoenon, but the result of the state-created monopoly of land, through titles that allow landlords to usurp community-created rents.
George's prescription, to fund government from land rents, or land value tax, had been espoused by many classical liberals, including Locke, Smith, Mill, Jefferson, Penn, Franklin, and the French "laissez faire" physiocrats. The most concise argument predating George was put forward in Tom Paine's essay, "Agrarian Justice." George's contribution, then, was not the idea of taxing land, but the economic analysis and compelling arguments for doing so. Similarly, many subsequent leaders and economists have agreed that land value tax is the best tax (and are listed on the earthharing website), but have not pursued the issue with the vigor shown by George.
George debunked several myths that are still propagated today, such as that population growth causes of poverty, that it is natural for capital to employ labor, that government control can effectively remedy poverty, and, most of all, that the economic dynamics governing capital can be blindly applied to land and natural resources.
Although it is clearly and logically written, the sentences are sometimes long and complex, requiring the reader to go back and parse them carefully. It is therefore a rather heavy read. The tone of the book is unique in that it is passionately assertive without comporomising its rigorous logic.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Wyneth C. Achenbaum on December 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Progress & Poverty is the missing puzzle piece for those of us who look around at the combination of magnificent and accelerating technological progress and the increasingly distorted distribution of income and wealth in America, with many people lacking sufficient income to meet their most basic needs, and wonder what went wrong in a country which professes to be dedicated to the proposition that we're all created equal.
The book's subtitle -- An Inquiry in the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth... The Remedy -- describes it beautifully: why we have the ups and downs of our economy, which cause incredible human misery, and why we have increasing poverty at the same time that there is hugely increasing wealth.
And Henry George provides a logical and workable -- even elegant -- remedy, one which will untangle many of the perverse incentives we cope with today: we say we value work, but we tax it. We say we want to promote sales, but we tax them. We say we want to encourage entrepreneurial effort, but we allow huge barriers designed to discourage the person with an idea from being able to execute it. We say we want a society that naturally creates more jobs, but we allow a relative few of us to pocket the funds which would create those jobs. We say we value initiative, but we reward the "dog in the manger" far more than we reward the laborer. We say that urban blight is a bad thing, but our tax code encourages it. We say we dislike urban sprawl, and long commutes, and low wages -- but we've failed to implement the simple tax reform that will correct these ills. We work longer hours than our counterparts in other countries, and have less to show for it.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By "jmbcv" on September 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book, written over a hundred years ago, is the accuracy of the predictions that Henry George made on what would happen if solutions other than the one he proposed would be followed. The only alternative to his sollution which he said would also work to reduce the difference between rich and poor was the use of government regulation. This has to some extent been taken up in all countries of the world, and while it has indeed slowed the processes which Henry George described, it has led to exactly the problem he predicted. "For instance, to take one of the simplest and mildest of the class of measures...--a graduated tax on incomes. The object at which it aims is good; but this means involves the employment of a large number of officials clothed with inquisitorial powers; temptations to bribery, and perjury, and all other means of evasion, which beget a demoralization of opinion, and ptu a premium upon unscrupulousness and a tax upon conscience..." That seems to be a pretty good descrition of civic life today.
When I have mentioned Henry George, the usual answer has been "Who?" Those who had heard of him mostly thought that his ideas only applied to agrarian societies. In fact, he recognized that land was only one (though the most fundamental) form of monopoly, and he makes it clear that he included all monopolies, not just land, into the realm of the rights of the community rather than a private owner. In this day, he would certainly hhave comments about how the airwaves have been distributed, for example.
The main surprise to me about this book is how completely unknown it has become. Anyone who reads this with an open mind will be convinced by Henry George's arguments.
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