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Our Foundations

The general framework of George's social philosophy is that the cause of social problems is the inequality of rights based on the view of Thomas Jefferson. The problem Henry George addresses is the problem of involuntary poverty. He sees this problem essentially as one of unequal rights to land. His teaching is founded upon the right to use land, land being the whole material universe, the "reservoir" as he says, from which all production comes. Although we are many, the right to use land is still an equal right.

Henry George argues that the task of government is to secure these equal rights to land for everyone. However, George points out that observation of the institution of private property in land shows that it entails the very opposite of equal rights in land.

In the social law of rent (the fact that productivity is enhanced by location) George finds an "adjustment" in nature that permits government to secure the equal right to land. For, if government took the value of locations, each would be left with land of equal value. By discouraging the holding of land for gain this charge would also permit all to use land.

The value given by location is land value. If collected, taxes on production might be done away with. For that reason his proposal was called a 'single tax'. Some have reduced that proposal to some limited use of land value taxation.

Where land is held exclusively the occupant must pay for the social and natural advantages that constitutes the value of its location. Other land is common and subject to the equal right of all to use. The "market value" of such land and of those common services on it are captured in the value of land held exclusively.

George considered that the value of land would rise faster than wages & even interest on capital as a proportion of production. He also believed that it exceeded the needs of government and that it might be harnessed as a social fund, a kind of 'dividend' that restores work as a natural right than enforced as a social obligation to "get a job!", or a common wealth to elevate society to greater heights of civilisation.

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