The most ominous political sign in the United States today is the growing complacency with corruption. Many believe there is no honest person in public office; or worse, that if there were one, he or she would be a fool not to seize the opportunities. The people themselves are becoming corrupted. Our democratic government is running the course it must inevitably follow under conditions producing unequal distribution of wealth.
Where this will lead is clear. Contempt for the law develops, and reform becomes hopeless. Volcanic forces festering among the masses will explode when some accident gives them vent...
Invention marches on, our cities expand. Yet civilization has begun to wane when, in proportion to population, we have more prisons, more welfare, more mental illness. Society does not die from top to bottom; it dies from bottom to top.
-- Henry George, Progress and Poverty (1880), ed. Bob Drake (2006), pp. 291-293
Henry George has been called a socialist, and in Progress and Poverty, he states that his one simple reform, a single tax on land value (excluding improvements on the land), advances to the ideal of socialism. But Henry George was not a socialist. He was not even a statist, as we in the liberty movement understand that term. He believed strongly in personal responsibility. He did not advocate governmental control of private enterprise, nor did he suggest that government seize anything -- only that it redirect taxation in a way that promotes true equality of opportunity.
I am in the midst of reading the book, and I confess that his ideas are highly provocative and contain a certain appeal. I shall have more to write in future posts.