In Support of the Single Tax
[An editorial reprinted from Everyman, March,
"Mr. Brisbane is chief
editorial writer for the Hearst line of newspapers. This is a
striking indication of how far single tax education has gone and
how obvious is the need for its immediate application."
Poverty everywhere is found almost entirely in the big cities, where
This congestion in the cities could only occur through the fact that
for centuries people were driven off the land by the landlord, and the
landlord was a man who owned vast tracts of land.
War in the past has bred vile landlords. This great war will breed
good landlords, because it will, by destroying landlordism as it
exists, make the majority of men their own landlords. It will send men
back to their Mother Earth. Every man will have his farm if he desires
Henry George called attention to the fact that much of the land in
America and in other so-called civilized nations is monopolized by men
who neither improve it nor allow others to do so.
They are holding this land for a rise in values. This land increases
in value just as people in the vicinity improve, cultivate and make
their own land valuable. And thus the individual who, improves land,
increases values all around him.
This increase in value is not on account of anything the owner of
unimproved property may do. Often he is an absentee. The increase
comes from the enterprise and thrift of the people in whom the owner
has no interest and often has contempt.
Moreover, you are taxed by the state for any improvement you make on
your land. And this taxation must, of necessity, discourage
Thus there is a tendency to invest in land in a thrifty neighborhood
and hang on to it, with the hope of securing the increase in value by
The remedy proposed by Henry George for this condition is the single
tax. That is, all taxes are to be raised on land values. Under these
conditions, the man who owns a vacant lot covered with burdock,
briars, and brambles would pay the same tax that the man pays who owns
a lot, and on it builds a beautiful house. The tax would not be on
improvements, but on the naked land.
The tendencies of this policy would be toward causing the gentlemen
who owned the vacant lot devoted to cockelburrs, to either utilize it
or put up a sign on it, For Sale Cheap.
The only people who oppose the single tax are those who own tracts of
land they do not improve. Naturally, these men control the votes of a
good many other people who are in their employ, or who are indebted to
them. But gradually and surely there is growing up in America a
sentiment demanding that land shall be easy of access, and procurable
by any one with disposition to use it.