What the Georgist Movement Needs
William W. Newcomb
[Reprinted from the International Union
Newsletter, November 1969]
I should like to add my reasons to those given by Robert Clancy and
Ashley Mitchell (International Union Newsletter, Nos. 8 &
9) as to why George's ideas are not more widespread.
1. I agree with others who have already expressed their views that
the vested interests have done more than anything else to keep land
value taxation from being instituted.
2. The Henry George Schools, so far as I know, have never encouraged
an alumni association. When I took courses at the School, members of
my classes wanted an opportunity to set the world on fire but were not
3. All these years we have needed an internal and external
newsletter. We now have an internal one in the International Union
Newsletter. My thoughts on an external newsletter are noted below.
4. George's Progress and Poverty should long ago have been
used primarily as a reference and a new text written for mid-20th
century students. With all due respect for George's beauty of style
and passion for reform, I maintain the high attrition in the
classrooms is attributable to the use of Progress and Poverty.
It is disappointing to me that there are not thousands of graduates at
the annual Henry George conferences.
5. I am saddened, by the fact that wealthy men who have set up funds
to promote land value taxation have not encouraged the use of these
funds for scholarships so that young Henry George School students
could pursue economics in universities.
6. Those seeking to influence public opinion have increasingly moved
into the pictorial field because of the "read-on-the-run" of
our tension-ridden, society. A movie has now been made by the
Schalkenbach Foundation and I believe its influence will be
7. The Georgist movement has failed to develop what the Marxists did
so effectively in the 1920's and 1930's: a climate for novelists,
playwrights, poets, artists, cartoonists and advertising-public
relations specialists. How that there is heightened interest in land
value taxation there are few professional writers to explain the
subject in the style the slick magazines require.
I believe the Henry George movement needs to do what business very
often does: Hire a management company every 10 years to analyze our
methods and our goals. And finally: there are "salesmen" to
foundations who usually operate on a commission basis. They should be
And now for my ideas on an external newsletter:
Back in 1939 when Bob Clancy and I were creating the illustrated
booklet You and America's Future, several of us
student-workers at the Henry George School gave a lot of thought to
creating a newsletter directed to assessors, county commissioners,
city planners and engineers; chambers of commerce end the National
Association of Manufacturers; labor leaders, university professors,
foundation executives; building Journals, land developers, contractors
and real estate brokers.
Here is the story of one newsletter: Years ago the manufacturers of
Serutan created a newsletter to promote the sale of this product. In
the newsletter were all kinds of advice on health care, and it became
so popular it became the Journal of Living magazine, rising to
about 350,000 circulation in 1952. Then the building department of my
real estate company was asked to erect a home to be given away in a
nationwide circulation contest, and from this the magazine shot to
almost half a million. Just about this time, TV exposure, and later
Geritol and Sominex made the sale of products of this once-small
company so huge that Nikoban, Femiron, Proslim and Vivarin became
Meanwhile, what happened to the newsletter-turned-magazine? About
1958 it became the mailing nucleus of Modern Maturity, the
4-color magazine published by the American Association of Retired
Persons, now 1,200,000.
Moral: A newsletter on land value taxation can become so much in
demand by the hungry public, it becomes a magazine; the product in the
magazine becomes so famous it is soon promoted on TV, and civic
organizations and leaders can no longer evade the clamor but must
accede to the will of the people and enact land value taxation!