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 encouraged.

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 tremendous.

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 hired.

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 additional products.

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!