George, Henry (1839-97)

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

An American economist and politician who stood for election as Mayor of New York for the ‘single tax’ party. His major publication was Progress and Poverty (1879). He was considerably influenced by the English classical economists, Adam Smith, David Ricardo and J. S. Mill. Ricardo’s analysis had drawn attention to the way in which agricultural production could yield an income to landowners in the form of rent which was surplus to all costs, including normal profit. J. S. Mill had suggested that all future additions to rental income should be taxed away. This would have the merit, George claimed, of enabling the exchequer to be financed by one tax only and of avoiding the distortions caused by multiple taxation of different economic activities. This idea has some affinity with ‘l’impot unique’ of the physiocrats. Some similarity with these ideas appears in the Central Land Board, set up in Britain by the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, which taxed development renta[ profits by 100 per cent, and also with the Land Commission of 1967-71

Reference: The Penguin Dictionary og Economics, 3rd edt.

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