Keep Calm and Carry On About the Single Tax

As I write this, news of the terrorist truck-massacre in Nice, France has just broken. This comes on the heels of a series of horrible bombings and shootings. One may be inclined to let the mind go blank, refuse to engage, dive into entertainment or anesthesia. Another common response is to drop everything and try to do something about it! Now! Before it’s too late!  Yet I believe a deep breath and a healthy dose of course-staying are really what’s called for.

I have often felt that the contradictions of modern life are so severe, the problems are so urgent and the mainstream political responses to them are so tepid and lame, that if I had never come across the Georgist Remedy, I seriously don’t know where I’d turn. What happens when people need answers, but there are no credible answers to be found? Well, they can cling, as Barack Obama famously (and controversially) said, to their guns and religion. Terrorism destabilizes by heightening our fear of The Other — nowadays The Other can be anyone, anytime. We can’t live that way; we can’t get our bearings; we have to build a wall and keep the bad people out!

Civilization has always needed to hear our message, of course; it is called for at every time and in every place. As Shirley-Anne Hardy reminds us, the Law of Rent is as timeless as the Golden Rule, or the Sermon on the Mount. Yet right now, the need seems especially acute: for sanity, for an organizing principle that makes sense of people’s and nations’ natural inclinations to converse, trade, interact, exchange, argue and learn.

There are hopeful signs. We note the burgeoning influence of millennial colleagues who, as Alodia Arnold observes, have “moved away from a capitalistic society that prioritizes obtaining more wealth to one of living a conscious life, valuing friendship, family, community and the environment.” And Karl Fitzgerald describes how Georgists are using today’s networking and information-gathering tools to enhance their credibility and broaden their influence. We’ve got new voices and new techniques promulgating enduring truths. That’s a winning combination!

— Lindy Davies

Whither the Georgist Movement?

My first Georgist Journal as Editor, #86, back in 1996, featured a forum on “Whither the Georgist Movement?” Here are updates from two who participated in that conversation. Karl Fitzgerald offers some provocative 21st-century thoughts on this topic, on page 18.      — L. D.

There is something that makes all Georgist activities stronger and more successful. It is this: more Georgists.

Imagine someone suddenly understands Georgism for the first time. Then the most natural thing in the world happens — that person would reach out, to tell others, and to seek other people who already understand. It sounds easy and pleasant to interact with others. How best do you do this? That should be up to you. But you might start with the methods that succeeded in your own case. What helped you? Was is a class? A conversation? A book? A movie? A website? A game? You can invite people to check that out.

Many people were searching for something else when they encountered Georgism. Perhaps you can start at that point. Who do you know who is searching for answers? College students? Incarcerated people? People facing financial difficulties? As you learn from your successes and failures, the movement will grow.

I have no idea precisely how Georgism’s eventual triumph will take place, but we can all be certain of a primary ingredient of that triumph: more Georgists.    — Hanno Beck

I’d like to add that those who control our movement’s assets need to mimic trustees in successful movements and invest in focus groups, surveys, polls, to find the language and symbols that will work for real humans. Those in control of our assets seem to have not a shred of an idea of how society changes. Plus, they lost money in the recession by ignoring the very books they sell on the land-price cycle (some Georgists made money). Further, they keep funding efforts in their comfort zone, away from the real world (like the joke about the drunk looking for lost keys not where they were dropped but where the light is better).

Georgists are wonderful dinner companions, but as directors of outreach, many of them are death to an idea, even one as beautiful as ours. The bar is set really, really low. Other movements have winning as a goal, not just preaching. Imagine if ours did not drive away successful movement-makers but kept them, nurtured them, and increased their number. We’d be living in a Georgist world by now!     — Jeff Smith

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