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With turmoil in the political system and banking system, a dearth of affordable housing, and rising inflation making food costs close to prohibitive for human beings, now may be a good time to look at alternative models of economic justice. The 19th Century American political economist, Henry George, is acknowledged as one of the primary inspirations of the Progressive Era. Both capitalist and socialist elites were challenged by his insights and this is the reason very few of us have heard about what he had to say. Nevertheless, his innovative perspective and ideas spread throughout the world and, since then, have been adopted in enough places to prove the validity of many of his suggestions for fundamental economic reform.
Georgism, known historically as the single tax movement, is an economic ideology holding that, although people should own the value they produce themselves, the economic rent derived from land — including from all natural resources, the commons, and urban locations — should belong equally to all members of society.
At this stage of the 21st century, it is becoming increasingly clear that nothing about our economic platform seems to be working for anyone except the wealthy elites. A current PBS American Experience feature, Ruthless: Monopoly’s Secret History, details how a 19th-century game that taught Georgist principles was actually stolen from its originator and converted by Parker Brothers into America’s favorite capitalist training game, Monopoly.
Despite band-aid fixes and the polarized shouting heard across the land, George’s economic analysis and call for fundamental reform is still considered by some modern economists as fully relevant. His insights allow for solutions to raging poverty, the grotesque disparity of wealth, endless war, exorbitant housing costs, homelessness, stagnation of wages, rapacious and misguided monetary policies and taxation, the failure of democracy, the capture of government by big money and environmental destruction.
If you are curious about the possibilities, please join us for an evening with Wendell Fitzgerald, a 50-year student and teacher of Henry George’s economic analysis and principles.
Wendell Fitzgerald earned his BA in history from Princeton University and a JD from USF School of Law. His legal education enabled him to avoid the draft into the Vietnam War and he spent four years in alternative service as a VISTA volunteer, gaining direct experience of how late 20th-century economic policies and ineffective government band-aids create and sustain poverty. Wendell left the practice of law in 1974 to serve as the Executive Director and President of the Henry George School of Northern California in San Francisco. He was later elected to the Board of the Schalkenback Foundation, the publisher of George’s books. After Wendell’s move to Ashland in 2009, he has taught the George analysis at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), and to other community groups.
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