One of the great things about Georgism is how it cuts across political lines. Libertarians and socialists, conservatives and progressives, ruralites and urbanists, and more can all work together in a giant Georgist potpourri. Unfortunately, the flipside of this is that we also get savaged from all corners as well. Practically every type of Georgist has its anti-Georgist counterpart and dealing with them all can be overwhelming. Having fried my brain from constantly wading into the trenches of online discourse, I’ve also become fairly familiar with these groups and what makes them tick. In the manner of classic articles like Darrell Owens’
This article was based off a draft outline generously donated by an author who wishes to remain anonymous.
The kind of person who think that Georgism can only be understood as the specific 100% LVT Single-Tax maximalist position, and then they set out to prove why they think this is unworkable. And then having done this in their minds, they summarily conclude that all the more moderate Georgist position s and/or incrementalist compromise positions are all equally unworkable, without actually doing any work to demonstrate how or why.
I would add xenophobes to the list. Those who believe that because they bought the land in the past they shouldn't have to pay higher taxes when new people show up and drive up demand for their land. The "San Francisco is full" types.
I think the “Normies” are the majority and the folks you need to reach. The sales pitch should be tax reform, not revolution. Pay the land tax and never fill out another 1040! That’s a great deal, even for most landowners. Emphasize a win-win for the Left and Right- a tax formula that hits hardest at wealthy people while setting the income tax at ZERO.
I'd add "Public Choice Skeptics" in the model of Tyler Cowen: the critic who accepts the economic desirability of capturing land rents, but who thinks attempts to do so will trigger a tax revolt in the model of Prop 13, or get chipped away swiftly by forever-petitioning deed-holders in the fashion of Vancouver.
Excellent read. I think the three main groups of people who don't like Georgism are anti-socialists who understand only half of it, anti-capitalists who understand the other half, and everyone else just never read any of it
I think the weirdest Anti-Georgist I’ve seen is “Georgism is a gateway to Feudalism”
Nice article. One objection I’ve heard to georgism is that preventing land speculation is a bad thing because in the absence of an LVT, people see that there’s a market need for something in the future which wouldn’t justify them developing the site now, but because there’s an LVT, it forces them to either sell or to develop something which wasn’t as good were they to just wait a few more years. I’m not sure if I said the objection correctly, but what would be the response to this objection?
I see where the association of Zero to One-ist pro-monopolism would suggest a clash with George, but I think in this specific case Thiel is a convert:
- Thiel taught George at Stanford as an alternative to our current systems: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24607896
- Thiel praises George on reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2g4g95/comment/ckfmhyn/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web3x&utm_name=web3xcss&utm_term=1&utm_content=share_button
- Thiel on landlords: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/peter-thiel-vast-majority-capital-give-companies-just-going-landlords-134709786.html?guccounter=1
- From "The Diversity Myth": "My goal here has been to concretize all these concerns, not with the aim of providing answers, but simply of asking questions. I’m not saying that my Henry George–inflected real-estate analysis is the absolute truth, but we do need to ask how much of college “tuition” is diverted to real-estate interests." from https://newcriterion.com/issues/2023/6/the-diversity-myth
- Tyler Cowen on Thiel and George: "COWEN: I believe that was four years ago, but I could be off a tiny amount. I was talking with Peter Thiel about Henry George and we both had an interest in it, and just thought we should run a two-day seminar where we just march through all of Progress and Poverty. And we had a small group, I would guess maybe 16 people. Four or five of them you would broadly consider to be Henry George scholars. The others were people interested in land use or economists or somehow people who ought to be there; people in the YIMBY movement. And we just completely focused on Henry George. It wasn't that people showed up and during break are looking at their phones. It was really an immersive experience. One of the best conferences I've ever gone to." from https://josephnoelwalker.com/142-talent-is-that-which-is-scarce-tyler-cowen/
Your writing about "Anti-Bugmen" reminds me of a (sadly now-deleted) tweetstorm by Sarah Taber about Thomas Jefferson and his veneration of individual family farms.
She pointed out that family farms were far more effective as a tool of racial imperialism than as a food production system: that Jefferson was copying the ancient Roman system where family farms were used as a carrot to incentivise poor Romans to kill and die in the Republic's wars of expansion, with Rome's ruling elite knowing full well that those small farms were unsustainable and would end up being gobbled up by the elite's latifundia slave plantations. And since Thomas Jefferson was a plantation owner himself, Sarah's conclusion was that he was a con man all along.
Similarly, is not clear that today's "Anti-Bugmen" are totally attached to their fossil-fuel-intensive lifestyles and aren't willing to take action to fight climate change, because they see such action as destroying their way of life, and being primarily for the benefit of a global South that they don't care about? (Which of course explains the nexus between climate change denial and far-right politics.)
In a georgist system, WHO determine the price of the land? To take two extremes, some ressource-dense areas (oil, etc..) would have much more value of rent than deserts. How this price is fixed without having to deal with centralization (an agence should fix the price, so is highly suceptible to corruption or bad information, evaluation) ?
It seems from my reading about what killed the Altoona LVT experiment that another practical Anti-Georgist group is just Status-Quo is King people. Specifically both that developers were uninterested in exploiting the benefits of an LVT because they found it confusing and weird and that the city failed to make the land use, assessment, and abandoned land redistribution changes necessary to make the LVT work because they seemed big and weird.