Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Review of Progress and Poverty by Henry George

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Elaborate Description

The question that is being answered in this book is why does poverty follow wealth. Many wealthy urban cities, have citizens that are wealthy, but the city also has more people in poverty. The way wealth is divided, going to either interest (capital), wage (labor), and rent (landlord), determines how much poverty there is in the city. Rent is the enemy in this story.

Labor produces wealth by providing useful value to resources. Capital allows labor to be more productive. With capital, each worker has more value. The problem is rent, for rent does not add to wealth. Rent just takes income and profit away from those that provide wealth. Ownership of land means the subjugation of the worker by taking away mean of productions, giving more power to the land owner.

Population amount does not create poverty. With fertile land, a single individual would not be produce much wealth. Where the land does not have much resources, many people can subdivide their time to produce a lot of wealth. With more people, each person can create more wealth.

For every argument that Henry George makes, he points out many counterclaims that others have made. Rather than putting the different theories on the sidelines, they are just as central to the story as what George is trying to explain.

The solution the author proposed was to make all land common. Pointing out that every party will benefit via the ability to produce more wealth. The problem he failed to clarify is who is to make the decision on the land, as in who gets to actually use the land when it is common.  

The general case solution is to pay only for improvements and maintenance. Ownership of land should not entitle others to take a share in income while providing nothing in return.

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9780911312584
Pages to read:   400
Publication:     2005
1st Edition:      1879
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          5
Overall           5