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Sleeping with the Enemy: Economists who Side with Polluters

Coasians and other defenders of “property rights” have captured mainstream economics to the detriment of public interest in our shared environment.. A personal story:

Sleeping with . . . → Read More: Sleeping with the Enemy: Economists who Side with Polluters

Keeping Land in Capital Theory: Ricardo, Faustmann, Wicksell, and George

Most economists today live in a two-factor world: There is just labor and capital. Land, so central to classical political economy, has been swallowed into capital and “disappeared.” This paper surveys some of the better historical treatments of land and capital, their interrelations, and how they support modern Georgists and Greens who want land to reappear. . . . → Read More: Keeping Land in Capital Theory: Ricardo, Faustmann, Wicksell, and George

Neo-classical Economics as a Stratagem Against Henry George

Neoclassical economics is the idiom of most economic discourse today. It is the paradigm that bends the twigs of young minds. Then it confines the florescence of older ones, like chicken-wire shaping a topiary. It took form about a hundred years ago, when Henry George and his reform proposals were a clear and present political danger and challenge to the landed . . . → Read More: Neo-classical Economics as a Stratagem Against Henry George

The Sales Tax: History of a Dumb Idea

Commercial-capitalist civilization has progressed in step with people’s success in fending off sales taxes in their various guises. We might begin with The Enlightenment, late 18th Century, with its epicenter in Versailles. At the core were the philosophes; at their core were les économistes, or Physiocrats; and at their core was the physician from . . . → Read More: The Sales Tax: History of a Dumb Idea

Answer to Futilitarians

Constructive problem-solving is when one takes problems and dilemmas and composes them into solutions. A simple example is when two lonely, longing people meet and marry. Another, more prosaic, is when a producer converts wastes into useful by-products. Another, more general, is whenever demand meets supply.

An address by Mason Gaffney at a meeting of . . . → Read More: Answer to Futilitarians

The Philosophy of Public Finance

THE TREATMENT of rent as public revenue is part and parcel of an organic theory of the State.
In the contractual theory, government is a kind of business which extends services to landowners. They only need pay for benefits received, which are construed in the narrowest possible terms.
In the organic theory, landowners hold title to land as a privilege. In return, . . . → Read More: The Philosophy of Public Finance

Henry George, Dr. Edward McGlynn & Pope Leo XIII

IT WAS A DIFFERENT TIME, but often the same place (Cooper Union) in American life. No, it wasn’t radio, but the age of orators. One of the most spellbinding was Dr. Edward McGlynn; another good one was Henry George, who also wrote great books. They came together in 1886 to roil the waters of American politics and ideology. Through the . . . → Read More: Henry George, Dr. Edward McGlynn & Pope Leo XIII

Alfred Russel Wallace’s Campaign to Nationalize Land: How Darwin’s Peer Learned from John Stuart Mill and Became Henry George’s Ally

Alfred Russel Wallace rose to fame with Charles Darwin: They independently found the principle of natural selection. Wallace later focused on reforming Great Britain’s land tenure system, under which a few owners had come to control most of the land, while most citizens had little or none of their own. In Land Nationalization (1882) Wallace proposed for the state to acquire . . . → Read More: Alfred Russel Wallace’s Campaign to Nationalize Land: How Darwin’s Peer Learned from John Stuart Mill and Became Henry George’s Ally

Equity Premises and the Case for Socializing Rent

The Harvard Registrar reports the most popular undergraduate courses now are “Justice,” “Principles of Economics,” “The Concept of the Hero,” and “Literature of Social Reflection.” The “Me Generation” is passing; Justice, Heroism and Social Thought are “In.” Are economists ready for this future? I think not: changes must be made.
Classical political-economists were moral philosophers. They made distribution of wealth and income central . . . → Read More: Equity Premises and the Case for Socializing Rent

Justice in Distribution

The classical political-economists made distribution of wealth and income the centerpiece of their discipline. This led smoothly, if unintentionally, into the socialist slogan, “The problem is not production, but distribution.” From about 1890, “neoclassical” economists preferred to downplay distribution. Distribution is troublesome, they said, because beliefs about it are often subjective and value—laden (“normative”), and there are numerous conflicting value—systems, hard . . . → Read More: Justice in Distribution