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Progress and Poverty [Paperback]

Henry George
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jun 2006
`Today we live in a world that is divided. A world in which we have made great progress and advances in science and technology. But it is also a world where millions of children die because they have no access to medicines. We live in a world where knowledge and information have made enormous strides, yet millions of children are not in school...It is a world of great promise and hope. It is also a world of despair, disease and hunger ...' Nelson Mandela, 2005

`This association of poverty with progress is the great enigma of our times. It is the central fact from which spring industrial, social and political difficulties that perplex the world, and with which statesmanship, philanthropy and education grapple in vain. From it come the clouds that overhang the future of the most progressive and self-reliant nations'. Henry George, 1879

A hundred and twenty-five years separate these statements. Nothing has changed, except the increasing scale of poverty and the widening gap between richest and poorest, even in the affluent West. This despite the well meaning efforts of philan-thropists, charities, governments and international agencies.

As Nelson Mandela has pointed out: `Poverty is not natural, it is man-made and can be overcome by the action of human beings'. But what action?

The twentieth century witnessed a vast social experiment in which Marxists and Socialists sought to tackle the problem. While they can claim some success in miti-gating the worst levels of deprivation, they failed to abolish poverty. In the former communist countries, Russia, China, East Germany, the gap between rich and poor has again widened rapidly. In more democratic states like Britain and Sweden, the burden of the welfare state is becoming unaffordable when faced with competition from India and China. Is there a way out?

In Progress and Poverty Henry George reveals the cause of poverty, which is man-made, as Mandela says. He shows how a simple tax reform could remove it. This reform could be introduced in incremental stages to allow time to adjust.

Progress and Poverty became a world-wide bestseller and is now available in a new abridged edition, edited for the modern reader. It was very influential in the Liberal Party before WWI and in the Labour Party up till 1931. Here may be the seeds of the Third Way New Labour have been seeking

Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Schalkenbach (Robert) Foundation,U.S.; New edition edition (1 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0911312986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0911312980
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 327,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book, poorly edited 25 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Somehow, I managed to buy this without spotting that the edition is abridged. And the editing is at least as annoying as the cover art.

The editor claims to have produced a "thought by thought" translation, cutting George's over-long nineteenth century sentence structures down to size. I have no real problem with that although, given that George was so widely read at the time and was supposed to be rather lucid, I think this shows a curious lack of respect for the modern reader. No, what I find bothersome, is the editor's anachronistic interventions - the owner of whaling ship and a mechanic are referred to as "she" for example. Now, I realise that these might be plausible in a contemporary context but it just sounds ridiculous in the mouth of any writer much before 1960. It sounds like a minor point but, in trying to make George a feminist avant le lettre, the editor merely reminds us that the text is being pushed about by a modern sensibility.

The use of the feminine pronoun is a minor irritant but others are worse. A list of items that Adam Smith regarded as items of capital is footnoted thus, "Smith's original list included two items that do not fit under George's definition of capital. See original text p.47" Since the reference is to the original text of Progress and Poverty, rather than to the Wealth of Nations, this would appear to suggest that the original text contains references to these examples and an explanation of why George disagrees with Smith. You might think that points of disagreement like this would be illuminating but the Bob Drake clearly doesn't. 50 pages on we find another such footnote, "Frederic Bastiat, French economist gave a well-known illustration of interest involving the loan of a carpenter's plane.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is an excellent and remarkably modern read given it was written 130 or so years ago. My edition is a paperback reprint (2003) of the 1979 edition which has prefaces from previous editions and also a good index and glossary (he uses many classical references - well at least more than the average modern reader like me could cope with without a glossary). I agree with the previous reviewer and can't see that the modern reader needs this abridging at all and so like him I give this 4 stars rather than 5 for that reason. Although not currently in print there is a kindle version of the 1979 edition available for about 3.50 at the time of writing.

George was, by trade, a journalist and worked outside the European or even the US metropolitan intellectual milieu of the time. That said he was clearly not in ignorance of it. I love the fact that he is not afraid of Ricardo, Smith, Mill and others - and takes them to task, and apart, carefully where he considers they have overlooked not understood or misunderstood something. Not being an Economist and writing in frontier San Francisco are only two reasons why mainstream economics seems to have ignored him. He could not and still cannot be placed in a faction, he was neither a socialist (his writings are just pre-Marx in English, though reviewed for later editions post Marx so forgive my use of that word) nor on the side of capital or the rentier class. His ideas are pro-enterprise and trade but are fresh, radical but above all practical and reach to the roots of the problems of political economy even now. Moreover the book is surprisingly PC and readable given it's age and subject matter.

Having become aware of the LVT concept and George's writings articles like the one I have just read on the BBC, [...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read! 14 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I heard about Henry George from a radio program by the Renegade Economists.
Great man what an insight into the how's and why's of the system.
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Currently we penalized production and trade by levying a tax on Income (production) and Sales (trade). That is exactly what we Do NOT need to do to create economic growth and a stable economic society. George highlights this negative point.

The prime aim George put across, although not in so many words, is to reclaim commonly created wealth to pay for common services, eliminating harmful Income & Sale taxes, etc. Very simple so far and that is the base.

The confusing to many "economic rent",(where there is no enterprise or cost of production), the surplus created by others, can fall into many categories. The biggest form is the values of land. Currently there is a giant sluice that empties commonly created wealth into the land market and then being appropriated by freeloaders who never created the wealth in the first place.

Land value are created by the economic activity of a community not by the landowners. This is important to understand. So this is rife to be reclaimed and used instead of implementing penalizing Income & Sales taxes. In doing so the economic circle is complete.

This community created value is termed "unearned income" and "economic rent", or more easy to understand when appropriated by private individuals or organisations, "economic freeloading".

Geonomics goes further than Henry George's SINGLE TAX, as it focuses on Land a Capital reclaiming all "unearned income" and "economic rent" and also uses Pigovian taxes, eliminating freeloaders and promoting productive enterprise. However George describes affirm base.

In The USA the top 1% own more wealth than the bottom 90%. This indicates an economic system that is not working. Look at the how the top 1% got most of their wealth.
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