`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