Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality

Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality

Progress and Poverty in the Gilded Age

Book - 2015
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America's remarkable explosion of industrial output and national wealth at the end of the nineteenth century was matched by a troubling rise in poverty and worker unrest. As politicians and intellectuals fought over the causes of this crisis, Henry George (1839-1897) published a radical critique of laissez-faire capitalism and its threat to the nation's republican traditions. Progress and Poverty (1879), which became a surprise best-seller, offered a provocative solution for preserving these traditions while preventing the amassing of wealth in the hands of the few: a single tax on land values. George's writings and years of social activism almost won him the mayor's seat in New York City in 1886. Though he lost the election, his ideas proved instrumental to shaping a popular progressivism that remains essential to tackling inequality today.

Edward T. O'Donnell's exploration of George's life and times merges labor, ethnic, intellectual, and political history to illuminate the early militant labor movement in New York during the Gilded Age. He locates in George's rise to prominence the beginning of a larger effort by American workers to regain control of the workplace and obtain economic security and opportunity. The Gilded Age was the first but by no means the last era in which Americans confronted the mixed outcomes of modern capitalism. George's accessible, forward-thinking ideas on democracy, equality, and freedom have tremendous value for contemporary debates over the future of unions, corporate power, Wall Street recklessness, government regulation, and political polarization.
Published: New York :, Columbia University Press,, [2015]
ISBN: 9780231120005
Branch Call Number: 330.092 ODO
Characteristics: xxvi, 348 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm.


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Apr 07, 2015

Points to ponder: The amount of US household assets wiped out during 2007 -- 2009 from the economic meltdown was officially, $17 trillion /// the amount of the bailouts, both TARP plus the Federal Reserve bailouts, was $17 trillion /// the national debt is $17 trillion.
An experiment: regardless whether you live in Christ Church, Auckland, or Vancouver or Cleveland, try to find out the major land owners of the city you live in, and especially who owns the most land? Unless some enterprising soul has already researched this, it won't be easy, in fact, probably a monumental task, and for a very good reason!

We, the workers of mankind . . . so begins Henry George's first essay, a progressive reformer almost unimaginatively popular in his day, who trumped Teddy Roosevelt in the run-up for mayor of NYC, but lost to the Democratic machine candidate. Land monopoly was the problem, George believed, but he also believed in capitalism and were he alive today, he might just agree with me that monopolies and capitalism always go hand in hand. [E.g., in Seattle there is a glut of new apartments and condos on the market, yet rents continue to rise. In 2008, at the peak of the global economic meltdown, rents continued to rise. While wages have in actuality gone down, not just stagnated, there's been a 33% increase in rent, averaged out, since 2000.]


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