Georgism Should be Implemented in the United States
I haven't been on this website for a very long time, but I've returned with a completely new worldview.
I look forward to this debate.
First, some preliminary definitions:
Land is any property which is not created (water, earth, the electromagnetic spectrum, forests, etc.)
To monopolize is to exclude others from the justified use of property
The citizens' dividend is the surplus money distributed to individuals in a locality.
Georgism is a socioeconomic philosophy proposed by Henry George, an American economist, in his book "Progress and Prosperity". It basically boils down to these bullets:
With those bullets in mind, Georgism is a system in which the land in an economy functionally can be monopolized, but philosophically cannot be. This logical discrepancy is solved by having the capitalist "rent" the land from the community in the form of a land-value tax (LVT). Ideally, this LVT would be levied on a local basis and would pay for the functions of government first, and the surplus would be equally distributed to all the members of the locality, rich and poor.
Another central tenet of Georgism is the reduction or elimination of other taxes. The income tax is unacceptable because it taxes a freedom. When you work a lot, you get taxed a lot. That isn't an incentive system that I support.
The same goes for sales tax which taxes people on the free exchange of goods.
In a Georgist economy, there would be almost no other taxes with a very high LVT.
Benefits of LVT:
Benefits of taxing the value of land instead of property
a. Taxing the value of property disincentivizes improvement of that property. If you add improvements to your house, your taxes will go up. This incentivizes rundown neighborhoods.
b. When you tax property, the big vacant lots are being essentially subsidized by improved lots nearby. To incentivize the unproductive use of land is silly.
c. Along the same tact, real estate firms hold huge power over the economy without being conspicuous. While everyone likes to blame the banks for the recent global recession, they were just following the money. The corrupt ones were the big real estate firms that buy lots of property and engineer scarcity to artificially inflate prices by refusing to sell certain lots until they've held them for 12 years.
The vast majority of capitalist firms require land to produce/sell. The reason the land value tax should replace other taxes is that it will not ever cause a firm to move to evade taxes. A McDonald's gets it's money from existing on land. Firms in New York City must remain in New York City.
Georgism allows the free market to work and still totally eliminates poverty and acknowledges the existence of the Commons.
Milton Friedman: Nobel conservative economist with his "negative income tax"
F.A. Hayek: Nobel conservative economist with his basic income guarantee
Martin Luther King Jr.: doesn't need an introduction, I imagine.
Thomas Paine: The founding father of the United States in his pamphlet agrarian justice (Many of the founding fathers also believed economies were ultimately agrarian in nature [land-based])
Another couple benefits of Georgism
One might say no one will ever agree to it. I have one rebuttal to that:
It is already happening in Alaska. The oil in Alaska belongs to all residents of Alaska so they get money for the use of it as a resource. It's not a lot as it's only one common good, but it alleviates their tax burden.
One might say that having a citizens' dividend would cause people not to work. I have two rebuttals to that
1. nuh-huh. (Just kidding) A basic income guarantee has been tried in many pilot programs in the United States, Canada, and once in Namibia. Analysis afterwards has found that employment was only significantly affected in two groups: new mothers and teenagers who support their family by working. Those teenagers opted to go to school instead.
2. Even if it did cause people not to work, it would only be in jobs they didn't like. That's not a bad thing. The current system amounts to slavery. Employment is not voluntary if you have to do it in order to survive. That is the opposite of voluntary.
3. We already have programs that allow people not to work. The vast majority of people still choose to work because we want MORE money and we don't want to seem to be a leech on society.
4. A system that allows people not to work creates a truly free market. The employers would have to entice workers to join their crew instead of sitting comfortably knowing the workers have no real choice but to throw stuff in a fryer for minimum wage.
Our workers are enslaved. It's time to change that.
I look forward to reading the rebuttal.
Progress and Prosperity by Henry George
http://www.basicincome.org... (General proof)
https://en.wikipedia.org... (Alaska oil dividend)
http://www.cbc.ca... (Canada experiment)
http://www.bignam.org... (Namibia experiment)
I'd like to thank Pro for initiating this topic. I've only read cursory articles dealing with Georgism so this will surely be a learning experience for me. Try to go easy on me.
I will try to make my case as concise as possible. My case will be mostly moral, in defense of completely private land ownership. My case defends land as an object of rightful ownership by individuals. This will be both a criticism of Pro's arguments against private land ownership as well as a positive case in defense of it. An inquiry into Pro's justification of his utilitarian framework will also be included.
Before I begin though I should distinguish from what I intent to criticize and what I do not. The elimination of all other taxes (income, sales) is something I'm wholly in agreement with. So the elimination of those taxes will not be in dispute here. Rather, it is the creation of a high single tax on land (as well as the arguments in support of such) which will form a large part of this debate.
Moral problems in implementation.
First, it should be noted that Pro has failed to adequately justify why land itself cannot be privately owned. The resolution implies a need for "moral" justification through use of the word "Should". Why should I do something? It can either be because doing so is a legitimate means towards an end I desire (a hypothetical imperative) or it could be because I have a moral obligation to do so (a categorical imperative).
Pro seems to have taken both approaches. He uses the categorical approach in asserting the common nature of land (being a turn on private ownership) and the hypothetical approach in his basic utilitarian/economic reasoning. The assumption being that we all want or should want what Georgism would bring. But this second approach generally boils down to the first. Especially if someone fails to share your goals. Non-Georgists could theoretically share the believe with Georgists that the single tax program would bring more prosperity but nevertheless oppose it for moral reasons. Pro is then burdened with showing a coherent and inter-subjectively valid (i.e., not opinion-based) moral reason in support of Georgism.
(1) So far , Pro has implicitly presumed a utilitarian stance (at least partially). However, he has failed to adequately defend it. Hence I ask that he bring some argument for why we should be utilitarians (therefore making economic arguments morally binding) in the next round. Until then though there's no reason to accept his main line of reasoning. I need not refute Pro's economic reasoning since there are more relevant moral reasons against the implementation of Georgism.
(2) Pro's quasi-moral reasoning is also open to many flaws. He argues that entitlement arises out of labor and since land (separate from improvements on it) cannot be the fruit of our labor, private entitlement to land is not existent. But why should we accept Pro's first premise? He fails to supplant a reason for why this is the only method to property acquisition. Other theories, such as first-use (homesteading) certainly have an air of plausibility to them. Why does Pro simply jump over them to assert (without foundation) that his is the correct procedure?
(3) Secondly, Pro's point is highly inconsistent. No one ever acts truly alone in applying their labor to create something. Just like we had no hand in creating land, most of us had no hand in developing the things we base our labor off of every day. For instance, we can safely presume that under Georgism, it would be permissible to apply one's labor to, say, some unowned debris someone found to create a work of art. But we had no part in the creation of the debris itself so it seems to logically follow from Georgist doctrine that we have no right to use this debris. And the same applies to most everything we do. No one is the sole creator of the things they use. Economies are so interconnected and complex that this would be an impossibility. Therefore, the Georgist is caught up in a seeming inconsistency in only applying this rule to land, while allowing other forms of personal property to go un-taxed. I can foresee Pro possibly going back to the Georgist proposition that all economies are essentially land-based, but I fail to see any instance where he attempted to justify this proposition. Pro needs to do so before we can take his claim very seriously.
darris321 forfeited this round.
I am sorry to Con and the readers that I wasn't able to post my argument in time. School has been hectic. I thank Con graciously for accepting the debate.
Moral problems in implementation. (rebuttal)
“ Just like we had no hand in creating land, most of us had no hand in developing the things we base our labor off of every day...it seems to logically follow from Georgist doctrine that we have no right to use this...”
Con may have missed something here. The argument isn't that one can't USE something that isn't made by one's own hands, it's that one cannot OWN something that isn't made by one's own hands. We can base our labor off of the land, we just can't monopolize land without paying rent to the community.
“Therefore, the Georgist is caught up in a seeming inconsistency in only applying this rule to land, while allowing other forms of personal property to go un-taxed.”
We don't tax land because it is being used, we tax land because it cannot be rightfully monopolized.
“ I can foresee Pro possibly going back to the Georgist proposition that all economies are essentially land-based, but I fail to see any instance where he attempted to justify this”
All economies are essentially land based because no matter what is produced, it must come ultimately from land. Nothing is produced without raw materials. No good is produced without real estate.
Noumena forfeited this round.
darris321 forfeited this round.
Unfortunately, due to my opponent's and my own forfeits, what should have been a three round debate was shortened to only one. Since both of us forfeited at least one round, I suggest not docking one of us over the other for the Conduct vote. Vote Con.