The Washington Post published a letter of mine on Saturday, January 9, with title, “Georgism isn’t socialism.”
The letter, as they published it, follows:
In his Dec. 31 Style article, “Throwaway lines in the literary life? Not really.,” Michael Dirks described “Progress and Poverty” as “Henry George’s masterpiece of socialist thought.” To the contrary, George rejected socialism, and his masterful analysis of economic problems, a bestseller in the 1880s and still applicable today, includes an analysis of why governmental direction and interference were not the answer to continued poverty and unemployment amid material progress.
Neither a socialist nor a lackey of the robber barons, George favored liberty and free enterprise, but he opposed fortunes built upon special privilege, and, in particular, he advocated a single tax on the value of land and the abolition of other taxes. This would enable people to keep what they earned but not enjoy riches from the possession of land which they had done nothing to create.
Perhaps Dirda has forgotten what he learned in the correspondence course in fundamental economics he took when he was 14. Such a lover of literature as he might wish to try reading “Progress and Poverty” as an adult; it is a literary masterpiece of elegant prose and lucid reasoning.
Nicholas D. Rosen, Philadelphia
The writer is president of the Center for the Study of Economics
I do not in fact live in Philadelphia, but the CSE has its headquarters there, which may be why the newspaper gave that as my location.