In the richest nation on earth, people are mired in poverty. Food is produced on a vast scale, yet families go hungry. Homeless men and women huddle in doorways of boarded-up housing. A deep-rooted cause of this inequality, the author reveals, lies in an injustice that permeates the economic system of America and the world, an injustice that is as unquestioned today as slavery once was.
Rybeck shares with the reader his discovery that how property tax is levied is crucial to this issue. Contrary to a common belief that all taxes are necessary evils, the author distinguishes taxes that suppress the economy from those that spur well-being for individuals, business, and society at large. He presents a strategy for gradually increasing beneficial taxes and reducing harmful ones.
His prescriptions are based both on economic theory and on examination of success stories from the United States and elsewhere where these prescriptions have been adopted. Reaching back into history, the author finds that easy access to land and natural resources played a major role in fostering America’s early dynamic economy. He urges wider use of land value taxation to reverse land monopoly and sky-high land prices and restore a vigorous and competitive enterprise system with opportunity for all. Though America is the case study, the remedy is applicable worldwide.
Not a technical book, the author illustrates concepts, issues, and policies through episodes from his rich life experiences in journalism and public service, giving new insights and slants on the work ethic, land speculation, the housing bubble, property rights, and legally accepted injustices.
Walter Rybeck, Director of the Center for Public Dialogue, was born in West Virginia and studied journalism, political science and economics, graduating from Antioch College. After a career in journalism as Latin American correspondent, reporter and editorial writer in Ohio, and Washington Bureau Chief for Cox newspapers, he became Assistant Director of the National Commission on Urban Problems, then Editorial Director of the Urban Institute. He was assistant to Congressmen Henry S Reuss of Milwaukee and William J Coyne of Pittsburgh.
Keywords: Property tax, Henry George, Land value taxation