An entrepreneurial critique of Georgism
Published online: 24 March 2013
Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013
Abstract This paper develops a critique of the single-tax proposal of Henry George.
We present a simple search-theoretic model for the discovery of natural resources and
show that a tax on the unimproved value of land is distortionary. We then consider the
time inconsistency and regime uncertainty problem created by even incremental
Georgist policy. We discuss historical cases of land reform and the subsequent challenge
to re-establish a credible commitment to property rights in land and natural resources.
Keywords Henry George
JEL Classification H21
It is too narrow an understanding of production which confines it merely to the
making of things. Production includes not merely the making of things, but the
bringing of them to the consumer.
– Henry George, Progress and Poverty, Book I, Ch. 2
Nearly all of the literature in public finance involves analysis of existing policy
or marginal changes, ignoring fundamental or radical reform.
However, as the
governments of developed nations struggle with budget deficits
counterparts in the developing world
look for ways to get ahead, reform
Rev Austrian Econ (2013) 26:483–491
Foldvary (2005), subtitled “A Plea to Public Economists”, discusses this issue at length.
In 2010, the government of the Republic of Ireland announced a 4-year plan to conduct site valuations and
implement a land-value tax by 2013. http://budget.gov.ie/The%20National%20Recovery%20Plan%202011-
The Movement for Democratic Change Zimbabwe, the largest party in the House Assembly of Zimbabwe,
lists land value taxation as their preferred public finance instrument.
Z. Gochenour (*)
Department of Economics, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA