You have to be pretty desperate to set yourself alight, as a young vegetable seller in Tunisia did in 2010, sparking the Arab Spring which has brought so much hardship in the Arab world, and now onto the shores of Europe. Tunisia itself seemed to offer a glimmer of hope that it had not all been in vain, but the Sunday Times reported (28/02/2016) that already this year there have been 17 self-immolations and 120 last year in protest at corruption and poverty. Tunisia, at least, is trying to improve things, but democracy is not in itself a solution to poverty and unemployment. What is lacking is an understanding of how to create a just society.
Communism, once the hope of the poor, has failed; bureaucratic socialism has fared better, but has burdened the State with high and growing debt and the citizens with a heavy tax burden; capitalism has demonstrated its ability to produce immense wealth, but is marred by huge wealth and income inequality; so is there another way?
Writing in the last quarter of the 19th century, Henry George offered an alternative and dedicated his Progress and Poverty ‘To those who, seeing the vice and misery that spring from the unequal distribution of wealth and privilege, feel the possibility of a higher social state and would strive for its attainment.’ Among those who responded to his invitation to strive for a higher social state were Winston Churchill, Leo Tolstoy, Sun Yat-sen in China and Albert Einstein.
The Shepheard-Wawlyn Ethical Economics list contains a selection of books exploring how the insights of Henry George could be applied to the conditions of today when the gap between rich and poor continues to widen, suggesting that the cause which he pinpointed in his book, is still in place. Even where there is no intention to apply the ‘remedy’, as he called it, the benefits even of a partial application are evident, as Hong Kong and Singapore show.
Just as the Soviet Union faced up to the failure of their economic system, so we now need to recognise the failure of the global economic system to provide work and a decent livelihood for all who share this planet and look for an alternative. Over the next six months, Shepheard-Walwyn will be publishing three titles which explore how such a change could take place.
Further Reading: Boom Bust by Fred Harrison Ricardo's Law by Fred Harrison In a recent article in the Guardian Phillip Inman argued: ‘Amid all the talk of rebalancing the economy, there is little mention of the most powerful lever the government could pull to generate...read more
Further Reading: Eradicating Ecocide by Polly Higgins Stewardship Economy by Julian Pratt The Land Question by Henry George Two recent articles have drawn attention to pioneering efforts by the government of Bolivia to change the way we relate to the earth on which...read more
Further Reading: Public Revenue Without Taxation by Ronald Burgess Dr Burgess, a member of the Royal Economic Society with a special interest in taxation, was Director of the Economic Study Association till his death. In his Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer...read more
Further Reading: Ricardo's Law by Fred Harrison Land Value Taxation by Kenneth C. Wenzer Progress and Poverty by Henry George Re-Solving the Economic Puzzle by Walter Rybeck Public Revenue Without Taxation by Ronald Burgess Just as Gordon Brown created a storm by his...read more
“You can become wealthy by creating wealth or by appropriating the wealth created by other people. When the appropriation of the wealth is illegal it is called theft or fraud. When it is legal economists call it rent-seeking”
John Kay, Financial Times 27th Dec 2009
“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, they cannot save the few who are rich.”
John F Kennedy, Inaugural Speech, Jan 1961
“If science is defined by its ability to forecast the future, the failure of much of the economics profession to see the crisis coming should be a cause for great concern”
“Today we live in a world that is divided. A world in which we have made great progress and advances in science and technology. But it is also a world where millions of children die because they have no access to medicines… It is a world of great promise and hope. It is also a world of despair, disease and hunger”
Rent Unmasked explores the new economic paradigm that policy-makers need to solve global problems in the post-2008 era. With conventional economic theories discredited, the new model must equip governments with tools to re-stabilise societies in a dangerous world. Rent Unmasked explains why one paradigm only qualifies to serve this purpose: the dynamic model that reinstates time and space in economic theorising.
ISBN 9780856835117 | Price: £19.95