Georgists Are Nuts---A Recycled Comment

I honestly don’t get the Georgist obsession with land. I can kind of understand Henry George’s obsession with it—once upon a time, land was wealth, and wealth was land. If you had it, you were set, and if you didn’t, you’d probably never amount to anything.

But modern Georgists don't have that excuse. The world just doesn’t work that way anymore. Land is just one of many forms of capital, and you can become fabulously wealthy without ever owning a single square foot of land. There is no landed aristocracy anymore. Anyone who wants land can buy it, but it’s really not a uniquely good investment. If it were, why would anyone bother with stocks?

The short-term effect of taxing land would be a sharp drop in land prices, resulting in a transfer of wealth away from current holders of land. Which doesn’t make any sense, because, again, land is just one of many forms of capital. Why pick on real estate and natural resource investors while leaving all other investors alone?

The long-term effect of taxing land would not be to tax a particular class of people, but rather to tax a particular class of activities, namely those that are land-intensive. This would have the effect of encouraging inefficient economization on land: Highrises would be built too high, crops would be packed too close together, suburban backyards would be too small, etc. Huzzah! Power to the people!

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