Henry George began with the ethical premise that all people have an equal right to the use of the earth. From that he concluded that exclusive private ownership of land (natural resources) creates unwarranted special privileges. Furthermore, he observed that holding land out of production drives down real wages and the returns to capital equipment. This process is further exacerbated by taxes on production and income that
1) increase unemployment
2) discourage productive investment, and
3) encourage unproductive land speculation and rent-seeking.
To counteract this self-destructive system, George advocated shifting taxes from labor and capital onto the value of land and natural resources.
In addition to his various writings, Henry George was well known for his two attempts to run for mayor of New York (during the first run, he came in second and a young Theodore Roosevelt came in third). He also traveled around the world promoting his vision of economic justice by his inspiring oratory. Many a young reformer got their start by reading or hearing Henry George. In Russia, George’s ideas were popularized by Leo Tolstoy, and in China, by Sun Yat-Sen. Today, as a growing population confronts the need fairly, peacefully, and efficiently to allocate access to the gifts of nature, the ideas of Henry George have gained a new relevance.
Articles about this new relevance can be found on this site. There is the stirring piece, “Who Was Henry George?”, by his granddaughter, the celebrated choreographer, Agnes DeMille. Also, you can read one of the best introductions of George’s thought: “Henry George and the Reconstruction of Capitalism” by the late Prof. Robert V. Andelson; and an excellent exposition of his relevance as “the Great Reconciler” of opposing economic systems, “Henry George 100 Years Later” by Prof. Mason Gaffney.
The Foundation takes its name from Robert Schalkenbach, an American typesetter and enthusiastic advocate of George’s vision who left in his will the seed money that started the foundation.
“Men like Henry George are rare unfortunately. One cannot imagine a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form, and fervent love of justice.”
Robert Schalkenbach Foundation (RSF) was organized in 1925 as an operating foundation to promote public awareness of the social philosophy and economic reforms advocated by Henry George (1839-1897), including the “single tax on land values”. To this end, RSF publishes and distributes books and articles, particularly those of Henry George, including Progress and Poverty, the best-selling original classic work, as well as a new abridgment using the language of the 21st century. These and other works can be found in our online library. Books by Henry George and other authors are available for purchase from our online bookstore.
In addition, the Foundation conducts scholarly research and carries out other projects to promote the principles of Henry George as they apply to issues of current interest.