Profile picture
Noah Smith @Noahpinion
, 19 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
1/Here's a quick thread about Georgism, which I think is a severely underrated, deeply misunderstood, and quintessentially American alternative to standard capitalism.

2/Why is Georgism such a niche thing?

My guess: It focuses on land, which is not a thing most Americans think about a lot, especially these days.

And this is a shame, because really, Georgism is about so much more than land.
3/Georgism is really about what humans produce versus what nature produces.

"Land" should be read as a stand-in for all the things that humans merely seize and divide up among themselves.
4/"Capital" is really a combination of things.

Every machine, every building, every vehicle requires some input of human labor and ingenuity to create.

But it also requires natural resources, which humans seize and divide up instead of working to create.
5/Standard economics has no easy way of separating out nature's bounty from the product of human effort and ingenuity.

But this division matters, because human effort and ingenuity are things we want to reward, while nature's bounty is something we want to divide equitably.
6/Georgists love the Land Value Tax because it seizes on one clear-cut case where you can easily identify the dividing line between nature's bounty (a plot of land) and human effort and ingenuity (the structures built on that land).…
7/But Georgism should be about much more than this one policy.

It should be about a general approach to constructing an economy: "Reward human input, divide nature's bounty equitably."
8/My favorite Georgist was the economist Wolf Ladejinsky, who designed the land reform programs in Japan and Taiwan:

9/Ladejinsky's policies were not focused on land taxes. Instead, he focused on seizing land from landlords and giving it to small hard-working farmers.

This policy was Georgist in the general sense because it rewarded the farmers' hard work, while dividing land equitably.
10/Some believe that Ladejinsky's land reforms were a crucial reason for the stunning economic success of Japan, Taiwan, and other countries that copied the policy.…
11/Similar policies have probably been effective in other countries, like India.
12/Some also credit Ladejinsky's policies with preventing Japan/Taiwan/Korea from becoming communist.

Ladejinsky was derided as a communist by American conservatives, who (disastrously) opposed land reforms in Latin America. But in fact Georgism was a vaccine against communism.
13/Land reform, though, is a policy for a poor agrarian country with lots of surplus rural labor. What would Georgist policies look like in a rich country like America, aside from land value taxes?
14/Housing reform, of course, is pretty Georgist:…
15/I also think inheritance taxes can be viewed as Georgist, since they take wealth away from people who didn't do anything to build that wealth:…
16/Place-based policies strike me as Georgist too:…
17/Progressive income/wealth taxation can be seen as Georgist as well.

Some of rich people's riches comes from hard work and ingenuity; some comes from luck. Luck is like a natural resource - it's something humans receive instead of creating. So try to divide it equally.
18/Broadly, standard capitalism strikes me as a system that rewards both effort/ingenuity AND luck/plunder, while communism rewards neither.

If we define Georgism as a system that rewards effort/ingenuity but not luck/plunder, then call me a Georgist!

Also, Georgism seems like it needs a new name that doesn't tie the idea to one specific dude.

Any suggestion I could make ("humanism"?) would be cheesy, which is why it'll take a manifesto to really make a name stick. Someone needs to write a book...
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Noah Smith
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!