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Henry George
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Economist
    (September 2, 1839-October 29, 1897)
    Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Politcal economist and author
    Argued people should own what they create, but things found in nature (especially land) belong equally to all
    Proposed using a single land value tax (a tax on land but not buildings or other improvements on the land) to eliminate the gap between rich and poor
    Wrote 'Our Land and Land Policy' (1870) and 'Progress and Poverty' (1879)
    Grandfather of dancer/choreographer Agnes de Mille
    He compared private ownership of land with owning slaves.
    He advocated limiting Chinese immigration.
    He campaigned unsuccessfully for the California state assembly, Secretary of State of New York, and mayor of New York City.
    Despite having suffered a stroke, he ignored his doctors' advice and launched a second campaign for mayor of New York. The strain caused a second stroke, leading to his death four days before the election.
    He went from being one of the most famous Americans of the late 19th century to almost complete obscurity.
    Alfred Russel Wallace called 'Progress and Poverty' 'the most remarkable and important book of the present century.'
    He was an early advocate of the secret ballot in America.
    Many observers felt he lost his first campaign for New York City mayor only through massive vote fraud by Tammany Hall (1886).
    He predicited that the result of implementing Karl Marx's ideas would be dictatorship.
    At his peak, he was said to be the third most famous American in the world, rivalled only by Thomas A. Edison and Mark Twain.
    His funeral in New York City was attended by over 100,000 people.
    Milton Friedman wrote, 'In my opinion, the least bad tax is the property tax on the unimproved value of land, the Henry George argument of many, many years ago.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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