“Do Not Pass Go and Do Not Collect $200!”

One tax to rule them all? What you can learn about economic policy from the book that inspired the most successful board game ever: Monopoly.

“Do Not Pass Go and Do Not Collect $200!”
Photo: Julian Hochgesang on Pexels

It was an instant hit. When Henry George, an American political economist, published Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth: The Remedy (yes, people still enjoyed excessive titles back then) in 1879, he had probably not dared to dream that his first book would find many readers beyond an already interested circle. The opposite was true: Progress and Poverty (let’s skip the subtitle for now) sold several million copies, and, during the 1890s, even exceeded all other books sold in the United States except the Bible. No wonder, George soon toured the United States and elsewhere, gaining acclaim in Europe and particularly in Ireland.

Contemporary sources and historians claim that in the United Kingdom, a vast majority of both socialist and classical liberal activists could trace their ideological development to Henry George. […] Even by 1906, a survey of British parliamentarians revealed that the American author’s writing was more popular than Walter Scott, John Stuart Mill, and William Shakespeare.

Wikipedia

The book became favorite reading for many economists, scientists and intellectuals, including Albert Einstein, Sara Bard Field, Helen Keller, Leo Tolstoy, Bertrand Russell, Aldous Huxley, and Gary Becker. Its 406 pages even influenced anti-monopolist Lizzie Magie so heavily that she started creating a board game which she hoped would explain the theory and findings of its author.

It was intended as an educational tool to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies. She took out a patent in 1904. Her game, The Landlord’s Game, was self-published, beginning in 1906.

Wikipedia

Today, every child knows its successor: Monopoly. But how is it possible that you have never heard of the underlying book and its author before?

To make a long story short: Because George’s theme – that poverty continues to exist when continued progress and increasing prosperity over dozens of years should actually have the opposite effect – is a politically charged one. And because his proposals for solving the problem even overshadow this explosive issue. Find out for yourself:

Related Summary in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: Progress and Poverty

Progress and Poverty

Taxing land to reduce wealth inequality is a 19th-century idea that resonates in the 21st.

Henry George CreateSpace

We dare to make a prediction: This classic will soon experience a renaissance. And not only because it is so damn well written.


Next Steps
Take a look at the following list of current bestsellers on the topic of inequality – because some of them are not too far from Henry George’s ideas when it comes to solving one of the biggest problems of the 21st century.

Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: Good Economics for Hard Times

Good Economics for Hard Times

Immigration and trade are important issues that need more than fractured politics and fact-free debates.

Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo Public Affairs
Image of: Global Inequality

Global Inequality

Globalization’s double-edged sword has cut poverty and jobs, and it now threatens democracy.

Branko Milanovic Belknap Press
Image of: Examining Inequality 2019

Examining Inequality 2019

For a girl born in a poor country, a life of hardship is inevitable – and that’s wrong.

Bill Gates and Melinda Gates Gates Foundation
Image of: Inequality in 3-D

Inequality in 3-D

Income is just one aspect of “economic inequality.”

Jonathan Fisher, David Johnson, Timothy Smeeding and Jeffrey Thompson Federal Reserve Board, Washington, D.C.
Image of: Capital and Ideology

Capital and Ideology

According to economist Thomas Piketty, all regimes try to legitimize inequality through ideology.

Thomas Piketty Belknap Press
Image of: How To Fix Capitalism for America’s Workers

How To Fix Capitalism for America’s Workers

According to some, capitalism is hopelessly broken. But purposeful policies could fix it.

Richard V. Reeves, Isabel V. Sawhill, Steven Pearlstein and Fred Dews Brookings Institution
Image of: The Price of Inequality

The Price of Inequality

Income inequality among Americans slows economic growth and stalls the improvement of living standards.

Joseph E. Stiglitz W.W. Norton

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