A collection of excellent essays on health and poverty, edited by Fred Harrison, to be presented at a seminar hosted by two All-Party Parliamentary Groups, in cooperation with Taxpayers Against Poverty, at Portcullis House, Westminister 18 October 2017.

Click on the booklet cover to download the essays free.


There is a cause for this poverty; and, if you trace it down, you will find its root in a primary injustice. Look over the world to-day—poverty everywhere. The cause must be a common one. You cannot attribute it to the tariff, or to the form of government, or to this thing or to that in which nations differ; because, as deep poverty is common to them all the cause that produces it must be a common cause. What is that common cause? There is one sufficient cause that is common to all nations; and that is the appropriation as the property of some of that natural element on which and from which all must live.

Now, think of it—is not land monopolisation a sufficient reason for poverty? What is man? In the first place, he is an animal, a land animal who cannot live without land. All that man produces comes from land; all productive labour, in the final analysis, consists in working up land; or materials drawn from land, into such forms as fit them for the satisfaction of human wants and desires. Why, man’s very body is drawn from the land. Children of the soil, we come from the land, and to the land we must return. Take away from man all that belongs to the land, and what have you but a disembodied spirit? Therefore he who holds the land on which and from which another man must live, is that man’s master; and the man is his slave.


Every age has its peculiar folly: Some scheme, project, or fantasy into which it plunges, spurred on by the love of gain, the necessity of excitement, or the force of imitation.”  Charles Mackay (1814-1889)


THE AGE letters today

Banking on profits

How ironic that CBA boss Ian Narev is concerned that global wage growth has been “relatively weak” (‘CBA boss says sorry over ATM scandal’, The Age, 7/10).  Adam Smith noted in Wealth of Nations that privatised land rent adds one-third to costs. (“This portion, or, what comes to the same thing, the price of this portion, constitutes the rent of land, and in the price of the greater part of commodities, makes a third.”)

The American social philosopher Henry George agreed with Smith that land rent needs to be publicly captured if wages and earned profits were not to suffer at the hands of those who seek to extract what amounts to unearned, publicly generated land rent.

What greater rent-seeker could there be than our banks who, by generating “super-profits” out of land price-inflated mortgages, have thereby leeched from the incomes of labour and capital?

Bryan Kavanagh, Mount Waverley 



The ABC’s ‘QandA’ with Tony Jones on Monday 2 October 2017, “Drones, Robots and The Future” [Hey! It’s not playing, ABC! Fix it! We’re in the 21st century now!] was stimulating, entertaining – and frustrating.

OK, so our kids will all have to study coding? Not just how to use applications? Really?

With AI, drones, and industry-led disruption, where’s all the employment to come from? (Was I wrong to recall the damaging Luddite protests at this point?)

Ah, a couple of universal basic income tweets took some of the potential fear and despair out of the argument. (Didn’t get another mention on the program, though.)

“No Latin”, Adam Spencer? Why not? Only maths? What about the humanities?

It was you, too, who said we might some time in the future turn around and wonder “Where’s all the money gone?

Yes indeed! But we may very well ask that question right now, Adam! A great part of it is going to what Karl Marx called the ‘surplus product‘ and what Henry George nominated as the ‘economic rent‘. It’s the unearned income owed equally to all of us, but which is currently being largely privatised, stolen, by the banks and the 0.1%. It’s the unearned one-third of the economy which represents the income from our natural resources which is neither earned wages nor profits.

No matter where we are headed in the future, we need to understand that rent, the surplus product, the glue that holds society together, is currently being stolen, and this must end if democracy, and economic justice, is to prevail.

Was there even one person on the panel or in last night’s QandA audience who understood that’s a key part of what our children need to learn: surplus product, economic rent – because it represents humanity; it represents us.