Progress and Poverty, by Henry George: A Review

Subtitle: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth: The Remedy

I’ve just nearly finished another reading of Progress and Poverty, by Henry George. This time, instead of the unabridged fourth edition, which I’ve read several times, I’m using the simplified edited and abridged version by Bob Drake, published by the Schalkenbach Foundation.

This last simplified version lacks some of the poetic beauty of George’s original verse, but it is also far easier for those who want to initially expose themselves to his revolutionary and progressive ideas to comprehend and assimilate.

I am once again impressed that this self-educated man was one of the handful of greatest thinkers our world has ever produced. By 1879 he had recognized economic laws and principles that the greatest of western political economists had not seen, and still have not seen to this day.  If there is a greater thinker and writer on political and socioeconomic issues in the past 300 years, then I want to read him or her!  It is not Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stewart Mill, Karl Marx, Keynes, Freidman, Galbraith, Samuelson, or even Stiglitz.  I have read them all, and all have made their contributions and impacts.  None approaches the clarity and wisdom of George. I suspect that much of his keen perceptions were a result of his self-study; he was not invested in any pet theory or philosophy except the pursuit of universal truth as it relates to economics.

Henry George is the Isaac Newton of economic thought. One day this will be self-evident and universally recognized. For the time his great and potentially lifesaving insights will have to await economic catastrophe and collapse before they are widely seen for the enormous truths they contain.

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