|About the Association and a little History|
|The general framework of George’s social philosophy is rooted in the view of Thomas Jefferson that the cause of social problems is an inequality of rights.The problem Henry George addresses is the problem of involuntary poverty. He sees this problem essentially as one of unequal rights to land. His teaching is founded upon the right to use land, land being the whole material universe, the “reservoir” as he says, from which all production comes. Because we are many the right to use land is an equal right.Henry George argues that the task of government is to secure these equal rights to land for everyone. However, George points out that observation of the institution of private property in land shows that it entails the very opposite of equal rights in land.In the social law of rent (the fact that productivity is enhanced by location) George finds an “adjustment” in nature that permits government to secure the equal right to land. For, if government took the value of locations, each would be left with land of equal value. By discouraging the holding of land for gain this charge would also permit all to use land.
The value given by location is land value. If collected, taxes on production might be done away with. For that reason his proposal was called a ‘single tax’. Some have reduced that proposal to some limited use of land value taxation.
More generally George gave a proposal that assists in the resolution of many land problems. Where land is held exclusively the occupant must pay for the social and natural advantages that constitutes the value of its location. Other land is common and subject to the equal right of all to use. The “market value” of such land and of those common services on it are captured in the value of land held exclusively.
George considered that the value of land would rise faster than wages as a proportion of production. He also believed that it exceeded the needs of government and that it might be made use of for cultural puposes or distributed among the citizens as a kind of ‘dividend’.
The usual name taken by these organisations had been ‘Single Tax Clubs’. Its founders, however, now chose a different name ‘Free Trade and Land Values League, to represent its changing policies. That name generally alternated with ‘NSW Henry George League’ until 1965 when the name ‘Association for Good Government’ was adopted. At the same time its magazine (founded in December, 1905, as The Standard) was renamed Good Government.
The organisation consolidated all Georgist organisations in Sydney into one. A.G. Huie the first Secretary made ‘country visits’ by car to collect subscriptions, speak at open air meetings and maintain contact with members in outlying towns in NSW. Huie must hold something of a record since he became Secretary in 1901 and only retired in 1955. He also edited the journal.
During its over 100 years of history the Association has maintained a remarkably consistent set of activities, holding conferences, seminars, courses and committee meetings, maintaining a journal and writing submissions to government and letters to the press and others upon issues as divergent as civil liberties, privatisation and taxation.
At all times it has held to the main concerns of its founders, to bring to the attention of the public the importance of equal rights in the earth and an understanding of economic rent to social stability and prosperity.
In 2006 the Association formed a Branch in Canberra.