Message from the President
In October I attended the Fourteenth Annual Conference of the Council of Georgist Organizations in Fairhope, Alabama. Situated on the idyllic eastern shore of Mobile Bay, Fairhope celebrated its centenary this year. The founders of the “colony”, as it is still referred to by many residents, were primarily Iwoan followers of the nineteenth century philosopher and economist Henry George such as E.B. Gaston and W.H. Greeno. By making land freely available to the early settlers, the original colonists believed that social justice could be historically achieved and that such an experiment had a “fair hope” of success.
The basic principle of the Fairhope utopians is still with us in a number of different guises. All people have an equal entitlement to the bounty of nature and that such opportunity cannot be circumscribed by any one person without repaying the community for such a privilege. Any monopolization of the gifts of nature must be commensurate with a reimbursement to others for being denied their proportionate share in what nature has to offer. Conversely, all people have a right to the fruits of their labour and efforts, the denial of which is a fundamental infringement of their right to property in themselves. The denial of property in ourselves and the freedom necessarily aligned with such a concept, be it through the state’s appropriation of labour income, social therapy and the ethics of society or the profusionof laws which negate both the ethics of self-perfecting and the ethics of the altruism, is one of the most singularly acute problems facing the philosophical reformation of our culture.
The Fairhope utopians sought to implement these principles through the vehicle of the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation, which leased lands in the community to settlers. This corporation is still in existence, although lands held in trust for the community are now limited and surrounded by fee simple lands in the fast-growing greater Fairhope area. Interestingly, the Fairhope pier and neighbouring beach and parkland are the only shoreline in Mobile Bay which is accessible to everyone and not owned and restricted by private interests. The colonists believed that all should be able to enjoy and revel in the sublime natural beauty of this estuary on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
During the conference in Fairhope I had the opportunity to introduce a new book of mine entitled CITIES AND GREED: Taxes, Inflation and Land Inflation, which is published by the Canadian Research Committee on Taxation. I have been the Director of Research for the Committee for the past eight years. This study examines the interlocking problems which pervade our urban economies and systems of local government finance. It proposes solutions that are based on a number of the philosophical concepts espoused by the Fairhope utopians, Henry George, the physiocrats and classical economists such as Smith and Ricardo. The book is available through the Institute for $19.95 (Cdn.) or $14.95 (U.S.) plus $3.60 shipping and handling.
The current issue of ELEUTHERIA contains pieces by Peter McCormick and myself. McCormick’s piece is a revised version of an invited paper presented at the XIVth International Taniguchi Symposium in Philosophy, held in Kyoto, Japan, September 8-13, 1994. The essay on Schweitzer and Bach was originally given by me at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Aesthetics at McMaster University in May, 1987. I have made only marginal alterations in syntax since that conference.
The Institute now has available for purchase Volumes One and Two in its MONOGRAPH SERIES. The monographs, entitled, Speculative Philosophy and Practical Life and Psyche and Cosmos, are by James Lowry, and originally appeared in ELEUTHERIA. Each volume in the MONOGRAPH SERIES contains a Concordance and Line Numbering for easy reference. Prices per copy are available upon request.