"If I have worked harder and built myself a good house while you have been content to live in a hovel, the tax gatherer now comes annually to make me pay a penalty for my energy and industry by taxing me more than you. If I have saved while you wasted, I am [taxed] while you are exempt. If a man built a ship, we make him pay for his temerity as though he had done injury to the state; if a railroad be opened, down comes the tax collector upon it as though were a public nuisance.... We punish with a tax the man who covers barren fields with ripening grain; we fine him who puts up machinery and him who drains a swamp. To abolish these taxes would be to lift the whole enormous weight of taxation from productive industry.... The state would say to the producer, 'Be as industrious, as thrifty, as enterprising as you choose. You shall have your full reward!' "
Henry George
(1839-1897) American political economist
Progress And Poverty (1879)
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Reader comments about this quote:
The state, acting in de facto despotism, is a lying and harsh slave mater. The state's full reward includes a statist theocracy's enslavement, compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, larceny with impunity (theft of the noble laborer's fruit, exploitation by funny money, tyranny enforcement officers acting as revenuers, etc.), harsh enforcements against inalienable rights, and all else as can be perceived by vile malefactors.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
    It has been my experience that the harder you try to achieve the American dream...the more you are punished for it. The government's agenda is one of complete control.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    To think that such a person is successful only thru their own efforts is to be a fool. Society contributes to such success, and as such progressive tax rates are nothing more than a part of the cost of doing business. To claim otherwise is to claim that the hard worker should get their raw materials for free. Those who make such claims are nothing more than honorary members of the "me generation", thinking they are entitled to take for their personal gain over that of others.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA, US     
    Reston feels that what belongs to one belongs to everyone. He should live in an ant bed or beehive.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
    That 'A' from Reston, are you society? When I and my young family did not have enough food to eat or even a vehicle to sleep in, you are then saying that it was not through my own efforts that I was in that place but, society contributed. Then shame on you, you should be arrested. The quote is accurate and you, as society, were neither responsible for my failures or my successes. Progressive tax rates are nothing more than theft of the noble laborer's fruits, enslavement of the individual sovereign, and unlawful detrament to prosperity. The hard worker should get their raw materials at a price the free market demands or a price that can be found and negotiated by the free individual.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    I can see why Anonymous, Reston won't sign his name. Nobody is saying that any entrepeneur should get his raw materials free. To say that society contributes to his getting rich is utter nonsense. That's like saying, "Oh let's give John Smith all our money and make him rich." How childish is that thinking? The only way in which society contributes anything is through their voluntary acts of purchasing the good produced by Mr. Smith. If his good are inferior, they stop "contributing" by ceasing to buy his stuff. He then goes out of business. Very simple economics. Now to think that "progresive taxation" is a good thing, then why don't thoe that earn under $30,000 have to pay taxes while the rich have to shoulder the entire burden? Almost half the wage earners in this country don't pay taxes, yet they receive "rebates" from the government. How many of these people are going to vote for a Republican who would take this fat greasy chicken off their table? Taxation is fine as long as it doesn't tax the wages earned from one's own efforts. What an affront to human dignity is it to have a government simply come along and take what they think is their fair share of the fruit of someone else's labor? It is shameful and despicable what our government does to it's citizens. Anyone -- not the invalid or the mentally unable --who gets a free dime from the government should have to earn it in some way. They should be made to do menial, degrading jobs to earn their bread...then maybe they will look around and get some dignity and look for a real job.
     -- GunnyCee, Durham     
    My God Reston....you might want to lay off the Scotch for breakfast. It is the individual striving for excellence that contributes to society, not the other way around.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Oh! Oh! Oh! how shallow and unthinking this quote is, it actually hurts to read something so stupid and insensitive to truth and lacking in basic understanding. It of course, was, the government, that is the people, who purchased and secured most of the land and gave it to the railroad men to build rails to serve the nation. And honoring men who drain swamps, well that is the epitome of folly. We want industrious folk who do things that serve the needs of people, the nation, and as we know, make handsome profits doing so, probably more handsome than anywhere else in the world.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    Waffler - I speak as an entrpreneur - we bought a building for our business. we paid the mortgage and property taxes while the village planner diddled for 11 months trying to decide if the Village liked our plan for OUR building and Our land. Now that we are finally open we collect sales taxes in addition to paying our property taxes - which doubled after we fixed the place up. These taxes go to pay the salary for the bureaucrat who wasted our time and money,.,you probably think that we are stupid chumps for selling beautiful things and improving the property. But contrary to your belief, no one gives us raw materials or merchandise for free. We pay for every bit of it, The vendor makes money, the salesman makes commission, our contractor made money, and customers leave our business thrilled with our merchandise and service. Better we should lock the doors and go volunteer at a soup kitchen? Is that the kind of industriousness you thoughtless libs approve of?
     -- rearden, Burr Ridge IL     
    Waffler, the Government is NOT the people. They threw us overboard 30 or 40 years ago. They are in this for themselves and themselves only. How can you possibly be so naieve?
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    I have been to Burr Ridge rearden and lived in Hinsdale. They are both beautiful suburbs of Chicago. They are kept beautiful by a caring populace. I recall twenty or thirty years ago when a Hinsdale gas station put up a US Flag that was about three times bigger than any other. The town made him put up something a little more appropriate to the historic nature of the village. Sounds like you are doing good in business while keeping Burr Ridge beautiful thanks to the bureaucrats or would you have done that anyway, history has shown that not all profiteers care about the environment or there neighbors, such as the swamp drainers. J the wise men who gathered in Washington, in the late 1700's and early 1800's, at the behest of their people back home in the various states, claimed title to the northwest territories (Illinois, Wisconsin, etc) and then they purchased with the people's money or the people's debt a tract of land called The Louisiana Territory. They then saw fit to give wide swaths of this land to contractors who were to build railroads across the land. The people then provided protection to these railroads via the US Army etcetera from marauding indians. The government was then and still is the people, Carlton. Our ancestors bought and paid for this land through the offices of the wise men sent to DC, DC owns and operates much of this land particulaly west of the Mississippi for and in the name of the people. States do much of the same for lands east of the Mississippi. It has nothing to do with being smart or naive but with facts and the reality of law.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    Brilliant analogy. Of course, only government bureaucrats like Reston and Waffler can twist sound economic reasoning into the 'me generation.' (I suppose if I were able to earn my own living and keep it for my own use, Reston would say, 'But what about me?') It always intrigues me that Reston and Waffler never cease to berate those that produce and give of their own fruits to those of their own choice, then they expound upon the compassion of the state at every turn, all the while producing nothing and earning their living off of the industrious whom they despise. You can always count on Waffler, a retired federal government employee, to call the government the 'people.'
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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