170PART THREESUPPLY AND DEMAND II: MARKETS AND WELFAREIs there an ideal tax? HenryGeorge, the nineteenth-centuryAmerican economist and so-cial philosopher, thought so. Inhis 1879 book Progress andPoverty,George argued thatthe government should raiseall its revenue from a tax onland. This “single tax” was, heclaimed, both equitable and ef-ficient. George’s ideas won hima large political following, andin 1886 he lost a close race formayor of New York City (although he finished well ahead ofRepublican candidate Theodore Roosevelt).George’s proposal to tax land was motivated largelyby a concern over the distribution of economic well-being.He deplored the “shocking contrast between monstrouswealth and debasing want” and thought landowners bene-fited more than they should from the rapid growth in theoverall economy.George’s arguments for the land tax can be understoodusing the tools of modern economics. Consider first supplyand demand in the market for renting land. As immigration
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