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Community empowerment

Rural and urban regeneration and the provision of public infrastructure are aspects of physical economic development.

The Henry George Foundation is not only concerned with engendering sustainable economic growth; we put people at the heart of economics. The work of main stream economics often abstracts to such a level that it forgets that people are individuals and communities, and not just parts of some mythical economic machine where the sole concerns are continuous production and consumption.

To some degree it may appear that the sole concerns of society are production and consumption. However, it is not uncommon to hear people discuss the break down in community values, long working hours, or disillusionment with their work. Philosophers, social theorists and psychologists critical of modern capitalism and society have theorised about similar developments with terms such as alienation, anomie, nihilism, discontentment, and so forth.

The Henry George Foundation does not claim to have all the solutions to such problems, but it does consider that the social condition of communities and individuals are affected by issues such as poverty & debt, tax reform, enterprise & development, trade justice etc.  For example, communities can break down when they become economically untenable. This may be due to changes in the structure of the economy that result in migration towards urban centres where there is greater probability of employment. This has been the trend in many rural communities in Scotland, for example.

The philosophy of Henry George and the Henry George Foundation is that the community should have a share of the wealth that is produces. In many of the cases of declining rural communities in Scotland wealth often leaves the community through the payment of rent to landlords that do not reinvest the money in the local community.

Policies that can overcome these problems can help to empower communities without simply focussing on issues of production or consumption. For example, the right to buy can ensure that economic rent is redistributed within the local economy and therefore gives communities greater control over their economic and social situations.

The Henry George Foundation is committed to not just physical but social development, empowering communities.

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Land & Liberty magazine is a publication of The Henry George Foundation.