The insight shared by Thomas Paine, Henry George, John Stuart Mill and others about unearned increment
and the benefits from a common fund had merit long before our age of cybernetics and robots made the displacements from "non-labor-intensive" technology so critical.
Producerism therefore demanded more than just political reform; it demanded an economy that re-emphasised production over consumption and exchange, a return to universal human labour and the abolition of unearned increment
. In short, a return to the moral economy.
Hurst approved of a tax on the unearned increment of land--a tax he described as most equitable and expedient--but argued that if land had been purchased from the state, its value at the time of purchase included its prospective increase in value.
It is incumbent upon all who are concerned for the well-being of their fellows to give close attention to this question of taxing away the unearned increment of land.
Garran argued that one cause of the agitation for land nationalisation--in which he included land-value taxation--was 'jealousy of the "unearned increment"' in town allotments.
According to Forsyth, Garran's most important fallacy consisted of mixing up improvements on land with the unearned increment of land.
He said that if the taxation of the unearned increment was adopted as a principle, then it would be logically inconsistent to argue for exemptions: 'there is obviously no justification on principle for any exemption at all', and any argument for exempting small properties would be a 'political dodge' to bribe the small holders into acquiescence (IV.11.456).
But George was not prepared to adjust his policy to deal with the situation where government had already received at least some of the expected unearned increment in the purchase price paid by private individuals.
Farrell's concession that the unearned increment is only part, and not the strongest part, of the argument for land-value tax raises another important question.
However, although the ownership of land and the enjoyment of its 'unearned increments
' have become more widespread than in George's day, at least in Westernised countries, there are signs that the trend is now reversing.