Georgism, named for Henry George (1839-1897), is a philosophy and economic theory that follows from the belief that although everyone owns what they create; land, and everything else supplied by nature, belongs equally to all humanity.
Georgists argue that all of the economic rent (ie: unearned income) collected from land, broadcast spectrum, mineral extraction, tradeable emission permits, fishing quotas etc. should go to the community rather than the owner and that no other taxes should be levied. In practice that implies a high Land Value Tax, although no change in land rental prices for reasons first explained by Adam Smith.
Synonyms and Variants
Most early advocacy groups described themselves as Single Taxers, and George endorsed this as being an accurate description of the movement's main political goal - the replacement of all taxes with a Land Value Tax.
In today's more economically complex, higher taxing and politically stable environment a quick and total change to LVT is politically very difficult to sell, so "Georgist" has come into vogue, being a more general term which encompasses even incremental changes towards the ideal of the replacement of all other taxes with a Single Tax on land.
Some Georgists are not entirely satisfied with the label. Henry George is now little known, the principle predates him, and "isms" named for a single person have developed an image problem. Some use the term "Geoism", with the meaning of "Geo" deliberately ambiguous. "Earth Sharing", "Geonomics" and "Geolibertarianism" (see libertarianism) are also prefered by some Georgists. These terms reflect a difference of emphasis, and sometimes real differences about how land rent should be spent (citizen's dividend or just replacing other taxes), but all agree that land rent should be fully taxed.
Those who expressed similar thoughts before Henry George include:
William Ogilvie, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, John Locke, William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson