Shortlisted for The People’s Book Prize 2021-2022.
“Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings”
Poverty is not Natural was listed by Martin Wolf as one of his ‘best reads so far’ in the Financial Times (June 2020), adding:
‘George Curtis has a soft spot for Henry George. So do I. George famously argued that landowners are among the biggest gainers from economic progress. Yet they do not create that wealth. They benefit from the investments, ingenuity and labour of others. The answer, George suggested, was to transfer the increased value of land into the hands of the public. Curtis agrees with this proposal, as do I. It would not solve all our economic and social problems. But it would help.’
The first United Nations Sustainable Development Goal is to “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”
The author raises some fundamental questions about the distribution of wealth. Why is it that those who produce the wealth, the workers, receive only a small portion of what they have produced? Why are there so many unemployed and so cannot provide for themselves? What is the privilege that grants some a lion’s share of the product without having to work for it?
A trade union organiser for many years, George Curtis came to realise that there are limits to the improvement in wages that can be achieved through collective bargaining so long as this privilege remains. In fact higher wages increase the windfall gains of those benefitting from the privilege.
This book traces the cause of poverty to a widely accepted social institution, just as slavery once was, and reveals a way in which this defect could be remedied by introducing a more efficient way of funding government.
George Curtis began work as a farm labourer at the age of 14. He worked for the National Union of Agricultural Workers, eventually becoming a district organiser, a post he held for over thirty years. On retirement he joined the Open University and graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Social Sciences.
“The articulation of his ideas is comprehensive, considering the positive impacts on people of all ages and backgrounds, as well as businesses, the government and even homeowners.” Kai Dattani, Land and Liberty. The full review is available here.
“Inequality is an issue that looks set to rise inexorably up the political agenda in the coming months and years. This excellent and timely little book addresses one of the fundamental causes of inequality, and puts forward a solution that could in principle be acceptable to those on both the left and right of politics.”
Bernadette Meaden, Ekklesia – Read full review here.
“I would strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in making our economy fairer.”
Independent Catholic News
“Curtis believes a day will come when the concept of the private ownership of land would be seen as immoral and outdated as the institution of slavery … This is a challenging, but readable book.”
David Hallam, Methodist Recorder
“Rather than continue to stick plasters on poverty, Curtis forwards a simple solution to eradicate it: abolish the current tax system and charge instead a single land-value tax (to be paid in the form of an annual ground rent). The moral case is strong …”
Nathan Mladin, The Tablet
Astrid Symmonds, review on Peoplesbookprize.com