For book publication I adapted the principal points of those lectures to the Singletax, the one theme to which all the subjects are related. They were originally published in this unified form in 1894 as "Outlines of Post's Lectures." That edition having been exhausted, the second, somewhat revised, was published in 1899 under the more appropriate title of "The Singletax." The third was issued in 1906 under the same title and without revision; and when this edition also had been exhausted, the fourth was issued in response to requests from Great Britain as well as the United States and Canada. In complying with those requests it seemed best to alter the title and the text so as to conform to a habit of speech which, originating in Great Britain and spreading into Canada and the United States, had tended to substitute for "single tax" the phrase "taxation of land values." The fifth edition is in nearly every respect like the fourth which is now out of print.
Such differences as there are between taxation of land values and the single tax are explained in the text. In that connection, however, it should be here pointed out that there is a recent tendency to merge the two words single and tax as the name of a movement, philosophy, cult or what you will, into the proper noun Singletax. This tendency, which accords with usage in parallel instances, is also desirable for purposes of distinction. As a descriptive phrase "the single tax" might mean any kind of exclusive tax. It has even been referred to, jocularly by some but seriously by others, as a tax upon bachelors. A distinctive name in place of an ambiguously descriptive phrase may prevent such misapprehensions. There is the advantage also of convenience. One is enabled to write "Singletaxer" and "Singletaxism" without typographical awkwardness. With greater accuracy, too, for those allusions are to a body of economic thought or a species of social agitation in which the idea of public revenues and their sole source in land premiums, as well as their mode of collection, are inseparably associated. The "Singletaxer" as a distinctive name identifies the social reform popularized by Henry George which aims at securing for common use by means of taxation those values of social progress that land premiums express.
The Charts in this volume were in the first edition printed in the body of the text; and in that edition the Illustrative Notes were foot notes in smaller type than the type of the text, while the Questions and Answers were in an Appendix. But in succeeding editions the Charts appear between pages of the text as in the present edition. They are placed, however, as near as possible to the particular text which they respectively illustrate. And in the present edition, following the arrangement of the fourth, the Illustrative Notes, in larger type than before, are put into an Appendix, while the Questions and Answers are placed in the body of the book as Part Four. This edition, the first to issue from a prominent publishing house, is superior in book-making qualities to all the others.
One word about the questions in Part Four. They embody the substance of all questions actually put to me from audiences in three lecturing trips which I made in the early '90's across the continent and up and down through the States and into Canada. I think them fairly representative of the questions usually asked even to this day. If there are any new questions now, or any important variations of old ones, I am unaware of it. Whether my answers are conclusive or even satisfactory is for the reader to judge; but be their value what it may, answers are there to all the objections to the Singletax that I have ever encountered.
Louis F. Post.
Washington, D.C., July 1, 1915.