What did Henry George and Edward Bellamy propose to do about the unequal distribution of wealth?
In the late-nineteenth century, many people were shocked by the unequal distribution of wealth in American society. One such person was Henry George, a journalist, who faced his own share of financial problems while raising his family. For George, the central problem was that only a few people in society benefited from rising land values and their high rents. He thus proposed to resolve this unequal distribution of wealth by replacing all taxes with a 'single tax' on what he called 'unearned increment' - an increase in the value of a piece of land which is caused by demand, not by any improvements carried out by the owner. George's idea was very popular and almost led him to become the mayor of New York.
In contrast, Edward Bellamy, an author and socialist, proposed a solution in which the means of production (factories and businesses) were no longer the property of businessmen and were instead controlled by the government. Bellamy idealised this vision in his 1888 novel, Looking Backward, and it was immediately popular with the American public. Unfortunately, his socialist ideas were never adopted but the government did introduce legislation to prohibit trade monopolies.