A History of theTRED (Committee on Taxation, Resources and
Economic Development) Project
[A letter to his sister, Elaine, 17 August 1974]
Doing some genealogy work, I
came across this August, 1974 letter in my files. It was from my
grandfather, Weld Carter (1900-1989), to his sister Elaine, from
whom he'd long been estranged (their mother had not approved of
his marriage in 1924!), and with whom he had fairly recently
renewed contact, to their mutual delight. (For context: Manheim
is Manheim, PA, in Lancaster County, where they moved in the
early to mid 40s to farm. I assume the foundations referred to
are RSF and Lincoln.)
Ultimately there were 12 TRED books, so this work continued for
another 4+ years after this letter was written. [Wyn Achenbaum,
10 April 2006]
I became a convert to the social philosophy of Henry George back in
the early 40's, shortly before we moved to the farm. In 1953, on
invitation from the director of the Henry George School in Chicago,
Marjorie and I moved to Chicago for a three-year stint for me as
director of education there, returning to Manheim April 1, 1956.
That Christmas the director of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, at
the instigation of one Sid Evans of San Diego, whom I had met in
Chicago, asked me to make an experimental tour of colleges and
universities for three months in the fall of '57 to see what, if any,
interest I could uncover in the ideas of George among academicians.
(The Foundation is the publisher of George's works and is dedicated "To
Promote the Economics of Henry George,")
To my surprise, I uncovered so much interest that the following year
we were invited to resume the tour on a permanent basis, which we did
until the summer of 1962, when I resigned and we returned to the farm.
During these years I had discovered numbers of interested individuals
and I had picked five to go to New York as guests of the Foundation in
October 1960 to confer as consultants to the Foundation, advising it
as to how best to spread these ideas among college ranks.
This group advised that what was needed was a re-expression of
George's ideas in the language and mathematics of modern economists
and that the way to develop such a literature was through a conference
or a series of annual conferences. This the Foundation accepted and
agreed to finance such a conference in the summer of '61, which I had
a large hand in organizing and planning (at the U of Colorado in
Boulder.) This proved so successful that another was authorized for
the following year on the campus of the U of Illinois. So, after my
resignation, the Foundation again negotiated for my services in a way
that would not involve such traveling.
By the end of '62 we gained three new members and at a meeting in
Feb. '63 the group decided to call itself "the Committee on
Taxation, Resources and Economic Development" which abbreviates
to "TRED" by which it is now known.
Two of our most illustrious members have died; three others resigned.
Today we number 12, as you will see from the enclosed letterhead.
These twelve (+1 who died) include four of the past presidents of the
National Tax Association. Inasmuch as only every third year is a
president of NTA drawn from academia, this means that TRED can claim
four of the past 5 academics to have served NTA as president. In
addition, the editor and the associate editor of the National Tax
Journal are TRED members and four other TRED members are or have been
directors of the NTA.
We will hold our 13th conference at Madison this October, with George
Break, our most recent member, as program chairman. So far we have
published six volumes of proceedings and we have two more in process,
all by the University of Wisconsin Press. The announcement of TRED 6,
our most recent, is enclosed. It also lists the earlier five. Also
enclosed are copies of our most recent program, so that you may get
some feeling about the operation.
This year early in February I was informed by the Foundation that it
had transferred the support of TRED to another foundation and that it
was retiring me as of May 1. Certainly at my age this was not
remarkable (it was remarkable I had lasted so long!) In addition it
was a fact that the Foundation had fallen on hard times a/c market
conditions and some poor investments. But there was something cavalier
about it and TRED was very upset about it, as no apparent adequate
replacement of me had been provided. So on 7/1 TRED's chairman
negotiated my reemployment on a part-time basis, but at only 1/3 my
former inadequate salary, for one year, to ease TRED over the
transition to the new sponsor; but no arrangement for expenses has yet