Mary M. (Polly) Cleveland is an economist and long-time activist for social justice. She is the Executive Director of the Association for Georgist Studies (AGS), named for the great nineteenth-century American economist and reformer, Henry George. George attributed the persistence of poverty in the midst of economic growth to concentrated ownership of land and other natural resources. He advocated taxing the "rent" of land as a remedy. AGS seeks to bring George's ideas-and his questions-back into the discussion of scholars and writers in economics and other social sciences. Since 1997, she has been a member of Boston-based United for a Fair Economy (UFE) and on the board of UFE from 2002 to 2006. She has helped organize a number of UFE events in New York with prominent speakers, including Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Edward Wolff, Kevin Phillips, Robert Frank, Bill Gates Sr., Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz.
From 1994-2004 she served on the Board of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation and was President from 2003-2004. The Foundation publishes Progress and Poverty and other work by Henry George, as well as work influenced by George. From 1994-2001, she was the Director of Research at The Partnership for Responsible Drug Information, a non-profit that encourages open and well-informed discussion of drug policy.
Dr. Cleveland received a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984. Her dissertation, entitled Consequences and Causes of Unequal Distribution of Wealth, addressed George's basic questions in a modern model, showing how unequal distribution of wealth lowers economic productivity and growth.
She is a Research Scholar in economics at Barnard College and Adjunct Professor of Economics in the Master's Program in Environmental Science and Policy at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. She writes an occasional column "Econamici," which is posted to the AGS website.
U6250: Poverty, Inequality, and the Environment