"Seeing the Cat" has long been a slang term for achieving an understanding of Henry George's ideas. Where did this expression come from? Louis F. Post, in his book The Prophet of San Francisco, refers to a speech made by Judge James G. Maguire to New York's Anti-Poverty Society in the 1880s: "I was one day walking along Kearney Street in San Francisco when I noticed a crowd in front of a show window... I took a glance myself, but I saw only a poor picture of an uninteresting landscape. As I was turning away my eye caught these words underneath the picture: 'Do you see the cat?' ...I spoke to the crowd. "Gentlemen, I do not see a cat in the picture; is there a cat there?" Someone in the crowd replied, "Naw, there ain't no cat there. Here's a crank who says he sees a cat in it, but none of the rest of us can." Then the crank spoke up. "I tell you," he said, "there is a cat there. The picture is all cat. What you fellows take for a landscape is nothing more than a cat's outlines. And you needn't call a man a crank either because he can see more with his eyes than you can with yours."
This story, and this picture, have lasted for many years. For the cat - like the role of land in the economy - is utterly unmistakeable, once it comes clear. Do you see the cat?