By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AUG. 20, 2014
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AUG. 20, 2014
Posted on August 23, 2014 at 02:27 PM in common good, commons, cui bono?, Earth for All, economic rent, financing services, government's role, land includes, land monopoly capitalism, Natural Public Revenue, natural resource revenues, natural resources, privatization, windfalls | Permalink | Comments (0)
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I came across an interesting article from 1908, with what strikes me as a well-described concept:
MUTUAL TOWN-BUILDING IN ENGLAND
"GARDEN CITIES" OF INDIVIDUAL, DETACHED HOMES BUILT WITHOUT THE AID OF PHILANTHROPY — A BETTER PLAN THAN REBUILDING THE SLUMS
BY WILHELM MILLER
(who visited these cities to make a first hand study of them)
LETCHWORTH, "the perfect city," less than five years old but with 6,000 inhabitants, is thirty-four miles north of London and is reached by the best trains in fifty minutes. It has 3,818 acres and its population is limited to 35,000 inhabitants, so that there will never be any crowding. The factory quarter can never be enlarged; it is situated as far as possible from the residence quarter and the prevailing wind carries the smoke away from the homes. Nearly one-sixth of the town site, or two hundred acres, is perpetually reserved for open spaces, including parks, jjlaygrounds, and a golf course.
And even if the surrounding country should build up as solidly as London, the people of Letchworth are always sure of enjoying a beautiful rural scene because a large belt is perpetually reserved for agriculture. This belt comprises 2,500 acres, or 65 percent of the whole estate. It will undoubtedly be occupied by market gardeners and dairymen, for gardens yield about eleven times as much profit per acre as farms.
A man can buy a house at Letchworth or he can rent one, but he cannot buy the land. He cannot even lease it for 999 years, because that would enable him to sell or lease his property in such a way as to make a profit from the unearned increment. He can lease the land for ninety-nine years without revaluation and the improvements will not revert to the landowner. In any case, he has every advantage enjoyed by the man who owns the land outright — save one. He cannot get rich from what Henry George called the "unearned increment" but which in Letchworth is called the "collectively earned increment." Even if he rents his house and land from week to week he cannot be dispossessed by some one who offers more money. In the agricultural belt, the tenant is allowed to continue in occupation as long as he is willing to pay as much as anyone else, less 10 percent, in favor of the present tenant.
Letchworth has been built upon a plan whereby people in any part of the world can make a city that is practically perfect without asking any rich man to give money, and without facilities for borrowing any large amount. The essence of the scheme is to preserve to the people the "collectively earned increment." The Letchworth people take some pride in the use of this phrase, and justly. For, merely by moving to Letchworth and living there they created in four and a half years a net increase of half a million dollars. They do not get that half million now, but some day they will get 95 percent of it in the form of abolition of taxes. And that day, in my opinion will come in about twenty years, for by that time the city should be able to pay back all that its public works have cost.
THE TWO OTHER "GARDEN CITIES "
There are two other successful "garden cities," Bourneville, a suburb of Liverpool built by the Cadbury Cocoa Works, and Port Sunlight near Birmingham created by the Lever Brothers, soap manufacturers, solely for their employees.
Port Sunlight is the most beautiful because the Messrs. Lever have gone to the unnecessary extreme of making no two houses alike. Also, they have spent more upon ornamentation of
houses than is necessary and they plant and care for all the front yard gardens.
The tenants at Port Sunlight get more for their money than elsewhere for two reasons. First, the rents are too low, because they are calculated only to pay expenses. Second, the social institutions, though more elaborate than elsewhere, cost the people nothing originally and they can and do manage them so as to keep expenses down to the mininum.
THE "taint" of philanthropy
The one great drawback to the Port Sunlight idea is that it involves too great an expenditure on the part of one man or one firm, and it is hard to prove to a factory owner that the investment is worth while. In this case, the factory owners disclaim all idea of philanthropy and are positive that it pays, because their employees are healthier, happier, more prosperous and therefore more efficient.
The Lever Brothers rejected all direct profit-sharing schemes because they thought this the only plan that would benefit the wives and children of the men. There is the keenest competition for a chance to work in that factory and live in one of those houses. But all the profits to the firm are indirect. Rarely, if ever, can they be expressed in dollars and cents and indirect profits can never be expected to weigh in the mind of the average employer against the appalling fact that Lever Brothers have put about $1,700,000 into their paradise at Port Sunlight and have never directly gotten back one cent.
In other words, if this is not philanthropy, it is too much like it to be generally copied. Humanity cannot look to great employers for the solution of the housing problem. And employees do not want philanthropy.
And at Bourneville there is less of the philanthropic spirit. The employees of the Cadbury Cocoa Works get a normal social life, which the people of Port Sunlight do not have. The cocoa workers are not obliged to live in Bourneville and only 42 percent of the tenants at Bourneville are employed at the Cadbury factory. Thus Bourneville is a mixed community and the ideal community must be mixed — not merely industrial, or suburban, or composed exclusively of any one class. It is sad to see the magnificent clubs, lecture halls, baths, and other social features at Port Sunlight languish for attendance, but it is only human nature. On getting home after a day's work, a man wants to forget thoughts of his work. And if he lives in a city where every house and every person he sees on the street suggests the workroom, he is bound to escape to the next town where he can get a drink or otherwise forget his daily routine. The only serious complaint which the tenants at Port Sunlight have any right to make is that they live in the atmosphere of a single class.
Mr. Cadbury gave Bourneville to the people. How then does it escape the "taint" of philanthropy?"
A GREAT FUND FOR PROPAGANDA
It is true that Mr. Cadbury gave the property to a trust which administers it for the benefit of the people, but eventually this trust will be able to finance hundreds of other garden cities that will be purely cooperative. For instance, people wishing to live in a "garden city," where all the "collectively earned increment" benefits all alike instead of going to the building up of individual fortunes, can form a stock company with shares as low as $25. If the Bourneville trust approves of their plan, it will lend them enough money to start a town. But the company must pay it back, so that the Bourneville trust can use it again and again.
How does the Bourneville trust hope to get this fund? Its income, which is almost wholly rent, doubles every five years. At this rate, in fifty years it will have an annual income of five million dollars. Long before that, Bourneville will have reached its limit of population. And since the trust never has to pay back the cost of the houses, roads, or other public works, it will be able to roll up a vast sum for the propagation of the "garden city" idea.
The all-important point is that the Bourneville trust will never give anyone something for nothing. It will merely lend money to people who are building "garden cities."
THE HEALTH AND BEAUTY OF THESE CITIES
These are far healthier and more beautiful than cities that have grown up normally; healthier because crowding is prevented by a limit to the population and because more and better provision is made for outdoor sports — to say nothing of architecture in which health is the first thought. The average town death-rate in England is 15 per 1,000. Letchworth has cut this down to 2.75. The birthrate at Port Sunlight is twice the average for the rest of England.
The greater beauty of these garden cities lies chiefly in the architecture and gardening. The houses and stores all conform to one general style of architecture, but are never monotonous. Every building must be approved by the city's architect. The houses are all of brick and built to last. There are no long rows of houses just alike. The first idea was to have no two houses alike but that is a needless waste of money. For poor people it is impossible to get good houses cheap enough without building three or four in a row and this row can be duplicated in another part of town without harming the total effect. Moreover, Bourneville has shown how much can be saved on ornamentation. The plainest houses are transformed in three years by the use of climbers. Bourneville's head gardener sees that every house has a different set of vines. Not merely is the plainness soon hidden thereby, but also the individuality of each home is notably increased.
Gardening is compulsory at Bourneville and Letchworth. If a tenant neglects his garden at Bourneville and will not hire some one to weed it, the estate notifies him that he will forfeit his lease unless he makes his place look decent. But there have been only two cases of neglect.
The estate plants a hawthorn hedge all round each man's place, digs and manures his vegetable garden, lays down the lawn, sets out dwarf fruit trees, plants the climbers on his house, and digs his flower-beds. These expenses are considered part of the cost of building and the rent is based thereon. The tenant must keep it in good condition but he can buy plants from the estate cheaper than from a nurseryman and he gets instruction for nothing. There is no chance for a beginner to get discouraged.
A FIVE-ROOM HOUSE FOR $7.80 A MONTH
I am almost afraid to tell how much a tenant gets for his money at one of these garden cities. The cheapest houses at Bourneville rent for only $7.80 a month, which includes taxes and water rates. Such a house contains five rooms and a wonderful "folding bath" which stands up like a cabinet when not in use. Clerks and artisans, however, generally pay about $12.30 a month for seven rooms and an eighth of an acre.
The ideal amount of land at Bourneville is one-eighth of an acre, and the average value of the fruits and vegetables produced on such a plot is about $32.24 a year, or sixty-two cents a week the year round. The smallest lots at Letchworth are a twelfth of an acre, which is the same as 25 x 145 feet, and is 45 percent larger than the typical New York lot, on which many families are allowed to live. In addition to these direct benefits the tenant gets a chance to play cricket, tennis, bowls, quoits, and hockey near by at no expense or at less cost than in an ordinary club.
All rents at Bourneville are figured at 8 percent of the cost. Taxes, insurance and repairs cost 3 percent, leaving a profit to the Bourneville estate of 5 percent. With this 5 percent, it employs a permanent staff of about one hundred builders and has about fifty houses under construction all the time.
OBSTACLES OVERCOME AT LETCHWORTH
The Letchworth company had its hands full with public works, for it had to construct eight miles of road, eleven miles of sewers, and seventeen miles of water main. Also it had to build a reservoir for water, a gas making plant, and an electric power station to supply the factories, of which it now has twenty-four. Another difficulty overcome was transportation. The company has cooperated with the railroad so well that its "commuters" can make their thirty-four miles to and from London daily in less than an hour, though most trains require an hour and a quarter.
The income of the land company is partly from the sale of water, gas, and electricity, but chiefly from ground rent. It never sells any land or houses. Ground rent may seem a very small source of revenue, but every man, woman and child in England contributes for ground rent an average of $10.50 a year. The Letchworth company can, and doubtless will, raise the ground rent as its limit of population approaches, but even if it should raise it as high as the average for England, the tenant will pay less than elsewhere, for taxes will eventually be abolished.
Postscript -- a few hours after I posted this, a google alert on ground rent brought me a story about Letchworth, at http://www.thecomet.net/news/letchworth_businesses_finally_land_meeting_over_rent_rise_1_2311500
Posted on August 01, 2013 at 05:40 PM in common good, commonwealth, economic rent, free land, infrastructure, is this socialism?, land appreciates buildings depreciate, land monopoly capitalism, land rent, land speculation, leased land, make land common property, municipal ownership of utilities, Natural Public Revenue, one solution for many problems, private property in land, unearned increment | Permalink | Comments (0)
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I should have thought the question about raising rents had been, to your own knowledge, enough answered by me. I have in several, if not in many places, declared the entire system of rent-paying to be an abomination and wickedness of the foulest kind, and have only ceased insisting on that fact of late years, because I would not be counted among the promoters of mob violence. The future, not only of England, but of Christendom, must issue in abolition of rents, but whether with confusion or slaughter, or by action of noble and resolute men in the rising generation of England and her colonies, remains to be decided. I fear the worst, and that soon.
—Ruskin, letter written Dec. 11, 1886.
"We are being parasitised from above, not below, and the tax system should reflect this."
I'm going to take the liberty of quoting someone's blog post in full. The author is Richard Murphy, and the post is found at http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2013/01/22/its-time-to-increase-the-tax-on-unearned-income-its-so-glaringly-obviously-true-why-will-no-one-say-it/
George Monbiot has an excellent article on tax in the Guardian this morning. At its core is an argument for land value taxation, which he explains has long had powerful support. As he puts it:
In 1909 a dangerous subversive explained the issue thus. “Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains -– and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labour and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived … the unearned increment on the land is reaped by the land monopolist in exact proportion, not to the service, but to the disservice done.”
Who was this firebrand? Winston Churchill. As Churchill, Adam Smith and many others have pointed out, those who own the land skim wealth from everyone else, without exertion or enterprise. They “levy a toll upon all other forms of wealth and every form of industry”. A land value tax would recoup this toll.
What Churchill was more broadly describing was the concept of economic rents. So is Aditya Chakrabortty in the Guardin this morning when he says with reference to the philosophy of Davos:
[W]hat’s wrong with the argument the Terry Leahys and the Bob Diamonds make for their extreme wealth? Look, the line runs, we work bloody hard for it; we’re worth it. And it’s true: unlike previous generations of the ultra-wealthy, many of the modern super-rich work for a living, in running major businesses or in finance (although the Davos guestlist still includes plenty of sheikhs and royals). But that doesn’t mean they truly earn the millions they claim.
Take a look at who’s in the Davos set. Last spring, two American academics, Jon Bakija and Brad Helm, and a US Treasury official, Adam Cole, published the most comprehensive analysis yet of the richest 0.1% earners, based on tax returns. Of these top dogs, nearly two in three were top corporate executives and bankers. And the story in both those professions has not been of brilliant returns to shareholders or vast improvements for society, but of wealth extraction and lobbying politicians, Davos-style. In particular, the tale of modern high-finance is of generating transactions, whether in corporate mergers or sub-prime mortgages and then skimming off some of the cash.
That’s extracting rent in exactly the same way that the property owner does. Economically the logic is the same. This is all unearned income, and we should not be granting it favours which increase the divisions and stresses in society; we should be taxing it.
That means we need land value taxation for sure, but we need progressive income taxation, capital gains tax at the same rate as income tax and enforceable corporation tax too if these rents are to be collected. And then there’s the need for reform of inheritance tax.
I really must get round to writing the Joy of Tax. It is next on my list.
Another post on the subject is at http://taxjustice.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-skivers-and-shirkers-are-economic.html
"This is where the debate about workers and shirkers, strivers and skivers should have led. The skivers and shirkers sucking the money out of your pockets are not the recipients of social security demonised by the Daily Mail and the Conservative party, the overwhelming majority of whom are honest claimants. We are being parasitised from above, not below, and the tax system should reflect this."Although this is a UK-focused story, it has international relevance. As we've noted several times before, Land Value Tax is an essential element of any good tax mix. It's progressive, it doesn't damage productivity, and it curbs the abusive practice of economic rent extraction. The article has a particular opinion:
"It's not really a tax. It's a return to the public of the benefits we have donated to the landlords. When land rises in value, the government and the people deliver a great unearned gift to those who happen to own it."What's not to like?
George Montbiot's article is titled "A Telling Silence." It is on his blog, with footnotes, at http://www.monbiot.com/2013/01/21/a-telling-silence/ A few excerpts follow, but I encourage you to read the whole piece, which follows.
The monopoly of the natural resources, principal among which is land, causing rent, and the monopoly of exchange, causing interest, are at the bottom of all the misery and wretchedness of humanity.
PUBLISHED: JANUARY 7, 2013
A lease is a lease is a lease – or so you may think. Yes, real property leases grant an estate in land to a tenant for a period of time. And yes, the tenant pays for that right of possession. But the action in a lease isn’t in the conveyance provisions; it’s in the contract provisions. Multiply out the rent and other annual monetary obligations by the length of the lease term (in years), and you’ll see that it might be (and often is) a big dollar contract. Even more important, unlike the vast majority of contracts whose obligations are satisfied in days or weeks, a lease contract goes unfulfilled for 50, 75, “99,” and even 500 years. That takes it beyond the life of the parties involved in its creation, and the future brings surprises. Neither Nostradamus nor Jules Verne got everything right.
Why a Ground Lease?
If a tenant has to build its own building (as is often the case), and has all of the burdens of ownership, why would it lease a property knowing that at the end of the lease term it has nothing left to show for its money and efforts? There are a number of common reasons, principal among them is that the owner won’t sell the land and the tenant has no alternative.
Real property often carries a long term unrealized gain, waiting to be taxed upon its sale.
Not every landowner is interested in making further active real property investments. This makes a like kind exchange unappealing.
Ground leasing the same land keeps ownership in the family. At the owner’s death, because of the current estate tax “stepped up basis” arrangement, the built in gain may never be taxed.
Posted on January 13, 2013 at 11:30 AM in a Manhattan acre, a wedge driven through society, absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , capital gains are land gains, common good, cui bono?, economic rent, estate taxes, facilitating commerce, financing education, financing infrastructure, financing services, FIRE sector, fixing the economy, fruits of one's labors, income concentration, inherited wealth, land appreciates buildings depreciate, land monopoly capitalism, land rent, land speculation, land value created by community, land value taxation, Landlord's Prayer, landlordism, leased land, location, location, location, monopoly -- not the game, Natural Public Revenue, Occupy Wall Street's values, popular ignorance of land economics, private property in land, reaping what others sow, rent-seeking, sharecropping, slavery, special interests, toll-takers, triple net leases, unburdening the economy, unearned income, unearned increment, untaxing buildings, untaxing production, urban land value, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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No longer Merrie England; now it meant
The payers and the takers of the rent.
—John Boyle O'Reilly, "The Pilgrim Fathers."
Posted on January 10, 2013 at 12:40 AM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , Earth for All, economic rent, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, leased land, private property in land, reaping what others sow, rent-seeking, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers | Permalink | Comments (0)
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The only point where I do not find myself in complete accord (and that is perhaps more due to your comparative silence than anything else) is that I attach relatively more importance to the initial injustice done by the permitted monopoly of raw material in a few hands. It seems to me that individualism, in order to be just, must strive hard for an equalisation of original conditions by the removal of all artificial advantages. The great reservoir of natural wealth that we sum up as land (including mines, etc.) ought, it seems to me, to be nationalised before we can say that the individual is allowed fair play. While he is thwarted in obtaining his fair share of the raw material, he is being put at a disadvantage by artificial laws.
—Grant Allen, Letter to Herbert Spencer, 1886, in "Grant Allen, A Memoir," by Edward Clodd.
Posted on January 08, 2013 at 12:06 AM in as much and as good, charity and justice, commons, Earth for All, economic justice, equal freedom, equal opportunity, equality, inherited wealth, land includes, land monopoly capitalism, landlordism, make land common property, monopoly -- not the game, natural resource revenues, natural resources, pay for what you take, private property in land, privatization, privilege, property rights | Permalink | Comments (0)
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In a letter to the President of Congress, July 22, 1782, (Robert) Morris said that a large part of America was held by great landowners and that a land tax would have the salutary effect of an agrarian law without the iniquity.
— PROFESSOR WILLIAM C. SUMNER, The Financier and the Finances of the American Revolution, Vol. II., Chap. 33, p. 251.
Millions of human creatures are housed worse than the cattle and horses of many a lord or squire. Nearly, a million of the London poor need re-housing; the medical authority has reported against 141,000 houses as insanitary, in which the poor are huddled together, in numbers varying from four to twelve and more in a single room. What delicacy, modesty or self-respect can be expected in men and women whose bodies are so shamefully packed together?
— CARDINAL VAUGHAN, Inaugural Address to the Annual Conference of the Catholic Truth Society at Stockport, published in the St. Vincent de Paul Quarterly, New York, November, 1892, p 286.
Note: this has some statistics you might want to know, but it is primarily a post on public policy.
... many Americans are facing the likelihood of not having sufficient income in retirement unless they increase their savings, work longer, or significantly decrease their expenditures in retirement if they hope to make ends meet.
The Employee Benefits Research Institute recently published an analysis of 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances data. It demonstrates how few people have the traditional defined-benefit retirement plans, and the account balances people of various demographics have in their individually-directed retirement accounts.
Here are some statistics worth considering as we think about the effects of a system which permits a few of us to capture a large share of the nation's net worth and a large share of its income, and to unduly influence our elections with advertising which works to conceal and reinforce the structures of that system:
Enough said. Time to circle back to the study's conclusion:
... many Americans are facing the likelihood of not having sufficient income in retirement unless they increase their savings, work longer, or significantly decrease their expenditures in retirement if they hope to make ends meet.
What public policy reforms might one suggest based on these data points?
If you have other suggestions, I'd like to hear them.
But the reason for this blog is that I believe I have found the public policy reform which would accomplish these goals, in collecting the lion's share of the annual rental value of our land, and in collecting for the commons certain other kinds of natural public revenue which our current system permits to accrue to individuals and corporations. I didn't invent it. Henry George is the clearest exponent of it, but not the first or last. Is it perfect? No, but it is vastly superior to what we've got now, and I believe it is consistent with the ideals to which Americans pay the most honor.
Posted on October 27, 2012 at 03:05 PM in a wedge driven through society, common good, cost of living, cui bono?, economic justice, economic rent, ecosystem services, fixing the economy, Henry George, housing affordability, income concentration, income tax, Jefferson, land monopoly capitalism, land value created by community, land value taxation, make land common property, Natural Public Revenue, natural resource revenues, natural resources, Occupy Wall Street's values, one solution for many problems, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, prosperity, public spending, trickle-down economics, unburdening the economy, wage taxes, wages, wealth distribution or concentration, wobegon | Permalink | Comments (0)
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The game’s true origins, however, go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow’s patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”
Magie called her invention The Landlord’s Game, and when it was released in 1906 it looked remarkably similar to what we know today as Monopoly. It featured a continuous track along each side of a square board; the track was divided into blocks, each marked with the name of a property, its purchase price, and its rental value. The game was played with dice and scrip cash, and players moved pawns around the track. It had railroads and public utilities — the Soakum Lighting System, the Slambang Trolley — and a “luxury tax” of $75. It also had Chance cards with quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson (“The earth belongs in usufruct to the living”), John Ruskin (“It begins to be asked on many sides how the possessors of the land became possessed of it”), and Andrew Carnegie (“The greatest astonishment of my life was the discovery that the man who does the work is not the man who gets rich”). The game’s most expensive properties to buy, and those most remunerative to own, were New York City’s Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Wall Street. In place of Monopoly’s “Go!” was a box marked “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.” The Landlord Game’s chief entertainment was the same as in Monopoly: competitors were to be saddled with debt and ultimately reduced to financial ruin, and only one person, the supermonopolist, would stand tall in the end. The players could, however, vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, “Prosperity is achieved.”
Readers of this blog know that Lizzie Magie had created her game and started to promote it by the Fall of 1902.
“Monopoly players around the kitchen table”—which is to say, most people—“think the game is all about accumulation,” he said. “You know, making a lot of money. But the real object is to bankrupt your opponents as quickly as possible. To have just enough so that everybody else has nothing.” In this view, Monopoly is not about unleashing creativity and innovation among many competing parties, nor is it about opening markets and expanding trade or creating wealth through hard work and enlightened self-interest, the virtues Adam Smith thought of as the invisible hands that would produce a dynamic and prosperous society. It’s about shutting down the marketplace. All the players have to do is sit on their land and wait for the suckers to roll the dice.Smith described such monopolist rent-seekers, who in his day were typified by the landed gentry of England, as the great parasites in the capitalist order. They avoided productive labor, innovated nothing, created nothing—the land was already there—and made a great deal of money while bleeding those who had to pay rent. The initial phase of competition in Monopoly, the free-trade phase that happens to be the most exciting part of the game to watch, is really about ending free trade and nixing competition in order to replace it with rent-seeking.
Posted on October 25, 2012 at 03:25 PM in cui bono?, Henry George, income concentration, Jefferson, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, location, location, location, Monopoly and The Landlord's Game, Monopoly and The Landlord's Game , municipal ownership of utilities, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, rent-seeking, toll-takers, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Henry George is the most famous American popular economist you've never heard of, a 19th century cross between Michael Lewis, Howard Dean and Ron Paul. Progress and Poverty, George's most important book, sold three million copies and was translated into German, French, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Russian, Hungarian, Hebrew and Mandarin. During his lifetime, George was probably the third best-known American, eclipsed only by Thomas Edison and Mark Twain. He was admired by the foreign luminaries of the age, too -- Leo Tolstoy, Sun-Yat Sen and Albert Einstein, who wrote that "men like Henry George are unfortunately rare. One cannot image a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form and fervent love of justice." George Bernard Shaw described his own thinking about the political economy as a continuation of the ideas of George, whom he had once heard deliver a speech.
Later, she writes,
What George found most mysterious about the economic consequences of the industrial revolution was that its failure to deliver economic prosperity was not uniform -- instead it had created a winner-take-all society: "Some get an infinitely better and easier living, but others find it hard to get a living at all. The 'tramp' comes with the locomotives, and almshouses and prisons are as surely the marks of 'material progress' as are costly dwellings, rich warehouses and magnificent churches. Upon streets lighted with gas and patrolled by uniformed policeman, beggars wait for the passer-by, and in the shadow of college, and library, and museum, are gathering the more hideous Huns and fiercer Vandals of whom Macaulay prophesied."
George's diagnosis was beguilingly simple -- the fruits of innovation weren't widely shared because they were going to the landlords. This was a very American indictment of industrial capitalism: at a time when Marx was responding to Europe's version of progress and poverty with a wholesale denunciation of private property, George was an enthusiastic supporter of industry, free trade and a limited role for government. His culprits were the rentier rich, the landowners who profited hugely from industrialization and urbanization, but did not contribute to it.
George had such tremendous popular appeal because he addressed the obvious inequity of 19th century American capitalism without disavowing capitalism itself. George wasn't trying to build a communist utopia. His campaign promise was to rescue America from the clutches of the robber barons and to return it to "the democracy of Thomas Jefferson." That ideal -- as much Tea Party as Occupy Wall Street -- won support not only among working class voters and their leaders, like Samuel Gompers, but also resonated with many small businessmen. Robert Ingersoll, a Republican orator, attorney and intellectual, was a George supporter. He urged his fellow Republicans to back his man and thereby "show that their sympathies are not given to bankers, corporations and millionaires."
I commend the entire post, adapted from Freeland's new book, Plutocrats. It ends with these paragraphs:
"America today urgently needs a 21st century Henry George -- a thinker who embraces the wealth-creating power of capitalism, but squarely faces the inequity of its current manifestation. That kind of thinking is missing on the right, which is still relying on Reagan-era trickle-down economics and hopes complaints about income inequality can be silenced with accusations of class war. But the left isn't doing much better either, preferring nostalgia for the high-wage, medium-skill manufacturing jobs of the post-war era and China-bashing to a serious and original effort to figure out how to make 21st century capitalism work for the middle class.
Globalization and the technology revolution aren't going away -- and thank goodness for that. Industrialization didn't go away either. But between 1886, when George lost the mayoral race, and the presidency of FDR, American progressives invented, fought for and implemented a broad range of new social and political institutions to make capitalism serve the whole of society -- ranging from trust-busting, to the income tax, to the welfare state.
We are living in an era of comparably tumultuous economic change. The great challenge of our time is to devise the new social and political institutions we need to make the new economy work for everyone. So far, that is a historic task neither party is taking on with enough energy, honesty or originality."
Those looking for a starting point might look for Walt Rybeck's book, Re-Solving the Economic Puzzle.
Posted on October 21, 2012 at 04:38 PM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , capital gains are land gains, connect the dots, corruption in government, cui bono?, equal opportunity, financing infrastructure, financing services, fixing the economy, government's role, Henry George, individualism, Jefferson, land monopoly capitalism, land value created by community, land value taxation, landlordism, natural monopolies, Occupy Wall Street's values, one solution for many problems, popular ignorance of land economics, poverty, poverty's cause, private property in land, Progress and Poverty, reaping what others sow, rent-seeking, small government, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, toll-takers, Tolstoy, unearned income, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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His next task, and indeed the most hazardous he ever undertook, was the making a new division of their lands. For there was an extreme inequality among them, and their State was overloaded with a multitude of indigent and necessitous persons, while its whole wealth had centered upon a very few.
— PLUTARCH, Life of Lycurgus.
Posted on October 16, 2012 at 12:52 AM in a wedge driven through society, absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , commons, corruption in government, cui bono?, Earth for All, land monopoly capitalism, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, special interests, the land question, wealth distribution or concentration, year of jubilee | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Equity, therefore, does not permit property in land. For if one portion of the earth's surface may justly become the possession of an individual and may be held by him for his sole use and benefit as a thing to which he has an exclusive right, then other portions of the earth's surface may be so held; and eventually the whole of the earth's surface may be so held; and our planet may thus lapse into private hands.
— HERBERT SPENCER, in 1850, Social Statics, Chap. IX.
Posted on October 05, 2012 at 12:23 AM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , as much and as good, commons, commonwealth, corruption of economics, cui bono?, Earth for All, economic rent, enclosure, equal freedom, equality, FIRE sector, government's role, income concentration, land different from capital, land includes, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, make land common property, money in elections, monopoly -- not the game, natural resources, no victims, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privatization, privilege, rent-seeking, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, the disenchanted, the right to life, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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I'm reading through the first issues of Henry George's newspaper, "The Standard," a weekly which was published in NYC beginning in January, 1887. It was started shortly after the mayoral race of 1886 (chronicled in Post & Leubuscher's December, 1886 book), and in the 4th issue there is a very explicit article about the role that Rome was attempting to play in NYC politics by removing from the priesthood an activist priest, the much-loved Dr. Edward McGlynn, of St. Stephen's Church, on 28th Street in Manhattan, the largest parish in the city. (This was before the creation of New York City by combining the five boroughs.)
For over 20 years, McGlynn had been living among New York's poor, hearing the confessions of the poor, and knew how hard their lives were. He knew the situation in Ireland which had brought many of them to the U. S., and when he read Henry George's 1879 book, "Progress and Poverty," he found the cause of their suffering, and saw how to correct the underlying cause of poverty.
The article to which I refer is entitled, "From a Brooklyn Priest"
The Body of the Catholic Clergy Sympathize With Dr. McGlynn
The Brooklyn Times prints an interesting interview with “a well known parish priest” of that city. His name is not given "for obvious reasons,” but those acquainted with the Catholic clerics of Brooklyn have little difficulty in attributing it to the most popular and influential of the Catholic clergy of that city. We make the following extracts:
“The sympathy of the body of the Catholic clergy in New York and Brooklyn is undoubtedly with Dr. McGlynn. I have talked with a great many of my brother priests of both cities on the matter, and almost without exception, they have taken Dr. McGlynn's side in the controversy, though they would be loth to do so publicly for manifest reasons. The sentiment of the body of the Catholic clergy of the two cities is that whatever has been done in Dr. McGlynn's case has been done by inspiration from this side. Of course the question at issue does not at all touch matters of faith. It is purely a question of discipline. The authorities at Rome know little or nothing of the real state of affairs at this side of the Atlantic except as they are inspired by the archbishop of the different provinces. Archbishop Corrigan is in daily communication with Rome by cable, and the views of the controversy between Dr. McGlynn and his superior that are entertained at Rome pending the personal appearance of Dr. McGlynn in the Eternal City, are the views of the archbishop of New York that are telegraphed and written there.
“I do not mean to imply that Archbishop Corrigan would willfully misrepresent the situation here, but I do say that Dr. McGlynn, with all his experience as a priest in the American metropolis, with all his practical knowledge of the condition of the poor and of the working classes in that city, is a better judge of the political needs of the masses in New York than Archbishop Corrigan is, who has spent the greater part of his career as an ecclesiastic in the state of New Jersey; and I hold that Dr. McGlynn and every other Catholic priest has the right to take an active part in the politics of the country. To say that a man of the acknowledged piety and the blameless life of Dr. McGlynn sympathizes with anything that smacks of communism or anarchy is the veriest nonsense to anyone who knows him — and who does not know everything about him today? Dr. McGlynn, as a priest, knows the awful burdens which the laboring classes of New York city have to bear through political misrule and the corrupt combination of capital to oppress them. He knows how anomalous that condition of things is which allows one man to accumulate a hundred millions of dollars within 25 years and compels another to work for a dollar a day, nay, while thousands, anxious for work, are starving for the lack of it. Hence his support of the candidate of the labor party for mayor. Dr. McGlynn did not believe that anarchy or communism would follow in the wake of the election of Henry George to the mayoralty of New York any more than he believed that Mr. George, as the chief executive of the municipal government across the East river could put his land theories into practical operation in the metropolis. Any possible change in the government of New York city must be a change for the better, so far as the poor are concerned.
“If the bishops of the dioceses in the United States were taken by Rome from among the clergy of these dioceses who thoroughly understand the social and political conditions of their people, there would be none of these disciplinary troubles. What sense is there in sending an Italian priest to Canada or an Irish priest to Guatemala as bishop? Or why should a bishop be transferred from a city in the state of New Jersey to preside over the archdiocese of New York when there are many able and holy priests in the metropolis worthy of election to the prelacy who have spent their lives among the masses of the people? In countries where the canonical law of the church is in practical application the parish priests of a diocese in which the bishopric becomes vacant send three names to Rome by majority vote. One is set down as dignus, or worthy, another as dignior, or more worthy, and a third as dignissimus, or most worthy. Any one of the three may be selected, and it sometimes happens that it is the lowest on the list who is chosen. The pope has the absolute power to go outside the list sent to him from the diocese in which a vacancy occurs, but it is a power rarely exercised and only for the most exigent reasons. If the canon law applied in America, which is only yet a missionary country and subject to the propaganda at Rome, Dr. McGlynn could not have been turned out of St. Stephen's church as he has been and his salary would have run on despite his suspension until his case was finally decided at Rome.
“It is most unfortunate that the canon law does not apply in the United States, and that the political, social and educational situation in this country is not better understood at Rome. Wealthy Catholic politicians have too much to say on church policy in this country; and unfortunately that is today the trouble in New York city. The masses of the Catholic clergy say, 'Hands off.' As long as bishops, with whom wealthy politicians are most powerful, practically say who shall be elected to the prelacy in the United States there will be a chance for trouble among the laity.
“I am satisfied that if a majority of the Catholic clergy of the dioceses of New York and Long Island could do it Dr. McGlynn would have been elected archbishop and Archbishop Corrigan would have been allowed to remain in New Jersey. I unhesitatingly say that if the votes of the Catholic clergy in these two dioceses could do it Dr. McGlynn would be restored to St. Stephen's parish tomorrow. No old priest of New York city wanted to succeed Dr. McGlynn in that parish, for they all knew how his congregation idolized him. I am also free to say that if Archbishop Corrigan had not been brought from the state of New Jersey to New York city this trouble would never have occurred.
“Mgr. Preston is the bitterest foe that Dr. McGlynn has in the diocese of New York. I do not mean to imply that the monsignor entertains personal animosity toward the ex-rector of St. Stephen's church, but he is utterly opposed to what Dr. McGlynn stands for as an American citizen. Mgr. Preston is an aristocrat and the associate of aristocrats. Even converts to the Catholic church who know Father Preston well have admitted that the monsignor dearly loves the privileges which attach to church dignitaries in Catholic countries, and is inclined to ape the civil ceremonial of such communities in his intercourse with his flock. Dr. McGlynn is poor, is of the poor and loves to associate with the poor. He is in this respect the antithesis of Mgr. Preston, and the latter is a confidential adviser of Archbishop Corrigan.”
This article, more than anything else I've read, brings home to me the extent to which the rich manage even the Church for the benefit of the rich, to the detriment of the poor. When a priest who seeks to correct the unjust structures is deprived of his priesthood because he might upset the privileges of the rich, the country and the church are both in trouble.
When churches benefit from contributions from wealthy contributors, they will tend to act to enforce the structures which enrich those wealthy contributors, rather than rocking the boat in any way. When economic structures funnel the community's wealth into a relative few pockets, the Church will tend to embrace those pockets, not challenge the structures. Money in elections is not the only corrupting force.
Posted on September 15, 2012 at 06:31 PM in a Manhattan acre, a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , better cities, conservatism, cui bono?, economic justice, employment, income concentration, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, money in elections, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, privilege, rich people's useful idiots, special interests, The Standard, toll-takers, unemployment and underemployment, wages driven down, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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I can easily imagine a great proprietor of ground rents in the metropolis calling attention to the habitations of the poor, to the evils of overcrowding, and to the scandals which the inquiry reveals, while his own income is greatly increased by the causes which make house-rent dear in London, and decent lodging hardly obtainable by thousands of laborers.
— PROF. THOROLD ROGERS, Work and Wages, Chap. XX., p. 550.
Efforts should be made to prevent the increase of value which is occasioned by the growth of the population of towns enriching private individuals.
— The REV. W. MOORE EDE, Honorary Canon of Durham, The Church and Town Problems, p. 88, note.
Posted on August 07, 2012 at 12:01 AM in a Manhattan acre, a wedge driven through society, absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , better cities, buildings depreciate, congestion, cost of living, cui bono?, Earth for All, fixing the economy, housing affordability, human nature, income concentration, land monopoly capitalism, land rent, land value created by community, landed gentry, landlordism, location, location, location, playing by the rules, popular ignorance of land economics, privatization, privilege, reaping what others sow, rich people's useful idiots, toll-takers, urban land value | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Unrestricted private property in land gives to individuals a large proportion of the wealth created by the community at large.
— PROF. ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE, Land Nationalization, Chap. VIII., pp. 235-2.
Posted on July 30, 2012 at 12:01 AM in absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , capital gains are land gains, corporations, cui bono?, Earth for All, economic rent, fixing the economy, free lunch, justice of the single tax, land monopoly capitalism, land value created by community, landed gentry, Landlord's Prayer, landlordism, make land common property, political economy, private property in land, privatization, privilege, reaping what others sow, rent-seeking, special interests, toll-takers, unearned income, urban land value, windfalls | Permalink | Comments (0)
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It will be thought an intolerable thing that men shall derive enormous increments of income from the growth of towns to which they have contributed nothing — that they shall be able to sweep into their coffers what they have not produced — that they shall be able to go on throttling towns, as they are well known to do in some cases. It is impossible to suppose that the system will not be vigorously, powerfully, persistently and successfully attacked.
—JOHN MORLEY, Speech at Forfar, October 4, 1897. The Times, October 5, 1897, p. 5, column 3.
Posted on July 27, 2012 at 12:29 AM in absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , better cities, capital gains are land gains, cui bono?, Earth for All, economic rent, FIRE sector, income concentration, land appreciates buildings depreciate, land monopoly capitalism, land speculation, land value created by community, popular ignorance of land economics, population growth, private property in land, privatization, privilege, reaping what others sow, rent-seeking, unearned increment, urban land value | Permalink | Comments (0)
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This being the case, in what manner are the Irish people to subsist in future? There is the land and there is labor enough to bring it into cultivation. But such is the state in which the land is placed, that capital cannot be employed upon it. You have tied up the raw material in such a manner — you have created such a monopoly of land by your laws and by your mode of dealing with it — as to render it alike a curse to the people and to the owners of it.
— JOHN BRIGHT, Speech in the House of Commons, April 2, 1849. Speeches of John Bright, I., p. 332, (Edition of 1868).
It is territorial monopoly that obliges men unwillingly to see vast tracts of land lying waste or negligently and imperfectly cultivated, while they are subjected to the miseries of want.
— WILLIAM GODWIN, Political Justice, Book VIII., Chap. 3.
Land-owning is, beyond all other callings, in the nature of a monopoly.
— ROBERT GIFFEN, Essays. in Finance, First Series, (1871), Chap. X., p. 239.
The nature of landed property, invariably limited, whatever may be the demand of the producers or consumers, gives it the power of a monopoly.
— SISMONDI, Essay on Landed Property, Political Economy (English Edition of 1847), p. 176.
The world will be much happier when land monopoly shall cease, because manual labor will then be so honorable, because so well-nigh universal. It will be happier, too, because the wages system, with all its attendant degradation and unhappy influences, will find but little room in the new and radically changed condition of society.
— GERRIT SMITH, Speeches in the U. S. Congress, (1854), pp. 84-5.
I'm used to associating this phrase with Winston Churchill, circa 1909. But here's an 1891 reference:
There is one great monopoly, and that monopoly is the mother of all other monopolies! You know what I will say! You know that I will say that its name is
It comes in Henry Chase's book, Letters to Farmer's Sons.
I realize that to one who stumbles onto this post, this will seem like a radical statement, perhaps appearing to be diametrically opposed to a strongly-held ideal. If so, and you're willing to explore the topic a bit, you might check out a page over at wealthandwant.com which makes some distinctions
Petitions asking for a referendum vote upon the question of reducing gradually the tax rate upon buildings in New York to one-half the tax rate upon land, through five consecutive reductions in as many years, were signed yesterday by several thousand persons at a mass-meeting held in Union Square under the auspices of the New York Congestion Committee. The meeting was announced as a public protest for lower rents.
Benjamin Clark Marsh, Executive Secretary of the Committee on Congestion of Population in New York, was Chairman. Dr. John Haynes Holmes of the Church of the Messiah said that the Legislature "in the wisdom of the Big Sachem at Fourteenth Street has decreed that the people are not fit to register their judgment as to this bill. I, for one, desire to protest against the boss or set of bosses who presume to forbid the people to express their will on any question."
Frederick Leubuscher, representing the New York State League of Savings and Loan Association, said:
The purpose of the law was explained in a letter from Assemblyman Michael Schaap, who introduced the Salant-Schaap bill in the lower House of the State Legislature.
The Rev. Alexander Irvine said that one family out of every 150 in New York City was evicted for non-payment of rent, because of the unjust taxation of improved property as contrasted with vacant land. Only 3% of the residents of the city own land, the speaker asserted.
John J. Hopper, Chairman of the New York State Independence League, said:
Frederick C. Howe, Director of the People's Institute, said:
C. N. Sheehan of the Twenty-eighth Assembly District Board of Trade, Brooklyn, and J. P. Coughlin of the Central Labor Union of Brooklyn also spoke.
Posted on June 27, 2012 at 01:10 PM in a Manhattan acre, all benefits go to landholder , capital gains are land gains, capitalization, commonwealth, cost of living, cui bono?, economic rent, financing education, financing infrastructure, financing services, fixing the economy, housing affordability, incentive taxation, land appreciates buildings depreciate, land monopoly capitalism, land rent, land speculation, land value created by community, land value taxation, landlordism, Natural Public Revenue, NYS Property Tax Reform, population growth, property tax, property tax reform, reaping what others sow, special interests, supply and demand, tax reform, taxation, toll-takers, underused land | Permalink | Comments (0)
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I came across an excellent site at http://www.resourcerentalsrevenue.org, and thought their FAQ page particularly worth sharing. The links will take you to answers.
We don't HAVE to burden ourselves and our economy with taxes which throw a wet blanket on jobs, on production, on homes. There is a better way to finance our common spending!
The following list comprises the most commonly asked questions about the concept of making land and resource rentals the source of revenue for government. As you continue this study, you will see the value from giving resources the respect they deserve and the benefits resulting from the freeing of labour, production and exchange from taxation. If you have any questions which are not covered here, or observations you would like to put to our panel, please feel free to do so by sending your question as an e-mail query and we will attempt to respond.
The inclusion of land and resources in the economic equation is central to any solution for revenue raising. A taxation solution which does not consider the nature of taxation itself and allows the continuing private monopolisation of community land and resources fails to recognise the essential role land plays in the economic equation and will not work. Land is the only element in the economic equation which is both fixed and finite. It can be monopolised. It is a unique class of asset which must be treated accordingly. If we were to wrest not the land itself, but its unimproved value from private monopolies and return the value to the community — whose very presence creates it — then we would have reduced many problems in one stroke with great benefit to production, to the environment and to the cause of individual freedom and justice.
On the subject of land and resource rents, Henry George said this:
Posted on June 13, 2012 at 02:44 PM in a Manhattan acre, better cities, capital gains are land gains, common good, commonwealth, connect the dots, Earth for All, equal freedom, equal opportunity, equality, facilitating commerce, financing education, financing health care, financing infrastructure, financing services, fixing the economy, government's role, Henry George, housing affordability, justice of the single tax, land speculation, land value created by community, land value taxation, make land common property, monopoly -- not the game, natural monopolies, Natural Public Revenue, natural resource revenues, natural resources, one solution for many problems, opportunity, pay for what you take, popular ignorance of land economics, private property in land, privatization, privilege, property rights, public spending, sales taxes are wrong, special interests, sufficiency of land rent, tax reform, taxation, toll-takers, unearned income, unearned increment, unemployment and underemployment, untaxing buildings, untaxing production, user fees | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Landed monopoly has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance.
— THOMAS PAINE, Agrarian Justice, Paine's Writings, Vol. III., p. 331.
In the country the more rich people there are, the less wealth there is.
— MARMONTEL, Address in Favor of the Peasants of the North (1757), Oeuvres, Vol. X., p. 70.
Posted on June 13, 2012 at 12:23 AM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , corruption of economics, cui bono?, Earth for All, ending poverty, fixing the economy, government's role, income concentration, is this socialism?, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, liberty, make land common property, Occupy Wall Street's values, political economy, popular ignorance of land economics, private property in land, privatization, privilege, property rights, reaping what others sow, rich people's useful idiots, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, teach your children well, the land question, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers, unemployment and underemployment, wages driven down, wealth distribution or concentration, wealthandwant | Permalink | Comments (0)
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The man of wealth and pride
Takes up a space that many poor supplied —
Space for his lake, his park's extended bounds,
Space for his horses, equipage and hounds;
The robe that wraps his limbs in silken cloth
Has robbed the neighboring fields of half their growth;
His seat where solitary sports are seen
Indignant spurns the cottage from the green;
Around the world each needful product flies,
For all the luxuries the world supplies,
While thus the land adorned for pleasure all
In barren splendor feebly waits the fall.
— OLIVER GOLDSMITH, The Deserted Village.
Posted on June 12, 2012 at 12:16 AM in all benefits go to landholder , Earth for All, enclosure, ending poverty, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, make land common property, popular ignorance of land economics, private property in land, privatization, privilege, time making wrongs into rights | Permalink | Comments (0)
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I admit that there are things in which a man can have absolute property, and which without qualification or restriction he can buy or sell or bequeath at his pleasure. But I deny that the soil is among these things.
— GERRIT SMITH, Speech in the U. S. Congress, February 21, 1854,
Speeches of Gerrit Smith, p. 74.
As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce.
— ADAM SMITH, Wealth of Nations, Book I., Chap. 6.
Posted on May 12, 2012 at 12:17 AM in absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , commons, enclosure, fruits of one's labors, human nature, income concentration, land monopoly capitalism, land rent, land value created by community, land, labor and capital, landed gentry, landlordism, make land common property, monopoly -- not the game, popular ignorance of land economics, population growth, private property in land, privatization, privilege, property rights, reaping what others sow, rich people's useful idiots, socializing risk and privatizing profit, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers, unearned income, unearned increment, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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But the colony multiplies, while the space still continues the same, the common rights, the equal inheritance of mankind, are engrossed by the bold and crafty; each field and forest is circumscribed by the landmarks of a jealous master. . . . In the progress from primitive equity to final injustice the steps are silent, the shades are almost imperceptible, and the absolute monopoly is guarded by positive laws and artificial reason.
— EDWARD GIBBON, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,
Chap. XLIV., Sec. 2.
Posted on May 11, 2012 at 12:16 AM in a wedge driven through society, commons, commonwealth, Earth for All, land monopoly capitalism, monopoly -- not the game, private property in land, privatization, privilege, property rights, reaping what others sow, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers, usufruct, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Place one hundred men on an island from which there is no escape, and whether you make one of these men the absolute owner of the other ninety-nine, or the absolute owner of the soil of the island, will make no difference either to him or to them.
— HENRY GEORGE, Progress and Poverty, Book VII., Chap. 2, p. 312.
Posted on April 30, 2012 at 12:13 AM in a wedge driven through society, all benefits go to landholder , Earth for All, Henry George, is this socialism?, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, popular ignorance of land economics, poverty's cause, private property in land, privilege, Progress and Poverty, reaping what others sow, slavery, special interests, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Here is the fundamental error, the crude and monstrous assumption, that the land which God has given to our nation, is or can be the private property of anyone. It is a usurpation exactly similar to that of slavery.
— PROF. F. W. NEWMAN, Lectures on Political Economy (1851), Lecture VI., p. 533.
Posted on April 29, 2012 at 01:05 AM in a wedge driven through society, commons, commonwealth, Earth for All, ending poverty, land monopoly capitalism, landlordism, make land common property, political economy, popular ignorance of land economics, private property in land, privatization, privilege, rich people's useful idiots, sharecropping, slavery, special interests, teach your children well, time making wrongs into rights, toll-takers, windfalls | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Here's a piece from a 90 year old journal. There are acres in Manhattan whose value is far higher today -- and the landlords are still reaping what the working people and visitors to New York are sowing.
APPROPRIATING THE GIFTS OF NATURE
By Walter Thomas Mills.
There are portions of New York City in which the land is valued at $40,000,000 an acre. That means $8000 each day from each acre for the landlord, and that entirely unearned by him, before there is a penny for any other purpose. Probably not less than two and one-half million dollars a day, or almost a billion dollars a year, must be earned by the people of New York City and turned over to landlords for permission to use the island, which is a gift of nature, and for the advantages that are protected and maintained by the industry and enterprise of all of the people.
In The Great Adventure, April, 1921
Think what NYC -- and America -- would be like if that "permission to use the island" money was treated as our logical public revenue source, instead of as individuals', corporations' and trusts' private revenue source.
Recall the wisdom of Leona Helmsley: "WE don't pay taxes. The little people pay taxes."
Posted on April 13, 2012 at 11:13 AM in a Manhattan acre, a wedge driven through society, absentee ownership, all benefits go to landholder , better cities, capital gains are land gains, corporations, corruption of economics, cui bono?, Earth for All, economic rent, enclosure, financing infrastructure, financing services, income concentration, land appreciates buildings depreciate, land different from capital, land monopoly capitalism, land value created by community, land value taxation, little people pay taxes, location, location, location, popular ignorance of land economics, population, public spending, reaping what others sow, socializing risk and privatizing profit, special interests, toll-takers, unburdening the economy, unearned income, urban land value, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Wherever there is in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on.
— THOMAS JEFFERSON (1785), Ford's Writings of Jefferson, Vol. VII., 36.
Posted on April 13, 2012 at 12:20 AM in a wedge driven through society, absentee ownership, civilization, commons, commonwealth, cui bono?, Earth for All, economic justice, employment, enclosure, ending poverty, equal freedom, equal opportunity, government's role, Jefferson, jobs, land different from capital, land monopoly capitalism, landed gentry, landlordism, make land common property, popular ignorance of land economics, poverty, poverty machine, poverty's cause, private property in land, privilege, property rights, radical, time making wrongs into rights, underused land, unemployment and underemployment, user fees, usufruct | Permalink | Comments (0)
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A tax upon ground-rents would not raise the rent of houses. It would fall altogether upon the owner of the ground-rent, who acts always as a monopolist and exacts the greatest rent which can be got for the use of the ground.
— ADAM SMITH, Wealth of Nations (1776), Book V., Chap. 2, Art. I.
Posted on March 31, 2012 at 12:52 AM in all benefits go to landholder , classical economists, cost of living, cui bono?, direct taxation, Earth for All, economic justice, economic rent, fixing the economy, government's role, housing affordability, human nature, justice of the single tax, land different from capital, land monopoly capitalism, land rent, land value taxation, landed gentry, landlordism, location, location, location, political economy, popular ignorance of land economics, private property in land, property tax, property tax is two taxes, Proposition 13, reaping what others sow, single tax, tax caps, tax reform, toll-takers, unearned income, urban land value, wealth distribution or concentration | Permalink | Comments (0)
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I'm reading a 1910 book by William Harbutt Dawson entitled "The Unearned Increment." I found these paragraphs particularly compelling. I think about the 2003 Schiller and Case article about the expectations of home buyers that their purchases would rise in value. The homebuyers of the last decade didn't understand why land should rise in value -- indeed, most of them weren't conscious of it being land appreciating, not the houses themselves -- but they seemed sure that it would rise forever, and they thought it essential to their own well-being that they get in on that appreciation.
100 years ago, there seemed to be a much better popular understanding of land economics than we have in 2012. It was widely discussed in quite a number of popular journals read by ordinary people. One might speculate on why we in the 21st century aren't better informed than we are on the subject. In whose interests is it that ordinary people not understand the importance and the dynamics land economics?
And here it will be convenient to refer to the plea often advanced that speculation in land is legitimate, and that there is no difference between making profits from the sale of land and making profits from the sale of ordinary commodities. Those who hold this view forget or ignore the fact that land differs from every product of man's hands in that, besides being a necessity of existence — the maintainer of life, it is a monopoly article. God made the earth as big as it is, and man cannot make it any bigger. There is so much land in the world, and no one, not even a Rothschild or a Vanderbilt, can add an inch to it. Hats, boots, and coats — manufactured goods in general — can be multiplied indefinitely. The supply is only regulated by the demand, and almost invariably the cost decreases as the demand is augmented. With the land it is otherwise: the absolute supply cannot be increased, and the cost grows with the growth of the demand. Moreover, in paying for the goods offered by the manufacturer, we pay largely for labour; but no amount of labour can produce land. It existed before man existed, and is not produced. Landed property is the one commodity of exchange in respect of which civilised society refuses to recognise absolute rights.
It may be granted at once, however, that it is impossible to artificially prevent the value of land from increasing. It would be absurd to try to check the operation of social forces which act from necessity. If there were no private ownership of land, but the State were the custodian and grand lessor, the value of that commodity would inevitably tend to increase owing to a multiplicity of causes which act independently of private and collective possession of the soil. Yet while it may not be possible artificially to prevent value-growth, it is possible and expedient to check artificial value-growth. Were the unearned increment secured wholly or even in part to society, there would be less inducement to speculation in land, and the increase in its value would be dependent upon healthier and socially more desirable causes. Men do not speculate commercially for amusement or the mere love of excitement, but for money, and if there were no prospect — or little prospect — of contingent gain, the great inducement to land speculation would be taken away.
At the idea of resistance to speculation the individualist will raise his hands in alarm and remonstrance. But these pages are written on the assumption that the interests of speculators cannot claim any partial consideration in the adjustment of the important problem under discussion — or, indeed, of any problem affecting the well-being of society. Those who hold the views here expressed would not dream of prohibiting speculation in land; all they say is, that society is not called upon to sacrifice its interests to the speculators, or to offer to the latter any facilities for doing it mischief. It cannot surely be considered a social advantage that a small class of men should be able, owing to their possession of a monopoly in land, to force up its value to fictitious and fabulous heights; nor can it be regarded as desirable that the value of land should be increased in order to allow of speculators enriching themselves. The result is to create extortionate rents, which, so far as trade and industry are concerned, make production dearer, and thus injure the consumer, and, so far as concerns dwellings, compel the householder to disburse an excessive proportion of his income in the mere sheltering of himself and his family within stone walls. Apart from the gains which fall to the intermediary speculator who does not buy land to keep, but to sell, the owners of the soil pocket the public tribute paid in the form of increasing rents. For their part, the house occupiers suffer in two ways by the growing value of land: they must pay more for the dwellings they live in, and more for the articles they use and consume. It cannot be to the interest of society that the rents of town dwellings should average, say, £20 instead of £15, and should increase 5% or even 2% every year. If such an increase fell to the whole community, the evil would not be so great, for those who paid it would in one way or another reap the benefit; but, as matters are, it all goes into the landlords' purse.
Posted on March 25, 2012 at 07:14 PM in all benefits go to landholder , capital gains are land gains, cost of living, cui bono?, Earth for All, FIRE sector, fixing the economy, housing affordability, land appreciates buildings depreciate, land different from capital, land monopoly capitalism, land speculation, monopoly -- not the game, supply and demand, toll-takers, unburdening the economy, unearned increment | Permalink | Comments (0)
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I've taken some liberties with the formatting, because sometimes bullet points help ... you can find the original in the online library at http://schalkenbach.org/ I was fortunate enoguh to meet Bob
The Earth is the Lord's
by Robert V. Andelson
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy,
Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
George Bernard Shaw, in a letter written in 1905 to Hamlin Garland, describes how, more than twenty years earlier, he had attended Henry George's first platform appearance in London. He knew at once, he said, that the speaker must be an American, for four reasons:
George's magnum opus, Progress and Poverty (the centenary of which occurred in 1979), is characterized by the same moral and religious emphasis remarked by Shaw in its author's London lecture, an emphasis that rises in the final chapter to the noble declaration of a faith revived. It is, I think, therefore entirely appropriate that I focus today on the moral and religious aspects of his basic proposal for economic reform — his proposal to lift the burden of taxation from the fruits of individual labor, while appropriating for public use the socially-engendered value of the land.
For land value taxation is
It is all of these things, but it is also something infinitely more: it is the affirmation, prosaic though it be, of a fundamental spiritual principle — that "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof."
It is the affirmation of the same principle to which Moses gave embodiment in the institution of the Jubilee, and in the prohibition against removing ancient landmarks, and in the decree that the land shall not be sold forever. It is the affirmation of the same principle to which the prophets of old gave utterance when they inveighed against those who lay field to field, and who use their neighbor's service without wages. It is the affirmation of the same principle to which Koheleth gave voice when he asserted in the fifth chapter of Ecclesiastes that "the profit of the earth is for all."
The earth is the Lord's! Consider what this means. It means that
The earth is the Lord's! To the biblical writers, this was no mere platitude. They spelled out what it meant in concrete terms. For them, it meant that the material universe which had been provided as a storehouse of natural opportunity for the children of men was not to be monopolized or despoiled or treated as speculative merchandise, but was rather to be used reverently, and conserved dutifully, and, above all, maintained as a source from which every man, by the application of his labor, might sustain himself in decent comfort. It was seen as an inalienable trust, which no individual or class could legitimately appropriate so as to exclude others, and which no generation could legitimately barter away.
The earth is the Lord's! With the recognition of this principle comes the recognition of the right of every man to the produce which the earth has yielded to his efforts. As the Apostle Paul says in his first letter to the Church at Corinth, if the ox has a right to a share in the grain which it treads out, surely a human being must have a right to the fruits of his labor. For the exercise of this right, he is, of course, accountable to God — but against the world, it holds.
To one who takes seriously, as I do, that insight about human nature which is expressed in the doctrine of original sin, there can be nothing self-evident about the rights of man. In the words of my friend, Edmund A. Opitz, "the idea of natural rights is not the kind of concept which has legs of its own to stand on; as a deduction from religious premises it makes sense, otherwise not." The French Revolution and its culmination in the Reign of Terror demonstrated that humanistic assumptions afford no secure foundation for the concept of human rights. That concept, for the believer, can be neither understood nor justified except in terms of what Lord Acton so eloquently speaks of as "the equal claim of every man to be unhindered in the fulfilment by man of duty to God."
This is what it comes down to: How can a person be "unhindered in the fulfilment of duty to God" if he be denied, on the one hand, fair access to nature, the raw material without which there can be no wealth; and on the other, the full and free ownership of his own labor and its earnings?
You who have studied the history of the Peasants' Revolt in sixteenth century Germany know that in calling for the abolition of serfdom and the restoration of the common lands, the peasants were simply voicing demands which were logically implied by Luther's doctrine of the priesthood of all believers — that the service of God to which all the faithful are elected requires, as I have said, access to the land and its resources, and the free disposal of one's person and of the guerdon [editor's note: reward] of one's toil. Despite the excesses that accompanied this uprising, Luther's part in the suppression of a movement which stemmed logically from his own teaching must always be a source of pain to those of us who revere him for his spiritual genius and integrity.
The earth is the Lord's! The same God who established the just authority of governments has also in his providence ordained for the major source of revenue. Allow me to quote from Henry George:
In the great social fact that as population increases, and improvements are made, and men progress in civilization, the one thing that rises everywhere in value is land, we may see a proof of the beneficence of the Creator . . . In a rude state of society where there is no need for common expenditure, there is no value attaching to land. The only value which attaches there is to things produced by labor. But as civilization goes on, as a division of labor takes place, as men come into centers, so do the common wants increase and so does the necessity for public revenue arise. And so in that value which attaches to land, not by reason of anything the individual does, but by reason of the growth of the community, is a provision, intended — we may safely say intended — to meet that social want. Just as society grows, so do the common needs grow, and so grows the value attaching to land — the provided fund from which they can be supplied (George 1889).
On another occasion he wrote:
The tax on land values is the most just and equal of all taxes. It falls only upon those who receive from society a peculiar and valuable benefit, and upon them in proportion to the benefit they receive. It is the taking by the community, for the use of the community, of that value which is the creation of the community. It is the application of the common property to common uses (George, P&P, 421).
And yet, my friends, in the topsy-turvy world in which we live, this provided fund goes mainly into the pockets of speculators and monopolists, while the body politic meets its needs by extorting from individual producers the fruits of honest toil. If ever there were any doubt about the perversity of human nature, our present system of taxation is the proof! Everywhere about us, we see the ironic spectacle of the community penalizing the individual for his industry and initiative, and taking away from him a share of that which he produces, yet at the same time lavishing upon the non-producer undeserved windfalls which it — the community — produces. And, as Winston Churchill put it, the unearned increment, the socially-produced value of the land, is reaped by the speculator in exact proportion, not to the service, but to the disservice, done. "The greater the injury to society, the greater the reward."
We hear constantly a vast clamor against the abuse of welfare. I do not for a moment condone such abuse. Yet I ask you, who is the biggest swiller at the public trough?
Talk about free enterprise! This isn't free enterprise; this is a free ride.
But if that same person were to improve his site — if he were to use it to beautify his neighborhood, or to provide goods for consumers and jobs for workers, or housing for his fellow townsmen — instead of being treated as the public benefactor he had become, he would be fined as if he were a criminal, in the form of heavier taxes. What kind of justice is this, I ask you? How does it comport with the Divine Plan, or with the notion of human rights?
Let me make this clear: Acquisitiveness, or the "profit motive," if you will, is a well-nigh universal fact of human nature, and I have no wish to suggest that the land monopolist or speculator has any corner on it. Even when I speak of him as a parasite, this is not to single him out for personal moral condemnation. He is not necessarily any more greedy than the average run of people. As my late friend, Sidney G. Evans, used to say: "if you have to live under a corrupt system, it's better to be a beneficiary than a victim of it." But the profit motive can be channeled in ways which are socially desirable as well as in ways which are socially destructive. Is it not our duty to do everything we can to build an order without victims one in which the profit motive is put to use in such a way that everybody benefits?
I do not harbor the illusion that the millennium is going to be ushered in by any program of social betterment. My theological orientation does not happen to be one which minimizes the stubbornness of man's depravity. Yet to make the depth of human wickedness an alibi for indifference to the demands of social justice is to ignore the will of him who said:
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
To some of you, the promotion of specific programs for social justice is seen as part of the responsibility of the institutional church; to others it is not. But all of us, I am sure, can agree that the individual Christian (or Jew or Moslem, Hindu or Buddhist, as the case may be) has a solemn moral obligation to study the issues carefully, and then involve himself strenuously in whatever social and political efforts his informed conscience tells him best advance the cause of right.
The earth is the Lord's!
* From "O Holy City, Seen of John" by Walter Russell Bowie. Copyright, 1910, by A. S. Barnes and Company. Quoted by permission.
Posted on March 19, 2012 at 08:21 PM in division of labor, Earth for All, economic justice, fruits of one's labors, Henry George, housing affordability, human nature, land monopoly capitalism, land speculation, land value taxation, monopoly -- not the game, Natural Public Revenue, no victims, P&P Synopsis, population growth, reaping what others sow, unearned increment, unemployment and underemployment, untaxing production, urban land value | Permalink | Comments (0)
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