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Follow the Money, Save the Land
trusterty citizens dividend sustainable common wealth dodson basic income

Talking Points for Pitching "Greens"

What do you say to one with naked curiosity? Here are some lines, some slide shows, and a conference where you can try out your arguments.

by Jeffery J. SMITH, editor, 22 December 2011

People who care about the health of the earth are often willing to consider new ways of looking at property in land and resources. For instance … Can it be that people have a right to treat the land they own any way they want? To keep every penny of value that the site can produce even when the owner is always absent? To own more than one needs while others don’t own even enough to keep body and soul together? What are your answers to these moral dilemmas?

Ralph Borsodi came up with a replacement for property in land -- trusterty. Each member of society would: (1) claim publicly, (2) occupy privately, (3) use sparingly, and (4) compensate fairly. Everyone would pay in land dues and get back rent dividends. The owner could profit exclusively from his building upon his location but all the members of the society would benefit equally from the value of all the locations in the region.

Back in the real world, now we let owners and investors and lenders retain the incomes due to both the improvements and to the location -- which creates problems. Track these talking points:
* (1) There’s money to be made using land and resources.
* (2) There’s money to be made lending to such ventures.
* (3) There’s profit to be retained by wasting the environment.
* (4) Those three lucrative enterprises, by lobbying elected officials, win subsidies, a fourth fat stream of unearned income.
* (5) As long as so much money flows to harming the natural world, how can any law defend the environment?
* (6) Yet, if we are to heal nature, we can not allow non-sustainable business to remain so remunerative.
* (7) Instead, we must recover the socially-generated value of locations, thereby making "rents" part of the commonwealth.
* (8) How? Despite the lobbying it receives, government must make polluters pay, make depleters pay, and make exclusive users of locations pay; that is, via taxes, fees, or other means, charge people for the values they take (not those they make).
* (9) To be fair -- and to make charging those who impose their costs upon others more politically appealing -- government must cut or even cut out counterproductive taxes on buildings, sales, and earnings, thereby shifting taxes from goods -- such as income -- to bads -- such as pollution.
* (10) Most fundamentally, we must not allow the money to be made by using Earth to pool up into few pockets but must disburse it equitably thru-out society as a Citizens Dividend.

The policies above follow from geonomics, from researchers following the spending for land and nature and noting how that flow shapes the entire economy. Former Fannie-Mae lender Ed Dodson has created several tools for both learning and teaching the underlying economic principles that shape geonomics.
* During talks in January to the seniors at Temple University and at the Henry George School (HGS) in Philadelphia, Ed will display one of his tools, "The Political Economy of Martin Luther King Jr."
* Another slide show Ed has already presented is “What the candidates for the U.S. Presidency say they will do for the economy and who they have chosen as their economic policy advisers.” Ed apologizes in advance for not providing information on candidates of smaller parties, eventho’ their proposals may be more thoughtful and worthy of support.
* And finally, Ed has rewritten the rules on how to play MONOPOLY to make the game somewhat close to what actual inventor Lizzie Magie might have approved -- using the MONOPOLY game board with some added and different property cards and adding office buildings to the game.

To see either of these shows or the rules, contact Ed at ejdodson at Also, Ed has written a biography of Lizzie Magie and posted it on the website of the Philadelphia extension of HGS. To read it, click here .

Adopting the above geonomic policy would not only solve our environmental problem, it’d also solve our employment problem. Getting a rent share, people with jobs could work less so people without jobs could work more. And sharing the common wealth and shrinking the workweek leaves people far better off than does the present demand of just generating make-work jobs.

People begging for jobs are begging for trouble. It not only puts one in an inferior position, it’s also often an impossible demand. Sometimes there are not jobs because the necessary work is already being performed. And as technology progresses, there’s even less necessary work to perform.

Of course, society can make up jobs that take up people’s time shuffling papers and selling trinkets, but what a waste of the miracle of life! It’d make more sense to shorten and divide up the workweek. That’s a goal society could achieve organically -- not by imposition -- by paying the citizenry dividends from the worth of the earth.

If you’d like to discuss an extra income apart from one’s efforts, attend the North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress in Toronto this coming May 3rd to 5th, 2012. The deadline for the call for papers is approaching on January 13th, 2012. To view the call for papers, click here .


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

When the value of good land rises …

Bolivia enshrines natural world's rights

Evidence the US is becoming a two-class society?

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