How We Must Breach This Sacred Line
The Guardian on Property and Theft and the Difference
The 'private good, public bad' madness sees a bedroom tax foisted on the poor while the rich amass vast property wealth. We excerpt this 2013 article from The Guardian, Mar 25 and follow it with one from Deccan Herald of Bangalore, Mar 19, public recovery of rents.
by George MonbiotMuch of the wealth of private householders has also been provided by the state. The value of our homes, for example, has been greatly enhanced by the infrastructure and public services the state provides. Yet the proposal to reclaim some of this unearned wealth through a land value tax is angrily dismissed by the party promoting a bedroom tax for the poor.
Similarly, every year taxpayers in this country spend £3.6bn on farm subsidies. We could by now have bought all the farmland in Britain several times over. But this money has earned us no property rights: farmers still feel entitled to announce at public meetings that "it's my land and I will do what I want with it". Most of the land in this country, if you go back far enough, was seized from other people -– often, in the case of the commons, from entire communities. Much of the law we abide by today was drafted to formalise these seizures.
There is a sacred line that divides the world into public and private property. The line is arbitrary and moves every year: ever further across the public realm. But it is policed religiously. As soon as you can bundle the public wealth you've snatched over the line and into the hallowed ground of the private sector, you can claim sanctuary.
Among the Russian government's backers are oligarchs who were enriched by acquiring government assets at a fraction of their value. Their political alliances have ensured that their wealth is neither questioned nor reclaimed by the government. But when the government of Cyprus plans to acquire some of the assets stashed by tax-avoiding oligarchs, the Russian prime minister denounces it as "stealing".
What of the gagging clauses deployed by banks or oil companies or insurance firms, which shield their malpractice from public scrutiny? Where in the media or in government have you heard a call for those to be removed? And why should freedom of information laws stop at the fence marked "private: keep out"? Why, for example, should we not have the right to know what the banks are cooking up?
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JJS: Encouragingly, some places are already recovering the socially-generated value of land, whether by tax, lease, fee, dues, or rent.
Govt to Levy Rent for Laying Optical Fibre Cables in Cities
The State cabinet gave its nod to a proposal to impose ground rent on optical fibre cable (OFC) companies for laying cables in all city corporation limits, including the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
Several proposals for granting prime lands in Bangalore, Belgaum and Bidar on lease to private institutions were placed before the State cabinet, which met late Tuesday evening.
Prominent among the proposals was that of handing over a civic amenity site/play ground at Rajajinagar 2nd block to KLE Society for maintenance. About two acres at Kuvempunagar meant for Hindalga scheme of Belgaum Mahanagara Palike in Belgaum has been proposed to be given to KLE Society on lease for educational purposes.
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JJS: One can only hope that the politicians offer the land to all would-be users and get the top market bid for the public.
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 .
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