urban land ground rent common wealth progressive era

An Old Practice Gets Fresh News Coverage
land ownership

Urban Ground Rent As Common Wealth

As long as humans let the profit from land remain an object of speculation, then wannabe reformers will find it impossible to win the struggles for a healthy environment within a fair, peaceful, and prosperous society. Co-author R. Nymoen works for the cause in the Twin Cities. J. Smith, editor of these pages, does the same in Portland OR.

by Jeffery J. Smith, 29 March 2013

Three editors this month chose our article (by myself and good guy Rich Nymoen) for their publication:
* On the Commons, the foremost American group resurrecting the notion that some things belong to us all equally as a birthright, put it in their magazine
* Guernica, the beautiful review on the arts and politics, ran it in their lauded magazine and
* Reston 20/20, a group of citizens envisioning and actualizing the future of their lovely community, included it on their informative site .

The Reston editor highlighted this paragraph:
"Currently, the only way one can profit from land is to develop it or sell it. However, if the profit from land were viewed as our common wealth, then we’d benefit to the degree that the land in our region was best used – which includes non-use. To illustrate, consider Central Park in Manhattan. Every time developers go to the city council with proposals to develop within the park, New York rejects the proposals. Not because the Green Party has taken over the Big Apple but because of the bottom line. The city gets more revenue from the surrounding properties with the park kept open than it would if the park were developed from border to border. Open space is profitable to the community, even if not to any individual owner of the open space. Hence, to remove the motive to develop every parcel of land – and to be fair to all owners – it’s necessary to combine the value of all land in a region into a common fund, then share the revenue as an equitable dividend to residents."
(The Guernica editor highlighted a sentence from the above; can you guess which one?)

What do you think? Can nature be saved even if we don't reform how society divvies up the profits from land and the rest of nature? Or must we finally get real about this issue of: who does the profit of Earth really belong to? You know our answer. And you also know we think that sharing Earth's worth, while axing taxes and subsidies, is the key also to widespread prosperity, lasting peace, and compassionate justice.

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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:

The Barons are Back In Britain - Did They Ever Leave?
http://www.progress.org/2012/commontr.htm

An Interview With James Quilligan
http://www.progress.org/2012/trusts.htm

The US Ignores Beaches while the DOD Grabs Land
http://www.progress.org/2012/armyland.htm

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