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This 2013 excerpt of Dissident Voice, Jly 27, is by Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, an American child and adolescent psychiatrist and political refugee in New Zealand.
Henry George in his 1879 Progress and Poverty urges us to replace taxes on wages, purchases, and investments with a tax on unimproved land and natural resources.
Nearly all history books written in the last 400 years were written by or on behalf of the ruling elite. The Fred Harrison’s Traumatised Society is unique in that it recounts the history of the industrial revolution from the perspective of the 99%.
Land values, if returned to the public, eliminate the need for governments to borrow from private banks without depleting the total wealth of the landowner.
The title The Traumatised Society is based on a severe dislocation Europeans experienced during the eighteenth century, a process remarkably similar to that of African slaves and indigenous people oppressed by colonization. The cause of this dislocation was The Enclosure Acts, a series of laws that drove our peasant ancestors off the communal farm lands that had supported them for a thousand years and fenced it to off as private property. In England alone, 160,000 freehold farmers were thrown off their land between 1700 and 1812. In addition to being stripped of their livelihood, our ancestors also experienced “cultural genocide,” as they lost a thousand years of cultural tradition linked to communal land ownership. This process is vividly described in the poems of 18th century poet John Clare, whose parents ended up in the poor house (i.e. jail) after being thrown off their land. Clare’s work was suppressed until the late 19th century, when the work of American journalist Henry George revived the British land reform movement.
The end result of this massive dislocation has been slavery, debt, alienation, depression, poverty (which was virtually non-existent prior to the Industrial Revolution), murder, rape, child abuse and alcohol and drug addiction. Counselors and therapists who work with African American and indigenous communities are very much aware of the trauma, which is passed from generation to generation, that results from severe economic dislocation and cultural genocide. Ironically, however, Europeans have no historical memory that we have been subjected to the same kind of trauma.
According to Harrison, the “moral evolution” of the human race ceased in the 1700s. This is when an authentic human culture of cooperation and interdependence was replaced with an artificial “cheating culture,” in which the highest ideal is to get something for nothing. The modern, free market version of Christianity is part and parcel of this phony culture – as is Marxism.
The Traumatised Society is written in classical economic language, in which “rent” refers to unearned income from the monopolization of land, natural resources, or the cultural commons (e.g. the public airwaves and money). Economic rent includes unearned profit gained from selling land that has increased in value (often due to land speculation). A “rent-seeker” is someone who derives unearned income from monopolization of these resources.
For most of human history land and resources were owned communally and any “rent” or unearned income went to finance public services. Beginning in the 18th century, this all changed. When “rent-seekers” privatized land and natural resources, they also captured control of government and shifted the burden of funding public services to workers. In this way modern capitalist society came to be divided into two classes, the Predators or rent-seekers, and the Producers, who engage in work to create economic wealth.
As more and more wealth is extracted from Producers, both as “rents” and as taxes, there is less and less money available to maintain public infrastructure. Eventually the number of Producers becomes inadequate to support the Predator rent-seeking class. At this point, the latter seeks to remedy the problem by conquering new lands and colonizing new populations, by using fossil fuel technology to increase productivity, by borrowing and extracting wealth from future generations, and/or by capital depletion (liquidating assets created by past production – like Greece).
Harrison believes competition between Western and Asian rent-seekers is bringing us ever closer to World War III. In his view, the best way to prevent war is to eliminate debt, reduce income inequality, and restore growth through widespread adoption of a Land Value Tax (LVT).
In Britain there have been several attempts to end predatory rent-seeking through the enactment of an LVT. As a result of Henry George’s 1879 international bestseller Progress and Poverty, Winston Churchill (still a liberal in 1909) became one of the most vocal proponents of the People’s Budget. The law, passed by the British parliament in 1909, sought to shift the burden of taxation from wages to land. It was never implemented because the British aristocracy went to court to block the land valuation required to assess the tax. In 1931 Parliament passed a revised version of the People’s Budget, which Chancellor of the Exchequer Neville Chamberlain simply deleted it from the law book in 1934. If the LVT had been fully implemented, Britain would have been spared the worst effects of the Great Depression.
Other American communities that have already benefited from an LVT include California’s Central Valley, Fairhope in Alabama, Arden in Delaware, and Pittsburgh and other cities in Pennsylvania.
This 2013 excerpt of the Daily Dot, Oct 10, is by Kevin Collier.
The National Security Agency tracks American citizens’ phone calls —- an act made legal through a secret court interpretation of that very law. The Patriot Act’s author, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), is going to try and fix it. He’s introducing the USA FREEDOM Act, a bill specifically aimed at countering the portions of the Patriot Act that were interpreted to let the NSA collect telephone metadata in bulk.
Sensenbrenner: “collection of a wide array of data on innocent Americans has led to serious questions about how government will use—or misuse—such information.”
That includes ending bulk metadata collection, requiring Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts to have a privacy advocate present, and increasing oversight of the NSA’s stated practice of discarding intelligence if it finds out it’s that of an American not considered a target of an ongoing investigation.
This 2013 excerpt of Thailand’s The Nation, June 30 is by Kornchanok Raksaseri.
Some farmers, aware of how much chemicals is being used to grow rice, admit to being afraid of eating rice. And despite the hike in costs, many farmers invest more in chemicals with the hope of increasing productivity.
At least seven kinds of fertiliser and pesticides are used with each crop. Sometimes farmers are critically hospitalized after spraying chemicals.
After the government announced the rice-pledging scheme with a price of Bt15,000 per tonne, land rent shot up to Bt1,500 per rai per season.
The soil gets no respite, and it is losing its fertility.
Yongyut Kuntaweethep, 70, retired kamnan of Beung Thonglang district, said productivity was constantly dropping. It used to be more than 600kg of rice paddy per rai 10 years ago. During the Abhisit Vejjajiva government it was 570 and now the official survey by the local agricultural officer shows 540kg per rai.
This 2013 excerpt of BBC, Oct 30, is by Sue Branford.
After more than a century of struggle, poor Brazilian farming families along the Tapajos river, a tributary of the Amazon, have won rights to their land.
Their victory is being hailed as a remarkable recognition by the authorities of the rights of a traditional community over the interests of powerful economic groups.
The move is surprising because it runs counter to the government’s plan to build a series of hydroelectric dams on the river, which would flood the land now granted to the families.
If it is to press ahead with the dams, it will now have to relocate these families to a comparable location, which it cannot do without expelling other communities and creating further conflicts.
The Agro-Extractive Settlement Project (PAE) recognizes the rights of families to continue occupying the land the way it has been occupied by their ancestors. The land cannot be sold.
“It is the first time the federal government recognises the antiquity of the occupation of this land by these communities and treats them as people having fundamental rights, especially rights to the land.”
The Montanha-Mangabal hamlets were formed in the second half of the 19th Century, when hundreds of poor farmers from the north-east of Brazil migrated to the region to tap rubber. After the collapse of the rubber boom early in the 20th Century, many were trapped in the region, without means of earning a living or the money to pay for the 2,000-km (1,200-mile) trip home. Stranded far away from home, some of the men, most of whom were single, kidnapped women from neighbouring indigenous groups and settled down with them.
Their indigenous knowledge helps to explain why, even though they fell small areas to plant crops, the communities have some of the best-conserved forest in the region.
To the families’ dismay, then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva refused to sign the necessary decree that would have given the families very strong rights over their land, after the discovery of vast mineral wealth, particularly gold, in the region.
Also, a Brazilian court sentenced a landowner to a 115-year prison term for the killing of five landless farm workers in the south eastern state of Minas Gerais, in 2004, in the “Felisburgo massacre”, but also allowed the condemned owner and henchmen to remain free while a court considers their appeal. Read more
This 2013 excerpt of International Business Times, July 26, is by Michelle FlorCruz.
Detroit has been losing manufacturing and people. Prices of homes+sites have plummeted, while foreclosures continue to skyrocket. China’s real estate-hungry buyers see an investment opportunity.
After announcing that the city filed for bankruptcy on July 18, Detroit property has been a hot topic on China’s social media platform, Weibo. This news, compounded with a television news segment aired on state-run CCTV back in March that said a price of a pair of leather shoes could get you two houses in Detroit, got many people moving their money from the mainland to the Midwest.
In true Chinese fashion, they are looking to buy up in bulk; one bought 30 properties. Buyers seem to be purchasing purely as investment, and don’t plan on moving to Motown anytime soon.
Social mobility tsar Alan Milburn said his report shows “work is not a cure for poverty.”
This 2013 excerpt is of the BBC, Oct 17.
Working parents in Britain “simply do not earn enough to escape poverty”, the government’s social mobility tsar Alan Milburn has warned.
In its first report, the government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission warned the target of ending child poverty by 2020 would “in all likelihood be missed by a considerable margin” – leaving as many as two million children in poverty.
Alan Milburn’s recipe for improvement calls for higher minimum wages and more universal help so poor working families get help as well as those out of work.
Around five million people in the country, mainly women, were earning less than the living wage, which is about £7.45 an hour outside of London.
“These are the people frankly who do all the right things, they go out to work, they stand on their own two feet, they look after their families – they’re the strivers not the shirkers – and yet they’re all too often the forgotten people of Britain and I think they desperately need a new deal.”
Though former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been indicted for leaking secrets about the U.S. government’s intrusive surveillance tactics, he was honored by a group of former U.S. intelligence officials as a courageous whistleblower during a Moscow ceremony.
This 2013 excerpt from ConsortiumNews, Oct 10, is by Ray McGovern.
The award, named in honor of the late CIA analyst Sam Adams, was presented to Snowden at a ceremony in Moscow by previous recipients of the award bestowed by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII). The presenters included former FBI agent Coleen Rowley, former NSA official Thomas Drake, and former Justice Department official Jesselyn Radack, now with the Government Accountability Project. (Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern also took part.)
Several hours were spent in informal conversation during which there was a wide consensus that Russia seemed the safest place for Snowden to be and that it was fortunate that Russia had rebuffed pressure to violate international law by turning him away.
Snowden showed himself not only to be in good health, but also in good spirits, and very much on top of world events, including the attacks on him personally. Shaking his head in disbelief, he acknowledged that he was aware that former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden, together with House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers, had hinted recently that he (Snowden) be put on the infamous “Kill List” for assassination.
Coleen Rowley, the first winner of the Sam Adams Award (2002), cited some little-known history to remind Snowden that he is in good company as a whistleblower — and not only because of previous Sam Adams honorees. She noted that in 1773, Benjamin Franklin leaked confidential information by releasing letters written by then-Lt. Governor of Massachusetts Thomas Hutchinson to Thomas Whatley, an assistant to the British Prime Minister. Like Edward Snowden, Franklin was called a traitor for whistleblowing the truth about what the government was doing.
The Sam Adams associates also expressed gratitude for those who made this unusual gathering possible: Anatoly Kucherena, a lawyer for Snowden and founder and head of The Institute for Democracy and Cooperation in Moscow; WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange (SAAII award winner in 2010); Sarah Harrison, also of WikiLeaks, who facilitated Mr. Snowden’s extrication from Hong Kong and has been a constant presence with him since; other Internet transparency and privacy activists rendering encouragement and support, and, of course, Mr. Snowden himself for agreeing to host the first such visit to express solidarity with him in Russia.
It was Adams who discovered in 1967 that there were more than a half-million Vietnamese Communists under arms. This was roughly twice the number that the U.S. command in Saigon would admit to, lest Americans learn that claims of “progress” were bogus.
Aluminum ingots waiting to be shipped from a processor. Financial institutions like Goldman Sachs have used industry pricing regulations to earn millions of dollars each year.
This 2013 excerpt is from the New York Times, July 20 , by David Kocieniewski.
Americans pay a fraction of a penny more for each aluminum article because Goldman Sachs and other financial players manipulate regulations, costing consumers billions of dollars.
A Goldman subsidiary stores customers’ aluminum. Two or three times a day, sometimes more, their drivers load in one warehouse. They unload in another. And then they do it again.
The back-and-forth lengthens the storage time. And that adds many millions a year to the coffers of Goldman. It has cost American consumers more than $5 billion over the last three years.
The maneuvering in markets for oil, wheat, cotton, coffee and more have brought billions in profits to investment banks like Goldman, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, while forcing consumers to pay more every time they fill up a gas tank, flick on a light switch, open a beer or buy a cellphone. In the last year, federal authorities have accused three banks, including JPMorgan, of rigging electricity prices.
In the case of aluminum, Goldman bought Metro International Trade Services, one of the country’s biggest storers of the metal. More than a quarter of the supply of aluminum available on the market is kept in the company’s Detroit-area warehouses. Before Goldman bought Metro International three years ago, warehouse customers used to wait an average of six weeks for their purchases to be located, retrieved by forklift and delivered to factories. But now that Goldman owns the company, the wait has grown more than tenfold — to more than 16 months. The delays are so acute that Coca-Cola and many other manufacturers avoid buying aluminum stored here. Nonetheless, they still pay the higher price.
The vast majority of the aluminum being moved around Metro’s warehouses is owned not by manufacturers or wholesalers, but by banks, hedge funds and traders. They buy caches of aluminum in financing deals. Once those deals end and their metal makes it through the queue, the owners can choose to renew them. About 90 percent or more of the metal moved at Metro each day goes to another warehouse to play the same game.
This 2013 excerpt of PropertyForum, Oct 25, is by Mark Benson.
The Norwegian government has had a sovereign wealth fund, which collects income from their oil, for many years now and it was worth $810 billion at the last official valuation.
While the managers of the Norway sovereign wealth fund have already been looking at the European property market, a revelation today shows that there could be a significant investment in worldwide property by the fund in the short to medium term.
As the price of UK property continues to move higher and higher there are now serious concerns that first-time buyers may become a thing of the past.
European property appears on the surface to be undervalued on a long-term basis although there are concerns that Spanish and Portuguese banks in particular are about to dump an array of unwanted properties on the market.
The UK property market is seen as something of a safe haven in light of problems within Europe and with investors such as the Norway sovereign wealth fund looking towards the UK in the short term and Europe in the medium to longer term.
Banking giants from Wells Fargo to Fannie Mae are routinely paying top dollar on the auction steps to hold onto their own distressed properties, outbidding cash offers and paying well above assessed value.
This 2013 excerpt of the Herald-Tribune, Jly 6, is by Josh Salman.
Speculating that properties will appreciate even more in the next couple of years is a shift from the years after the nadir of the foreclosure crisis, when mortgage lenders accepted any fair offer to avoid the hassle of listing the default.
The competition between lenders and billion-dollar investment funds could drive housing values higher through the kind of price speculation that marked the walk-up to the Great Recession, beyond what most working families can afford.
The trend could suffocate short sale and loan modification approvals for delinquent borrowers.
Banks can control prices and inventory, and trickle these properties onto the market at their own pace.
Banks do not have to pay out-of-pocket until they bid more on an auction than what a court judgment deems they are owed on the foreclosure. That is a fairly rare phenomenon.
This 2013 excerpt is from Biological Sciences, October 4, by Katie R. Billings.
Infants as young as three-months-old have innate preferences for altruistic individuals.
Infants between the ages of six and ten months watched a series of puppet shows. The infants selected their favorite puppet. Over 80 percent of the infants chose the “helpful” puppet, a surprisingly high, statistically significant percentage.
Basically every single baby chose the nice puppet… totally surreal.
Infants only three-months-old were given the same puppet show. SResearchers used eye trackers to determine the children’s preferences. The eye tracking results revealed that infants showed a clear aversion toward the “unhelpful” characters.
Babies are born with a set morality – a clear preference toward altruistic behavior. Infants as young as three-months-old can already evaluate others based on their actions, long before they are taught to do so.
New figures underline the depth and extent of Londoners’ concerns about spiraling accomodation costs.
This 2013 excerpt is from The Guardian, Jun 22, by Dave Hill.
Londoners’ deep anxiety about their housing costs is much more widespread compared with the rest of the country. Over a third are already concerned about their ability to pay their rent or mortgage, 45% are worried that they won’t be able to meet their payments in a year’s time, and that 53% are caused a great deal or a fair amount of stress by the expense of their accommodation.
The British average for concern about ability to meet costs now was 23%, while worry about a year into the future was 33% and the stat for stress was 36%.
Yhe cost of renting privately in London has risen by an average of 3.1% in the past year while average incomes have fallen.
This 2013 excerpt of the Huffington Post, Oct 16, is by Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.
Most people assume that strategic optimists outperform defensive pessimists, because they benefit from confidence and high expectations. Defensive pessimists were more anxious and set lower expectations for themselves. Yet they didn’t perform any worse.
By imagining the worst-case scenario, defensive pessimists motivate themselves to prepare more and try harder.
Strategies that prove effective are often the reverse of what you expect.
We think it’s a good idea to encourage people, but not so fast. Defensive pessimists did significantly worse when they were encouraged. The encouragement boosted their confidence, quelling their anxiety and interfering with their efforts to set low expectations.
When people are anxious, we sometimes tell them to distract themselves. Once again, this doesn’t pay off for defensive pessimists. Taking time to worry helps them generate the anxiety necessary to motivate themselves.
In the U.S., we favor optimists over pessimists. When economists surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. CEOs, they found that more than 80 percent scored as “very optimistic.”
We need pessimists to anticipate the worst and prepare us all for it.
Ultimately, both styles are deadly at their extremes. Pessimism becomes fatalistic, and optimism becomes toxic. The key is to find the sweet spot, the more moderate ranges that combine the benefits of both approaches.
This 2013 excerpt of Bloomberg, Jun 21, is by Janice Kew.
South Africa’s growing black middle class: 4.2 million people strong last year and double what it was in 2004.
The country now has more middle-class blacks than white, and the group spends more annually as well.
The newly affluent are moving from townships and the countryside to formerly whites-only suburbs, boosting the revenue of companies from car retailers to supermarkets.
Since 1994, national income per capita has climbed 40 percent, access to power has risen to more than 80 percent of the population from 50 percent and more than 3 million houses have been built.
Of a population of 53 million people, the number of black South Africans classified as the middle class rose from 1.7 million in 2004, the study showed.
While South Africa’s middle class is growing, the unemployment rate of 25.2 percent is the highest of more than 30 emerging-market nations. Income inequality has widened since 1994, with 35 percent of the population living on less than $51 a month. The Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality in which a reading of zero means society is totally equal, worsened to 0.63 in 2009 compared with 0.59 in 1993.
South Africa had a record 173 protests by township residents last year over a lack of housing and basic services.
shaped by reality. In the 1980′s, the Swedish government doubled its stock transfer tax. Tax receipts, however, rose only 15%, since traders simply fled to London exchanges. Fearing a further exodus, the Swedish government quickly rescinded the tax altogether. (The New York Times, April 20) That willingness to tax anything leads us astray. Pushing us astray is that unwillingness to pay what we owe: rent for land, our common heritage. Assuming land value is up for grabs, we speculate. We cap the property tax on both land and buildings and the rate at which assessments can go up; while real market values rise quicker, assessments can never catch up. Our stewards, the Bureau of Land Management, routinely sell and lease sites below market value, often to insiders, says the Government Accounting Office. Once we grasp that rent is ours to share, we’ll collect it all, rather than let it enrich a few, and quit taxing earnings, which do belong to the individual earner. That shift is geonomic policy.
an answer for Jonathan of the Green Party (Nov 7): “What does ‘share our surplus’ mean?”
Our surplus is the values that society generates synergistically. It’s the money we spend on the nature we use: on land sites, natural resources, EM spectrum, ecosystem services (assimilating pollutants). It’s also the money we pay to holders of government-granted privileges like corporate charters. We could share it by paying for the nature we use and privileges we hold to the public treasury then getting back a fair share of the recovered revenue. Used to be, owners did owe rent (“own” and “owe” used to be one word). And presently, some lucky residents do get back periodic dividends: Alaska’s oil dividend and Aspen Colorado’s housing assistance. Doing that, instead of subsidizing bads while taxing goods, is the essence of geonomics.
Jonathan: “Is local currency what you mean?”
Editor: It’s not. Community currency is a good reform, but every good reform pushes up site values. That makes land an even more tempting object of speculation. Now, any good will eventually do bad by widening the income gap – until you share land values.
of interest to Dave Lakhani, President Bold Approach (Mar 8) and Matt Ozga (Jan 29): “I write for the Washington Square News, the student run newspaper out of New York University. Geonomics seems like it has great significance, especially in this area. When was geonomics developed, and by whom?”
About 1982 I began. Two years later, Chilean Dr Manfred Max-Neef offered the term geonomics for Earth-friendly economics. In the mid-80s, a millionaire founded a Geonomics Institute on Middlebury College campus in Vermont re global trade. In the 1990s, CNBC cablecast a show, Geonomics, on world trade as it benefits world traders. My version of geonomics draws heavily from the American Henry George who wrote Progress & Poverty (1879) and won the mayoralty of New York but was denied his victory by Tammany Hall (1886). He in turn got lots from Brits David Ricardo, Adam Smith, and the French physiocrats of the 1700s. My version differs by focusing not on taxation but on the flow of rents for sites, resources, sinks, and government-granted privileges. Forgoing these trillions, we instead tax and subsidize, making waste cheap and sustainability expensive. To quit distorting price, replace taxes with “land dues” and replace subsidies with a Citizens Dividend.
Matt: “This idea of sharing rents sounds, if not explicitly socialist, at least at odds with some capitalist values (only the strong survive & prosper, etc). Is it fair to say that geonomics has some basis in socialist theory?”
A closer descriptor would be Christian. Beyond ethics into praxis, Alaska shares oil rent with residents, and they’re more libertarian than socialist. While individuals provide labor and capital, no one provides land while society generates its value. Rent is not private property but public property. Sharing Rent is predistribution, sharing it before an elite or state has a chance to get and misspend it, like a public REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) paying dividends to its stakeholders – a perfectly capitalist model. What we should leave untaxed are our sales, salaries, and structures, things we do produce.
a way to have everybody pulling on the same end of the rope. Last summer’s expansive forest fires shed light on growing class resentment in the West. Old log-gers and ranchers rankled at the new urgency to stamp out the blazes that threatened the recent Aspenesque settlers. The newcomers expected working class firemen to make protecting their expensive homes top priority. (Chr Sci Mntr, Spt 7) The tinder for this envy? Rich people moving in bid up the price of land, making it hard to afford by people on the margin. The fault really lies with our system of privatizing land value. If this rising value were collected by land dues and shared by rent dividends – the essence of geonomic policy – who’d complain? The more people move in, the higher the land value, and the fatter the dividend paid to residents. Then people on the margin might go out of their way to invite rich outsiders in.
an answer to a rarely asked question. If price is a reward for production, why do we pay for land, never produced by any of us? What is land price a reward for? Good behavior? How much money do we spend on the nature we use? Who gets it? What do they do with it? (If you answer all these correctly, you’re not a genius but a geoist.) The worth of Earth is enough that were we to collect and share it, we could abolish taxes on the goods we do produce. For example, San Francisco’s Redefining Progress has calculated that Cali-fornia could abolish all state and local taxes were it to collect the values of resources and of using na-ture as a dump. By exorcising the profit motive from depletion and pollution, rent collection could replace bossy regulation. Economies could self-regulate, as the rest of the eco-system does. See how big problems yield to big answers when we ask the right questions?
what you do when you see economies as part of the ecosystem, following feedback loops and storing up energy. Surplus energy – fat or profit – enables us to produce and reproduce. To recycle society’s surplus, the commonwealth, geonomics would replace taxes with land dues (charged to users of sites and resources, including the EM spectrum, and extra to polluters), and replace subsidies with rent dividends to citizens (a la Alaska’s oil dividend). Without taxes and subsidies to distort them, prices become precise, reflect accurately our costs and values; then, motivated by no more than the bottom line, both producers and consumers make sustainable choices. While no place uses geonomics in its entirety, some places use parts of it, most notably a shift of the property tax off buildings, onto locations. Shifting the property tax drives efficient use of land, in-fills cities, improves the housing stock, makes homes affordable, engenders jobs and investment opportunities, lowers crime, raises civic participation, etc – overall it makes cities more livable. Geonomics – a way to share the bounty of nature and society – is something we can work for locally, globally, and in between.
a neologism for sharing “rent” or “social surplus” – the money we spend on the nature we use. When we buy land, such as the land beneath a home, we typically pay the wrong person – the homeowner. Instead, since land cost us nothing to make and is the common heri-tage of us all, rather than pay the owner, we should pay ourselves, our neighbors, our community. That is, we should all pay land dues to the public treasury, then our government would pay us land dividends from this collected revenue. It’s similar to the Alaska oil dividend, almost $2,000 last year. Indeed, the annual rental value of land, oil, all other natural resources, including the broadcast spectrum and other government-granted permits such as corporate charters, totals several trillion dollars each year. It’s so much that some could be spent on basic social services, the rest parceled out as a divi-dend, as Tom Paine suggested, and taxes (except any on natural rents) could be abolished, as Thomas Jeffer-son suggested. Were we sharing Earth by sharing her worth, territorial disputes would be fewer, less intense, and more resolvable.
a manual. The world did not come without a way for people to prosper, and the planet to heal and stay well; that way is geonomics. Economies are part of the ecosystem. Both generate surpluses and follow self-regulating feedback loops. A cycle like the Law of Supply and Demand is one of the economy’s on/off loops. Our spending for land and resources – things that nobody made and everybody needs – constitutes our society’s surplus. Those profits without production (remember, nobody produced Earth) can become our commonwealth. To share it, we could pay land dues in to the public treasury (wouldn’t oil companies love that?) and get rent dividends back, a la Alaska’s oil dividend. Doing so let’s us axe taxes and jettison subsidies. Taxes and subsidies distort price (the DNA of exchange), violate quid pro quo by benefiting the well-connected more than anyone else, reinforce hierarchy of state over citizen, and are costly to administer (you don’t really need so much bureaucracy, do you?). Conversely, land dues motivate people to not waste sites, resources, and the ecosystem while rent dividends motivate people to not waste themselves. Receiving this income supplement – a Citizens Dividend – people can invest in their favorite technology or outgrow being “economan” and shrink their overbearing workweek in order to enjoy more time with family, friends, community, and nature. Then in all that free time, maybe we could figure out just what we are here for.
the policy that the earth’s natural patterns suggests. Use the eco-system’s self-regulating feedback loops as a model. What then needs changing? Basically, the flow of money spent to own or use Earth (both sites and resources) must visit each of us. Our agent, government, exists to collect this natural rent via fees and to disburse the collected revenue via dividends. Doing this, we could forgo taxes on homes and earnings and subsidies of either the needy or the greedy. For more, see our web site, our pamphlet of the title above, or any of our other lit pieces; ask for our literature list.
in part the Great Green Tax Shift maxed out. Economically, taxing pollution and depletion does reduce pollutants and extracts – and thus the tax base; plus such taxes are regressive, requiring a safety net. On the other hand, collecting site rent is progressive and generates a revenue surplus payable as a dividend to residents, which can serve as the safety net. Environmentally, taxes on waste and extraction do not drive efficient use of land, as does getting site rent.