Earth Day Logic — Share to Spare
|April 22, 2011||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Uncategorized|
Earth Day Logic — Share to Spare
Sine Qua Non (Without Which, Nothing)
Humans are not out to get Earth. Most do care for the Mother. Yet that relationship of caring for nature gets stymied by another relationship humans have with land and resources — that of classical rent-seeking.
by Jeffery J. SMITH, editor, 22 April 2011
You know the joke about a stranger asking directions from a New England farmer: You cant get there from here. Sometimes its true; you cant green the planet from our current system of making money. Like another New Englander said, Henry David Thoreau, “For every thousand hacking at the branches of evil, one hacks at the root.” And what did another venerable voice call the root of evil?
Making money is not evil; its fine. But it does matter how its done. Even something for nothing is OK. We inhale air without paying for it (yet), nor should we have to. What matters is this: when there is something for nothing — like the electromagnetic spectrum, which to use, advertisers pay billions each year — then that value should not collect in just a few pockets but be shared by everybody.
Valuable airwaves are the tip of the iceberg. Many features of the natural world command very high price tags. Each year, humans pay boatloads of cold cash for land, resources, spectrum, and ecosystem services. Check out any nations GDP; the biggest sector is spending for Earth. Look at the family budget; at the top is paying for housing (actually, the site beneath the house), plus food and energy. Whenever you spend money for anything, part of it goes to who owns part of nature.
Letting those trillions for Earth settle in just a few pockets creates problems: Undue fortunes. Undeserved poverty. Undue political clout. Undeserved bad governance. Whore the biggest contributors to local campaigns? Developers and the rest of the growth machine. Globally, whos the biggest influence on foreign policy? The oiligarchy. The people who oppose conserving the earth are empowered by everyones spending to use the earth; environmentalists provide their opponents with the money used to oppose them. Hows that for irony?
The problems dont stop there. When you pay just a few for Earth, you create class, hierarchy, inequality, and inferiority complexes. You reward speculators, who create bubbles that end badly. During hard times, people make tough choices, and Mother Earth often loses. The environment often loses in boom times, too. Presently, the main way to profit from nature is to develop land, usefully or not.
Problems dont go away when idealists beautify a street, designate a bike path, de-pave a playground, or daylight a stream. Then they make a neighborhood more livable. More desirable. More in demand. Congratulations. Now their town is more expensive to live in. Many of the people who started the process have to start all over somewhere else.
Unless they geonomize. Unless they recycle local land values. That is, residents would pay land dues (or land taxes) into the public treasury — as they do to some degree in a dozen or so towns in Pennsylvania — and get back rent dividends, a la Alaskas oil dividend. Then one would not profit from merely owning some land. Owners and non-owners alike would profit from the value of all the land and resources in the region.
The higher the locations value, the bigger ones dues. One would pay for what they take. So they’d take less and use what they take more wisely.
Land value is highest where Earth is healthiest. Now go prevent pollution, ecologize your city, and drive up site values; youll simultaneously fatten your dividend. Congratulations. You have aligned the interests of people and of planet. You can eat your cake and keep it, too.
How do you find eco-librium? You cant get there from here. Not while land remains an object of speculation. As long as you leave trillions of dollars of rents on the table every year for a few to grab by hook or crook (or both), you cant expect people to green the planet. If humanity is to live within natural constraints, you must redirect that huge flow of spending from a few to all.
Already, some jurisdictions have taken steps that way. Let your locality be first to go all the way. You want to be the latest to join us? Get in touch.
If you need any reminders of how sad it is, the way we humans deal with other species and each other, check out these recent news stories:
“Air pollution ‘damaging Europe’s wildlife havens’”. To see the whole article, click here .
“Big Coals Dirty Secret: Breakthrough New Study on Longwall Mining Regulatory Failure and Ruin in Pennsylvania”. Gee, and statists wonder why some other people lack faith in government regulation! To see the whole article, click here .
Meanwhile, Happy Earth Day!
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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