Who Earns Our Wealth?
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Archive, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
How to Achieve Economic Justice
Haves and Have-Nots
Below is the text of a radio broadcast.
It is fundamental to all social ideals that all persons should be able to satisfy by their own labour all their reasonable material requirements. We do not want a society of the “haves” and the “have-nots,” but we want reasonably equal opportunities for people of approximately equal abilities.
The first and natural reward of labour is the direct produce of that labour. The wage system means that the worker generally receives his immediate reward, not in the direct product of his labour but in money wages. But this does not alter the fact that these money wages, or this value that he receives, is directly produced by his work. In short, his employer each week buys from him all the value he has created in that week.
In order to produce wealth, labour can only be exerted upon materials found in nature. Productive work is the fundamental source of wealth.
But a large proportion of the wealth earned by the producers at the present time is being paid without option into the pockets of non-producers.
This vast fund of money represents wealth, not produced by those who receive it, and to which they are therefore in no way entitled. I refer to money paid to individuals for the rent or purchase of land. The value of land is a community-created value yet everywhere it is being paid by individuals in the form of rent or purchase to other individuals who are fortunate enough to be able to commandeer it. The value of land forms a fund not created by the labour of any individual. It should be paid into the State as State Revenue, and then all members of the State would benefit equally.
We claim that these bare land values, which have obviously arisen because of the general increase and development of the community and which result largely from the expenditure of taxpayers’ money; on Public works, constitute a natural source of income to the state, much better than taxation. This is clearly recognised by some of our political leaders. I will quote the Hon. W.J. Beckett, M.L.C., who said last year after visiting Red Cliffs: “I previously visited Red Cliffs in its rough, virgin state. Due to the expenditure of public money on that district, land is now worth more a foot than it was worth an acre. The State which expended money improving the area nevet received the benefit of the unearned increment — someone else got it.”
Thus funds supplied by the community for irrigation works, roads, railways and services create increased land values, which become a free gift to the landowners, who can then sell or rent their land at these values. This of course applies to all land in the state, business sites as well as land used for primary production.
So we, the general public, who produce and earn wages and who pay the taxes, continue to pay huge sums to men who have not earned their income. At the same time we are robbed by the State in two ways at once. Because the State does not take this natural fund for revenue, we are robbed as producers in proportion as we produce and, as consumers, in proportion as we consume, by taxation.
Our aim should be to make the state self-supporting — supported by the value of its own territory — a community or state-created value. And to make every person self-supporting, aa we should and can be — supported by our own labour, not by unearned increment of land value as many are at present. At the same time we would free the State from the necessity to support an army of tax gatherers, and free the individual from the necessity to contribute to the wealth of the landowner on the one hand, while he istaxed more heavily the more he produces on the other.
Our motto is Ground Rent for Revenue
— I.A. Robinson
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