Welfare Dependents Sans Stigma? Rich Landowners
|March 11, 2014||Posted by Staff under Editorials|
This 2014 excerpt of The Guardian, Mar 3 is by George Monbiot.
The biggest 174 landowners in England take £120m between them. A €300,000 cap would have saved about £70m. If farmers were subject to the benefits cap that applies to everyone else (£26,000), the saving would amount to about £1bn.
First we give rich landowners our money – vast amounts of it, uncapped and almost unconditional. Then we pay for the costs they kindly dump on us: the floods, the extra water purification necessitated by the pollution they cause, the loss of so many precious and beautiful places, the decline of wildlife that enchants and enraptures. Expensive, irrational, destructive, counter-productive: this scarcely begins to describe our farming policies.
But it need not be this way. Change the rules, change the incentives, support impoverished farmers to do the right thing, stop support for the rich farmers altogether, and everything else can follow.
Turn the rivers flowing into the lowlands into “blue belts” or “wild ways”. For 50 metres on either side, the land would be left unfarmed, allowing trees and bogs to return and creating continuous wildlife corridors. Bogs and forests trap the floodwaters, helping to protect the towns downstream. They catch the soil washing off the fields and filter out some of the chemicals which would otherwise find their way into the rivers. A few of us are now in the process of setting up a rewilding group in Britain, which would seek to catalyse some of these changes.
We must insert a political crowbar to prise the government away from the industry it is supposed to regulate.
Ed. Notes: We humans could do a much better job of extracting our livelihood from the earth sustainably. We humans might feel a stronger motive to do a better job if we practiced geonomics. If we all paid land dues and got back rent dividends, we would be connected to Mother Earth financially. She’d become our commons. If she lost value, making our dividend shrink, we’d sit up and take notice and if for no other reason than the bottom line, we’d make the necessary corrections so that none of us could get away with doing environmental harm, since that also lowers land value. After doing the right thing for maybe not the right reason for a while, probably we’d internalize the values of stewardship and treat the natural world sustainably because we’d see ourselves as part of it.