Not Enough Earth For Everybody?
|October 17, 2012||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under The Geonomist Blog, Views|
When humans want and need stuff, they grab it, heedless of the consequences. While it would do some good to hire game wardens to patrol jungles, it’d probably do much more good to find other ways to supply the goods that humans demand, find alternatives to ape meat, timber, and other facets of nature that people desire. It might also help to slow population growth, but that happens automatically where people prosper.
There already are alternatives to our ravaging of jungles, such as raising chickens (which millennia ago were the original jungle fowl served up for dinner) instead of hunting apes, and recycling wood and paper instead of logging trees, and recycling tin cans and metal appliances instead of mining virgin ore. The question is, why don’t people now use such alternatives? The answer is almost always the same: wasting the world is cheaper than conserving it.
Next question: why isn’t efficiency cheaper than waste? Answer: revenue policy. Governments tend to tax what they shouldn’t, such as wages, and not tax what they should, such as land and resources. Further, governments tend to subsidize what they shouldn’t, such as mining, and not share public revenue with whom they should — the public. Such an inverse revenue policy makes it cheaper to squander resources rather than to steward them.
Obviously, governments should shift subsidies from special interests to the general populace and shift taxes off what people make — buildings and businesses — and onto what people take — land and resources. By doing that, government would end up charging landowners the annual rental value of locations, which is the most powerful medicine an economy could take. Having to pay “land dues”, owners would use no more land than they need, leaving enough for others so newcomers don’t have to expand into jungles, and they’d treat what they take benignly, because they’d feel pride in ownership and constantly moving would become too expensive.
Indeed, every place that has used this geonomic recipe has prospered, and has developed a large middle class who are the source of environmentalists. One place that taxed land — Taiwan — cut its population growth rate 40% in 20 years. Wherever tried and to the degree tried, geonomics has always worked, a claim no other reform can make. Africans could use geonomics to make room for both humans and apes. If you love nature, there really is not any time to waste, just as there is no land to waste.
If you’d like to know more about geonomics and will be in London, check out “Let the Beneficiaries Pay”: OMEGA seminar, October 10th, UCL. To read more on LandValueScape.