For more information about how land reform can create meaningful work, restore our ecology, and bring more wealth into our local communities, I invite you to read my book Land: A New Paradigm for a Thriving World.

It’s easy to blame the big corporations—after all, many of them pay their employees minimum wages while their owners rake in billions of dollars every year. Walmart, for example, is one of the largest employers in the world (and the largest non-governmental employer), yet pays the vast majority of its employees a bare amount over the Federal minimum wage, while the Walmart family is the richest family in the United States. Incidentally, all current members of the Walmart family inherited their wealth; none contributed to its creation.

So it’s easy to blame corporations.

However, I will engage the controversial position that corporations are not to blame, since corporations are simply groups of individual human beings that live in a system that allows them to operate the way they do. Corporations are actually not bad in themselves—what’s bad is allowing these groups of people to do whatever they want: We the people are consenting to live in a system that financially rewards corporations with millions of dollars when they don’t add value to society. Most corporations are only so large because they profit from common wealth—from wealth that belongs to the people. Let me explain with a few examples.

The biggest bank in the U.S., JPMorgan, has $2.4 trillion in assets alone—the size of England’s economy!

Wall Street banks are massive; their power is nearly unrivaled. Some of them are even larger than entire nations: The biggest bank in the U.S., JPMorgan, has $2.4 trillion in assets alone—the size of England’s economy! Yet Wall Street banks are only so huge because they profit from land, which they do via mortgages. Land, however, unlike human-made capital, belongs into the commons, since no human being has created it. The value of land—in particular the value of urban land—is huge! As long as we allow banks to profit from land, banks will grow larger and larger, no matter how tightly they are regulated. You can learn more about how banks profit from land via my article “Banks, Land, and the Institution of Private Landownership”.

But if you prevent banks from profiting from the commons, banks would then be forced to provide money to those who’d truly need it—entrepreneurs, wealth creators, and job creators. Banks (greatly reduced in size, no doubt) would become a power for good.

But if you prevent banks from profiting from the commons, banks would then be forced to provide money to those who’d truly need it—entrepreneurs, wealth creators, and job creators. Banks (greatly reduced in size, no doubt) would become a power for good.

Even somewhat benign corporations like Apple Inc. or Google Inc. are huge because they profit from the commons. They do this, for example, through tax evasion, using clever strategies to move money around in such a way that many federal and state income, sales, and capital gains taxes can be avoided altogether. However, if these corporations had to pay for their use of the nature commons (land, oil, coal, natural gas, carbon pollution, the electromagnetic spectrum, etc.), which are locational in nature, tax evasion would become an impossibility: Land in valuable locations such as Silicon Valley, for example, doesn’t move.

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But what about corporations like Walmart that routinely underpay their workers? They, too, are only able to do so because we live in an economy where the commons are routinely exploited. For example, because land is hoarded and therefore scarce, people have to pay other people a monthly rent in order to live somewhere. This forces people to look for jobs in order to pay the rent instead of allowing them (with more available cash and less risk) to engage in activities that create jobs for other people. When there are more workers than jobs, you have job scarcity.

Job scarcity, however, leads to extremely low wages, because people are willing to accept the least amount of money in order to survive. In summary, because land is hoarded, wages sink to the bottom; it’s a systemic flaw. If you prevent people and corporations from making money from the land commons, however, wages naturally rise, because people will have more opportunities for employment, including self-employment. Imagine Walmart being forced to pay its least-paid employees $30 per hour—because if Walmart didn’t, these employees could find better-paying jobs elsewhere.

If you prevent corporations from taking from the commons, their purpose becomes re-aligned with the good of humankind. That’s where the work has to be done.

It’s not corporations that are flawed—it’s the system we’re living in that allows corporations to do what they do! If you prevent corporations from taking from the commons, their purpose becomes re-aligned with the good of humankind. That’s where the work has to be done.

For more information about how land reform can create meaningful work, restore our ecology, and bring more wealth into our local communities, I invite you to read my book Land: A New Paradigm for a Thriving World.

© Text Copyright Martin Adams rights reserved.
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