Economics
Private Property?
It’s quite amazing how the term ‘private property’ has come to mean to some people the land over which we have been granted title.
March 11, 2018
Bryan Kavanagh
Real Estate Professional

It’s quite amazing how the term ‘private property’ has come to mean to some people the land over which we have been granted title.

What about the income we earn? That may be taxed because it’s public property, I presume? That’s not really our private property?

Land rent is created by the existence of the community and is therefore public property, because it hasn’t been earned by any individual title holder. Land was just there and had no cost of production. We have high land prices because we fail to collect land rent publicly.

This is the basis for all markets failing: there is no real market in real estate unless we tax away publicly-generated land rent, instead of taxing labour and capital (the real ‘private property’).

The economic distortions created by the failure to capture land rent mount daily. These distortions express themselves in a relatively few living in obscene splendour as others are increasingly dispossessed, impoverished and denied access to land.

It’s not rocket science, but there are super-wealthy interests at play here who have the ear of politicians – of all persuasions.

Self-interest is best served by embracing some measure of community, by taxing away publicly-generated economic rent instead of incomes. Otherwise, we end up with failing economies and social fracture such as we’re now experiencing.

This article was originally published on Bryan's blog at thedepression.org.au on January 2, 2018.

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BRYAN KAVANAGH was employed in the Australian Taxation Office and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as a real estate valuer before co-founding a private real estate valuation practice in Melbourne in 1997. He is a research associate of the Land Values Research Group, producing a report “Unlocking the Riches of Oz: a case study of real estate bubbles 1972 to 2006” in May 2007. Bryan has had papers published in his professional magazine, Australia and New Zealand Property Journal, and newspaper and magazine articles forecasting the most recent 2008 financial collapse. Bryan is also a part of the Executive Committee at Prosper Australia, an NGO inspired by the economic justice that can be achieved by tax reform and distributing the wealth produced from land amongst the entire community as articulated by Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and Henry George, and in association with Earthsharing Australia, which aims to achieve economic justice for all people by reforming the way we treat our limited planetary resources. He blogs at thedepression.org.au.