Two recent reports, George Monbiot’s #LandForTheMany and Chris Packham’s #peoplesmanifestoforwildlife sub report "Where there’s muck there’s brass: revealing the billions hidden in farmland tax shelters”, published today, have started highlighting the economics of land and wildlife destruction.
Miles King - has investigated some of the more obvious tax breaks that farmers get that are incentivising natures destruction in the People Need Nature Report - See here: https://anewnatureblog.com/2019/06/28/farmland-tax-breaks-revealed/
But the journey these leading figures in wildlife protection have gone down, and the many authors they have drawn together, is still not fully complete. Both reports have highlighted how we are destroying our planet because our current tax and subsidy systems gives incentives to people to kill our wildlife, pollute and use land and natural resources inefficiently.
My personal campaign for the last 20 years has been to highlight this and promote rewilding, understanding that if we cannot tackle these issues, we will continue to lose wildlife no matter what social movements happen, wildlife protection laws are enacted or how many landowners we can win over to rewild their land.
It’s really very simple, if we want to save our planet and rewild land we need to base our entire tax policy on taxing monopolies and externalities and have a tax policy that does not allow avoidance. Shifting taxation from incomes (earnings and trade) and put it on land values. Taxing pesticides, diesel etc (externalities) will all provide a positive incentive to use such resources less and much more efficiently. Taxing land values will reduce land use and allow rewilding. Our current corrupt system is based on inflating land values to benefit the tiny minority of landowners. This has been a political fight waged over hundreds of years, the basis of the Corn Laws and the Liberal movement of the late 19th century, it was behind the Parliament Act and the landowners and bankers win in the end because most people are unaware of the fundamental economic forces at play.
Such a tax shift will save our planet, rewild 40% to 50% of the world, abolish poverty, reduce crime and take away many of the incentives for war. It’s all about understanding the marginal economic choices of the people who control natural resources and land – be it a hill farmer or Donald Trump; people choose to destroy our planet and hurt others because they make money by doing so. Our current tax system pushes people to misuse land and natural resources in so many complex ways that no matter what laws we try to enact it cannot counteract that economic force of those trying to make money from nature’s destruction. If we have a tax system that forces people to use land and natural resources more efficiently then they will choose to damage the planet less, the free market will become our ally as people try to outcompete one another to provide goods and services that use less land, pollution and natural resources within them.
A land value tax collecting the full unimproved rental value of land will make landowners compete to provide food with less land, landowners will be begging to give poor quality land to rewilding charities, grouse moor owners will be falling over themselves to shoot on less land and give up the moors. But by reducing labour taxes we will have more farmers producing more food with less inputs, a true democracy in land is best achieved by fiscal measure and not laws.
If we continue to have policies that give subsidies to landowners, let them off scot free when they pollute, have a system of money creation that is used to fund ever increasing land values then we enshrine natural destruction and poverty, a bleak future for humanity. This is a battle that must be won and for those campaigning to protect our planet the fundamental economic forces must be understood otherwise we will continue to fail in our efforts.
One of my lectures on the subject: