The thoughts behind the Renegade Ecologist

From my 20 years as a nature conservationist I have learned the utter futility of trying to protect nature under our current economic system. But by making some small changes to our taxation system we could make a world fit for our children to inherit full of wildlife & prosperity for all.

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root....
Henry David Thoreau
"In many ways, nature conservation has become just another method of rent extraction by landowners who are trying to hide the fact that modern farmers’ fields are essentially deserts, devoid of wildlife, and the taxpayer must pay ‘rent’ if we want wild animals to occupy ‘their land’."
Peter Smith

Land Value Tax, which is in my opinion the Holy Grail of legislative changes to protect wildlife, is the simplest expression of the Economic theories of Henry George. This theory goes that if we abolish all harmful taxes on our hard work and trade and instead charge a rent for the use of natural resources such as Land we will not waste them or allow private interests to exploit the rest of humanities access to them.

Such a tax would not only stimulate jobs and enterprise but put a value on all of our natural resources and force us to look after them. If it was implemented for agricultural land, where the lower value of perpetually designated wilderness or natural grazing land is reflected in its land value taxation, it would be the surest way to save the wildlife of the UK and for the least cost to the taxpayer”

This would mean hard to farm areas, steep banks, riverbanks, rocky outcrops and areas landowners want to designate a nature reserves, which must be legally binding, could be set aside for wildlife and as such attract no taxation. The result of this would be that unproductive and marginal land would become wildlife havens and receive long term protection for future generation to enjoy. But it would also take away land and monopolies from our plutocrats who own wealth with no obligation to the rest of society, these plutocrats fund both the red and blue (and Yellow) faction of the vested interest or ‘line my friends pocket’ parties that control the legislature in Britain.

This blog is dedicated to teaching those who love nature that there is a simple ‘magic bullet’ that can save the rare wildlife of this country at no cost to the taxpayer. This magic bullet will actually grow our economy and create jobs and help create a better society based on rewarding those who work hard while penalising idol people who make monopolies such as bankers and landowners.

The solution if adopted worldwide would alleviate poverty and starvation and make a significant contribution to preventing war and terrorism.

Follow me on twitter: @peetasmith

Views are my own and don’t reflect the views of Wildwood Trust

Monday, 4 April 2011

The best thing for extensive farming is to tax land values...

I am auguring that the best subsidy for extensive farming and stop the horrendous condition of feedlot farming would be to stop taxation on wages and put it on the value of land. Also tax inputs like energy and oil at a rate that reflects their environmental damage.

This would rebalance the economic issues in modern farming practices and allow extensive farmers to compete on a level playing field against the foodlot farms.

A land value tax relief would be given to those in ELS and other Agri environment schemes

Our present taxation system rewards those who favour capital investment in machines and high level of chemicals and energy while it punishes those farming systems that use a lot of labour as labour is taxed disproportionally.

A farmer could buy a new machine that he can offset his own taxation against and Vat. He does not pay the environmental costs on the fuel he uses or the chemicals. So when he makes an investment decision he rationally would favour machinery and chemical use against employing another person and moving to less intensive use of the land.

If the farmer did not have to pay employers NI, NI and income tax for his workers, if he could not offset asset purchases against his own income tax and if he had to pay the real cost of chemicals and fuel he would rationally move to a less intensive system.

Most people are very rational and it is taxation that is the most important factor in our rational decision making. That is why I think the we can never promote extensive grazing properly until tax is reformed.

I also think if the taxation system was reformed it would make farming more attractive to younger people and offer more quality rural jobs.