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

Thursday, 16 June 2011

How Much is that birdy in your garden? Part II

It is impossible to value nature, it is too complex. Therefore the only practical way to value nature is to charge those who use it, and abuse it, an annual rent. This rent is to paid to the government in lieu of other taxes and will make natural resource destruction expensive and people will naturally seek to reduce their use of land and natural resources, so they can avoid the rental charge. It must be stressed that this tax is instead of other taxes, and total tax take would remain the same. It would be also much more progressive in that the poor would pay less and tax dodgers could not avoid it!

Nature’s value to man is endless and should belong to every human in equal measure. The best way to express this is to charge a  tax equal to the rent a landowner would charge for the use of their land or the fee to extract minerals etc. There are other natural rents that could be charged such as water extraction and use of electromagnetic spectrum.

This income would then form the basis of all Government revenue, all other taxes such as income tax, National Insurance, Vat etc. should be abolished .

Government could vary the tax on some natural resources in line with the ‘externalities’ a word economists use to express the wider problems to society, loss of wildlife, pollution etc. This would have the effect of shaping public use of a natural resource to become more efficient or find alternatives. Therefore oil could attract a great tax than less polluting natural gas. Land held as nature reserves our as extensive grazing in perpetuity would be less valuable and as such attract little or no tax. Foreign goods could have a charge put on them for their resource use to equalise tax on imported and exported goods.

To understand Georgist economics you should watch some of Fred Harrison’s other films or read his books:

Ricardo’s law: