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, 20 October 2014

Bloody Immigrants! European Beavers & Polish Plumbers

The natural fear of immigrants is often displayed by many people, but that fear is manipulated by unscrupulous politicians for their own benefit. To understand why we must understand the deeper economic forces at play and reject guttural hostility to immigrants or the reintroduction of formally native animal species. This is demonstrated by Government efforts to trap the beavers in Devon or the pantomime of UKIP and Conservatives pretending to want to stop Polish plumbers and their ilk from entering the UK.


Government policy is determined to enact effective legislation to stop us returning the former native animals of the UK but perversely seem completely unable to implement effective legislation to stop foreign workers working in the UK. Why?
My thesis is that formally native animals when reintroduced will take 'rent' from 'rent seekers', those that hold land and natural resources and the Government acts on their behalf, not for those of us that want to see wildlife return to the UK. This is best shown by the DEFRA plans to trap the beavers living on the river otter in Devon, whose presence will help the riverbanks return to a wild state and harbour more wildlife, (also helping prevent flooding & help purify water) at a small cost of those that farm its river banks.
The failure of Government policy to halt illegal immigrants working and thier ways of tax avoidance are highlighted well in this blog post by Tax Researcher (and Wildwood Trust member) Richard Murphy:


http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2014/10/19/camerons-immigration-controls-are-a-joke-because-he-wont-control-uk-companies/


There is a failure in Government policy as this Government, though professing to want to halt immigration, will not actually enact any effective measures to stop illegal workers from working in the country.


I saw a really interesting interview a couple of years ago of the Mayor of Calais on local BBC South East who basically said the same thing - our failure to properly regulate work with work permits, and allow unregulated private limited companies as shells for illegal workers, was chiefly responsible for the flood of legal and illegal immigration and to stop this we could issue work permits at any time and enforce that just like the French.


But the issue is more than just regulation - who benefits from illegal workers? - not just unscrupulous employers of which I have first hand knowledge of employing hundreds of highly skilled foreign workers who formed their own companies and then skip the UK avoiding taxation and VAT. But more insidiously this is really just a battle between rent seekers and workers as the rent seekers who's income  is mostly derived from the possession of monopolies in the UK (chiefly land) as those assets and revenue are pushed up in value thanks to the influx of hard working foreigners, while at the same time lowering the cost of labour which means a double benefit to those rent seekers seeking to access the fruits of other peoples labour. 


So the solution is to shift taxes and Government fees from wages to monopolies, best achieved through Land Value Tax and other government taxes on resources rents, government sanctioned monopolies and pollution. Cameron et al, UKIP (and labour policy sadly) is on the side of the rent seekers; so will always say they want to control immigration but never do anything to stop it as it benefits the people who control those political parties and so will never do anything to increase the value of labour against the value of rent.

So the workers of the UK are always at a disadvantage, they cannot benefit from the animal immigration of formally native species like the beaver, which help prevent flooding, purify water and bring wildlife back to our riverbanks but will continue to have their environment eroded. But will also continue to suffer from  house prices increased to unaffordable levels and lower wages due to high levels of human immigration. This connection between high 'rents'(high house prices) and low wages is directly responsible for high unemployment and poverty and has been well observed by most economists, especially my personal economic hero Henry George. 




The solution to both animal and human immigrations is Land Value Taxation where those that benefit from the increased rents of monopoly pay it back to the community(who generated it anyway), so the benefits & costs of immigration, whether it be Polish plumbers or European beavers, are shared by all.