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

Friday, 28 June 2019

George Monbiot & Chris Packham are getting close to the fundamental solution to saving our planet



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:







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