The thoughts behind the Renegade Ecologist

From my 30 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

Giving Grants to Buy Land - Utter madness

For those of en economic mind it is madness to give grants to buy land, as it only puts up the price of land. Therefore any aid is doomed to fail in any serious objective.


In my many years with the Wildlife Trust I saw this repeatedly, especially when the Heritage Lottery fund gave Land purchase grants. The irony is that people at the lowest income levels are buying lottery tickets to increase the wealth of the very richest in society, through the use of Heritage Lottery funds to purchase 'nature reserves'.


Land as a finite commodity and its price is directly linked to the sum total of money in the economy. Money is created by borrowing (sounds mad but is true). Therefore as the money supply has increased enormously so has land values.


The money supply will decrease as we enter the recession proper over the next 5 years and thus land values will go down. This has been a cyclic process and has gone on for hundreds, if not, thousands of years


This is why a tax on land values is so important as it would reduce the speculators and people who sit on land without doing something with it and it would buffer the cycles and super cycles of land value bubbles and busts.


It is impossible for any farmer to buy land and make a living from it from extensive farming as land values are too high. A Land Value tax with tax relief for sustainability, wildlife etc. would redress that balance that exists, pop the bubble of land values and make extensive farming economically viable for those who do not own land at the moment.


Direct grants such as ELS and HLS are economic madness as you are pushing up the value of land through the direct subsidy of merely owning it.


In fact the existence of ELS, HLS and single farm payment has pushed land values out of the reach of most charitable organisation or individuals wishing to acquire land for extensive grazing. They are in essence a direct subsidy to those who already own land, giving a huge untaxed capital gain of billions of pounds to existing land owners.



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