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, 17 December 2012

The Landlord's Role in Society

An old story as relevant to day as it was then:

Many years ago a company of tradesmen united themselves into a guild and each one had to relate what he could contribute to its support.

First the blacksmith came forward and said:—
"Gentlemen, I wish to become a member of your organisation."
"Well, what can you do?"
"Oh, I can make springs and axles for your carriages, shoe your horses, and make all kinds of implements."
"Very well, come in, Mr. Blacksmith."

The mason applied for admission into the society.
"What can you do, sir?"
"I can build your barns, bridges, houses, and stables."
"Very well, come in; we cannot do without you."

Along comes the shoemaker and says:—
"I wish to become a member of your society."
"Well, what can you do?"
"I can make boots and shoes for you."
"Come in, Mr. Shoemaker; we must have you."

In turn all the trades and professions applied, till at last an individual came who wanted to become a member.
"And what are you?"

"I am a landlord."

"A landlord? And what can you do?"

"I can hunt and fish and win prizes at pigeon matches."

"But what do you do for a livelihood?"

"Oh, I take toll of all of you. The labourer pays me for the right to dig, the miner to burrow in the earth, and the bricklayer to build a house."

"But what can you *do*?"

"I can make your laws, and when I have made them I can administer them. If a man snares a hare I give him six months; if he shoots a snipe I give him three. I can drive men to desperation, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. I can prevent the erection of cottages, or the building of a Methodist chapel. I can look on and take the larger share of the prosperity of the farmer, the shopkeeper, and the manufacturer; I can keep up an army of paupers."

"And what else can you do?"

"I can bring the grey hairs of the aged to the grave with sorrow; I can break the heart of the wife, and blast the prospects of men of talent and enterprise, and fill the land with more than the plagues of Egypt."

"Is that all you can do?"

"Good heavens! is not that enough?"

source: English Land Restoration League, Issue No. 3, 1889

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Wildlife Champion Ramps House Prices & helps a system that ensures Wildlife Destruction

A certain popular wildlife Conservationist was on the BBC’s top house price ramping programme, ‘Escape to the Country’ this week. The Wildwood Trust attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year, keen to experience the many animals it protects, such as these very cute baby beaver and rescued dormice which were featured on the programme.

Clip from the BBC 'Escape to the Country'

This programme shows very well how property prices are affected by the community that surrounds the houses. The infamous phrase; LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION tells us the largest part of a ‘property’s price’ is the location value, i.e. that which is created by the whole community.

Now that means that, with all probability,  the popular tourist destination and conservation charity Wildwood Trust is adding many thousands, if not millions, of pounds to the land prices of the houses & businesses in the area, these landowners (free-loaders) have enjoyed this increase in their wealth without lifting a finger, and without taxation (let’s call this cheating).

Wildwood Trust, as a charity, pays no corporation tax, but then who does these days as most large corporations avoid it? But Wildwood does pay more than 20% of its income in VAT and employment taxes (you also have to factor in all the taxes already paid on the goods and services used by Wildwood). The hundreds of volunteers and staff who have laboured hard over the years to make Wildwood Trust a success have all had to pay taxes on the materials bought to enhance the park & on the (very low) wages of the staff, who work tirelessly in all weathers.

We have a massive agricultural subsidy system and a myriad of special tax breaks and dodges that keep land prices high; on top of the work the whole community does, which is distilled into those high land prices. High land prices prevent people who want to reintroduce beavers, dormice or all the other creatures of Britain from protecting land for them to live on.  Marginal land is subsidised and uneconomically brought into production;  even rare woodlands and wetlands are hoarded by property speculators in the hope of one day becoming instant millionaires if they are allowed to build a house upon the land. Each year a range of charities spend hundreds of millions of pounds on purchasing land, a massive waste of charitable donations.

High land prices act as not only a ‘private tax’ on all wildlife land but on all the people and their business activity. This system of private taxation robs us all of the fruits of our labour, whether it be a wildlife charity, city banker or supermarket checkout single mum. Even our system of welfare payments and housing benefit end up being handed over to the landowners in one way or another

Our system of taxing real work, and not taxing land and natural resources, means the more successful Wildwood Trust is in attracting people to is conservation park & the better its boss is at getting his mug on the telly means they are playing a role in preventing wildlife protection in general, as the land around the park increases in price, some of that land the Wildwood Trust wishes to purchase to further its charitable cause.

We can stop this mad system by shifting taxation off earned income and onto the exclusive ownership of natural monopolies, the biggest one being land. Such a change will make marginal land economically worthless and return it to extensive farming or wildlife land, giving a home to the beavers, dormice and fast disappearing wildlife. Such a change would also mean all business activity, not involved in cheating, will be free from taxation making our economy stronger and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Other benefits including reducing pollution, global warming, community disenfranchisement, crime, etc etc.

For further information watch 'The Killing Fields' - a documentary exploring wildlife conservation and taxation:

Friday, 9 November 2012

Tortured Sheep, Marginal Farming and the Real Tragedy of the Commons

Only a few miles from where I am typing this the needlessly cruel practice of live animal exports has started again in Ramsgate Kent.

Understanding that a small loss of income, say from not being allowed to live export sheep, will make the sheep farmed on ‘marginal’ land not worth farming. Thus a number of livelihoods will be ruined, and so a body of people are highly motivated to campaign on an issue to protect their livelihood/privilege (the privilege being the landowners of tenanted farms in marginal areas).  Thus the government is constantly pushed by people with the motivation and means to lobby for such a vile practice of causing such huge animal suffering.

My favourite saying at the moment is:
“it all happens at the margins”

A similar augment can be made for cows and M.Bovis as the marginal dairy farmers are the ones so motivated to campaign so strongly to blame badgers and campaign  for the cull. Such desperate people are easily lead by those with a vested interest in keeping subsidies flowing to landowners and not allowing wildlife protection to take away any of the rental value of their land.

The real tragedy of private landownership is that those on the margin do all they can to farm areas; robbing them of their wildlife value when we should be letting marginal areas revert to nature.  So uplands and wetlands and vast swathes of valuable ‘ecological services’ are destroyed for no real economic advantage and the detriment of the majority of the country. This is why all marginal land in the UK should be held in common so its use is best decided for us all and not the selfish needs of an individual. This is the exact opposite of what economists are taught in the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ which was merely propaganda for the enclosure acts. The truth is that the commons was a wonderful way making the best use of marginal land, giving balance to community that used it and protecting its sustainability.

Governments of any hue will not challenge privilege/landowners unless forced to. Direct action, organisation, education and excellent PR are the remedy to the animal cruelty of live exports. But a more systematic way of dealing with the problem would be creating a greater divide between the cost of meat and vegetables, whereby the externalities of meat production are contained in their cost.

These issues would be best achieved by following Caroline Lucas’s proposals for a ‘Land Value Tax’ as she is proposing in Parliament today in her private members bill. It would solve a lot of other problems as well by taking away the monopoly privilege of owning land. LVT would systematically stop so many distortions created by the Landowner lobby and not just marginal farmers seeking to cut corners on animal welfare. It would turn all of our land into ' the commons' yet retain ownership and control in the hands that can use the land most effectively for the benefit of all.

The people, Carlo Nero & Fred Harrison, who made this film, helped Caroline to forward the private members bill:

Monday, 1 October 2012

Beaver, Land Value Tax & Future Slavery...

The biggest threat to beaver reintroduction to the UK is powerful  landowners and thier campaigning bodies such as the NFU, CLA & CONFOR. The owners of riverbanks see beavers as a threat. In my view the solution to the beaver issue is Land Value Tax...

In the fight to reintroduce the beavers the battle lines have been drawn, and will always exist between private landowners wanting to derive as much profit from their land as possible, i.e. intensive farming on riverbanks and the public need for 'ecosystem services' such as water quality and flood plain buffering of peak flow. The natural tendency towards people trying to create monopolies means landowning groups want to co-opt the taxpayer into paying for services they receive such as river management and drainage, while at the same time receiving private profits and government hand-outs with little taxation. Much of the research into 'ecosystem services' is being sponsored so as to allow a valuation for 'landowners' to then charge the rest of society a rent for these services. My economic research in this process, which I am in touch with some 'green' economists, highlight the lobbying efforts of the 'monopoly forces' to 'own' ecological services and try to charge the rest of society a 'rent' to access them. 

Beavers are a wonderful animal that can help return riverbanks to the 'commons' whereby landowners have stewardship responsibilities and that landownership confers responsibilities as well as benefits. Modern law sees freehold tenure as an absolute right, but it should be as much about imposing duties to protect the land as well as the right to exploit it for private gain. This I see as the most important battle of the 21st Century as global corporations try to 'commoditise' and privatise natural assets such as water, land and pollution then convert it to a tradable asset that can allow private ownership, speculation and 'rent seeking'. If we as a society allow this, the future of humanity will be very bleak indeed with a new feudal system between the 'freeholders' of natural assets and the rest of humanity who must live in relative poverty as a large proportion of their income will be captured by these natural asset 'rentseekers'. 

I feel this is the key economic issue to the return of beaver and other wildlife to our country and is often not well understood by naturalists and wildlife conservationists. There is a simple solution to this conundrum and that is the direct taxation of land, water and pollution so the 'rent' is captured by the Government and used to offset other taxes, while at the same time making natural assets expensive to 'own' or abuse and thus helping to conserve them. Direct taxation of land would mean those landowners who are fortunate enough to have beavers on their land and create, in perpetuity, a wet riparian woodland would receive a tax break as the land would have no economic value to them, but would have huge economic value to society. The thorny question is should we compensate private landowners for this process? Once we received these services for free and so the moral question is did our state have the  right to privatise the gifts of nature and should present day landowners have the right to expect payment when we ask for those service back? I think not but many would disagree...

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Land Value Tax and Badgers...

Land Value Tax and badgers... I have been having a long campaign against the state funding of badger culling in the UK - My thoughts are both animal welfare and Georgist in nature. I would welcome your thoughts on the Georgist aspects of agricultural subsidies. Fred Harrison recorded my thoughts on the subject above: My argument is the solution to M.Bovis (bovine tuberculosis) are well known and well documented. The problem is that landowners want the taxpayer to fund this to protect agricultural rents.  In my view farming must internalise the costs of production and solve their own problems. Ricardo's law of rent tells us that every £1 taken off the selling price of beef and milk by subsidy means and extra £1 of rent in the landowners pocket (or profit if the farmer owns the land). While the badger is in the public eye landowners can avoid addressing the problem. We must consider M.Bovis like industrial pollution, their is no excuse for it and it can be simply eradicated by imposing quarantine measures that the landowners must bear themselves. Private insurance premiums, instead of state handouts, would reward good farmers and punish bad farmers and this would be reflected in rents and at no cost to the taxpayer.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Robert Burns and Independence -

Robert Burns and Independence. 

By Dr. Duncan  Pickard

Scots! Vha hae wi' Wallace bled

Those who are trying to persuade us to vote for Scottish ‘Independence’ are keen to imply that Robert Burns would have supported their cause.  It cannot have been simple coincidence that January 25th was chosen for the speech and press conference to declare the supposed benefits to the people of Scotland of a vote for 'Independence'. My reading of Burns has led me to conclude that he would not have been in favour of the 'Independence' we are asked to choose.    Burns' enthusiasm for freedom, liberty, independence and the end of tyranny was on behalf of individual people, not the county of Scotland.  The tyrants whom Burns wanted to be rid of were the landowners, who were the rulers of Scotland -not the English.  The poem "Scots! Vha hae wi' Wallace bled" had nothing to do with rousing the Scots of the late eighteenth century to fight for independence for their country. It was a call for his compatriots to fight for their freedom from the tyrannical oppression by Scottish landowners.

He tried to make the people aware of their Birthright in Land, and wanted the fundamental features of the English Constitution, laid down in 1688, to be established in Scotland.  He by no means wished to revive old national feuds.  Burns was a close friend of William Ogilvie, Professor of Humanity at the University of Aberdeen who wrote his Essay on the Right of Property in Land in 1781. Such were the powers of the landlord, that the essay had to be published anonymously.  At that time, it was a criminal offence to be found with a copy of ''The Rights of Man" by Thomas Paine. In 1793 Thomas Muir was deported for supporting calls for the extension of the right to vote and Burns only narrowly escaped conviction. It is worth noting that, in 1793, Burns gave a copy of "De Lolme on the British Constitution" to the Subscription Library of Dumfries, with a plea '"that they take it as a creed of British Liberty, until they found a better." Burns' poem "The Twa Dogs", which was inspired by his friendship with Ogilvie, avoided overt disclosure  of his agreement with the sentiments expressed  in the Essay and refers to Ogilvie as Caesar and himself as Luath, to protect both their identities. Ogilvie's Essay was suppressed for many years and few were aware of its existence  until it was brought to public attention in 1891 by DC MacDonald.

Ogilvie's Essay is a well-reasoned  discourse on the fundamental birthright  which everyone has to a share in the earth's natural resources  which  were present  before  human  beings appeared  on  its surface.    He traced  the "oppression,  misery,  injustice and poverty of the majority" to the unjust acquisition of the 'Right of Property in Land' by a minority of the population.  The ability of those who owned  the land "to  produce Land Laws, preserved  their power to claim the rent resulting from the labour of others". Ogilvie's introduction  to his Essay states "With respect to property in land, that system which now prevails is derived from an age not deserving  to be extolled for its legislative wisdom and is in need of reformation and improvement" A statement  that is as true in 2012 as it was in l78L

The reformation and improvement which Ogilvie proposed was the Single Tax, whereby the annual rental value of all land would be collected by the government to pay for its necessary functions. He regarded it as inherently unjust to levy taxes on landless working people whilst leaving those who owned land to keep its unearned rental revenue.

Ogilvie was quite clear that individual people cannot enjoy genuine freedom and independence by their acquisition of political freedom.  They also have to be granted economic freedom and that cannot occur when their earnings, obtained as a result of their own labour, are taxed by the state which leaves the unearned rental value of land with those who have the unjust right to claim ownership of it.

Those who seek to use Robert Burns in their quest for 'Independence' for Scotland would be well advised to study the Words of the poet in detail and understand what he meant by freedom and independence.  Although everyone has heard of Robert Burns, not many are aware of his desire to improve the condition of poor, oppressed  people everywhere. He agreed with Ogilvie that any improvement could only come through land and tax reform. William Ogilvie should be a name familiar to all who have ambitions for economic prosperity and social justice. The simplistic belief that the separation of Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom will result in economic prosperity for all will only lead to disillusion and disappointment without land and tax reform. The aims of any government should be to maximise the people's standard of living whilst minimising  their cost  of living and minimising  the cost of doing business.  These aims are not compatible with a tax system which favours the ownership of landed property and discourages employment and enterprise:-

The Law did jail the man or woman,
Who stole the goose from the common,
But left the greater robber loose,
Who stole the common from the goose .
Let the Law be gone, natural Justice return
So that all who work can keep all they earn.

 (Adapted  from an anonymous song of the anti-enclosure movement) Straiton  Farm, Balmullo. 4.3. 12

Thursday, 3 May 2012

New film explores the relationship between Wildlife, Land, taxation and Law.

Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave talks about her new role as the guest director of this year's Brighton Festival. 

The event starts with Vanessa promoting her Son, Carlo Nero's, ground breaking New documentary film The Killing Fields which will be premiered at the festival.

The event will be held in the Brighton Dome Concert Hall Sunday 6th May, tickets £10.  Tickets can be booked from this website.

The Film explores the relationship between Wildlife, Land, taxation and Law. The film Documents how the introduction of Land Value Tax would give Value to Wildlife and ensure Its protection. The film is presented by Economist Fred Harrison and features Peter Smith CEO and Founder of the Wildwood Trust, Dr Duncan Pickard, Landowner and Farmer, and Polly Higgins, Environmental barrister, author & Campaigner.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Wildlife group’s proposal for land tax reform backed by Oscar winning actress
 By Chris Murphy

BACK TO NATURE: Actress Vanessa Redgrave (left) will be appearing at a showing of the Wildwood Trust’s The Killing Fields featuring its chief executive Peter Smith (above)

A SEISMIC change in the way land around the world is taxed could save many of our threatened species, claims a wildlife organisation that has the backing of actress Vanessa Redgrave and her son who has made a film on the issue.

Oscar winner Redgrave is backing Wildwood, near Canterbury, because she wants to save the world’s natural resources before they are completely plundered for profit.

As the Unicef Goodwill Ambassador she launched the Brighton Festival with a special screening of Wildwood’s new documentary, The Killing Fields. It was shown to an audience of more than 1,000 of the biggest names in theatre and arts in the hope of stirring up more support for its aims.

Wildwood Trust’s vision is to restore Britain’s land to its natural state. This involves re leasing large wild herbivores and developing conservation grazing systems to restore natural ecological processes to help Britain team with wildlife again.

After the screening, writer and broadcaster Polly Toynbee moderated a discussion about the issues raised by the film. Wildwood Trust chief executive Peter Smith said the film struck a chord with the audience and is determined to drive his message home attending another major screening in Brighton, at the town’s Dome Theatre on May 6th

Ms Redgrave will be there, along with her director son Carlo Nero, who made the film.
It will be followed by another discussion on the land tax changes Mr Smith proposes.
Joining them will be the debate chairman Professor Sir Richard Jolly from the United Nations and Unesco, along with contributors to the film including economist Fred Harrison, environmental lawyer Polly Higgins, and farmer and land owner Dr Duncan Pickard.

The Killing Fields documentary explores the fragile relationship between wildlife, land, taxation and law in Britain and Europe.

Mr Smith said it makes a powerful case for sweeping reforms and  argues the only long-term solution to our conservation crisis is to put real value on nature’s assets.

He said: Winston Churchill was a fan of the land value tax, but it was voted out by the House of Lords because they realised it was them who would suffer the most.

 “A land tax would replace income tax. This means anyone who owned land would have to make the absolutely most of it to ensure they could afford it.

“Derelict buildings would be developed and my favourite part, farmers would stop trying to farm impossibly difficult land and that would be allowed to return to nature. If this happened around the world, it would save huge areas of land for nature.”

Friday, 24 February 2012

The Rent Is Too Dam High

Robin Harding in the FT today article explains Economic Rent. What beats me is why it is seen as radical - economic rent is the key to the problems of our economy. 

Economics and society: Barrier to a breakthrough

But Harding downplays the role of economic rent from its classical source land with no evidence, land & natural assets still accounts for about 80% of economic rent.

My favourite Keynes Qoute:
“First, let's euthanize all the rentiers”

John Maynard Keynes inThe General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
from the comments section:
"The failure of government to collect rent in lieu of taxes leaves a huge imputed income stream to the owners of nature, which is capitalized by market forces into a selling price (this selling price driven upward by the use of credit as leverage as fuel to an inherently speculation-driven market dynamic). Thus, the most important -- critical -- change in public policy required to stimulate a noninflationary, full employment society and elimination of the boom-to-bust cyclical nature of economic systems is to change the way government raises its revenue. The rent fund is huge and its collection could elimination the taxation (i.e., confiscation) of legitimate private property."

Our as I put it -

"we should pay no private individual for the gifts from mother nature, so one family can starve to allow another a life in opulence"

Jimmy McMillan of the 'The Rent Is Too Damn High Party' says it all:

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Professor Joshua Farley Explains Ecological Economics

Professor Joshua Farley Explains Ecological Economics - Excellent Interview that covers all the issues very well - well worth watching.

Ecological economics provides us with insights into the relationship between economic activity and the capacity of the Earths resources to sustain us. In this video Joshua Farley one of the visionary thinkers in this discipline, provides an overview of some these critical relationships, and gives examples of how responsive policy measures can be applied in an urban setting.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Cap & Enslave - Or.... Don't put a cork up your donkey's bum, just give it less carrots

Cap & Enslave - Or.... Don't put a cork up your donkey's bum, just give it less carrots

Cap and trade is something I have blogged about for a few years as a travesty of an economic policy designed to enrich the rich and impoverish the poor while not helping reduce carbon emissions. This great YouTube video has been produced by Annie Leonard and explains the problem to non-economists.

The only issue with the video is that  Annie does not fully understand just how the Cap & Trade system would enslave humanity. This is because we would create new energy monopolists (a bit like today's landowners) that would own nearly all of production in perpetuity, owning the right to pollute and renting it out to humanity who would have to pay them for the privilege of economic activity and prevent a free market in energy and manufacturing. Today's large polluting companies  (or to be more precise their shareholders) would at a stroke become hereditary barons, milking humanity for the rest of time of their productive labour.

The real solution is to tax carbon at source and redistribute this money amongst all of the worlds people equally (thus eliminating global poverty, hunger and taking away the main reason for international war) or just introduce a Land Value Tax which would achieve a similar result.

This would also be far more efficient at reducing carbon emissions and stimulating research and innovation into more environmentally friendly growth.

A witty economist said this of it:

"If you want to keep a donkey healthy you don't regulate what comes out of it, you regulate what goes in"


Monday, 6 February 2012

Mark Drakeford, Labour AM for Cardiff West, led a short debate on the subject 'A Land Value Tax for Wales'

Sunday, 22 January 2012

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a landlord taking all of humanity's surplus income - forever"

The Real News Network (TRNN) made this excellent news report on third world land grabs. This will cause a food crisis as described but its implications are much, much wider. Its a pity that the  TRNN did not follow this land speculation to its obvious conclusion that it will enshrine poverty of the world.  The solution to this is for the countries to tax the value of land and return it  equally to all the people of the country. That way they can attract investment for  modern farming and increase production while everyone receives the fruits of the land. Without land rent capture the population of the Third World are doomed to poverty forever more, land grabs, biodiversity and commodity speculation will make them poorer.

Biofules are an environmental and human nightmare where the starving children of the third world are left landless and our most precious wildlife habitats are destroyed to allow fat Americans to drive their SUV's. They are hugely environmentally damaging, much more so than fossil fuels and are only economically viable through huge state subsidies, which all end up in the pockets of landowners and increase the price of land.

Land Rent Capture by an 'ad velorem' Land Value Tax will funnel land to the most productive and ensure the maximum productivity of the land by rewarding the most productive farmers. Marginal land will be protected and left as wildlife habitat. Every citizen can enjoy equally the fruits of the land and thus be lifted from poverty and their efforts to do productive work will go un-taxed by a rapacious Government's need for revenue.

The monopolists robbing the land of the poor can do this as the British/American legal and tax system has now been imposed on most of the world. The relative stability of the post cold war environment means the speculators can safely bet that economic rent can be extracted from any country and hidden in tax havens without any local population stopping them.

The Barons of one thousand years ago who originally took land by violence learned it was much easier to create laws and a tax system to enshrine their advantage than fighting the peasants and face rebellions. Now the new mechanisms of empire, with a stabilising system of international law based on the USA/UK system are using the same laws to allow themselves and their future offspring  to monopolise all the fruits of the land for themselves though perpetual freehold ownership. The people of the third world will never afford to buy it back, its value will increase and the populations incomes will not keep pace. Tax havens and blind trusts will ensure their future generations can hold on to this advantage without any form of redistribution.

To paraphrase George Orwell:

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a landlord taking all of humanity's surplus income  - forever"

Can Churchill Save us from World Depression Two?

An old University friend of mine, who has been a senior financial journalist for many years and  is now a newspaper editor, asked this question today in his newspaper and asked for responses:

"What shall we call the financial crisis? We've had the Great Depression, the Credit Crunch and Black Monday. How will history remember the last five years of economic calamity?"

My thoughts to him where if we had The Great War & the Great Depression so the Great War became World War One, so the Great Depression becomes World Depression One and our current situation is World Depression Two.

You can make your own response too on this link:

My old friend has yet to discover the wisdom of Henry George, Minsky, Stiglitz or the many other economists who understand the role of economic rents. As well as my suggestion I told him that I thought Churchill's famous quote sums up our present economic situation very well:
"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

My greatest fear is that 'World War Three' will follow 'The Great Depression Two' Just as surely as World War Two followed the Great depression (World Depression One)

Of course Churchill was a huge supporter of Henry George & Land Value Tax and would of understood the present predicament well. His speeches on Land Value Tax are probably the best ever written and can be read here:

Winston Churchill made this speech in 1909. We can't put the case better ourselves. A century on, it remains clear, concise and to the point. We would commend it to David Cameron and his team.
LAND MONOPOLY is not the only monopoly, but it is by far the greatest of monopolies -- it is a perpetual monopoly, and it is the mother of all other forms of monopoly. Unearned increments in land are not the only form of unearned or undeserved profit, but they are the principal form of unearned increment, and they are derived from processes which are not merely not beneficial, but positively detrimental to the general public.
Land, which is a necessity of human existence, which is the original source of all wealth, which is strictly limited in extent, which is fixed in geographical position -- land, I say, differs from all other forms of property, and the immemorial customs of nearly every modern state have placed the tenure, transfer, and obligations of land in a wholly different category from other classes of property.
Nothing is more amusing than to watch the efforts of land monopolists to claim that other forms of property and increment are similar in all respects to land and the unearned increment on land.They talk of the increased profits of a doctor or lawyer from the growth of population in the town in which they live. They talk of the profits of a railway, from the growing wealth and activity in the districts through which it runs. They talk of the profits from a rise in stocks and even the profits derived from the sale of works of art.
But see how misleading and false all those analogies are. The windfalls from the sale of a picture -- a Van Dyke or a Holbein -- may be very considerable. But pictures do not get in anybody's way. They do not lay a toll on anybody's labor; they do not touch enterprise and production; they do not affect the creative processes on which the material well-being of millions depends.
If a rise in stocks confers profits on the fortunate holders far beyond what they expected or indeed deserved, nevertheless that profit was not reaped by withholding from the community the land which it needs; on the contrary, it was reaped by supplying industry with the capital without which it could not be carried on.
If a railway makes greater profits it is usually because it carries more goods and more passengers.
If a doctor or a lawyer enjoys a better practice, it is because the doctor attends more patients and more exacting patients, and because the lawyer pleads more suits in the courts and more important suits.
At every stage the doctor or the lawyer is giving service in return for his fees.
Fancy comparing these healthy processes with the enrichment which comes to the landlord who happens to own a plot of land on the outskirts of a great city, who watches the busy population around him making the city larger, richer, more convenient, more famous every day, and all the while sits still and does nothing.
Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains -- and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labor and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived.
While the land is what is called "ripening" for the unearned in-crement of its owner, the merchant going to his office and the artisan going to his work must detour or pay a fare to avoid it. The people lose their chance of using the land, the city and state lose the taxes which would have accrued if the natural development had taken place, and all the while the land monopolist only has to sit still and watch complacently his property multiplying in value, sometimes many fold, without either effort or contribution on his part!
But let us follow this process a little further. The population of the city grows and grows, the congestion in the poorer quarters becomes acute, rents rise and thousands of families are crowded into tenements. At last the land becomes ripe for sale -- that means that the price is too tempting to be resisted any longer. And then, and not until then, it is sold by the yard or by the inch at 10 times, or 20 times, or even 50 times its agricultural value.
The greater the population around the land, the greater the injury the public has sustained by its protracted denial. And, the more inconvenience caused to everybody; the more serious the loss in eco-nomic strength and activity -- the larger will be the profit of the landlord when the sale is finally accomplished. In fact, you may say that the unearned increment on the land is reaped by the land monopolist in exact proportion, not to the service, but to the disservice done. It is monopoly which is the keynote, and where monopoly prevails, the greater the injury to society the greater the reward to the monopolist. This evil process strikes at every form of industrial activity. The municipality, wishing for broader streets, better houses, more healthy, decent, scientifically planned towns, is made to pay more to get them in proportion as is has exerted itself to make past improve-ments. The more it has improved the town, the more it will have to pay for any land it may now wish to acquire for further improvements.
The manufacturer proposing to start a new industry, proposing to erect a great factory offering employment to thousands of hands, is made to pay such a price for his land that the purchase price hangs around the neck of his whole business, hampering his competitive power in every market, clogging him far more than any foreign tariff in his export competition, and the land price strikes down through the profits of the manufacturer on to the wages of the worker.
No matter where you look or what examples you select, you will see every form of enterprise, every step in material progress, is only undertaken after the land monopolist has skimmed the cream for himself, and everywhere today the man or the public body that wishes to put land to its highest use is forced to pay a preliminary fine in land values to the man who is putting it to an inferior one, and in some cases to no use at all. All comes back to land value, and its owner is able to levy toll upon all other forms of wealth and every form of industry. A portion, in some cases the whole, of every benefit which is laboriously acquired by the community increases the land value and finds its way automatically into the landlord's pocket. If there is a rise in wages, rents are able to move forward, because the workers can afford to pay a little more. If the opening of a new railway or new tramway, or the institution of improved services of a lowering of fares, or of a new invention, or any other public conven-ience affords a benefit to workers in any particular district, it be-comes easier for them to live, and therefore the ground landlord is able to charge them more for the privilege of living there.
Some years ago in London there was a toll bar on a bridge across the Thames, and all the working people who lived on the south side of the river had to pay a daily toll of one penny for going and returning from their work. The spectacle of these poor people thus mulcted of so large a proportion of their earnings offended the public con-science, and agitation was set on foot, municipal authorities were roused, and at the cost of the taxpayers, the bridge was freed and the toll removed. All those people who used the bridge were saved sixpence a week, but within a very short time rents on the south side of the river were found to have risen about sixpence a week, or the amount of the toll which had been remitted!
And a friend of mine was telling me the other day that, in the parish of Southwark, about 350 pounds a year was given away in doles of bread by charitable people in connection with one of the churches. As a consequence of this charity, the competition for small houses and single-room tenements is so great that rents are considerably higher in the parish!
All goes back to the land, and the land owner is able to absorb to himself a share of almost every public and every private benefit, however important or however pitiful those benefits may be.
I hope you will understand that, when I speak of the land monopolist, I am dealing more with the process than with the individual land owner who, in most cases, is a worthy person utterly unconscious of the character of the methods by which he is enriched. I have no wish to hold any class up to public disapprobation. I do not think that the man who makes money by unearned increment in land is morally worse than anyone else who gathers his profit where he finds it in this hard world under the law and according to common usage. It is not the individual I attack; it is the system. It is not the man who is bad; it is the law which is bad. It is not the man who is blameworthy for doing what the law allows and what other men do; it is the State which would be blameworthy if it were not to endeavour to reform the law and correct the practice.
We do not want to punish the landlord.
We want to alter the law.

Download copy of speech here

Update From Fred Harrison - on When did World War 3 Begin?

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Ecocide - Trusteeship NOT Land Ownership

Barrister, Author and Campaigner, Polly Higgns explains the concept of Ecocide. Ecocide is a legal concept of Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of our Planet. She explains the need to change from property laws to trusteeship laws for land "I owe NOT I own"

Published by Geophilos

How do we stop the Insect Apocalypse?

There have been a number of articles this week on the insect apocalypse, with some studies showing an 80% drop in insect numbers since the l...