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, 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...

1 comment:

  1. From Dan Sullivan: If Britain is not going to address land monopoly for the benefit of all the excluded people, I don't know that they will do so for beavers. Maybe for the two combined, and for beaver dams reducing floods, and for a healthier economy where people can more easily get land to start businesses, and for affordable housing, and lower taxes on production, and improved balance of trade, and, and,

    Nah. We're talking about the descendents of nobles paying more. Can't have that.


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