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

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:

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