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, 25 March 2013

The Real ‘underlying problem’

I listened to our Government's Chief Scientist,  John Bebbington, on Radio 4 this morning, he is retiring and has made a statement on three ‘underlying problem’ facing Humanity: Climate Change, population Growth, and Sustainable cities.

What annoys me about such media debate is they seem to avoid all discussion on actual remedies to the three ‘underlying problems’ he raised. Instead of examining the solutions, the debate concentrated on anguish, wringing their hands with worry; saying it is really difficult and if only we tried a little harder, and it’s going to cost a fortune to protect the planet, and nobody wants to bear the cost of doing so etc...

The real ‘underlying problem’ is our legal, political and economic system that enshrines the right of Government bodies & private individuals to own the ability to destroy and monopolise natural assets without compensation to the rest of society & ‘the planet’; yet it is the one issue that never seems to be challenged by mainstream media and they seem incapable of discussing it. This is further shown where normally ‘good’ people find it hard to discuss population control because it has so many negative connotations with totalitarianism and despotic control. If we just looked at factors that really do, ‘statistically’ control population and are socially acceptable we can pursue them, such factors are about personal & financial security, quality education and equality in ownership of opportunities and the resources needed to sustain life.

So the real huge elephant that is in the room is not the problems of population, climate change and the sustainability of cities that Professor Bebbington highlighted, but that there is a simple coherent remedy to all these problems. This remedy will cost society ‘nothing’, it will impoverish no one, it will help feed the poorest in society, tackling poverty, crime and ill health. This remedy will free our creativity and enterprise to focus, naturally, on the three great challenges facing humanity that Bebbington quite correctly identified.

The Remedy? Just transfer all existing taxation to Land Values and natural resource exploitation, and include in our taxation structure environmental and social externalities. In addition, if we want to get to grips with fundamental issues we need a system of ‘Money Supply’ that reflects the wealth of human labour and the natural assets available to us, issued as credit and not debt.

How to control population: 

Education, equality, and security for the future will bring down birth rates and we will end up reducing population. These have been well observed, first by the economist Henry George in 1870’s, while debunking the pseudo-science of Thomas Malthus, and in just about all societies these are the deterministic factors in birth rates. If you believe in Malthus the human populations will always rise to carrying capacity and thus enshrine natural resource depletion and poverty. In the real world, the Malthus theory breaks down as there are numerous examples where well-ordered and fair societies have low birth rates and dysfunctional societies have high birth rates.

How to make cities sustainable: 

capture the value of the monopoly of land as government revenue and stop the formation of land monopolies that makes cities perform so inefficiently and ensure social division and poverty.

Climate change: 

To tackle climate charge people who use natural resources and thus must pay the externalities that are involved in a form of tax (offsetting other taxes) and thus we will respect nature and make its use efficient and more sustainable without the need to create poverty. New technologies that do not abuse nature will flourish by directing ‘Human Action’ to concentrate on activities that do not harm the planet and that those activities will remain untaxed by society through income & trade taxes and by monopolists through ‘economic rent’.

Taxing land and natural resources and externalises will mean the cost of that use is included in every economic transaction driving down our harm to the planet and leaving nature alone to rewild. It means there will be no poverty and enough resources to provide excellent education and health care for all free, it will stabilise society and reduce crime and war and provide the security to allow people to have fewer children.  All without the force of government.

Just as a plastic bag tax reduced use by nearly 90% so taxes on all land and natural resources will immediately get us to use more efficient transport, better-insulated homes and reduce the environmental costs and concentrate human development on less and less land.  And no one has to be persuaded, except the politicians that keep our taxation system on the shoulders of the hard-working people who create the wealth of the world while allowing the abusive owners of land and natural resources off the hook Scott free.

My lecture on the subject - skip over the first pat to 12 mins in

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. I had exactly the same thoughts when I heard the "Population con trol lobby" airing their views. They get it exactly the wrong way around when they think that overpopulation causes poverty. They are so pent up in their erroneous neo-Malthusian beliefs that they are blind to the real solution that you rightly identify.


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