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

Saturday, 16 August 2014

GDH - Gross Domestic Health & Dodgy Economics

Hooray GDP is up, headlines are plastered across the papers this weekend. The UK beats GDP growth of all the major G7 countries. Britain can be proud of the work of our great financial leaders have done restoring the wealth to our country. But what does GDP measure, well the answer is not a lot. And a lot of our growth is just the fallout of lending more money into the housing bubble (which will come back to haunt us very soon, robbing the poor & hard working to feed the rich & lazy)

As my Friend Fried Harrison points out in his thesis on 'ecocide'

"Driving the destruction are land-use and tax policies that reward speculators who engage in urban sprawl. We wreck habitats (deforestation), dump waste into the oceans, and even the heavens are littered with waste from disintegrating satellites. The catalogue of disasters cannot be blamed on nature.
"People do not behave in such reckless ways within their private spaces (our homes). We tend to be tidy, economical, we conserve the products of our labour and we respect the rights of our neighbours. So what motivates the opposite forms of behaviour towards nature? Again, it boils down to the pursuit of (or the ripple effects from) the flow of rental income. Joseph Stiglitz observes that conventional indices fail to expose the full extent to which rent-seekers are wrecking the environment:“Sometimes the distortions of the rent seekers are subtle, not well captured in the diminution of GDP. This is because GDP doesn‟t adequately capture the costs to the environment….Industries like coal and oil want to keep it that way. They don‟t want the scarcity of natural resources or the damage to our environment to be priced, and they don‟t want our GDP metrics to be adjusted to reflect sustainability” (Stiglitz 2012: 98-99). If the services provided by nature and society were correctly priced, we would not waste them, and we would not shift onto others the costs of our actions (such as dumping waste into rivers or seas). "

If we really want statistics to measure the health of the UK a far better balanced scorecard of our nations health would be using stats such as modal and mot means and the variation within of factors such as:

  1. Infant mortality
  2. Average life span
  3. Educational attainment
  4. Disposable incomes
  5. crime

Also highlight depletion of natural resources and dilapidation of infrastructure and projections of the future of all these stats that would highlight excessive personal, private and state debt.

Such a measure of GDH will be some percentage points down this week, with a trend that has been dropping for some time. The dodgy economics that masquerade as public information must be changed if we are to protect people and the environment instead so lets have some headline on from The Office for National Statistics (ONS) on GDH & consign GDP to the dustbin of dodgy statistics.

Dodgy theories and discredited statistics which are used by agencies like the OECD camouflage the trends that determine the health of the economy -- and people's welfare. Prof. Mason Gaffney explains why we should treat GDP data with extreme caution, and he identifies holes in the numbers used by governments.


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