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, 4 June 2016

#voterbeaver – a plague on both Britain & Europe

#voterbeaver – a plague on both Britain & Europe

An amusing internet meme is trending on Twitter after a vandalised sign was  rewritten to spell ‘Vote Beaver’ instead of ‘Vote Leave’. This caused those of us in the rewilding movement a great deal of fun and I myself have been guilty of spreading this meme.

But the European argument is much more serious and the vote later this month could spell doom for the humble British beaver. The powers that be across the land in nature conservation are readying documents to give the free beavers of Britain full legal protection, this is vital if their number is to multiply and spread, breathing life back into our rivers, protecting us from flooding and delivering us from the blight of poisoned rivers, poisoned by agricultural pollution. Legally protected beavers will restore desiccated and destroyed wetlands, drained and scalped into a wildlife deserts by our stupid laws, taxation systems and subsidies to landowners.

Europe has given us some very good legislation, especially the habitats directive which has done more to protect wildlife in Britain than any legislation devised by our timid Houses of Parliament. The benefits of Europe to people can be easily seen in legislation to protect workers’ rights and our environment.

But at the heart of Europe lies the deep evil and that evil is based around five issues:

  1. A taxation system based on taxing the productive economy through higher taxes on incomes and high taxes on trade through a value-added tax. This tax system, with its complications, is how the poor are made poorer. This tax system allows those with land and ownership of natural resources to exploit them inefficiently. Landowners and rentiers of all kinds can sit and milk the productive hard-working people of Europe and the profits to be gained from destroying our natural environment.
  2. A monetary system that allows private banks to create money as debt which in turn leads to the creation of money to fund property speculation and inefficient use of natural resources
  3. Land subsidies, mostly in the form of agricultural subsidies which are directly responsible for the destruction of vast swathes of our wild land.  Making landowners push into production the most marginal of land. This policy has seen the destruction of wildlife across Europe as we have driven our wild areas to extinction. Britain has been uniquely bad in this respect compared to our continental cousins and Brexit does not promise a reprieve.
  4. Stupid laws, these are often not the laws that are ridiculed in our tabloid press, not the bendy bananas!  but the laws that really do subvert society and make all of our lives worse. Examples of these silly laws that introduce things like palm oil as a biofuel where we destroy the last equatorial forests and the homes of orang-utans in a perverted environmental law aimed at reducing fossil fuel use, when it does nothing of the sort. Legislation on carbon trading is again a grotesque perversion in using a so-called environmental law to create a system that will allow the European corporate elites to suck the wealth out of the poor when achieving nothing to combat global warming and reducing harmful polluting emissions.
  5. Immigration: immigration and the free movement of people is a noble gesture but in the UK without adequate housing the perversity of immigration forces the wages of the poorest people down and their living costs up through high rents and house prices. The rich benefit and the poor suffer but none in our timid labour party will admit that and put in place the changes needed that will allow us to receive the benefits of immigration. I believe it is a noble goal to integrate the people of this world, but if we are to achieve it we need an economic system that allows the increased economic activity of our multicultural world not to rob the poorest and the hardest working and that can only be achieved by taking away the benefits to the elites through higher rents for land and other forms of monopoly and having a taxation system that does not penalised workers but gives them back the benefits of sharing our land with people from the rest of Europe and the world. This can only be achieved through a tax shift to land value taxes, providing council housing to all in need and taxing away other monopolies and redistribute such taxes equally to all, so everyone can share and enjoy the benefits of welcoming new people to our country.

So my real problem is I feel like Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, I am forced to say a “plague on both your houses”. Our choice in the forthcoming referendum on the membership of the European Union is a Hobson’s choice.

What do we have to vote for, a Europe whose rules and regulations enforce an economic system that will systematically rob the poor and our environment? But has thrown us some scraps of legislation that protect the poorest and environment better than what our so-called parliament has ever been able to give us.

Independence could give us the chance to reclaim our government and deliver economic and environmental justice to bring in land value taxes and pollution taxes and to get rid of the harmful taxes that are levied upon us and thus stimulate a revolution for the poor and our environment. Such a change would see Britain wild again, the increased wealth of our poor letting them enjoy the growing natural resources that will reclaim our land and banish the dead hand of the rent seekers and landowners whose heinous grip blights our lives.

But independence will be unlikely to give us that and a dangerous group of brexit campaigners are more likely to enact legislation that will damage our economy and our ecology and lead us on a path to poverty and environmental destruction.

When we look at the benefits of European membership in legislation and political system, it has attempted to give us laws that have protected the poor and have kept us on the road to peace and prosperity, but ultimately it has been subverted so that it has given the benefits to a corporate, banking and landowning European elite.

I want to have a referendum that lets me vote to protect the weakest, to give assistance to the most vulnerable, to educate, to protect people in need and to create a vibrant economy that will provide the resources to achieve this. I want to vote to rewild Europe and to rewild Britain with 40% of our land surface given to wildlife and not to be destroyed by inefficient farming or landowners shaving the land bare so they can shoot game birds or indulge other passions of dominion. But those in both the Leave and Remain camps will not give me that opportunity.

So I am torn on which way to vote this month, to risk the possible loss of legal protection for the wonderful beavers of Britain, and enable a mad bunch of misguided racists, proto-fascists and right-wingers to gain control of our Government. Or to continue to tie our hands to an economic system that enshrines poverty and environmental loss whatever laws are passed to protect it.

So what advice do I have to give to the voters of the UK? To spoil my ballot by having VOTE BEAVER scrawled across it or to choose between the lesser of the two evils?

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