“Put to the vote: as many are of the opinion that a public tax upon the land ought to be raised to defray the public charge, say ‘yea’.” …. “Carried in the affirmative, none dissenting.”
- Philadelphia’s first tax law, 30 January 1693
Clearly, it was once understood that land values—reflecting relative size, shape, topography, location of the allotment as to services, etc., were the perfect revenue base. The owner of a site should pay more for the privileges it held over other sites (and vice versa).
There was no consideration of taxing incomes nor local sales.
It was recognized that site values are community-created, owing nothing to what any individual had done on the site.
The American property tax has now come to confuse land and buildings, thereby placing a penalty on construction.
In Australia, the state of Victoria—which used to allow rating on the value of sites as though they were vacant (indeed half the population existed in site value rating municipalities in the 1990s)—now also taxes land and buildings together.
Although municipalities in the states of Queensland and New South Wales rate only on vacant land/site values, enterprising speculators have seen to it that an excellent principle is defeated by applying a “minimum rates” charge. This, of course, has the effect of those on the minimum rate therefore subsidising the holders of more valuable sites. (Joe Hockey would be pleased with this outcome!) In Queensland, former Gold Coast City Council mayor, Ron Clark, actually boasted that most of his ratepayers were on the minimum rate. (Sounds good, doesn’t it?)
The retrogression away from land-based revenues since the Progressive Era, has been matched by increasingly greater taxes on incomes and sales, revenues that are both more difficult to assess and collect, quite apart from having an anti-productive effect.
QUESTION: Why have we gone backwards in this fashion?
ANSWER: Because the rent-seeking 1% have had undue influence in designing our revenue systems.
QUESTION: What happens when reversal of this pathology is recommended?
ANSWER: The 1% resist it at any cost – even at the cost of an economic depression. (Refer to previous post.)
Such has become our ‘democracy’.
As the main crises are the property bubble and Joe Hockey’s terrible budget, Tony, why not take another peep at Ken Henry’s panel’s recipe to get the Australian economy up and going again?
“economic growth would be higher if governments raised more revenue from land and less revenue from other tax bases”. – The Henry Tax Review, 2008
7 years on, the 1% has ‘won’.
Jamie, you need to understand the 1% maintained its position by privatising the public’s land and natural resource rents.
…. will be delivered by Professor John Freebairn, Wednesday 3 September 2014 at the Royal Society in Melbourne.
Eighty per cent of Australian mining is overseas-owned, and these foreigners joined locally-based miners to resist the Rudd Labor government’s proposed resource super profits tax (RSPT), spending $22 million in campaigning and advertisements against Australians capturing their own resource rents.
The campaign was effective: it worked by scaring people. In one of the greatest political cop-outs in Australian history, the fearful Gillard-led Labor government immediately did a quick back-flip deal with a handful of big mining companies to water down the RSPT into the lily-livered minerals resource rent tax (MRRT).
This matter ought to have provided a lesson for us. Australians should have come to see it as a fraud visited upon them by private rent-seeking interests with plenty of money to spend on propaganda. Petty political issues and sporting matters diverted public discussion, however, and the question of capturing our mining rents has become a dead letter.
The next matter on which politicians are about to sell Australians out to overseas interests is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Be warned! Readers’ time would be well spent in listening to Geraldine Doogue’s interviews this morning regarding the downside of our political elite wishing to lock Australians into the vicissitudes of foreign investment:-
Hey! Is anybody running a book on this?
I’ll have ten on Oz!
Formation of the Culture of Genocide
The European Union is attempting to embed the culture of genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Europe’s statesmen are not aware that this is what they are doing. This is another case of wilful blindness (see Thesis No. 9 in http://www.sharetherents.org/ ). But Europe’s laws on finance and property rights entail systematic killing and social discrimination that find their ultimate expression in ethnic cleansing. Under certain conditions, genocide is applied as a tool of Europe’s statecraft of greed.
To understand how these tragic outcomes flow from activities that most people now regard as innocent, we need to trace the way in which the culture of genocide was institutionalised in Europe as a social process. We have to sequence the events that unfolded over the course of 400 years. This enables us to identify the key stages and events that created the modern nation-state. That state emerged to propagate greed. And the avarice that defined the statecraft of greed could only be assuaged by the methodical application of genocide.
Step 1 Going back to the 16th century, we find that private violence was directed against communities, as aggressive individuals grabbed the lands that were held in common. What became the post-feudal aristocracy was motivated by the desire to reap the rents from those lands. In the process, people’s lives and whole communities were wrecked.
A process that began as informal, localised violence had fatal inter-generational biological, psychological and cultural effects (see Box 1).
Step 2 An alien regime of private land ownership was systematically imposed on people. But to perpetuate that injustice, the new aristocracy had to capture the power of the state. Only then could the land-grabbers legitimise their “rights” in law. The “rule of law” thus became the law of the rent-seekers. The state became the tool of those who used violence to grab other people’s traditional rights of access to land, on which they depended for their livelihoods.
Thus was created the institutionalised process of violence, as sanctioned by the rule- of-law.
Step 3 To minimise the costs of enforcing their culture of greed, the aristocracy co-opted people into acquiescing in the violence that was inflicted on them. They achieved this by (inter alia) fabricating the ideology of patriotism. Thus, social outcasts were persuaded to join the army and kill others for patriotic reasons – in defence of the territory in which they no longer had a stake. Nationalism was shaped as a tool for camouflaging the private interests of the land grabbers. The outcasts were hoodwinked into acting against their best interests (see Box 2).
The culture of genocide mutated logically out of the convergence of rent-seeking and nationalism.
Step 4 Rent-seeking is insatiable. Those who live off the rents created by other people’s labours are locked into the boundless pursuit of idleness and luxury. So once they succeeded in dominating the home territory, and its laws (particularly as these applied to taxation) some European nations – the earliest were England, Portugal, Spain and Holland – turned their gaze seawards. The culture of greed mutated into colonialism. This entailed ethnic cleansing as an art of land grabbing. Indigenous peoples who would not vacate their home territories were violently “supplanted” by in-coming settlers.
Genocidal techniques were necessary for clearing the land (see Box 3).
Some scholars argue that colonialism was good for the peoples who were supplanted. British historian Hugh Thomas, for example, views the Spanish Empire as largely benign. Yet he estimates that the population of New Spain dropped from between 8m and 11m people in 1531 to about 2.5m people at the end of the century; and the indigenous people of Peru declined from 6m to 2m over the course of the three generations following the arrival of the Spanish land-grabbers (Thomas 2014). The death of folk cultures was associated with the deaths of the people. This was the culture of genocide in action. That some individuals who forged the Spanish Empire had good intentions is irrelevant to the outcomes.
A New Social Contract
Europe’s constitutional format – the matrix of values, laws and political structures – does not provide a neutral starting point for reconstructing a country like Bosnia and Herzegovina from the trauma of the 1990s. In exploring the future of the people of BiH, therefore, we need to locate the country’s quest for a clean slate beginning within the context of a general assessment of western culture in the 21st century.
Poverty in Europe and North America is a routine by-product of the economic system. At least one-third of the populations of most countries are social outcasts, in the sense that they have no material stake in their homeland territories. They subsist on welfare, dependant (like children) on the state. The Welfare State was devised to contain the discontent of the victims of the economics of apartheid. That system for managing social chaos is now being picked apart by governments under the doctrine of “austerity”. Meanwhile, poverty continues to kill people on an epic scale in materially rich nations. This is the prospect for BiH, if it accepts the so-called “reform” proposals advocated by the EU and agencies like the IMF.
No off-the-peg blueprint exists that can serve as a template for the former socialist countries. Therefore, people who wish to re-constitute their communities on principles that deliver peace and prosperity need to base their laws on first principles.
In assisting BiH to create a constitution based on justice, the European Union has the historic opportunity to redeem the crimes which some of its members inflicted on the rest of humanity. The EU needs to acknowledge that the culture of genocide has no part to play in the future of the continent. How may the European Commissioners in Brussels achieve this?
BiH consists of a population that is diverse in ethnic and religious terms. But they need to share a single ecological and economic space. The principle that would unify, in practical terms, a multi-cultural population is this: the land must be deemed to be a common heritage; the endowments of nature and society must be respected as accessible to everyone, equally.
The EU can help BiH to implement a financial system that is grounded in principles that are endorsed in the classical texts as both scientifically and morally sound. The heart of a fair and efficient market economy is the pricing mechanism that socialises the rents of land, and privatises people’s earned incomes.
The bonus that would flow from this project would be a new lease of life for the original EU mission: to abolish military conflicts across the continent. The decimation of people’s lives and livelihoods since 2008, most starkly for those living on the southern periphery, is a savage indictment of the EU’s current socio-economic paradigm. By facilitating the transition to a new social model for the people of BiH, the EU would also learn how to rebuild the trust of the many millions of people who, in the elections of May 2014, registered their determination to break-up the EU.
We must accept that the EU’s statesmen, and their commissioners, do not consciously intend to impose a genocidal culture on the people of BiH. But this would be the outcome of the policies that are advocated by Brussels. Those policies were paraded by the EU and IMF at a conference in Sarajevo on May 26-27, 2014, called Forum for Prosperity and Jobs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We see the results of those policies throughout Europe today: with half of young people jobless in countries like Greece and Spain, and the savage reduction in living standards in countries like the UK and France.
The remorseless effect of EU policies is to further erode social solidarity. And yet, it is that spirit of cooperation which BiH desperately needs, if it is to succeed in harmonising the interests of its multi-cultural population. If the EU agreed to assist BiH to adopt the justice-based financial and fiscal policy, Europe would redeem itself for past misdeeds in the most poignant way possible. By this one policy initiative, it would announce to the world that genocide will never again terrorise the people of Europe.
Harrison, Fred (2012), The Traumatised Society, London: Shepheard-Walwyn.
Layard, Richard, and David Clark (2014), Thrive: The Power of Evidence-Based Psychological Therapies, London: Allen Lane.
Miller, G.J. (2003), Dying for Justice, London: Centre for Land Policy Studies.
Thomas, Hugh (2014), World Without End: the Global Empire of Phillip II, London: Allen Lane.
Make no mistake about it, folks, the greater part of the CBA’s record profits are “super profits”, namely, YOUR rents, not just shareholders’.
Whilst shareholders are certainly entitled to their share of the CBA’s normal profits, they are NOT entitled to the land rents which are owed equally to each and every one of us.
The CBA, along with the big miners, is a SUPREME rent-seeker! Only greater capture of economic rent and less taxation can start to remedy this crime.