OCCUPY RENT-SEEKING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

TWO CRITICAL PROBLEMS

Following financial collapse around the world, the Occupy movement demonstrated its abhorrence of the deceit and trickery that has emanated from the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector of the economy. People began to ask: “How is it that capital markets have gained so much ascendancy over people and the real economy?”

Before the question was finally resolved, it was back to business as usual. The 1% remains ensconced in full control.

Now, as we miss renewable energy targets, we’re wrestling again with the issue of climate change. How is it possible to abolish, or at least reduce and sequester, carbon pollution?

Very few see the inter-relationship between financial collapse and climate change. They are features of the same phenomenon: private rent-seeking in a public asset.

The planet has come to be regarded as a resource to be exploited, raped and plundered – because we have given the green light to do so at nil cost to its over-exploiters, the 1% who enrich themselves at the expense of the environment and all others.

This is surely lose/lose?

THE COMMON ANSWER:  PAY THE RENT

Were we to capture the economic rents of land and government-granted privileges to public resources, such as mining, the magnetic spectrum, fishing, forestry, aircraft rights, etc.—and abolish the arbitrary taxation of incomes, thrift and sales—the FIRE sector would immediately assume its correct role, simply a part of the service sector, and those who plunder the planet would pay dearly for doing so.

But here in the early part of the 21st century, very few people understand rent-seeking and the devastation it wreaks upon people and the planet. It has been the role of the 1% to ensure science and education remain ignorant about the unearned incomes economists have nominated as economic rents – because untaxing the productive side of the economy would deliver genuine free enterprise and true liberty.

As financial markets continue to implode and climate change remains virtually unaddressed, private rent-seeking in publicly generated incomes proceeds apace.

It must be ended.