THE LAND QUESTION

WHO OWNS?
WHO DOESN’T?

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“Essentially the same land system as that of Ireland exists elsewhere, and, wherever it exists, distress of essentially the same kind is to be seen. And elsewhere, just as certainly as in Ireland, is the connection between the two that of cause and effect. 

….. Whence come the incomes which the owners of land in mining districts, in manufacturing districts, or in commercial districts, receive for the use of their land? Manifestly, they must come from the earnings of labor – there is no other source from which they can come. From what are the revenues of Trinity Church corporation drawn, if not from the earnings of labor? What is the source of the income of the Astors, if it is not the labor of laboring-men, women and children? When a man makes a fortune by the rise of real estate, as in New York and elsewhere many men have done within the past few months, what does it mean? It means that he may have fine clothes, costly food, a grand house luxuriously furnished, etc. Now these things are not the spontaneous fruits of the soil; neither do they fall from heaven, nor are they cast up by the sea. They are products of labor – can only be produced by labor. And hence, if men who do not labor for them, it must necessarily be at the expense of those who do labor.”

The Land Question: what it involves and how alone it may be settled”, Henry George, 1881 

“COST OVERRUNS”??

I’m more than tired of political parties of any stripe that are currently out of power consistently criticising governments about “cost overruns” in public infrastructure projects.

We want the best use of taxpayers’ money.

No, you don’t, guys. If you really did, you’d want to curb land price escalation, if not abolish land prices altogether by taxing them sufficiently, because it is land prices that are deflating the value of the currency with the incessant cost-push inflation that they generate.

Sure, we need to keep a careful eye on public expenditures but, if you’re fair dinkum about ‘cost overruns’ in getting things done, you need to be honest about the role that escalating land prices play in making everything dear and in devaluing the dollar, guys!

WE’RE LOST

I become lost in the aboriginal names given to AFL teams for the Sir Douglas Nicholls round of football.

Maybe some first nations peoples are similarly lost in wanting to ‘own’ certain parts of Australia instead of possessing them exclusively? That’s quite a difference! Australia’s original inhabitants once understood that the land was ‘common property’ and couldn’t be justly ‘owned’ by anybody.

As in many other socio-economic areas, instead of reverting to fundamentals and sticking to them, we’ve becoming enmeshed in the simplistic trivia beloved by mainstream media.

Doesn’t the following represent a truer aim? [Yes, I accept that it’s not very likely these days when the commodification of and speculation in land prevails in Australia.]

Sir William Blackstone