It ain’t capitalism; it ain’t communism; it ain’t globalization; it ain’t financialisation: World governments and their central banks continue to play by Henry VIII’s rent-seeker rules. We’re all playing ‘Monopoly’ and mistakenly believe that most of us can win.

Henry VIII’s extravagance led him to debase the currency, to the dissolution of the monasteries, and to the enclosure of the commons where he obtained useful payment for these lands from the adjoining land barons. In misguided attempts to recover from England’s financial plight, Henry acceded to reducing the barons’ land rent by more than 10 per cent and targetting the common people with arbitrary taxes : –

“… down to the reign of Richard the 3rd, the proportion contributed by the land was nine-tenths; thence, to the time of Mary, it was three-fourths ,,.” Richard Cobden: Corn Bill—Burdens on Land HC Deb 14 March 1842 vol 61 cc519-81

Henry’s falling out with Rome led him to establish the Church of England which divided the nation savagely, distracting from the emerging landholding system where ‘owerners’ (Middle English)–those who owed the land rent­­–were being released from their fiscal obligations.

 This proved to be the foundation of a seemingly invisible divide-and-rule mechanism that continues to this day to serve the interests of rent seekers. The uber wealthy own the most valuable land and more of it while the poor are locked out of access by impossible land prices. We have big landowners and miners calling the shots, but there’s a strong new group among these ‘aristocrats’; Big Tech isn’t paying its market rent for the electromagnetic spectrum it controls. Insofar as the spectrum is a natural resource, in economic terms it is also ‘land’.

Of course, much history has been written since Henry VIII but, five hundred years on, tax regimes now direct more of the industrial revolution’s increased surplus product–literally the common wealth of the nation–disproportionally to the ‘owners’ of land who claim they have no rental obligations for their possession of land. They are ‘owerners’ no longer: rent is their ‘private property’.

Despite it clearly playing the critical role in increasing wealth disparities and the destruction of social cohesion, benumbed by the sheer number of socio-economic problems Tweedledee and Tweedledum political parties serve rent seeking interests by turning a blind eye to the privatisation of publicly generated land rent.

An astounding truth cannot be revealed: divide and rule pays homage to private rent seeking by allowing it to remain invisible. Henry VIII lives on amongst us, and academia accedes to his criminal failings.

Hank 8