I put the failure of land taxes to gain more than a toehold in economic thinking these days down to the fact that economists who support the relative benefits of resource rents–Nobel prize-winners though they may sometimes be–are rarely reported in a media perceiving the interests of its big bosses and major advertisers are not well served by abolishing rent-seeking. “There must be no such thing as public resource rents, there are only income and sales taxes – just remember that!” Free press? Baloney!
It’s counter-intuitive, but ad valorem land taxes respond precisely to the needs of an increasingly complex society. The benefits of available infrastructure, the relative size and location of each parcel in terms of community amenities, and even of new advances in science and technology are all differentially reflected in the market value of each and every allotment.
The principle of Ockham’s Razor is that the answer to complex problems is often a simple solution. Land taxes and electromagnetic spectrum rents are elegant solutions to the increasing economic canker and deadweight losses generated by income and sales taxes.
Far higher levels of resource rents replacing income and sales taxes may not be the answer to all of our economic ills – but the switch has much to recommend it.
Maybe economic cycles of death and renewal will always be with us , but we have an amazing and much underutilised tool which could prevent the cycles from being so repetitively socially devastating.