Winston Churchill (1909)

David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill

Liberalism and the Social Problem

….. See how this evil process strikes at every form of industrial activity. The municipality, wishing for broader streets, better houses, more healthy, decent, scientifically planned towns, is made to pay, and is made to pay in exact proportion, or to a very great extent in proportion as it has exerted itself in the past to make improvements. The more it has im­proved the town, the more it has increased the land value, and the more it will have to pay for any land it may wish to acquire.

The manufacturer proposing to start a new in­dustry, proposing to erect a great factory offering employment to thousands of hands, is made to pay such a price for his land that the purchase price hangs round the neck of his whole business, hamper­ing his competitive power in every market, clogging him far more than any foreign tariff in his export competition, and the land values strike down through the profits of the manufacturer on to the wages of the workman.

It does not matter where you look or what examples you select, you will see that every form of enterprise, every step in material progress, is only undertaken after the land monopolist has skimmed the cream off for himself, and everywhere today the man or the public body that wishes to put land to its highest use is forced to pay a preliminary fine in land values to the man who is putting it to an in­ferior use, and in some cases to no use at all. All comes back to the land value, and its owner for the time being is able to levy his toll upon all other forms of wealth and upon every form of industry.


Churchill went on to advocate the taxation of land values to remedy this condition.

The land tax component in Lloyd George’s “People’s Budget” of 1909 was defeated in the House of Lords. (Funny about that!)

Thus the way was paved for the early 1920s mad speculative bubble which developed across the world, bursting into the Great Depression and WWII.

Any similarity to today?