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Author Topic: Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)  (Read 30901 times)

RhythmStar

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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #90 on: September 06, 2003, 07:28:09 pm »

As a economic incentive( so  people will not take their property and leave the union) the tax rate should be low and that I see as a problem with the LVT, now if it allows for income varations I would be more  supportive of it. If my unimproved value on 4 acres is 10,000 and the tax rate is 500 dollars an acre, I would not have a problem paying the 2,000 bucks with my 30,000 a year income but my widowed neighbor with 40 acres might have a problem paying her tax of 20,000 bucks on a fixed income of 10,000 a year.

Actually, this (the landed widow) is the conundrum I was thinking of when I said earlier in the thread that switching to LVT on a grand scale might be difficult.  

In New Hampshire, I think it can be done painlessly -- just subtract the current assessment for improvements and add it to the land value column.  Voila!  Land Value Taxation without any pain at all.   You would then immediately see a boom in new construction, as the current tax penalty on improvements would be gone.

Yet, herein lies the seed of the aforementioned conundrum -- as new construction booms, greater demands will be made on goverment (fire departments, police, etc.).  The natural way to deal with this under LVT is to raise the LVT rate.  Since LVT rates should be based on the cost of government (at least I think so),  as economic development proceeds, so demand for government services rises, and so rises the LVT.   This is offset by the wealth created by the economic development.

HOWEVER,  I have proposed that instead of taxing different areas of land at greater rates than others, that all land should be taxed the same.   The reason for this is that I also suggest that the LVT be no more than the budget required by the minimal Minarchist government.  

LVT Rate per Acre = StateBudget / TaxableAcres

Thus all the voodoo is dispelled -- the LVT is to fund government, and the pain is proportional to the land you own.   Presumably, there is great economic benefit to owning land, so those with huge tracts of land should have no problem.   I have dubbed this variation on George's theme the Uniform Land Value Tax (ULVT).   In terms of economic disruption and overall fairness, it has attractions -- even enough to get Jason to conceed that it wouldn't be so bad (in his eyes) as non-uniform LVT.   Problem solved?

Mostly, I think, except for one thing -- the royalist culture has used land deeds as a respository of private wealth, like a bank.   And mixing improvement taxes into the land taxes has provided the method for allowing large monopolies on undeveloped land to exist (i.e. a widow holding 40 acres of undeveloped land), and to even be considered great assets -- her 'unimproved' assessment may be very low on 40 acres, while the 1/2 acre plot next door with the fancy house gets taxed to death!  In contrast, LVT makes land monopolies (deeds) into liabilities -- only improvements are assets!  And under ULVT, all land is taxed the same.

I view the conversion of unimproved land monopolies from wealth repositories into tax liabilities as a good thing.  A land monopoly is a government-granted privilege that denies all others their natural rights to the same land.  Such exclusivity is a necessary evil for economic development to progress, but the bargain is fair enough if (and only if) there is compensation to society for the deed.  

Under the current system, unimproved land is bought up in the hope that the artificial scarcity thus created will drive up the price.  This is akin to damming up the river so you can charge $2 a bottle for water to the suddenly-thirsty downstream communities. (Yes, I mean to equate the pre-existing water rights of the downstreamers with the pre-existing common rights to unimproved land.)   It is unfair and coercive, even when bad government allows it.  

So, the landed widow may be living off of a fixed income.  If we keep with New Hampshire, as the construction boom surrounds her, the demand on government services inevitably causes a rise in ULVT.   There is an urge to say this is bad, since the widow then either has to put the land to use, or suffer economic damage.   However, the fact is that holding a monopoly on those 40 acres is a great luxury... those wealthy enough can do it, but those not so rich need to either put the land to use or lose the land deed to those who can.

In the widow's case, all she really has to do is let someone build some nice, tax-free rental houses, or some other revenue-generating activity (hunting or logging leases?).   She would be richer and more economic development of the land would result.   So, taken in context, the widow's plight under rising LVT due to a construction boom is no different than her plight anyway, as taxes rise.  Except that under LVT, she has a ready means to generate more income, tax free.

:)

RS
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LeopardPM

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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #91 on: September 07, 2003, 12:56:34 am »

Rhythm, why do you keep referring to land ownership as a 'monopoly'?
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RhythmStar

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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #92 on: September 07, 2003, 06:08:20 am »

Rhythm, why do you keep referring to land ownership as a 'monopoly'?

Because that's exactly what it is.  

BTW, intellectual property rights are also monopolies (as a published songwriter, I have a bit of experience with the Copyright office).  And just like land titles, intellectual property rights are government-granted privileges, awarded to spur economic development (or should be).  

Sadly, due to the royalist influence, most people today believe in the dominion theory regarding land, which is basically a holdover from the days of the King's Divine Right to Rule.  Oh well.

Royal Libertarians

:)

RS
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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #93 on: September 07, 2003, 09:40:17 am »

How is land ownership a monopoly?  If I own an acre and you own an acre, I don't have a monopoly.  If I owned 80% of ALL land, then, sure, I have a monopoly.  Your description of monopoly dilutes the meaning - it could then be applied to all property: I have a monopoly over my house/car/bicycle/etc - while it might be true in the most literal sense, it isn't very descriptive or helpful way to describe ownership.  

monopoly implies ownership
ownership does not imply monopoly
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Duodecimal

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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #94 on: September 07, 2003, 10:59:34 am »

I would agree with the stance on intellectual property, as I mentioned earlier. But the big difference here, where georgists are wrong, is that land is not the same as ideas.

You and I can use the same idea at the same time. As Jefferson said, I can light my candle from yours without darkening you. But that doesn't apply to land, or bicycles, or DVDs. With real property, someone can claim exclusive use. You can not exclusively use an idea, and the government's protection of 'intellectual property' violates real property rights by, for example, forbidding someone to use his own laboratory to synthesize HIV-fighting medicines when those formulae are covered by patents.

The ability to exclusively use something defines real property in this sense. That is how patents, copyrights, and IP are wholly distinct from land.

Again, my philosophy is that no tax is just and that no tax is harmless. The greatest danger of Georgism is that it validates specific taxation as a moral imperative based on a specific communal philosophy of value. Getting a foot into the door in favor of theft, even though georgists define selling land as theft of "society's" generated value, is the same first step on a slippery slope that all justification of government appropriation of power.

Land is no different from any other resource. All matter is given by nature, and the value of all things can be said to gain value from society

To extend the georgist philosophy, our society's culture prices diamonds, wholly subjectively, as more valuable than food, water, and even land. If our culture thought diamonds were objects of evil, they would have no real value and fetch no real price premium. Therefore, the price premium of diamonds are generated by society and their appreciation in value over their raw state should be taxable. Diamonds are scarcer than land and in high demand due to the subjective value members of our society place on owning them.

And just as we don't need to own diamonds to survive, I don't need to own land to survive. I rent (and won't own land in this bubble environment). My employer, the largest regional brokerage firm outside New York, does not own any land for its headquarters or operations facility. Monopoly on ownership is not a danger even if it were possible in the first place.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2003, 11:06:30 am by Duodecimal »
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RhythmStar

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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #95 on: September 07, 2003, 12:38:33 pm »

How is land ownership a monopoly?  If I own an acre and you own an acre, I don't have a monopoly.  If I owned 80% of ALL land, then, sure, I have a monopoly.  Your description of monopoly dilutes the meaning - it could then be applied to all property: I have a monopoly over my house/car/bicycle/etc - while it might be true in the most literal sense, it isn't very descriptive or helpful way to describe ownership.  

monopoly implies ownership
ownership does not imply monopoly

First, land is not a product.  You cannot produce any new planetary surface.  So, once again, any human has just as much right to use a given piece of unimproved land as any other (this is the Jeffersonian view).  A human cannot actually 'own' land anymore than I can 'own' a song.  However, the government can grant you a deed to the land and enforce it for you, just as the goverment can grant me exclusive use rights to a song.   In both cases, we (as government-created monopolists) get to corner the market on our limited monopolies.

Why is this not like owning a car?  Because even if all the cars are bought, more cars can be made.   The State cannot make more land to give deeds to, so even though the US is nowhere near actually occupied, it is 100% legally occupied.  The royalist State is the penultimate land monopolist, controlling 100% of the available land within its borders.  The deeds it grants make the recipients little land monopolists, controlling 100% of the use of the land in their deed, whether it is just enough for them to live, or a vastness bigger than most nations.   And the effect of such today is to the disservice of all.

Let's let Winston Churchill elaborate on this last a bit:

Land monopoly is not the only monopoly, but it is by far the greatest of monopolies -- it is a perpetual monopoly, and it is the mother of all other forms of monopoly.

Unearned increments in land are not the only form of unearned or undeserved profit, but they are the principal form of unearned increment, and they are derived from processes which are not merely not beneficial, but positively detrimental to the general public.

Land, which is a necessity of human existence, which is the original source of all wealth, which is strictly limited in extent, which is fixed in geographical position -- land, I say, differs from all other forms of property, and the immemorial customs of nearly every modern state have placed the tenure, transfer, and obligations of land in a wholly different category from other classes of property.

Nothing is more amusing than to watch the efforts of land monopolists to claim that other forms of property and increment are similar in all respects to land and the unearned increment on land.

They talk of the increased profits of a doctor or lawyer from the growth of population in the town in which they live. They talk of the profits of a railway, from the growing wealth and activity in the districts through which it runs. They talk of the profits from a rise in stocks and even the profits derived from the sale of works of art.

But see how misleading and false all those analogies are. The windfalls from the sale of a picture -- a Van Dyke or a Holbein -- may be very considerable. But pictures do not get in anybody's way. They do not lay a toll on anybody's labor; they do not touch enterprise and production; they do not affect the creative processes on which the material well-being of millions depends.

If a rise in stocks confers profits on the fortunate holders far beyond what they expected or indeed deserved, nevertheless that profit was not reaped by withholding from the community the land which it needs; on the contrary, it was reaped by supplying industry with the capital without which it could not be carried on.

If a railway makes greater profits it is usually because it carries more goods and more passengers.

If a doctor or a lawyer enjoys a better practice, it is because the doctor attends more patients and more exacting patients, and because the lawyer pleads more suits in the courts and more important suits. At every stage the doctor or the lawyer is giving service in return for his fees.

Fancy comparing these healthy processes with the enrichment which comes to the landlord who happens to own a plot of land on the outskirts of a great city, who watches the busy population around him making the city larger, richer, more convenient, more famous every day, and all the while sits still and does nothing.

Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains -- and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labor and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived.

While the land is what is called "ripening" for the unearned increment of its owner, the merchant going to his office and the artisan going to his work must detour or pay a fare to avoid it. The people lose their chance of using the land, the city and state lose the taxes which would have accrued if the natural development had taken place, and all the while the land monopolist only has to sit still and watch complacently his property multiplying in value, sometimes many fold, without either effort or contribution on his part!


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RhythmStar

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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #96 on: September 07, 2003, 12:39:03 pm »

But let us follow this process a little further. The population of the city grows and grows, the congestion in the poorer quarters becomes acute, rents rise and thousands of families are crowded into tenements. At last the land becomes ripe for sale -- that means that the price is too tempting to be resisted any longer. And then, and not until then, it is sold by the yard or by the inch at 10 times, or 20 times, or even 50 times its agricultural value.

The greater the population around the land, the greater the injury the public has sustained by its protracted denial. And, the more inconvenience caused to everybody; the more serious the loss in economic strength and activity -- the larger will be the profit of the landlord when the sale is finally accomplished. In fact, you may say that the unearned increment on the land is reaped by the land monopolist in exact proportion, not to the service, but to the disservice done. It is monopoly which is the keynote, and where monopoly prevails, the greater the injury to society the greater the reward to the monopolist. 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 more to get them in proportion as is has exerted itself to make past improvements. The more it has improved the town, the more it will have to pay for any land it may now wish to acquire for further improvements.

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 around 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 price strikes down through the profits of the manufacturer on to the wages of the worker.

No matter where you look or what examples you select, you will see every form of enterprise, every step in material progress, is only undertaken after the land monopolist has skimmed the cream 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 one, and in some cases to no use at all. All comes back to land value, and its owner is able to levy toll upon all other forms of wealth and every form of industry. A portion, in some cases the whole, of every benefit which is laboriously acquired by the community increases the land value and finds its way automatically into the landlord's pocket. If there is a rise in wages, rents are able to move forward, because the workers can afford to pay a little more. If the opening of a new railway or new tramway, or the institution of improved services of a lowering of fares, or of a new invention, or any other public convenience affords a benefit to workers in any particular district, it becomes easier for them to live, and therefore the ground landlord is able to charge them more for the privilege of living there.

Some years ago in London there was a toll bar on a bridge across the Thames, and all the working people who lived on the south side of the river had to pay a daily toll of one penny for going and returning from their work. The spectacle of these poor people thus mulcted of so large a proportion of their earnings offended the public conscience, and agitation was set on foot, municipal authorities were roused, and at the cost of the taxpayers, the bridge was freed and the toll removed. All those people who used the bridge were saved sixpence a week, but within a very short time rents on the south side of the river were found to have risen about sixpence a week, or the amount of the toll which had been remitted!

And a friend of mine was telling me the other day that, in the parish of Southwark, about 350 pounds a year was given away in doles of bread by charitable people in connection with one of the churches. As a consequence of this charity, the competition for small houses and single-room tenements is so great that rents are considerably higher in the parish!

All goes back to the land, and the land owner is able to absorb to himself a share of almost every public and every private benefit, however important or however pitiful those benefits may be.

I hope you will understand that, when I speak of the land monopolist, I am dealing more with the process than with the individual land owner who, in most cases, is a worthy person utterly unconscious of the character of the methods by which he is enriched. I have no wish to hold any class up to public disapprobation. I do not think that the man who makes money by unearned increment in land is morally worse than anyone else who gathers his profit where he finds it in this hard world under the law and according to common usage. It is not the individual I attack; it is the system. It is not the man who is bad; it is the law which is bad. It is not the man who is blameworthy for doing what the law allows and what other men do; it is the State which would be blameworthy if it were not to endeavor to reform the law and correct the practice.

We do not want to punish the landlord. We want to alter the law.  -- Winston Churchill



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LeopardPM

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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #97 on: September 07, 2003, 01:58:39 pm »

Rhythm,
Mr. Churchill is very eloquent, but the following phrase, in my view, discredit his view of land:
Quote
Unearned increments in land are not the only form of unearned or undeserved profit, but they are the principal form of unearned increment, and they are derived from processes which are not merely not beneficial, but positively detrimental to the general public.
Who is he to determine if a particular profit is deserved or not?  The sale of land, like any other transaction of a commodity or service, benefits both buyer and seller and is not the business of anyone else to determine the value or profit to either.

lets start out with a clear area, say a valley: no body in sight.  First person comes along and places a claim on this property or a portion of it.  Perhaps he is a 'spectulator' in that he sees the attributes of this property to hold some potential future value (minerals, near to water, heavily forested, a good sopping point between two cities, etc) and takes the risk that the land will rise in value as others discover the same about the area.  More people move to the area, snatching up claims of land until the whole valley is 'owned'.  These folks build houses, a town, maybe try to get a railroad to go through, maybe start industry - all in effort to attract more people and increase value.  Combined, yes, they have a 'monopoly' on the area - but this doesn't prevent others from doing the same in the next valley and competing with the first.  But, this only holds true as long as there are more valleys to 'claim'.  After all the land is owned.  Then 'other' people are reduced in their choices: rent land or buy land.  But no monopoly exists because everyone has the ability to become a land owner.  People can join their capital together to make purchases if land values rise to a point where individuals cannot easily afford land.  We are far from that point currently, but lets take a look into the future:  earth population of 20 billion - all areas are owned and all land is extremely expensive, so expensive that it becomes more economically efficient to expand to the seas, space, etc... Only if you assume that we are restricted to current land areas does your 'monopoly' hold any sort of water... this is true when you look at any natural resource (as ALL resources are) in a finite space.  The universe is not finite and human ingenuity is not limited either...
The Georist view is fine, and makes some sort of 'societal' sense, I think people should be able to do as they have done in your examples in New Hampshire etc where a group of folks buy a large tract of land and then institute a Georgian system on it.  As long as there were no property taxes due to the state/federal government then I am sure this system would flourish and be free to compete with other methods of private land distribution.  The problem comes in when a government forces property taxes from the land owners.  Property taxes (in whatever form) make it impossible for any person to NOT be apart of society and not control their lives and future.  Suppose a farmer just wanted to grow enough food for his family and not be 'beholdin' to anyone on the outside, fast-paced world.  He couldn't due to taxation.  If a city grew up around his property and these taxes (georian or otherwise) rose in respect to value, he would be forced off his property.

Quote
First, land is not a product.  You cannot produce any new planetary surface.  So, once again, any human has just as much right to use a given piece of unimproved land as any other (this is the Jeffersonian view).  

Land is a product - it is just not often a product of man.  But man CAN create land, or at least convert resources into a place that allows him to dwell on (ie: dutch dikes, oil rigs, space stations, and in the future: moon colonies, asteroid developments, other worlds, etc).  Yes, every human has the 'right' to use a given piece of land, just as we all have the 'right' to work or to eat or to play.  It is more an 'ability' than a right tho - I have the 'right' to exercise my abilities/talents as I see fit in an effort to feed myself, clothe myself, own a car, own land - but none of these are an entitlement and if I choose to just do nothing, then I suffer the consequences (starvation, limited mobility, etc).

michael
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Duodecimal

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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #98 on: September 07, 2003, 02:16:44 pm »

But we have created new land areas. Hong Kong's international airport. The dikes of Denmark. And eventually, artificial islands at sea. There's a chunk of southern England created from the Chunnel, and the same goes for a bit of Manhattan.

Calling land a perpetual monopoly is nonsensical. It passes from owner to owner like all other property. The amount of land is less fixed than the amount of gold (because gold, unlike land, is not being created). Churchill is wrong. Georgists are wrong. There is no strong logical foundation for segregating land as a unique resource any more than water or wheat.

Churchill assails the state for making the current system possible. However, land ownership is possible without the state as long as men are willing to defend their property. He assails the same State that would tax land ownership at some subjective rate as set by some appointed or elected bureau of busybodies.

Electricity generation, water works, the growing and movement of food supplies, the availability of healthcare, and the dissemination of information are all as vital as land. Gold can not be created, and its value is also subject to market forces and subjective estimations. Fundamental theories of value are completely ignored by all these georgist musings.
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RhythmStar

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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #99 on: September 07, 2003, 03:13:15 pm »

>>Hong Kong Airport

This did not increase the surface area of the Earth one square centimeter.   Labor added improvement value.  Under LVT, none of that would be taxable.

As for the fruits of labor being critical, indeed -- they are the True Property of humans.  They should not be taxed at all!   Instead, all the taxes necessary should be taken from LVT, which is the product of no human and the common heritage of all.

BTW, let's read what Mark Twain has to say on the issue:

Archimedes

by Twark Main [Mark Twain?]

"Give me whereon to stand", said Archimedes, "and I will move the earth." The boast was a pretty safe one, for he knew quite well that the standing place was wanting, and always would be wanting. But suppose he had moved the earth, what then? What benefit would it have been to anybody? The job would never have paid working expenses, let alone dividends, and so what was the use of talking about it? From what astronomers tell us, I should reckon that the earth moved quite fast enough already, and if there happened to be a few cranks who were dissatisfied with its rate of progress, as far as I am concerned, they might push it along for themselves; I would not move a finger or subscribe a penny piece to assist in anything of the kind.

Why such a fellow as Archimedes should be looked upon as a genius I never could understand; I never heard that he made a pile, or did anything else worth talking about. As for that last contract he took in hand, it was the worst bungle I ever knew; he undertook to keep the Romans out of Syracuse; he tried first one dodge and then another, but they got in after all, and when it came to fair fighting he was out of it altogether, a common soldier in a very business-like sort of way settling all his pretensions.

It is evident that he was an over-rated man. He was in the habit of making a lot of fuss about his screws and levers, but his knowledge of mechanics was in reality of a very limited character. I have never set up for a genius myself, but I know of a mechanical force more powerful than anything the vaunting engineer of Syracuse ever dreamed of. It is the force of land monopoly; it is a screw and lever all in one; it will screw the last penny out of a man's pocket, and bend everything on earth to its own despotic will. Give me the private ownership of all the land, and will I move the earth? No; but I will do more. I will undertake to make slaves of all the human beings on the face of it. Not chattel slaves exactly, but slaves nevertheless. What an idiot I would be to make chattel slaves of them. I would have to find them salts and senna when they were sick, and whip them to work when they were lazy.

No, it is not good enough. Under the system I propose the fools would imagine they were all free. I would get a maximum of results, and have no responsibility whatever. They would cultivate the soil; they would dive into the bowels of the earth for its hidden treasures; they would build cities and construct railways and telegraphs; their ships would navigate the ocean; they would work and work, and invent and contrive; their warehouses would be full, their markets glutted, and

The beauty of the whole concern would be That everything they made would belong to me.


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RhythmStar

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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #100 on: September 07, 2003, 03:14:24 pm »

It would be this way, you see: As I owned all the land, they would of course, have to pay me rent. They could not reasonably expect me to allow them the use of the land for nothing. I am not a hard man, and in fixing the rent I would be very liberal with them. I would allow them, in fact, to fix it themselves. What could be fairer? Here is a piece of land, let us say, it might be a farm, it might be a building site, or it might be something else - if there was only one man who wanted it, of course he would not offer me much, but if the land be really worth anything such a circumstance is not likely to happen. On the contrary, there would be a number who would want it, and they would go on bidding and bidding one against the other, in order to get it. I should accept the highest offer - what could be fairer? Every increase of population, extension of trade, every advance in the arts and sciences would, as we all know, increase the value of land, and the competition that would naturally arise would continue to force rents upward, so much so, that in many cases the tenants would have little or nothing left for themselves.

In this case a number of those who were hard pushed would seek to borrow, and as for those who were not so hard pushed, they would, as a matter of course, get the idea into their heads that if they only had more capital they could extend their operations, and thereby make their business more profitable. Here I am again. The very man they stand in need of; a regular benefactor of my species, and always ready to oblige them. With such an enormous rent-roll I could furnish them with funds up to the full extent of the available security; they would not expect me to do more, and in the matter of interest I would be equally generous.

I would allow them to fix the rate of it themselves in precisely the same manner as they had fixed the rent. I should then have them by the wool, and if they failed in their payments it would be the easiest thing in the world to sell them out. They might bewail their lot, but business is business. They should have worked harder and been more provident. Whatever inconvenience they might suffer, it would be their concern, and not mine. What a glorious time I would have of it! Rent and interest, interest and rent, and no limit to either, excepting the ability of the workers to pay. Rents would go up and up, and they would continue to pledge and mortgage, and as they went bung, bung, one after another, it would be the finest sport ever seen. thus, from the simple leverage of land monopoly, not only the great globe itself, but everything on the face of it would eventually belong to me. I would be king and lord of all, and the rest of mankind would be my most willing slaves.

It hardly needs to be said that it would not be consistent with my dignity to associate with the common rank and file of humanity; it would not be politic to say so, but, as a matter of fact, I not only hate work but I hate those who do work, and I would not have their stinking carcasses near me at any price. High above the contemptible herd I would sit enthroned amid a circle of devoted worshippers. I would choose for myself companions after my own heart. I would deck them with ribbons and gewgaws to tickle their vanity; they would esteem it an honour to kiss my glove, and would pay homage to the very chair that I sat upon; brave men would die for me, parsons would pray for me, and bright-eyed beauty would pander to my pleasures. For the proper management of public affairs I would have a parliament, and for the preservation of law and order there would be soldiers and policemen, all sworn to serve me faithfully; their pay would not be much, but their high sense of duty would be a sufficient guarantee that they would fulfil the terms of the contract.

Outside the charmed circle of my society would be others eagerly pressing forward in the hope of sharing my favours; outside of these would be others again who would be forever seeking to wriggle themselves into the ranks of those in front of them, and so on, outward and downward, until we reach the deep ranks of the workers forever toiling and forever struggling merely to live, and with the hell of poverty forever threatening to engulf them. The hell of poverty, that outer realm of darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth - the social Gehenna, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched - here is a whip more effective by far than the keenest lash of the chattel slave owner, urging them on by day, haunting their dreams by night, draining without stint the life blood from their veins, and pursuing them with relentless constancy to their graves. In the buoyancy of youth many would start full of hope and with high expectations; but, as they journeyed along, disappointment would follow disappointment, hope would gradually give place to despair, the promised cup of joy would be turned to bitterness, and the holiest affection would become a poisoned arrow quivering in the heart!

What a beautiful arrangement - ambition urging in front, want and the fear of want bringing up the rear! In the conflicting interests that would be involved, in the throat-cutting competition that would prevail, in the bitterness that would be engendered between man and man, husband and wife, father and son, I should, of course, have no part. There would be lying and cheating, harsh treatment by masters, dishonesty of servants, strikes and lockouts, assaults and intimidation, family feuds and interminable broils; but they would not concern Me. In the serene atmosphere of my earthly paradise I would be safe from all evil. I would feast on the daintiest of dishes, and sip wines of the choicest vintage; my gardens would have the most magnificent terraces and the finest walks. I would roam mid the umbrageous foliage of the trees, the blooming flowers, the warbling of birds, the jetting of fountains, and the splashing of pellucid waters. My palace would have its walls of alabaster and domes of crystal, there would be furniture of the most exquisite workmanship, carpets and hangings of the richest fabrics and finest textures, carvings and paintings that were miracles of art, vessels of gold and silver, gems of the purest ray glittering in their settings, the voluptuous strains of the sweetest music, the perfume of roses, the softest of couches, a horde of titled lackeys to come and go at my bidding, and a perfect galaxy of beauty to stimulate desire, and administer to my enjoyment. Thus would I pass the happy hours away, while throughout the world it would be a hallmark of respectability to extol my virtues, and anthems would be everywhere sung in praise.

Archimedes never dreamt of anything like that. Yet, with the earth for my fulcrum and its private ownership for my lever, it is all possible. If it should be said that the people would eventually detect the fraud, and with swift vengeance hurl me and all my courtly parasites to perdition, I answer, "Nothing of the kind, the people are as good as gold, and would stand it like bricks, and I appeal to the facts of today to bear me witness."  


:)

RS
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RhythmStar

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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #101 on: September 07, 2003, 03:25:02 pm »

BTW, here is a link to a more modernist analysis that looks to land monopolies as they have existed in other countries and how land reform was brought about.   Not exactly Georgist, but informative nonetheless.

http://csf.colorado.edu/forums/pkt/dec98/0195.html

And a bit of Scottish flavor:

http://www.siol-nan-gaidheal.com/environ.htm

:)

RS



« Last Edit: September 07, 2003, 03:29:25 pm by RhythmStar »
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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #102 on: September 07, 2003, 03:46:40 pm »

...and when you take viirtually any idea to an extreme, it fails... all land will not ever be owned by one person

yet another interesting quote of a historical someone who could not possibly even dream of what human achievement could attain... and in their little, narrow view of earth and human endeavors they may have been correct... but not so today...

instead of quoting folks who might have a different view in our current, modern world... what about your views, Rhythm?  What are your answers to these questions:

Should gold, silver, salt, minerals, all natural resources be made 'public', ie: have a Georgian system of taxation placed upon them?

Land on the Earth itself may be limited, but what about 'land' outside of our world? the moon? other planets and planetary objects? other solar systems, etc?  Are we really 'limited' or just currently technologically impaired?

A Georgist System could evolve unmolested and unfettered in a purely private property (no taxes) world - but the reverse is not true... so why not have an overall private property system and institute Georgism within, thereby not infringing on anyones freedoms?

and, btw, "Give me whereon to stand", said Archimedes, "and I will move the earth." - I understood the quote to be more along the lines of "Give me a proper lever, and I shall move mountains" which is entirely truthful, and we do move mountains by the very same principal.

michael

Interesting article BTW - I like how it shows that private ownership of land is better for the overall economy and points out the repressive nature of governmental or feudal systems of land management.
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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #103 on: September 07, 2003, 09:33:44 pm »

...and when you take viirtually any idea to an extreme, it fails... all land will not ever be owned by one person

Not in the US.  However, in European monarchies, the crown was basically the owner of all land.  It did not last, but the reverbrations are still felt round the world.   And while our University friend above claims the Homestead Act prevented true land monopolies from forming in the US, it's a warped kind of logic.  The land was stolen from the Indians by the State, then deeded out to the State's clients.  This provided the illusion of no land monopoly for those clients, until the Act was deactivated, but the Indians were pretty sure what was happening.

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yet another interesting quote of a historical someone who could not possibly even dream of what human achievement could attain... and in their little, narrow view of earth and human endeavors they may have been correct... but not so today...

It is important not to confuse SciFi with reality.  I am an advocate of technology... a sort of technocrat, really.  Yet, I do not believe that the fundamentals of Earth-bound real-estate are going to be impacted by planetary exploration any time soon.  Nor will we colonize the sea floor, nor will we build huge floating cities on the sea (or the Great Lakes).  In time, we may do all those things, but for this century, I see the lot of humankind remaining primarily a land-based, Earth-bound affair.  So, there is plenty of motivation to try and get it right.

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instead of quoting folks who might have a different view in our current, modern world... what about your views, Rhythm?  What are your answers to these questions:

Should gold, silver, salt, minerals, all natural resources be made 'public', ie: have a Georgian system of taxation placed upon them?

Philosophically, all non-artificial things are our common heritage.  So, there would be no moral objection to a rent or use fee being imposed, if such were needed.  However, my whole position turns on the idea that all taxes should be abolished, except for the ULVT, and that this tax should be calculated by dividing the annual budget for government by the number of taxable acres.   There is no fancy, gew-gaw encrusted voodoo behind this -- it is a simple, utilitarian method of financing government without taxing the means of production (capital or labor).   Presuming (as I do) that the ULVT will be precisely sufficient to the finance of the government (see formula above), then I would have to say that no, I do not believe their should be a tax on extractive products, even though their could be such a tax under Georgist philosophy.

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Land on the Earth itself may be limited, but what about 'land' outside of our world? the moon? other planets and planetary objects? other solar systems, etc?  Are we really 'limited' or just currently technologically impaired?

Anything we create is the fruit of labor and therefore not eligible for taxation in a Georgist framework.  So, if you create a floating, hydrogen-fueled city orbiting Jupiter, none of that living area would or should be taxed.  However, the hydrogen that you sucked up from Jupiter is not the fruit of labor, so it would be a candidate for taxation, if such taxes were needed.  

Frankly, there is no reason I can see that taxes would be needed at all.  User fees could drive the whole thing -- a power bill, a hydrogen bill, etc.  Unless the technology required to create new habitat was something individuals could command, all such communities would be collectives -- either of the corporate or communal forms.   So, you would get what you signed on for.

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A Georgist System could evolve unmolested and unfettered in a purely private property (no taxes) world - but the reverse is not true... so why not have an overall private property system and institute Georgism within, thereby not infringing on anyones freedoms?

As a theoretical point, there is no objection.  However, I think there are greater barriers to AnCap than there are to a Georgist tax policy. :)

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and, btw, "Give me whereon to stand", said Archimedes, "and I will move the earth." - I understood the quote to be more along the lines of "Give me a proper lever, and I shall move mountains" which is entirely truthful, and we do move mountains by the very same principal.

That's the problem with historical information -- there is always intepretation, translation, and just plain error. (shrug)

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Interesting article BTW - I like how it shows that private ownership of land is better for the overall economy and points out the repressive nature of governmental or feudal systems of land management.

If you are speaking of the Mueller piece, which praises family farms, I would like to point out that the new land monopolists are not individuals or families at all.  Instead, we have corporate conglomerates and government itself.   Family farms and ranches are not able to compete with these entities it seems.

RS
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Re:Economics According To George (Henry George, that is...)
« Reply #104 on: September 08, 2003, 03:16:50 am »

Whew! Finally, you at least acknowledged the possibilities outside the earth - no, I realize it isn't possible today, tomorrow, or even 50 or 100 years from now... but it is possible and because it is, all that is needed to make it come to pass is sufficient demand and an unrestricted free market that will attempt, best as we humans can manage, to fill that demand.  Thank you for at least stating your opinion on that stuff - I was beginning to wonder if I was just talking to myself.

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However, in European monarchies, the crown was basically the owner of all land.  It did not last, but the reverbrations are still felt round the world.
I see alot of similarities between a monarchy and our current government - since we all have to pay 'rent' to the government for our private property(land) and we are restricted in its use by the dictates of others (often small minorities) we really are just serfs to the government.  You are right on in your evaluation that ownership of land is very powerful and in fact is a monopoly - a government owned monopoly.  Just as self-ownership is extremely powerful (or the converse, slave ownership), that is exactly why I feel that land should be owned by a variety of individuals, not concentrated in the hands of the few (government).  Something so necessary, so intrinsic to our survival, needs to be in private hands...

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Philosophically, all non-artificial things are our common heritage.
I guess that it then breaks down into what you believe as far as evolution/creationism et al.  And what exactly is common heritage?  Just because we are human then we, as a race, own all we survey?  What about other creatures (I will leave out the extremely rare possiblity of aliens and such since even the discussion of such things seems to somehow invalidate anything else I might have to say due to the 'scifi' nature) like dolphins or primates or any other kind of life that just might exist in the solar system or nearby?  Unfortunately life in the universe seems to follow the 'might makes right' analogy, even in human social interaction or regarding land ownership - the only real way you can 'own' something is if you can successfully defend it from others.  This is as true in the wild (the hunting ranges of animals, etc) as it is in humans (the whole 'stealing' land from the indians, the roman empire, etc).

I guess that my real problem with the Georgist system is I don't see much difference between a piece of land or a clay pot which I 'mixed my own labor' into - it is all just matter, just as we are matter, its kinda like saying that the sun owns the planets because it used its gravity well to shape them and hold them.  I see it as some sort of slippery slope - either people can 'own' stuff, or they can't... trying to put things into different classes (which they are not in reality) by saying some things can be 'owned' but others can't seems inconsistent.  OK, so to this you will bring up air or the oceans or something - just because we cannot currently easily divide up a resource does not mean it can't be owned.  Air is air - a stupid statement, BUT, its important.  Since you would agree if I 'created' air (mixed together the appropriate elements/gases - grew the plants that made oxygen, etc), put it into a self-contained bubble - it would be 'my' air, not just the bubble, but also the air inside.  And there is no difference between the air I 'created' and the air in earths atmosphere - EXCEPT that it is impossible currently to divide up/seperate the atmosphere into private little parcels...

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A Georgist System could evolve unmolested and unfettered in a purely private property (no taxes) world - but the reverse is not true... so why not have an overall private property system and institute Georgism within, thereby not infringing on anyones freedoms?
 

As a theoretical point, there is no objection.  However, I think there are greater barriers to AnCap than there are to a Georgist tax policy.
Why do you equate having not property tax to AnCap?  My above statement works just as well in a minimalist society also.

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That's the problem with historical information -- there is always intepretation, translation, and just plain error. (shrug)
Yes, I agree, and I didn't mean to imply that my statement was in fact THE one true literal translation... just pointing out that I remember it differently, and , considering my memory in regards to holding actual factual data - I would say that my version is more than likely incorrect...

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If you are speaking of the Mueller piece, which praises family farms, I would like to point out that the new land monopolists are not individuals or families at all.  Instead, we have corporate conglomerates and government itself.  Family farms and ranches are not able to compete with these entities it seems.
I own land and am also a partner with others in land ownership - does that make me a corporate conglomerate or a branch of government?  Sheesh, if I can do it, anyone can!  Its just a matter of priorities and market decisions - perhaps I put off buying that new car so I can invest in some land... I don't see how I now am a monopolist... I might even let you and your geolibs(not meaning to slander/stereotype or anything , just making a little joke)  live rent-free on the property considering that I think you would probably take care of it quite nicely  :)  j/k

I think we are at an impass regarding land.  The more you make me think about any form of taxation on land the stronger I feel that it is wrong and harmful.  I don't think that I am doing very well stating my views and don't see either of us changing in our beliefs... but it has been an enlightening experience, as always, sir!

michael
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