SA68. The Right to Work, by Leslie Blake

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The following sad story appeared in the Daily Mail of 21 May 2001:

“When offered contract work, my firm went through the costings, cashflow and forecasting exercise. We judged  there would  be a fair return  on the investment and decided to go ahead. However, the figures starting going through my mind and the following emerged : net profit to the firm — £18,598; net profit to the government  — £24,767.

Why?With National Insurance, PAYE,  VAT, fuel tax, insurance  tax, land fill levy, road fund licences, operators’ licence, personal tax liabilities, loss of interest on cash flow and other hidden taxes, the government will gain more from this investment than the company. In addition, ifwe took on three employees for this new job and they came off benefits, it would save the government another £23,400 a year, leaving the government a gain of more than £48,167  in the first  year — 259% more than the  risk-taker.

Why should I risk everything for a government that has accepted contract prices 30% lower than last   year?

I  am not going  ahead with the investment,  have sent  back the contract and ten people have lost the chance of a job. It’s not worth employing anyone because even if I make a decent  profit the red tape leaves me less than 60% of my time  to  make any money.

If l shut the firm down I would come out with enough money to invest and gain more from  the interest  than take a wage and dividend.”

Sad story, indeed; because it must be typical of many small new businesses that back out of taking risks because of tax and other government policies. What follows then is increased unemployment, reduced income for government, and — above all — the sacrifice of enterprise. What is surprising, and welcome, about the above account is that the writer understands — as so few entrepreneurs do — the fact that it is the employer who pays the taxes. He gets carried away by “red tape” but the essential perception is correct, that the disincentive to employment lies in taxation. Yet the health of the nation depends on new small businesses springing up and flourishing and giving opportunities  for work.

Schumacher wrote(1): ‘If a man has no chance of obtaining work he is in a desperate position, not simply because he lacks an income but because he lacks this nourishing and enlivening factor of disciplined  work which nothing can replace’.

Yet by virtue of his being a member of humanity, he is entitled to work. That is why he or she was given  birth on this planet:  to  make use of his particular  talents,  however high or humble, for the benefit of others.  The scriptures  of mankind  support  this view: the Geeta  says(2):  ‘But thou  hast  only the right to  work;  but  none  to  the fruit  thereof.’ And  St Matthew  says(3):  ‘Let your  light so shine before men, that  they  may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven’.  Both quotations look to  the work itself as being sufficient recompense. In a way, that must  be so: the reward,  the fruit, is how the other  members  of society  value the talents thus demonstrated.

The Right to Work most valuable 

In the cornucopia of ‘human rights’ now available to mankind, the most practical and useful must be the ‘Right to Work’ It appears in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the European  Social Charter  and even the draft Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (but not the European Convention on Human Rights and Freedoms — perhaps with unemployment so high in the EU it was conveniently  omitted!)

(1).Small is Beautiful, (Blond & Briggs 1973),  p.51

(2).Shree Purohit Swami (Faber 1935), 16

(3). Chap. 5, v.16

This ‘Right to \Vork’ must be properly understood. So frequently it is considered  to  be just a matter  of providing the training for skills,  in a society  which  may or may  not want  them. Education  is, of course,  important;  but the Right  to  Work  is much  more than that. Often it is misinterpreted as meaning only a right to employment which, since jobs may be scarce, government is afraid of what it would entail, in guaranteeing paid work.

I conducted a survey of Ministries and other organisations with a view to establishing whether they would support the introduction  of the right  to  work  in the Human Rights Act of 1998. We now  have a Department  for Work  and Pensions which,  you  might think, would be keen to develop this approach. They wrote back in answer to my suggestion that ‘many factors  need to  be taken into account  and  possible long-term effects carefully considered before any single measure is implemented’.  Quite true; but not enthusiastic. The CBI wrote: ‘While we believe that governments have profound responsibility to  create the economic conditions for full employment,  we do not believe that they should step in as an employer of last resort where markets do not deliver jobs for all. A better approach is to  ensure that all individuals  have the opportunity  to develop skills which will be saleable to employers’ [italics added]. Lord Lester QC, the progenitor  of the Human Rights legislation,  was worried  that  the insertion  of the right to  work  ‘would  give the  judiciary the  power  to  overturn  Government  decisions  in areas which involve complex questions of economic and social policy that are seen as within the remit of Parliament  and Ministers,  not of unelected  judges. ‘  Curious this, as it is now too late to prevent Judges having oversight, for example on property matters, involving  economics,  since this is what  the Human Rights  Act  decrees .  And Lord Lester admits that the right is included in ‘many international human rights conventions which bind the UK in international law ‘ [italics added]. Presumably this law is administered   by unelected  Judges of the International  Court of Justice!

No replies were forthcoming from the TUC, the Federation of Small Businesses, and Mrs Mary Robinson,  the UN High Commissioner  for Human Rights.

What the Right to Work actually means 

As explained, it is not just a question of finding work for people to  do within the  existing   employment  situation.  Nor  is it  government  acting  as  ’employer  of  last resort’. It is much more fundamental than that: it means not impeding anyone,  through red tape  or tcaationfrom creating new small businesses.  It is simply government getting out of the way,  acting only to  restrain improper activities.

Lifting the burden of taxation from the margin (by definition new businesses are marginal) may be the key to unlocking  the rent ofland for public purposes, for where  else can the incidence of taxation then fall than directly on the economic rent ofland? Since the margin cannot  yield an economic rent of land, the taxation which formerly kept  the margin  out  of operation  (see the story  in the Daily Mail) must  fall  on locations which can afford it. I am thinking in particular of the illustrations afforded in Don Riley’s  recent  book,  Taken for a  Ride,(4)   of the effect  of the  Jubilee  line extension in London’s Underground. He writes: ‘the Jubilee extension cost £3.5  billion and it delivered an increase  in the capital  value ofland  of the order of £13 billion.  A 10% annual return on that £13 billion would yield £1.3 billion. A charge of 25% on that revenue would yield an annual flow of £325  million into the Exchequer,  so the cost of the Jubilee could have been paid back over 20 years, while leaving ample rental income to  fund other  public services’.

He should  know: Mr Riley is a property developer!


(4)   published  2001 by Centre for Land Policy Studies

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SA66. The Most Wonderful Manuscript by Ivy Akeroyd 1932

[An address delivered at the Henry George Club, Sydney NSW; 16 May, 1932]
Although the sciences, generally, are rightly regarded as nature studies, there is an unfortunate tendency to consider economic science to be a set of complicated man-made schemes, continuously amended by even more complicated man-made laws – a hopeless tangle about which there can be endless difference of opinion and which only the very wise and learned may hope to understand.

The following is an endeavour to show that this is not so, but that, on the contrary, economic science (or as it is sometimes termed “economics” or “political economy”) is a simple nature study, that the economist is as much a naturalist as any other scientist, and for him also, there is significance in the well-known lines of Longfellow:

Nature the old nurse, took
The child upon her knee,
Saying, “Here is a story book
Thy Father has written for thee.”

“Come, wander with me,” she said,
“Into regions yet untrod,
And read what is still unread
In the manuscripts of God.”

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This website acknowledges that land is free – as free as sunshine, air and water. However, the further fact is that we think it can be owned, and this has a serious effect on the distribution of wealth.

That land is free by nature cannot be disputed.

It is here when we arrive, and we cannot take it when we leave. By natural law, all must have equal rights to its use. But we have devised  a system of absolute ownership with the right to charge a rent to a user. This is completely entrenched in the law of the land.

Of course, man must be able to use land for a reasonable term so as to be able to bring his product to completion and sale, and also to continue in business. The use of certain pieces of land bring benefits, either due to fertility, or more importantly, due to facilities provided by the community around.

So the question is, how to recognise the freedom of land, wbookshile providing security of tenure, and return to the community the result of its efforts as they apply to each piece of land. If we do not upset the laws we have too much, so much the better.

The method for collecting revenue supported by this website is a levy of a site value each year on each site. Although termed a tax, it is really a return to the community for the benefits attached to each site, whether negligible or enormous.

The following Topic Papers explore some of the implications of this proposal. The general intention is to name a particular problem, then to show how it might be dealt with under site value taxation.

The consequences of not recognising natural law are growing. The heavy burden of land prices and the increasing gap between rich and poor are problems that will have to be dealt with.

Please note; Signed Articles must be considered personal views of the contributors, and not necessarily the views of Landisfree.

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SA65. Housing Crisis? What Housing Crisis? by Mark Wadsworth

It would be foolish to describe the current situation in the UK housing market as a “crisis,” as  this suggests some unforeseen events which suddenly come to a head and which the government has to deal with urgently.

Far from it, the state of the housing market is the inevitable result of quite deliberate changes in UK government policy over the last thirty years or so, which we are feeling the full impact of now.

Government policies

If we go back to the period between 1945 and the 1980s, what is remarkable is the rate at which owner-occupation levels increased. The share of owner-occupier households rose from 30% to 60%; the proportion of social tenants increased from 20% to 30% and – in a development which has received much less attention – the share of households renting privately fell from 50% to 10%. Continue reading

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SA64. Making Use of History by Roy Douglas

To celebrate the 100th article in LANDISFREE  we ask our chair to write a special essay.

Is history a mere chronicle of events or are there patterns in history? If the second view is correct, then a study of those patterns may not only help us understand how things happened in the past, but may also give us some idea as to how things are likely to happen in the future. If, furthermore, the future is not completely predetermined, it is possible that people may intervene and give future events a twist in the direction they wish them to take. In other words, history – properly understood – is not just a record of the past, but can also be a profoundly important guide for the future.

Many historians have sought to see patterns in history, often to fit their own ideologies. To pagans in the 4th and 5th Centuries, the decline of the Roman Empire was due to Romans forsaking the old gods and turning to Christianity. The gods therefore abandoned the Empire. This view was denied by another man living through the same events. St Augustine of Hippo saw all history as a working out of the purpose of the Christian God and argued that the Christians were a force of preservation, not a force of destruction. Marxists have a view of history radically different from both. To them, the development of feudalism, capitalism and socialism, and the fate of empires, derive, not from intervention by any kind of divinity, but from struggles between social classes. Continue reading

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SA63. The Fairhope Single Tax Colony – from their website

History of Fairhope and the Single Tax Corporation

Members of the single tax club in Des Moines, Iowa, decided in 1894 that they wanted to do more than just discuss the single tax theory. They wanted to build an actual community that would employ, as best they could, single tax principles. Still meeting in Iowa, they formulated their plans, wrote a constitution, and began seeking a site. Upon passage of the constitution one of the founding members said he believed there was a fair hope that the experiment would succeed. Thus the name for the utopian demonstration community: Fairhope. Continue reading

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SA62. A Huge Extra Resource, by Ed Dodson

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Ed has very kindly given us access to the fruit of the last twenty years work. Click on this link to get to thirteen slide presentations, each of about thirty slides. The second link below will take you to a vast trove of quotations about land, by author and by country.


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SA61. Foundations of Earth Sharing Why It Matters: By Lawrence Bosek

Many notable people support sharing as part of the roots for peaceful sustainability.

Sharing is a virtuous fundamental principle taught among civilized cultures. Parents often teach their children to share among siblings and schools typically utilize shared resources. Sharing is inherent as well as learned and therefore is integrated into society at differing levels.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr. Continue reading

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SA60. How to Restore Economic Growth, by Fred Foldvary, Ph.D.

None of the candidates for office are discussing what would really make the economy grow.|

The candidates for office in 2016 have been discussing ideas about promoting economic growth, as the US economy has had a sluggish recovery since the recession ended in 2009. The Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates down to historically low levels, and that policy may have prevented even worse outcomes, but artificially low interest rates fueled previous asset bubbles and has fueled an artificial rise of land values and stock market prices. What has been missing is an analysis of what causes economic growth.

Growth and development originates in the desire of individuals to improve their condition. That desire induces people to work and to invest in capital goods and skills. The incentive to engage in this progress gets blocked by the artificial costs imposed by government. Moreover, where government artificially boosts growth from subsidies, the result is often a waste of resources. We can witness this happening now in China, where years of promoting construction has resulted in excessive real estate malinvestments, which, as this has stopped, the downturn in China now infects the global economy. Continue reading

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