Welcome

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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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Verses on the theme

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And time there was, ere England’s griefs began,

When every rood of ground maintained its man;

For him light labour spread her wholesome store,

Just gave what life required, but gave no more;

His best companions, innocence and health;

And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.

Oliver Goldsmith.

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UNCIVILISED                                  EDMUND VANCE COOKE (1866-1932)

An ancient ape, once upon a time, disliked exceedingly to climb,

And so he picked him out a tree and said, “Now this belongs to me.

I have hunch that monks are muts and I can make them gather nuts

And bring the bulk of them to me, by claiming title to this tree.”

 

He took a green leaf and a read and wrote himself  a title deed,

Proclaiming pompously and slow: “All monkeys by these presents know.”

Next morning when the monkeys came, to gather nuts, he made his claim:

“All monkeys climbing on this tree, must bring their gathered nuts to me,

Cracking the same on equal shares; the meats are mine, the shells are theirs.”

 

“But by what right?” they cried amazed, thinking the ape was surely crazed.

“By this”, he answered; if you’ll read, you’ll find it is a title deed,

Made in precise and formal shape, and sworn before a fellow ape,

Exactly on the legal plan, used by that wondrous creature, man,

In London, Tokyo, New York, Glengarry, Kalamazoo and Cork.

 

Unless my deed is recognised, it proves you quite uncivilised.”

“But”, said one monkey, “You’ll agree, it was not you who made this tree.”

“Nor”, said the ape, serene and bland, “Does any owner make this land,

Yet all of its hereditaments, are his and figure in the rents.”

 

The puzzled monkeys sat about: they could not make the question out.

Plainly, by precedent and law, the ape’s procedure showed no flaw;

And yet, no matter what he said, the stomach still denied the head.

 

Up spoke one sprightly monkey then: “Monkeys are monkeys, men are men;

The ape should try his legal capers, on men who may respect his papers.

We don’t know deeds, we do know nuts, and spite of ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ and ‘buts’

We know who gathers and unmeats ‘em, by monkey practice also eats ‘em.

So tell the ape and all his flunkies, no man tricks can be played on monkeys.”

Thus, apes still climb to get their food, since monkeys’ minds are crass and crude

And monkeys, all so ill-advised, Still eat their nuts, uncivilised.

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THE LAND SONG          1910 version

Tune: “Marching Through Georgia.”

Sound the blast for freedom, boys, and send it far and wide,
March along to victory, for God is on our side,
While the voice of nature thunders o’er the rising tide:
“God made the land for the people”.

Chorus       The land, the land, ’twas God who made the land,

The land, the land, the ground on which we stand,

Why should we be beggars with the ballot in our hand?

God gave the land to the people.

Hark! The shout is swelling from the east and from the west!
Why should we beg work and let the landlords take the best?
Make them pay their taxes for the land, we’ll risk the rest!
The land was meant for the people.

Chorus

The banner has been raised on high to face the battle din,
The army now is marching on, the struggle to begin,
We’ll never cease our efforts ’til the victory we win,
And the land is free for the people.

Chorus

Clear the way for liberty, the land must all be free,
Britons will not falter in the fight tho’ stern it be.
Till the flag we love so well shall wave from sea to sea,
O’er the land that’s free for the people.

Chorus

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           LAND MONOPOLY MUST CLEAR by W D Hamilton

           (Air “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching.”)

Cheer up comrades, look on high, Light is breaking in the sky

And the Glorious Truth to all will soon appear,

Which doth guide us in the fight, ‘Gainst the tyranny of might.

Land Monopoly from off the earth must clear.

Chorus    Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching,

All along the line we’ll make them clear, make them clear!

On this principle we stand, that the values of the Land

Shall be paid into the Treasury every year.

 

 

 

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SA69. Argentina by Fernando Scornic Gerstein

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With 2.791.8101 Square Kilometres of surface Argentina is one of the largest countries in the world and with 36.223.9472 inhabitants one of the comparatively less populated. The actual ratio of inhabitants per Square Kilometres, 13, is one of the lowest in Earth.

In spite of being as a whole an almost empty country, the population is mostly concentrated in an about the city of Buenos Aires and some other few large cities like Córdoba and Rosario (about 12.000.000 people).

Being a country with such an abundance of land and so few inhabitants, nevertheless large sectors of the population live in slums surrounding the big cities, with no access to land.

This situation moved the Catholic Church to issue recently an Episcopal Document about the land problem in the country, proposing different solutions. In the foreword to this document Monseñor Carmelo Juan Giaquinta points out that the relation of the Argentineans with land “is maybe one of the worst in the World”.

Really it is like that, but it should not be so if we look at some of the circumstances of Argentinean history.

Many of the founders of the country in early XIX Century were physiocrats, including General Manuel Belgrano, one of the National Heroes and Bernardino Rivadavia, its first constitutional President. Many other prominent figures were imbued by physiocratic ideas. The physiocrats were French economists and philosophers during the second half of the 18th century. They held that land and productive labor were the primary factors of production and advocated the “impot unique” – a tax on land.

Although the official independence from Spain was only declared in 1816, the country had been in practice independent since the 25th of May 1810 revolution.

Already in 1812 the provisional government issued a decree forbidding the sale of Public Land. But it was in 1826 under the Presidency of Bernardino Rivadavia when a formal law was passed – the law of Emphyteusis – stating that public land could only be leased for twenty years periods paying to the State a canon of 8% on the assessed value for cattle raising land and 4% for agricultural land.

The law was excellent and if it had prevailed, Argentina would be now – as it was until 1920 (when free land, was still available) – one of the richest countries in the world. But it did not prevail. Rivadavia was a “Unitarian” supporting the idea of a centralized government which could impose progressive policies. He was defeated by the “federals” a loose alliance of provincial leaders (caudillos) that rejected his ideas.

Rivadavia was force to resign, the Law of Emphyteusis was denaturalized and slowly abandoned, permitting the creation of large estates or “Estancias”. Finally the Law was officially repealed in 1857 and the progressive ideas of Rivadavia were forgotten until 1917 when a Uruguayan Scholar, Andrés Lamas, published a famous book: “The Economic Work of Benardino Rivadavia”.

Argentina fell into the domination of an agrarian based oligarchy, but the existence of so much free land secured the country’s economic progress until the 1920s. It is by then that massive migration caused an increase in land values, that without proper taxation has been since – in general lines – the feature of the country.

Nevertheless there were attempts to impose land taxation, mainly under the influence of the Civil Radical Union, a Centre political party, which although facing enormous resistance by the ruling classes, imposed a moderate land taxation scheme in the Province of Córdoba under the Radical Governor Amadeo Sabattini and in the Province of Entre Rios, also under a Governor of the Civil Radical Union. Unfortunately these were only provincial measures. Since the 1930 military coup that overthrew the Constitutional Radical President Hipolito Irigoyen, the Federal level of the country was ruled by the Conservative Party using fraud and violence in the polls.

There was also an attempt to impose urban land value taxation in the city of Buenos Aires in 1923 by the Radicals and the Socialist, but the law – initially approved – was repealed in the same year.

In 1921 a “Liberal Georgist Party” was created, based on the ideas of Henry George, but beyond some local electoral succeses it failed to gain national support.

In 1943 a military coup – with notorious fascist influences – defeated the fraudulent Conservative Government and under the influence of general Juan Domingo Perón engaged in a program of reforms that gave Perón popular support. In 1945 Perón won the elections and was elected President, engaging almost immediately in a nationalistic and autarchic program that after some few years of bonanza put the country on its knees.

Perón – who in the early years had the support of some advocates of land taxation like Antonio Manuel Molinari and Mauricio Birabent – never undertook any serious program of taxation reform. But he did one important thing: he frozed urban and agrarian rents and in the midst of a process of inflation this caused a massive transfer of income from the landowners in favour of those who rented land from them.

According to our opinion this action – jointly with some important social laws – was the reason for the permanent popular support of Perón.

Perón was deposed in 1955 and after that there were no significant efforts undertaken to impose land taxation until 1969 when a military dictator, General Onganía, enacted a law imposing a 1.6% annual tax on the capital value of unimproved agrarian land.

Onganía was quickly deposed and the law abandoned, although under its influence Argentina had the largest harvests in many years. Apparently the land tax was an incentive for agricultural production.

In 1973 the author of this paper was called by the Argentinean Minister of Economy, Dr. Aldo Ferrer, and asked to draft a project for rural land taxation. The project – in which I proposed to tax all land and not only rural land with an annual tax of 2% on the unimproved value of land – was published by the Ministry of Agriculture, but never implemented.

There were also other laws taxing the “potential (imputed) rent of agrarian land”, at quite low taxation levels, but they were never really enforced.

In 1986, under the presidency of Raúl Alfonsín – first constitutional president after the military dictatorship – the Secretary of Estate for Agriculture, Agrarian Engineer Lucio Reca, drafted a project for taxing agrarian land with progresive rates that went from 1,7% to 4%. The Project was sent to the Parliament, but facing strong opposition from the peronists it was never approved.

In recent times Héctor Raúl Sandler, leader of the Union of Argentinean People – a centre party – was an important advocate of land taxation. Persecuted by the military government he went into exile, then returned to Argentina where he continues to be the leading figure advocating land value taxation in Argentina.

In 2001 the author drafted a new program of tax reform, based on a land tax of 3% on the value of urban and rural land. The project has been “under study” by the National Government since June 2005.(4)

The actual situation is that land taxation as such is virtually non-existant in Argentina. There are no taxes on capital gains from land and no transfer taxes.

Only the local governments collect land taxes – with substantial differences in its rates according to the different provinces – although the taxes always fall on land and buildings jointly.

 

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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? Continue reading

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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.”

Continue reading

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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.

http://www.cooperative-individualism.org/dodson-edward_state-of-the-us-economy-2017-jan.htm

STATE OF THE U.S. ECONOMY AND SOCIETY

Continue reading

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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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