Short Sighted Benevolence

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Star, London 27th April 1917.

This cartoon appeared in the radical London evening newspaper, The Star, must be understood in its context.

At the time of the Great War, Britain was very far from self-sufficient in food production, and the then German submarine campaign, which had been stepped up in 1917, seriously threatened external supplies. It was very important to do everything possible to increase home food production. At that time (unlike today) the large majority of farmers were tenants, and many of them were quite poor. Agricultural labourers, who were employed by the farmers, were much more numerous than now, and most of them were even poorer. Until 1917, there was no control on rents which an agricultural landlord could exact from his tenants.

When this cartoon was drawn, Rowland Prothero was President of the Board of Agriculture in the Coalition government. Legislation was being passed which controlled agricultural prices and also – for the duration of the war – farm rents. The cartoon suggests that, in the long term, any benefit designed to help the farmer would accrue to the landlord.  Roy Douglas

 

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SA 72. CAN YOU SEE THE CAT?

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The Cat and Dick Twittingham

Once upon  a time there  was a cat and his master,  Richard Twittingham.

Dick  was determined  to make his fortune in London and planned to set off on the long walk from the Forest of Dean where he lived. But

Outside a tavern in the year 1367, the first year in the reign of King Henry IV of England.

“Have you seen the cat?” asked Dick of the innkeeper.

“Do you mean THE cat?” enquired the innkeeper. “I don’t  understand,” said Dick.

“Ah, well, either you see THE cat or you don’ t,” said the innkeeper, going about his business.

“Of course I can see my cat when he is here,” snapped Dick, “he is black and white with four legs and a tail and goes by the name of Tom.”

“Ah,” said the innkeeper. “Whither are you bound with your cat, then?”

“London, of course,” exclaimed  Dick, “I’ve heard tell the streets are paved  with  gold.”

“So they are,” said the innkeeper, “so they are for them what can see THE cat.” Continue reading

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SA71. Two presentations by Ed Dodson

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Mason Gaffney has written a new book “Nature, Economy and Equity — Sacred Water, Profane Markets”, published in November 2016 issue of the  American Journal of Economics and Sociology.

Ed Dodson has created a power point presentation to introduce the book, highlighting the important points.


The second presentation by Ed Dodson is an analysis of the U.S. residential property markets.


 

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SA70. Dissertation on Land Rental by Marion Ray

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It    is   believed  that   the  earth  is  something   like  4,600,000,000   years   old.  How it came into being is not exactly understood, a mystery. It seems to be thought that massive rocky fragments were drawn together by gravity, becoming a single rotating orb turning in such a way that all parts receive light from the sun and then are shaded from it alternately.

Eventually it cooled to a temperature at which water could exist in its liquid form and cover large parts of its surface as it does today. This in turn is surrounded by a complete but very thin layer of atmospheric gases comparable in proportion to the skin on a fruit.

It is currently thought that Life began about 4,000,000,000 years ago. Again, we do not know how it came into being, another mystery. Not only do we do not know how it began but also we do not know what it is. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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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”. Continue reading

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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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