SA40. High Land Prices and Rural Unemployment, by Duncan Pickard

There is an almost universal belief by farmers that high land prices are beneficial to farming. I contend that high land prices are a curse on farming. I do not deny that some landowning farmers become very rich from high prices, but only when they sell, most of them making more money from selling their farms than they did throughout the time they were farming. There is a clear distinction between what is beneficial to a few farmers and what might be beneficial to farming in general and especially to those who want to farm but have no land.

In Scotland the average price of farmland is more than £4000 per acre and has increased by 17% in the last year. The average price of arable land is £8000 per acre. The market price of land is much more than can be justified by its productive capacity. Taking as an example land for growing wheat which is capable of yielding 3 tonnes per acre:- the current price of wheat ex farm is less than £120 per tonne which gives a gross income of under £360 per acre, the current cost of growing wheat is about £115 per tonne or £345 per acre, leaving a surplus of £15 per acre. Continue reading

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SA39. A lesson from Alaska: further thoughts? By Alanna Hartzog

For a description of the Alaska Permanent Fund, please refer to Topic Paper 23.

When considering the question of whether or not the Alaska model can be applied on a worldwide basis it is necessary to consider both the strengths and shortcomings of the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF) and Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) as currently constituted. While several components of the APF and PFD could and should be replicated elsewhere, there are a few important aspects of the fund that need to be modified when applied to establishing similar new agencies elsewhere. Let us first consider the several positive aspects of the fund that should be retained when establishing new funds.

The legality of the fund is firmly embedded in what Wally Hickel, the second and eighth governor of Alaska, termed an “owner-state” approach to governance. As stated in the Alaska state constitution: “all the natural resources of Alaska belong to the state to be used, developed and conserved for the maximum benefit of the people.” Provisions in Alaska’s Constitution require that the state’s commonly owned 103 million acres of state land and resources be used for the maximum benefit of the people of Alaska. Continue reading

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Having a parent at home to take care of the family is a choice most families feel they can’t make.

The purpose of this booklet is to shed light on the economic conditions bearing down on families to better understand the pressures they are under and the choices available to them.

We have seen an increasing rise in the numbers of mothers returning to the workplace when their children are very young. Not such a long time ago 70% families had a mother at home, now only 28% do and that figure is falling fast. Crucially more stay at home mothers have gone back to employment in the past two years than in the previous 15 years combined.

I am not saying that mothers should not go out to work or that mothers at home should be regarded as better but I am questioning whether this is really what all these mothers want and whether they have a choice in the matter. Continue reading

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SA36. TAX THE RICH? Pikety and all that…… Tommas Graves

Would taxing the rich reduce inequality? We need to know how it is to be done, how would the tax be raised, and how would the extra revenue be used?

Shall we tackle the last question first?

How would the tax be used? The current cry is that wages are too low, so we might suppose that some or all of the extra tax is to be used to alleviate the condition of the poorest. They are certainly squeezed. If you read the writings of Paul Nicolson of “Taxpayers Against Poverty” it is plain that the poorest are under great pressure (1). So, maybe the minimum wage is increased, or the level of benefits is raised, or that VAT is reduced. What would be the result?

Here is an example told by Winston Churchill in his campaign speeches of 1909. “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 on so large a proportion of their earnings appealed to the public conscience, an agitation was set on foot, municipal authorities were roused, and at the cost of the ratepayers the bridge was freed and the toll removed. All those people who used the bridge were saved sixpence a week. Within a very short period from that time the rents on the south side of the river were found to have advanced by about sixpence a week, or the amount of the toll which had been remitted.” (2)   Continue reading

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SA35. HOW CAN THE ECONOMY WORK FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL? By Peter Bowman, lecture given at the School of Economic Science.

The vision of Economics with Justice is that a well-run economy can provide prosperity for all. There does not have to be a situation where a few get rich whilst most stay poor. There do not have to be violent cycles of boom and bust.

By taking recent examples of good practice and examining why they were effective,Peter Bowman, Head of Economics, explores how an economy can be developed and directed to work for the common good.

We live in interesting but uncertain times. In the economy a sense of instabilitycontinues to pervade. The crash of 2008 has not been followed by any fundamental reforms or substantial change and we still live in its shadow. A heavy burden of indebtedness, probably worse in the private sector than in the public sector and the pervasiveness of the doctrine of austerity has made recovery slow and painful. Meanwhile there is a growing suspicion that conventional economics is not the best voice to listen to find out how to make the world a better place. A growing number of economics students are demanding reform of their university curriculum. They are saying that it should at least be widened to include views other than just the orthodox one and there should be a more critical approach so that the basic assumptions and models should be carefully examined rather than just being passively accepted and applied. Continue reading

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SA34. Economic Answers to Ecological Problems by Seymour Rauch

[Centenary Essay No.2, published by the Economic and Social Science Research Association, 1980]


TO MARK the centenary of the publication of Henry George’s classic, Progress and Poverty, in 188O, the Association invited various authors to write essays which would relate his philosophy and economics to conditions prevailing today. The Association was incorporated on 23rd June 1969 and began activities during April 1970. Its objects are the promotion and advancement of learning in the field of economics and social philosophy by research, by sponsoring study courses and by publishing research and discussion papers. Sections of this paper may be reproduced in magazines and newspapers with acknowledgment to the Economic & Social Science Research Association. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Association, or its consultants. Consultants Dr. Roy Douglas, University of Surrey F. Harrison, BA (Oxon) M.Sc. Professor F.J. Jones, University College, Cardiff Dr. Roger J. Sandilands, University of Strathclyde Editors V.H. Blundell E.A. Nichols1

“One of the truisms of the ecology movement is this: everything is connected to everything else. Everything else must include economic phenomena. A parallel truism of the body economic is: the cost of anything depends on the cost of everything else. Everything else must include the cost of the air we breathe and the cost of the water we drink.” Continue reading

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 A few days after I accepted the invitation to give this talk, I looked at the poster advertising the event and I was struck by the realisation that the title was absurdly ambitious and, since then, the absurdity of the ambition has increased day by day. So if you were anticipating a comprehensive history I am afraid I am going to disappoint you. This history will be very selective. I am going to concentrate on the period of the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th because that covers the time when public revenue without taxation had widespread public support in both Britain and America and its prospects of being introduced looked most promising.

I shall use as my text for today’s talk a statement from the gospel of John Maynard Keynes. Right at the end of his great work, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Keynes rewards all those who have managed to get thus far with this observation;

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interest is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval’’. Continue reading

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SA32. Denmark By Ole Lefman

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The Danes’ might and power that suppressed the people,

the Decline that made Equality and Common Welfare possible; and

the   Democracy and happy land neither of which are perfect – yet.

Today’s REMARKABLY EVEN DISTRIBUTION of wealth in Denmark is due to centuries of fatal defeats and fall from great might and power:

This article is meant to turn the readers’ attention to the fact that the down-turn made equality and welfare possible to Danes in general who inhabited and today inhabit the remaining part of Denmark. Continue reading

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There are a great many faults in the UK tax system, but in this paper three authors look at just a few from different angles.


1.   VALUE ADDED TAX,  THE STEALTHIEST OF STEALTH TAXES. By Duncan Pickard. The author is a working farmer, who has had a good deal to do with VAT in practice.

In 1954 France was the first country in Europe to introduce a national VAT. France persuaded Germany and then other “common market” countries to adopt VAT.

When any country wanted to join the EEC, which became the EU, it had to have VAT. It was introduced in the UK in 1973.

VAT is the most harmful to economic activity of all the harmful taxes. It is the largest of the indirect taxes and affects poor people much more than the rich. The poorest fifth pay 31% of their take- home pay in indirect taxes, the richest fifth pay 13%. Continue reading

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