Reprinted from article in “Land and Liberty” Spring 2019
Well, we made one rather important mistake. We allowed certain lucky people the ownership of land. We ignored the fact that it is impossible to own land, and we ignored the natural law which states that all people must have equal rights to it. We then failed to distinguish between right and wrong when we allowed the “owners” to keep the location values attaching to sites, which had been created by the actions of the community as a whole.
The results have been dire. The vast number of us then had nothing to sell but our labour. We lost the right to receive the whole added value arising from our work. Wages reduced to subsistence level. We were forced to rent our living space from “owners”. So now we see that businesses pay rent for their space, pay taxes in a huge number of ways, keep unwarranted amounts for themselves, and are pressured into continuous growth. The payment of rents by businesses and working people creates inequality. Those in command of such wealth have ensured that the laws of the country are directed to their benefit.
We are now entering into a sort-of end-game. Rents naturally rise to the maximum affordable, because there is nothing tangible supplied that can be used as a measure of value. Rents are now so high that young people can no longer save for a deposit. Land prices are so high, reflecting the rents, that all sorts of speculators are drawn into the market. Land becomes “owned” by fewer and fewer, reflecting the consolidation of wealth. On the misery side of the equation, hardship and homelessness drives many into drugs, and now shorter lives.
Had we not better sit up and think? Where did we go wrong? Do we have enough conscience left to see what we did?
What we should have done is that land should be held on secure tenure, not amounting to ownership. The user has the right to use subject to paying the community the location value of that site. The location value is the natural recompense to the society which together has provided all the benefits of a site. Society then does not need taxation.
The result would be that no-one would hold land they did not need. This would now produce freedom for the vast number of us, able to work. We now have the option of setting up by ourselves, where we can receive the whole value of our efforts. Businesses would now be bidding up the wages from working from them. Partnerships and common ownership arrangements would flourish.
The price of land would reduce to nil, as the rents which sustained it are exchanged for the payment of location value to the state. A house can then be bought for the building costs alone. The non payment of rents brings inequality gently to a close. Now, inequality only results from extra work or talent. Every improvement of facilities will bring a natural reward in higher location values.
One simple change. Why don’t we go for it?