Land Value Taxation Campaign

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Land rent for public revenue

The symbiosis of Marxism and Neoliberalism

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The current problems with social democratic parties world-wide stems ultimately from an ideological failure. Insofar as contemporary socialism has any ideology at all, it is Marxist. There is a fundamental flaw with Marx which is these days not widely known and understood. He conflates land and capital. They are separate entities.

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Geography matters

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The importance of geography - review of a book by Tim Marshall, Prisoners of Geography. The separation of economics and geography as academic discplines is one of the reasons why economic problems seem so intractable. Geography goes a long way to explaining phenomena such as regional economic imbalance and the Brexit vote. This book sounds as if it is worth looking at.

 

The Grosvenor Estate

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The death of the Duke of Westminster has drawn attention to the fact that the estate is not liable for inheritance tax as it is vested in a trust. This has led to indignant comments and charges of tax avoidance.

The Grosvenor Estate is one of several owned by aristocratic families, which together encompass a large area of Central London. The pattern of land ownership in Central London has hardly changed since 1700.

Their managers of these estates have done a good job in preserving the attractive character of at least part of the capital, protecting it from rapacious developers and local authorities who between them have ruined the London skyline.

However, it is important to remember that this land would be almost worthless if it were not for the infrastructure paid for and maintained day and night at the expense of the taxpayer, without which London could not function. In principle, it does not matter who owns land as long as those owners pay their contribution towards the cost of the services which sustain their rental income stream - ie a land value tax close to the full market rental value. From this perspective, breaking up these estates would in itself solve nothing. The land value tax is in principle just a service charge.

In practice, land ownership brings political influence. Wise owners would use that influence to secure legislation which was for the greater good. If they do not, sooner or later there will be a price to be paid.

 

What should the Chancellor do today?

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The immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote was always going to be a period of disruption. The smart response would be to take advantage of the freedom available outside the strait-jacket of EU regulations. There are a couple of immediate boosts the Chancellor could give to the UK economy.

  • Reduce VAT on building works to zero for an initial period of two years.
  • Reduce VAT on restaurants and hotels to zero in Wales, Northern Ireland and everywhere else north of an east-west line running just south of Chester, again for an initial period of two years.

These measures are against EU rules but what can they threaten us with? They will also need to be paid for, but one place to look is the Council Tax, and another is the agricultural UBR exemption.

 

Protection racketeering

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I have just been engaged in a correspondence in the FT. I argued that Brexit needs to begin by getting ourselves outside a tariff wall. I was challenged with this comment

"The EU's tariff wall is what is protecting us. Countries like the US can decimate the British wheat farmers. Japan can decimate the UK car industries (by switching the production back to Japan from the UK) and the US can do the same. New Zealand can destroy the British sheep and dairy farmers. You wouldn't remove your firewall from your computer. Why should the UK remove our EU's tariff wall?"

My response was

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