Land Value Taxation Campaign

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Putting a price on the environment

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Wealden Meanders
A row has erupted over a report that attempted to put a value on the natural environment. The counter-argument is that the natural environment is priceless and that it is somehow sacrilegious to put a price on it. There is an important sense in which this is true, but in our present state of society, surely it is better to put a value on nature than to assume, as at present, that it is worthless?

Fudging the principles

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We have now had a chance to study and think about the report produced by the Parliamentary Treasury Committee, following its inquiry at the beginning of the year made under the title "Principles of Tax Policy". As we reported earlier, the case for land value taxation was presented by a large minority of the submissions and could hardly be ignored.

The report stated that

"the supporters of such a tax consider that it would tax economic rent rather than economic activity and would meet the OECD criterion that recurrent taxes on immovable property were the least harmful tax. However, as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) notes, "the OECD acknowledges that it is politically difficult for governments to shift the tax base onto property." The Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales (ICAEW) warned 'Our initial conclusion is that even if such a move were desirable economically and let alone whether it was politically acceptable, it would involve a major rebalancing of the UK tax system which would take time to achieve, and risks introducing considerable distortions and behavioural change

"Not only are there political difficulties: practical matter such as the way in which such values would be assessed and the extent to which such a tax should take account of the current or the potential use of land, would also need careful consideration. We also note concerns that 'While such a tax system would avoid distortions in economic behaviour, it would be highly unlikely to yield sufficient revenue to fund socially useful expenditure without producing substantial inequity.' "

The interesting thing about these objections is that not a single one of them is valid, as the Committee would have discovered if it had interviewed one of the LVT advocates, which it did not.

Benefit cheats

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Benefit cheats exploit the system and rob the community. What they do is dishonest, criminal and a punishable offence. Benefit cheats obtain public funds to which they are not entitled. Is this surprising? The system is wide open to abuse. What else can we expect?

In a recent case, a 51-year-old woman claimed over £30,000 for 9 years and was discovered to have bank accounts in three countries, a home valued at £240,000, shares worth £320,000 and a speedboat. Terrible. But the woman is a financial genius! She rivals our MPs in financial manipulation skills!

Who are the biggest scroungers of them all?

The question is, to whom does the description 'benefit cheat' really belong? How about "Anyone who helps themselves to a natural resource or appropriates a natural 'benefit' or a value created by the community?" They might not be doing it intentionally. They might not even be aware that they are doing it at all. But are they not cheating the community out of what belongs, by right, to the entire community? We are referring, of course, to land value. All of it. Land value is created by the presence and activities of the community. It should be returned to the community, for the benefit of the community.

Unless this plain and simple truth is recognised, then we must all suffer the effects of a tax system that depresses wages and stifles initiative. It also, by its nature,  keeps many people in poverty - only to be alleviated by state benefits paid for from taxation. Which is where we came came in.

Who is getting your earnings?

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Why? What? How? Who?
  • Why do your wages never rise above a bare minimum to live on
  • What is causing the wealth divide
  • How do corporations accumulate so much capital
  • What is the cause of obscenely high pay
  • Why do jobs seem to need to be created
  • Why do I not feel like a free citizen
  • Who is the biggest robber and benefits scrounger
  • Who is taking no cuts nor bearing any burden
  • Who is allowing this to happen

Housing benefit row

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The inevitable row has erupted over the government's proposal to restrict housing benefit. The argument is that poor people will be forced out of areas where rents are high. At the same time, a report from the Audit Commission today noted that 1,600 homes occupied by unauthorised tenants have been recovered by councils, with a replacement cost of approximately £240 million.


We have been warned

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Yesterday's Guardian carried an article promoting LVT, written by prospective Labour leader Andy Burnham. It completely failed to anticipate the barrage of flak that was going to be thrown up. The responses should be a warning to all of us campaigning for LVT. We need to present the case better, which means that we all needs to understand it and be able to defend it against the kind of absurd criticisms that came up in yesterday's Comment is Free. His piece was almost torn to shreds by the objectors.

Much of the opposition comes from people who have completely failed to grasp the implications. There are also real objections to be addressed, which must be openly discussed whenever the policy is mentioned.

Yesterday's trailing of LVT, therefore, threw up all the pitfalls an LVT advocate can slip into. The objections raised were

Time will improve the propects for LVT

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The past few decades have been lean ones for LVT because the spread of owner-occupation and aspirations to owner-occupation has led to a political situation where all of the political parties have been scared to advocate LVT for fear of losing votes. But time will change this state of affairs, as was pointed out by a commentator called "imperium" on the Guardian's "Comment is Free" site.

Imperium writes
"Labour and the Tories both have long been counting on the fact that the electoral class does not yet comprise a sizeable number of rental tenants, and all their policies and the weight of legislation have been pitched at home-owners and landlords. However, there is an entire generation about to come of age, soon to enter into into that period of their lives when they care passionately about civic and national issues, and actually participate in the electoral process - and a large proportion of this generation are locked out of the property market."

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