Land Value Taxation Campaign

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The LVTC blog, by Henry Law

The comments in the LVTC Blog are a personal view of our Hon. Secretary Henry Law and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Campaign.

This is a place for personal observations and comments on politics, economics, current affairs, on-going discussions on the potential for LVT to remedy some of the current ills, and the impact on Society of any of the above. 

Please read and enjoy, and feel free to respond to Henry if you have any thing you would like to add.

Our Plan B

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Now that the policies the Chancellor first thought to apply are failing to work as intended, he is adopting an incoherent collection of ad hoc measures. It is starting to look like a panic response. It is dangerous. We would not expect him to take steps to apply LVT as we would wish to see it. It is not in the Tory DNA. But the principles from which we are working would nevertheless point to a set of policies - none of them in the slightest bit radical - that would at least have a fair chance of getting things moving in the right direction.

Something murky from the past

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If a land title is tracked back far enough, you will find a theft: enclosure of what was once common property. Or will you?

Some, however, would argue that if you track it back far enough, you will find land that was discovered for the first time and therefore had no owner. This line of reasoning will hold up well enough as long it is accepted that land is not common property and can be owned like any other resource. If, on the other hand, it is recognised that land, like air, is common property, the conclusion must be that land can never be owned.

There was a time when all the land of England was held - not, strictly speaking, owned - by the Sovereign on behalf of all the people. As a legal fact that is still the situation. It is less than ten years ago that the same still applied in Scotland.

But even if one were to accept the ownership right was acquired by first occupation, and do not go along with the doctrine that the land is Sovereign property, which in many countries of the world it is not, it remains that case today that contemporary land titles are derived from and maintained by the state.

Welfare for the rich - again

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The government's announcement of guarantees for 95% mortgages for house purchase, suppported by both Prime Minister Cameron and Deputy Clegg, demonstrates either an absolute lack of understanding of the nature of the problem, or moral cowardice, or both.

The aim, we are told, is to "unstick the housing market", which has stagnated due to the banks' refusal to give mortgages larger than 80% of the value of the property they are lending on.

Fanny May in the UK

This sets the scene for a UK run of the Fannie Mae debacle. It will also pump up the housing bubble for a while. The government is doing the very thing it should not be doing.

Who is being taken for a ride?

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In recent months, some major (and very expensive) railway upgrades have just been completed. These include the Chiltern Line which runs from London to Birmingham, and the Cotswold Line between Oxford and Worcester. The Chiltern Line improvements have brought places like Thame, Bicester, Banbury and Leamington within commuting distance, whilst the Cotswold Line development has done the same for places within reach of Kingham and Moreton-in-Marsh.

Elsewhere in the country, train services to Lincoln and Cambridge are being improved. Crossrail, and the associated Great Western Main Line electrification will give a boost to commuting from the west side of London.

It all adds up to a buoyant property market, as is spelled out in the Daily Telegraph's Property section, which reports "hot spots" where demand is strong despite the recession.

The Chiltern Line investment was made by the train operating company Chiltern Railway, owned by Deutsche Bahn, but most of the rest has been at the taxpayers' expense, which makes one ask who is being taken for a ride?

High Speed Rail - to whose benefit?

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In an interview following the publication of the report of the inquiry into high speed rail, including the Government’s proposal for HS2 – the chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman stated her determination that those adversely affected should receive good compensation.

We agree that people should not lose out because of the scheme. However, if the the scheme is worth doing - which has not been demonstrated - the government's choice of a route and its decision to build the line will result in winners as well as losers. Is it the government's intention that those who benefit should pocket the gains? Where is the justice in taking tax from working people, and shovelling it into the bank accounts of the winning landowners?

Here is yet another instance of the infrastructure scandal whereby improvements and compensation are paid for out of taxation, but as always, the gains in improved land value are privately appropriated.

How to end Poverty - Video

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Squatting soon to be a crime

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The government is now driving through its proposals to criminalise squatting. We do not condone squatting but there are important principles at stake here.

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