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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.

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.

Morality and the market

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With protesters still camped outside St Paul's Cathedral in London, the BBC religious weekly programme Sunday had a piece on morality and the market. The view by the protagonists for markets was that the market is neither moral nor immoral, but amoral.

The sort of replies from those interviewed took the line that, "we are just trading"; "we produce a lot of wealth"; "we are just middlemen"; "the market is just a market"; "we are just doing a job and happen to work in financial markets"; "markets are amoral but I don't have any problem with this... there have been developments in corporate social responsibility". The former chairman of a city merchant bank, however, suggested that the market had indeed "slipped its moral moorings".

In an inconclusive discussion that followed, the point that was not raised was the obvious one about the nature of what is being traded. Markets in vegetables are one thing, but markets in things like sex, drugs and people are another. A slave market is also just a market. The church itself ought to be aware of the dangers of markets, since it was the trading of ecclesiastical office and indulgences that came close to destroying it.

And what if all the oxygen on the planet could be extracted and bottled? Would it be moral to have markets in oxygen which people would have to purchase in order to stay alive? And this question is not far removed in principle with another, the morality of enclosing land and trading land titles.

Mortgages - a double injustice

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The mortgage is the device by which banks create money in return for the pledge of land rent privatised by a home buyer. Mortgages are a double injustice leading to poverty, financial instability and unaffordable housing.

Why we are against a financial services tax

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It is worrying when powerful and influential politicians declare their support for damaging and unprincipled economic proposals. But it happens all the time. Setting out his pitch in anticipation of the G20 Summit which starts in a few days' time, Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's finance minister, announced that he wants the European Union "to take the global lead in introducing a financial transaction tax to curb speculative trading, along with tougher regulation of big banks and the "shadow" banking sector, such as hedge funds." 

Since there will always be enough countries who will refuse to play ball, action by the EU, or the Eurozone countries alone, will be a futile and self-harming gesture. A tax on financial transactions would not have stopped the present troubles, which are but a phase in the economic roller coaster that had its origins over 200 years ago, nor will it prevent the same thing from happening again. 

There is no moral or economic justification for such a tax.

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