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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.


A neat coincidence

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"If they are making money in UK, then they should pay UK tax." (comment on a newspaper article)

"Should pay" is one thing, "Can actually be made to pay" is another. The rights and wrongs of it are something else again, because whether people ought to pay tax depends, surely, on how the money is "made"? It is immoral and harmful to for the state take money from the wages of labour, which has become the principal source of public revenue.

The only taxes that people can be made to pay are those that fall on fixed property eg land. All the others can be and are avoided and evaded.

By a strange and neat coincidence, the only tax that the state has a moral right to charge is one on the rental value of land. Or perhaps it is not a coincidence, since it suggests that the world is better ordered than is generally realised.
 

An exchange of comments

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I reproduce this exchange from the Guardian's Comment is Free pages, commenting on an article by Peter Wilby on paying for care. I am sure, however, that there is no argument under the sun that could convince the author of the comments (in italics), who seems to have got out of bed on the wrong side this morning and is showing signs of irritation.

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Is it "Give us jobs!" Or "Laborare est orare"?

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I noticed today an article under the headline"...British youth protest needs the spirit of los indignados...We're marching from town to town to build a mass movement against the cuts, demanding job creation, not destruction."

The author of the article, Paul Callanan, writing in today's Guardian, is the national organiser for the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign. He continues

"if the present economic crisis and attacks on young and working people show anything, it is that capitalism has not been able to solve the question of unemployment and poor living standards in the decades since the march. Yes, we may live much better now but we face 75 years of gains, like the NHS, the welfare state and the right to an education, being blotted out of existence. This government wants to wind back the clock to the 1930s. That is why we are bringing the spirit of "los indignados" to Britain and marching again.

"Young people, unemployed people, trade union activists and students from the struggle last year will march from town to town, starting on 1 October and arriving in London on 5 November, myself among them. We will be organising protests, demonstrations and meetings to bring together all these groups. We're demanding job creation not destruction from the government. We're demanding a wage you can live on for all, including apprentices and interns. We're demanding a halt to the brutal attacks on benefits, already lower for young people. To beat this government and to win a decent future, young people need to be part of a broad anti-cuts movement. That's why the solidarity shown on 30 June was so important. We want the march to help build a mass movement.
"

The tragedy here is that it seems as if the opponents to the British government's policies, unable to move the debate onto fresh ground, are condemning a generation to fighting over old territory in a battle that was never winnable and not even worth winning.

Jobs are tasks that have to be done though we prefer to avoid doing them. Their life-enhancing power is minimal. Jobs are not fulfilling. Jobs do little to develop or allow the expression of individual talent. Jobs are not life-enhancing. Jobs have nothing to do with human creativity. They can be done with a good grace and indeed it is good for all of us to do unpleasant but necessary tasks at times. And those doing them should be properly rewarded and valued. But there is more to human life than spending one-third of one's waking hours in drudgery, in exchange for a minimal reward. Aspiring political activists should be raising people's sights and exhorting them to aspire to something better.

Work and jobs are not quite the same thing. Work is of the highest value. As St Benedict expressed in when writing his rules for monastic life, "Laborare est orare" - to work is to pray. Everyone needs to work as that is our means to a livelihood and mutual care, and most people's mode of self-expression. And whilst a job is not a natural human right, the means to a livelihood most certainly is. Furthermore, work allows the flow of creativity and gives dignity. Where does work come from? It is something that people do, quite naturally. We work and produce things and share them with each other. But in order for work to be like this, everyone needs free access to the surface of the planet and its natural resources. Even for something as simple as being a street musician.

A few simple questions put the matter into focus. "If you are willing and able to work, and people want the things you make, and you still want the things they make, what it is stopping you?" And as for jobs, the question is "Is it really the job you want? Or the wages? Don't we really want to minimise jobs and maximise wages?"

The wages are what satisfy us, not the jobs. Without the wages who would take on a job?

It is depressing that a rising political leader has nothing better than this with which to inspire those he claims to lead, and is stuck in the mindset expressed in the slogan "Give us jobs!" Or could it be that he really views his followers as lumpenproletariat?

As a postscript, one of our members, Robin Smith, sent me this
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The pain on the high street

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Empty shop in Brighton's main shopping street

An editorial in the Guardian today refers to the failure of major retail chains and the increasing number of empty shops on Britain's high streets.

The retailers referred to were all part of the froth economy and it was inevitable that they would fail when the going got hard. Some, perhaps most, had failed to keep up with changing tastes. However, the fiscal incentive is to keep vacant premises empty. In the absence of proper LVT as the Campaign advocates, what is needed is legislation to ensure that
  1. 100% rates are payable on vacant business premises
  2. Constructive demolition (ie to reduce rates liablility) is treated as tax evasion and ratesĀ  continue to be payable at the old valuation.
  3. Upwards only rent revision clauses are null and void.
This would force rents down to market-clearing levels and ensure that landlords brought vacant premises into use at realistic current market rents. But none of this is going to happen. On the contrary, government thinking is in precisely the opposite direction. This will prolong the recession. Real rents will eventually fall, but this will be due to inflation, which appears to be the policy of both the Conservative/LibDem government and the Labour opposition. Thus, rather than take steps to remove the present dysfunctionality in the property market, the favoured strategy is to punish the thrifty and prudent by destroying the value of their savings.
 

Damning European Court of Auditors Report

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Andy Wightman has picked up this and reports it on his blog.

The European Court of Auditors has just published a damning report on the Single Payment Scheme which was introduced as part of the 2003 reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (ECA Press Release here & BBC report here.).

It is my view that this kind of thing comes about as much through ignorance of the laws of economics as from corruption. Applying what we know, this and more was entirely predictable.
 

Government by tabloid

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Commenting on the U-turn over the proposals for prison reform by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, veteran journalist Simon Jenkins said this

'As long as politicians pander to media-fed paranoia rather than calmly publicise facts, and as long as they delegate policy to the worst recesses of the press, money will be wasted. Families will be destroyed, drugs will proliferate and penal policy atrophy. Cameron can shout "consultation is good," but the crushing of Clarke was not consultation, it was panic. There is only one lesson to be drawn from this sad saga. Those who live by the tabloids, die by them.'

Sadly this has been the story of British politics for decades. Its politicians are followers not leaders. This bears out what it says about democracy in Plato's Republic, which is that democracy leads to tyranny.

Perhaps democracy is not the ultimate value. And what does this episode mean for LVT?

Link to Guardian article
 

Believe this if you like - 1

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"Wealth is created when Capital is invested to give a higher return than putting it in the bank, and for that you need to take a risk."
Read more...
 


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