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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.

The changing face of British politics

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British politics has changed fundamentally in the past decade in a way that has passed almost un-noticed. In this BBC2 film, Andrew Neil demonstrates how a small privileged elite is now dominating British politics as it has not done for the past hundred years. Access to power is now on the way to being barred against all who have not been to public school and Oxbridge, with the Oxford PPE degree being an entrance pass to the political heights.

What does this mean for those who are seeking to achieve radical change?

Petition - scrap "Help to buy"

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We, the undersigned request the government stops creating schemes such as 'firstbuy' and 'help to buy' which are harmful to the UK economic.

Why the concern about Google?

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Why the concern about Google? Criticism of Google's tax avoidance practices continues to rumble on in the newspapers. It is, the critics argue, a case of Google not being "good citizens".  This is to miss the point completely. If Google's (or anyone else's) actions are immoral but legal, then surely it is the law that needs to be changed? Law and morality need to be congruent. That surely is the issue? Or is it? It may be that Google's profits are a rental stream derived from the conceptual enclosure of some kind of public commons in cyberspace. I do not know the answer. I only pose the question.

HMRC gobbledygook

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I have just tried to fill in my tax return, which includes a section for foreign income. I was advised to study these 86 pages of accountancy jargon ironically referred to as "explanatory".

Bangladesh factory scandal

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The Bangladesh factory scandal has been followed by a round of breast-beating, as if firms that sell cheap clothing, or their customers, were to blame and could do something about the situation, even if it was just to apply political pressure.

The wages of labour are in all circumstances the least that people will accept. If there are no other opportunities for earning a livelihood, then people will accept penurious wages. If the employer is paid more for the produce, the extra will most certainly be retained by the employer as profits. In due course, the higher profits will be retained by the landlord in the form of higher rents, so the benefits do not even go to the employer. That is the Law of Rent when all land is enclosed and its rent privately appropriated.

The situations in Bangladesh is only possible when land ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few families, who, as recipients of rent, become enormously wealthy. Until that is changed the majority of the population will live in abject poverty. The cheap clothing retailers are not going to start campaigning for land reform, as that would quickly draw attention to the existence of much the same situation on home territory. The breast-beaters do little to help either. They rarely take a step back to assess the situation as a whole; if they did, they would, for a start, notice that poor working conditions in clothing factories is only part of a much bigger problem which exists throughout the supply chain, from what are virtually slave-labour farms in cotton-growing countries such as Uzbekistan, where child labour is used and workers are continually exposed to dangerous chemicals, to poor living conditions for those who crew the ships that bring the goods across the world.

What happened to the LVT Bill

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"My Bill wasn't discussed on Friday 26th April as it wasn't a sitting day in the end. It was down on the Parliamentary papers for that date as a way of keeping the Bill 'live' for as long as possible. However, I knew that it wouldn't have any chance of actually being debated. The Bill has now fallen as the Parliamentary Session has formally ended.

"It is confusing and this place does work in a ridiculous way! I have been trying to make the best use that I can of the limited mechanisms available to backbench MPs to help get the debate on LVT going and I think we've had some success in that. I'll keep taking up the opportunities that come up to press the Treasury on this - they really shouldn't be ignoring this issue or the likes of the IFS Mirrlees Review and the OECD."

Welfare cuts and local economies

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Blackpool Wet Saturday in 1970 - fish and chip bar

One of the effects of the welfare cuts that start today has so far received little attention - their effect on local economies in depressed areas. By removing purchasing power from local economies, the cuts will make matters worse. Workers - especially in retailing - are going to lose their jobs as welfare recipients cut back. The cuts are meant to encourage work instead of living on benefit, but in reality they will do just the opposite. Either the jobs are not there - or the reward for the work provides only enough for an Eastern European standard of living - and higher profits for the employer - and eventually for the landowner who will suck them up in the rent.

We are not in favour of the welfare lifestyle, but a crude programme of benefit cuts is not going to help. It would take something like substantial tax cuts in depressed areas to turn things round, combined with measures to discourage property owners from leaving commercial premises vacant whilst holding out for unrealistically high rents. We would note only that land value tax does both at one at the same time, creating tax havens precisely where they are most needed and discouraging property owners from asking rents that are above market-clearing levels.

This FT report examines the issue in more detail.

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