"There is a big discovery to be made, and this lies in an epochal change—the rediscovery of Economic Rent. Surely, after all, it is civilisations that fail to evolve by not correcting their mistakes that die."– Bryan Kavanagh, Land Valuer (Ret.) Australian Tax Office.
"There are 36 billion acres of land on the earth and only [7 billion] people to fill those acres, more than half of which are arable or habitable or both." – Kevin Cahill, Who Owns the World (2007)
"Land and raw natural resources are not the fruits of labor, but a common heritage to be accessed on terms that are equal under the law for everyone." – Dan Sullivan
The Global Commonsincludes the value of land and minerals, atmosphere, oceans, biodiversity, energy, culture, money systems, scientific knowledge, internet, etc. Economic Rent represents the wealth that comes from private access to or control of any of these resources. Collection and distribution of Economic Rent via Land Value Tax aka "Single Tax"is the administrative method recommended by Classical Political Economists.
"Once you've gained an understanding of basic Land Value Tax theory, you realize the mistake most people make in thinking a 'Single Tax' will hurt businesses, when it will do the opposite. It can eliminate the causes of financial insecurity on all fronts as easily as it can remove the causes of corruption. ... Hayek failed to see that the so-called real estate 'market' isn’t a real market until its land rent is captured for public purposes. With Hayek’s principles in full force, absent the collection of land rent, we’d still have property bubbles (and recessions when they burst)." — Bryan Kavanagh
Conflict over territory has always existed as soon as the number of humans was large enough to generate competition for natural resources. Only by force, fraud and theft have we come to a world where groups have managed to claim exclusive control over some portion of the planet to the exclusion of all others.
Sharing the earth, securing our equal birthright to the earth, has been resisted with violence again and again. Humanity suffers greatly from the existence of nation-states forged out of bloody wars of territorial conquest. These will continue until by some fundamental change in the human spirit, it is widely accepted that the planet is owned by no individual or group of individuals. In the meantime, the survival of our species and the life-giving planet we occupy depends on some accommodation to this moral principle.
The only idea that holds promise for a peaceful transition is that advanced in the late 19th century by the American political economist Henry George: the public collection of "rent" (i.e., the potential annual rental value of all locations and land-like assets, such as the broadcast spectrum). This idea has been embraced by some of humankind's most thoughtful leaders (e.g., Leo Tolstoy, Sun Yat-Sen and Winston Churchill) but without result. There is little time to waste. Without this fundamental reform in how governments raise revenue, we are destined for an even more violent and destructive future.
The Tragedy of the Commons In 1968, Garrett Hardin wrote his famous article on the enclosure of the commons. Garrett Hardin himself later revised his own view, noting that what he described was actually the Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons.
"An interesting note about Garrett Hardin's 'Tragedy of the Commons' is that later he exchanged views with Robert V. Andelson, a philosophy professor at Auburn University. As a result of that exchange, Hardin agreed that the policy solution to the abuse of the commons is that offered by Henry George: the full taxation of the potential annual rental value of land and land-like assets (i.e., those with an inelastic supply and do not respond to the price mechanism in the way people do or capital goods do)."
— Edward Dodson
A Short History of Enclosure in Britain This article originally appeared as 'A Short History of Enclosure in Britain' in The Land, Issue 7, Summer 2009
Simon Fairlie describes how the progressive enclosure of commons over several centuries has deprived most of the British people of access to agricultural land. The historical process bears little relationship to the “Tragedy of the Commons”, the theory which ideologues in the neoliberal era adopted as part of a smear campaign against common property institutions. >>> more
2009 Debunked: The Tragedy of the Commons Elinor Ostrom, won the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, "for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons."
Note: This is The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Science in Memory of Alfred Nobel, founded by the Bank of Sweden in collaboration with international banks, and not the Nobel family's prize, as documented by Hazel Henderson. Interestingly, Professor Mason Gaffney documents, in “Neo-Classical Economics as a Stragegem against Henry George” how most of what Hazel Henderson criticises came about as a reaction to the impact of the work and political activity of Henry George.There is an irony in the fact that commercial interests would promote Professor Ostrom's work by publishing an agenda that is fundamentally NOT in their traditional interest: the theory that private property is the only effective method to prevent finite resources from being ruined or depleted. According to Hazel Henderson, "The Bank set up this $1 million prize in 1969, as I have held, in order to legitimize the economics profession as a science."
See her report for more details.
1. Elinor Ostrom - Facts
How Professor Elinor Ostrom Challenged Conventional Wisdom
As a political scientist Elinor Ostrom's research methods differed from how most economists work. Usually they start with a hypothesis, an assumption of reality, which is then put to the test. Elinor Ostrom started with an actual reality instead. She gathered information through field studies and then analyzed this material. In her book 'Governing the Commons' from 1990, she demonstrated how common property can be successfully managed by user associations and that economic analysis can shed light on most forms of social organization. Her research had great impact amongst political scientists and economists. — Elinor Ostrom - Facts Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 16 Aug 2014.
2. Tragedy of the Commons R.I.P. The biggest roadblock standing in the way of many people’s recognition of the importance of the commons
came tumbling down when Indiana University professor Elinor Ostrom won the 2009 Nobel Prize for economics.
Over many decades, Professor Ostrom has documented communities around the world that share common resources equitably and sustainably over the long term – debunking the myth that privatising natural resources is the only route to halting environmental degradation.>>> more
What we have ignored is what citizens can do and the importance of real involvement of the people involved. – Elinor Ostrom
3. On The Commons magazinefeatured a comprehensive report.
December 16, 2013 "Her honor debunked the belief that cooperation and collaboration lead to tragedy"
Ostrom’s Nobel Prize is a Milestone for the Commons Movement A major roadblock standing in the way of many people’s recognition of the importance of the commons came tumbling down in 2009 when Indiana University professor Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize for economics.
Over many decades, Ostrom has documented how various communities manage common resources – grazing lands, forests, irrigation waters, fisheries equitably and sustainably – over the long term. The Nobel Committee’s recognition of her work effectively debunked popular theories about the Tragedy of the Commons, which hold that private property is the only effective method to prevent finite resources from being ruined or depleted.
Awarding the world’s most prestigious economics prize to a scholar who champions cooperative behavior greatly boosted the legitimacy of the commons as a framework for solving our social and environmental problems. Ostrom’s work also challenges the current economic orthodoxy that there are few, if any, alternatives to privatization and markets in generating wealth and human well being.
The Tragedy of the Commons refers to a scenario in which commonly held land is inevitably degraded because everyone in a community is allowed to graze livestock there. This parable was popularized by wildlife biologist Garrett Hardin in the late 1960s, and was embraced as a principle by the emerging environmental movement. But Ostrom’s research refutes this abstract concept once-and-for-all with the real life experience from places like Nepal, Kenya and Guatemala.
"When local users of a forest have a long-term perspective, they are more likely to monitor each other’s use of the land, developing rules for behavior,” she cited as an example, “It is an area that standard market theory does not touch."
Note: Garrett Hardin later revised his own view, noting that what he described was actually the Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons. Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz, also winner of a same Nobel prize, notes: “Conservatives used the Tragedy of the Commons to argue for property rights, and efficiency was achieved as people were thrown off the commons… What Ostrom has demonstrated is the existence of social control mechanisms that regulate the use of the commons without having to resort to property rights.”
While right-wing thinkers scoffed at the possibility of resources being shared in a way that maintains the common good, arguing that private property is the only practical strategy to prevent this tragedy, Ostrom’s scholarship shows otherwise.>>> more
"The fact is that land monopoly engenders artificial overpopulation, whereas overpopulation exacerbates the ills of land monopoly. The population problem and the land problem are both serious and real; neither should be used as an excuse to avoid recognition of the other. ... Malthusianism was the great red herring that diverted attention from the most fundamental cause of poverty. ... The movement to abolish slavery was once considered an assault on vested rights; and efforts to collect for society a greater share of the site-values it creates, are today considered, in all too many quarters, an assault on individual freedom. Self-interest and prejudice must not be permitted to place at risk the condition and perhaps even the very survival of the essential joint-heritage of the human race." — Robert V. Andelson, 1989
Why Global Poverty?
by Clifford W. Cobb, Philippe Diaz
2009 Global poverty did not just happen.
It began with military conquest, slavery, and colonization: the seizure of land, minerals, and forced labor. It has persisted until the present as a result of unfair debt, trade, and tax policies, which the rich nations of the North have imposed on the nations of the global South. >>> more
A wave of disruption is sweeping in
to challenge neoliberalism
12 March 2015
I have always been attracted to the notion that disruption to powerful systems comes not from the heart of the empire, but from the margins. This idea first fired my imagination while I was learning about the role of the monasteries of the early Celtic church, located on the wild and windswept fringes of western Europe, in reseeding the continent with art, literacy and a love of learning that had been eclipsed by the dark ages.
Today, I sense a similar wave of disruption sweeping in from various marginal corners of our globalised system ...
The emerging three-way conversation between the commons movement, the co-operative movement and public authorities is opening up space for fresh thinking and a multiplicity of innovations at the level of city, region and now, tentatively, the nation state. >>> more
1. Implement the universal ethic into the constitution, so that there be no restriction or imposed cost on acts which do not coercively harm others.
2. Replace existing taxes with public revenue from user fees, pollution charges, and land value.
3. Replace mass democracy with cellular democracy: small-group voting with bottom-up multi-level governance.
"When the land rent is distributed equally among the people, and when there is no legal restriction or imposed cost on peaceful and honest enterprise, nor on the consumption of goods, then a basic income from rent, plus the easy ability to become self-employed, prevents firm owners from exploiting workers, and prevents landlords from becoming housing tyrants. The case for landlord and company tyranny by billionaires collapses when closely examined. But the critics cannot do such analysis, as they keep confusing capitalism as a free market with capitalism as today’s mixed economies. And when they do use the term “free,” they don’t delve into the natural-law ethic that gives freedom and liberty their meaning. The welfare-statist critique of markets is a failure to think things through."
– Economics Professor Fred Foldvary, Progress, August 23, 2015 The Tyranny of Billionaire Monopolists - Why It Matters:
Critics of markets lack an understanding of truly free markets.
John Locke's chapter "On Property," from his Second Treatise on Government, asserted that any person has a right to exclusive possession of land, "provided that there is enough, and as good, left to others." This is but another way of saying that the common right to hold land is limited only by the equal rights of others. As long as this proviso is met, the landholder has no reciprocal obligation to the community or its members, because his holding land has not prevented others from exercising their rights to do likewise.
Locke also noted that economies relying on private possession of land are vastly more productive than nomadic economies, and that it is in the public interest to grant possession within the limits of his proviso.
Locke further noted that his proviso referred to there being land as good as the unimproved value of the land already taken up:
"He that had as good left for his improvement, as was already taken up, needed not complain, ought not to meddle with what was already improved by another's labour: if he did, it is plain he desired the benefit of another's pains, which he had no right to, and not the ground which God had given him in common with others to labour on, and whereof there was as good left, as that already possessed, and more than he knew what to do with, or his industry could reach to." [Sec. 34]
Locke went on to state that, when populations were sparse and the economy was not fully monetized, there was no incentive for people to take up more land than they intended to use, and so there was little violation of the rights of others. However, with the growth of population, good land became scarce, and with the introduction of money, it became profitable for people to take up land they had no intention of using, so that others would pay them to let go of that land. It is at this point that Locke's proviso was violated, and systems of land tenure had to be established by social compact.
Locke did not state what the particulars of social compacts should be, but it would be logical for him to advocate a compact that would be harmonious with his proviso that land should be accessible to others, and with his other proviso, that land should not be appropriated to be held out of use.>>> more
"The essence of all slavery consists in taking the product of another's labor by force. It is immaterial whether this force be founded upon ownership of the slave or ownership of the money that he must get to live"
- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
Resurrection (1889) pdf, Tolstoy’s last major novel before his death in 1910, is a scathing exposition of the myriad prejudices of the man-made justice system and the hypocrisy of the establishment, while it also explores the economic philosophy of Georgism – of which Tolstoy had become a strong advocate toward the end of his life.
Science explains and understands the world of matter; philosophy explains and understands the world of spirit. Economics is the meeting place of these two worlds. Whilst the immediate concern of economics is policy in the “world of matter”, the key participant in economic life is the human being, whose ultimate purpose of participation is to do with the 'world of spirit'. Hence economics meets these two realms, stands at their interface. Its task is to ensure the rule of justice.
– Dr John Tippett, A Philosophers Take on Economics (2012)
"I realised that the way the derivatives market had developed meant it did not mitigate risk, it was a risk in itself....And it's an extraordinary shift in that I think that deep sense of distrust is actually now permeating global relationships." – Satyajit Das
Satyajit Das is a former banker – a specialist in financial derivatives and risk management, and author of ‘A Banquet of Consequences’, ‘Extreme Money’ and ‘Traders, Guns & Money’:
Until 2006/ 2007, there was a feeling that the developed world had worked out their business models, their economic models, their financial models, and they had something to teach India and Bejing. But now there is a deep sense that the models don't work and what is really of concern to these people, in different ways, is the fact that the failures of the developed world will effect them.
For instance, in India, I hear now that the Colonials have basically damaged us in so many different ways - during the Colonial period and now, when we are growing, they manage to do things which essentially damage us.
And in Bejing, there is a fascinating sense of mistrust. Because they [the US] have taken 3.2 trillion dollars of our sweat and hard work, which we've invested in their government bonds, which is now losing value, literally by billions, every minute. And, these people are deliberately doing that to us. That is very, very deep.
And then Christian Lagared comes, on behalf of the IMF, to Bejing to ask us to put money in to save Europe. And the irony of asking a county where the average income is 4k helping a country with an average income of 30k is completely lost on Christian Lagarde, who says they won't accept any conditional aid. Like, give us Taiwan, give us Tibet, and all of these types of things.
And it's an extraordinary shift in that I think that deep sense of distrust is actually now permeating global relationships. I think that is a very significant change, not so much this year, but over the last 2 or 3 years.
Antonio Negri: I can start by saying that while discussing the concept of the multitude, Michael Hardt and I found ourselves facing the question of the city, which we brought up as part of the question of the territorialization of the multitude, the space in which the multitude deploys itself. To be honest, I think that while a number of problems started to clear up after we wrote Multitude, others remained in the shadow, like this fundamental question of space.
For example, we are very interested in this problem of the multitude’s temporality, that is, of transformative moments and raising consciousness, or the problems that arise the moment we think about what it means to 'make' multitude, to construct it as a singularity that tends towards shared, common projects. But the big problem we have yet to consider concerns space. Because we still require a place in which this multitude will exist—not only a network through which it communicates, but also the power to decide its living conditions. This power to decide plays a role in developing a relationship between the multitude and state structures or institutions, and from a negative perspective this means an uproar; from a constructive perspective it means revolution.
Now we could say that today this space is the contemporary metropolis. Half of the world’s population, maybe more, now lives in cities. The population itself, we could say, is a refugee in these cities. In fact, we may now have one to two thirds of the world’s population living in cities of over one million inhabitants.>>> more
One of the constant arguments raised by critics of the EU is that it is “undemocratic”. On the face of it, the EU has a democratic structure. The European Commission is not elected but it is fully accountable to the European Parliament. And all the EU member states are represented in the Council of Ministers. But does that make it democratic or does it have, as some argue, a democratic deficit? >>> more
Written into the constitution of the Euro-zone is that only banks should create credit and create it at interest;
- That government should not provide money to the economy;
- Governments should raise their money by selling off the public domain to private investors;
- That government should not provide social services;
Should not provide infrastructure services;
- That all of these should be privatised and that means building into their price structure interest charges, exorbitant salaries, and economic rent for whatever the privatisers can charge. (01:26)
Robert Solow: Are we becoming an oligarchy?
Nobel laureate Robert Solow discusses the effect of inequality.
We're Headed for Oligarchy Robert Solow on powerful families’ threat to democratic institutions.
April 25, 2014
In a recent interview at the Economic Policy Institute, Nobel Prize-Winning economist and MIT professor Robert Solow riffed on the political effects of increasing inequality and concentration of wealth at the very top. "If that kind of concentration of wealth continues, then we get to be more and more an oligarchical country, a country that's run from the top," he said. …
... Piketty has identified the mechanism by which inequality accelerates over time (Solow calls it, simply, the “rich-get-richer dynamic"). But the consequences of that distribution are not merely economic but political: A concentration of wealth leads to a concentration of power, which in turn protects the concentration of power. That our political system is incapable of tempering Piketty's dynamic is not a bizarre coincidence but a direct result.
"Wouldn’t it be interesting," Solow asks in his TNR review, "if the United States were to become the land of the free, the home of the brave, and the last refuge of increasing inequality at the top (and perhaps also at the bottom)? Would that work for you?"
It's working for some people, anyway. >>> more
No. 1 Happiest Nation On The Planet... Revolution Danish Style In this short film, English economist Fred Harrison
explains how Denmark became the "No 1 happiest nation"
Excerpt: The Danes are the best housed people on the Continent, enjoying the highest incomes and lowest levels of corruption. …
What happened to turn a country that was poor in natural resources into one of the most productive in the world? It's the untold story of a revolution Danish Style. A legacy that helped to foster social solidarity that's unique in Europe. The world needs to understand that history.
“A comparison between the three periods, before, during and after the so-called "Ground Rent Government," gives a clear picture of the importance of eliminating land speculation.” – Dr. Katherine Phelps See her excellent review of Denmark’s experience with LVT HERE
Henry George (1839–1897) For the study of political economy you need no special knowledge, no extensive library, no costly laboratory. You do not even need text-books nor teachers, if you will but think for yourselves. All that you need is care in reducing complex phenomena to their elements, in distinguishing the essential from the accidental, and in applying the simple laws of human action with which you are familiar.
(Download a free pdf copy of the book Progress and Poverty (1879)
Conversation: A New Theory of Language(2006) By Carl H. Flygt [Carl H. Flygt is an anthroposopical psychologist who has been studying language for over twenty five years. He lives near San Francisco.]
Excerpt: My eyes were opened when I first read Henry George. Suddenly I had an economic explanation for why modern man has lost his soul, his sense of ease, wholeness, mystery and profundity. I could understand in concrete terms why the people I met and knew were full of conceit and vanity, of angular superficiality, of debasement and shame, without emotional subtlety in their expression, incapable of objectivity in their thinking, loudly cynical and humourlessly fearful. I could see also why I shared these qualities.
From George I could understand that we had all accepted something radically wrong in our social contract, that in giving up many of our personal liberties in exchange for the greater liberties afforded by society, we had also given up an immensely great freedom, a spiritual freedom. Furthermore, and most amazing to me, we had no idea that we had done it.
What is this spiritual freedom we have lost through economic error?
It is the freedom possessed in rudimentary form by the indigenous peoples of the world before their way of life was lost to economic development. It is the freedom of man in harmony with nature and the world soul, the free cultural life of the natural man in rational and reverent exchange with forces he understands or at least knows intimately and respects. As Henry George put it, it is the freedom of a man in full possession of the rights to his labour and to the fruits of that labour.
Buddhist Teaching When people devote themselves to benefitting all beings through harmony, they create awareness and develop a better world.
Xun Quang Xunzi 3rd c. BC Heaven has its reasons. Earth has its resources. Man has his political order thus forming with the first two a triad. But he would err if he failed to respect the ground rules of this triad and infringed on the other two."
Voltaire(1694-1778) had his character Candide say, The fruits of the earth are a common heritage of all, to which each man has equal right. Jean-Jacques Rousseau(1712-1778)
The first man who, having fenced off a plot of land, thought of saying, 'This is mine' and found people simple enough to believe him was the real founder of civil society. How many crimes, wars, murders, how many miseries and horrors might the human race had been spared by the one who, upon pulling up the stakes or filling in the ditch, had shouted to his fellow men: 'Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you forget the fruits of the earth belong to all and that the earth belongs to no one. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, 1755. Download PDF: Discourse on Inequality (1755)
Adam Smith (1723-1790)
Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all. – The Wealth of Nations (1776), V.i.b.12 (Part II) (Download PDF: The Wealth of Nations
Thomas Paine(1737-1809) Men did not make the earth…. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property…. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.
This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
British philosopher and more famous than Marx at the time, said, Equity does not permit property in land... The world is God's bequest to mankind. All men are joint heirs to it.
Dr Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925) The land tax as the only means of supporting the government is an infinitely just, reasonable, and equitably-distributed tax, and on it we will found our new system.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)
ex-US president who in 1950 voted for Henry George to enter into the Hall of Fame, wondered, why the world's resources could not be internationalized, since raw materials represented the world's basic needs, they should belong to and serve everybody.
Jomo Kenyatta (1889-1978), former prime minister of Kenya When the white man came we had the land and they had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed and when we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.
Duke Ellington (1899-1974) Put it this way: Jazz is a good barometer of freedom… In its beginnings, the United States of America spawned certain ideals of freedom and independence through which, eventually, jazz was evolved, and the music is so free that many people say it is the only unhampered, unhindered expression of complete freedom yet produced in this country.