by Justin Paré
We can attain greater prosperity as our civilization advances by curing the root cause of most of our social ills: the monopolization of land. The solution itself is surprisingly simple, but until the people of our society gain a better understanding of the natural laws that govern economic behavior, most of us will remain unaware that a problem even exists in the first place. Therefore, we can only achieve an effective and permanent solution to the social diseases that afflict us by educating the masses about fundamental economic principles and how the refusal to adhere to them will be responsible for the decline of our civilization.
The simplification of government is just one of the positive results that we can achieve by understanding that the monopolization of land is unjust, thereby changing our practices of taxation to reflect our recognition of that fact. By acknowledging that the return for the use of land (rent) belongs to the community; and also that the returns from labor (wages) and capital (interest) rightfully belong to workers and investors, we can implement a single-tax on the value of land to provide for all of our public expenses, while abolishing all other taxes. This would make the matter of calculating, collecting and enforcing the collection of taxes a much simpler procedure than our current method, and would greatly reduce the machinery of government required for this purpose. Costs would be reduced, allowing government to run more efficiently, and eliminating a great amount of corruption.
Urban sprawl is another problem which could be easily corrected if we had a more widespread understanding of these principles. With an end to the monopolization of land, there would be no benefit in holding the best land out of use with the expectation of profits in the future, because the landowner would still be taxed on the value of that land whether it was being used in production or not. This would not only give labor and capital access to the best land, but it would also free up any unused land within the community. The population could then concentrate at the center of the community, which is its natural tendency. With land being utilized at its optimum capacity in production, and with the concentration of population within a more compact area, we would get the most efficient use of our land, while reducing the size and cost of infrastructure (transportation, communication, utilities, etc.) required to sustain our communities. This would make it possible for us to achieve higher levels of productivity, while securing justice in the common ownership of land.
But perhaps the best benefit of all is that if there is a widespread understanding of fundamental economic principles, we can eliminate poverty from our civilization. By understanding the natural laws of distribution and property, our society can secure an equal distribution of wealth to the people, and rightfully return to the laborers the products of their own exertion. In this way we will be able to satisfy more of our desires with less labor and toil — and in the process reduce the impulse to resort to crime and corruption.
We can have peace and prosperity along with progress — there doesn’t have to be a trade-off. But to do so, we must first change the way that we think as a people, and have a more widespread understanding of these principles. The power to either save our civilization from destruction or to allow it to repeat the failures of those civilizations before us — rests in the hands of the people. We are all responsible for that outcome.
Justin Paré submitted this essay with his concluding lesson of the HGI’s Economic Science course this May. He has since joined our volunteer faculty. He is an inmate in the Nevada State Prison system. — L. D.