On Fictitious Commodities, and Sacred Land

by Lindy Davies

It’s very likely that we Georgists will keep trying to “diagnose our failure” until society finally adopts the Georgist remedy. One chestnut that’s resurfaced recently is the notion that our focus on the land monopoly, while OK as far as it goes, naively ignores other modern evils that do just as much damage. Continue reading

Natural Law and Wealth Distribution: A Point/Counterpoint between H. George and J. S. Mill

John:  The laws and conditions of the Production of wealth are physical truths. There is nothing optional or arbitrary in them. It is not so with the Distribution of wealth. That is a matter of human institution solely. The things once there, mankind, individually or collectively, can do with them as they like. Continue reading

Society Cannot Live by Robbery

by Harry Gunnison Brown

No society has completely eliminated exploitation or parasitism even in its cruder and most generally recognized forms. Highway robbery certainly is not unknown even in the modern “civilized” world. Burglary continues to be practiced. So does the picking of pockets. But at least, all these are generally and violently reprobated. Continue reading

The Land Rent We Have vs. the Land Rent We Want

by Mike Curtis

First of all, Gross Domestic Product is a measure of what is actually produced, and land rent is the portion of that product that is actually paid to the landowner. We propose to collect the potential rent of land for public revenue. That includes the rental values of all the oil and other mineral land that is held in reserve, all the valuable airwaves that are held for speculation and all the vacant or under-used land in and around cities. Continue reading

Confusions Concerning Money and Land

by Shirley-Anne Hardy

It is not generally understood that the vexed role of money in our society is due entirely to its underpinning by the great vexed, unresolved and ultimately all-underlying land question.

The best key to understanding this is undoubtedly the pictorial presentation of a great natural law: the Law of Rent. But it can perhaps also be quite well understood if I quote from the introductory passages to its classic version: The Iron Law of Wages — The return to labor, however great the potential of the land that is worked, and however great the individual effort put into the work, will never be greater than the return available from the most marginal land in use.

qorkitFrom the foregoing it is clear that money’s power to exploit, in our society, is bedded in its power to grant to such a society’s “landowners” the power to possess stolen goods.

Where, under the natural Law of Rent, stolen goods are ruled out, when phony landownership is abolished, there money reverts to its original, and solely beneficial, role: as a measuring device which simplifies fair exchange, in people’s desire to trade goods with one another. I place the word “landowners” in quotes, in view of Thomas Paine’s famous words that so brilliantly pinpoint our all-underlying trouble: “I never heard that the Creator opened an estate-office to issue title-deeds to land.” The human-devised deed of land-entitlement is the institutor of robbery in our society — and the creator and originator of today’s entire “money problem.”

For these entitlement-to-land deeds then proceed falsely to co-opt land into the role of capital (land may be God’s capital; it’s not ours) and thus land comes falsely to assume a monetary value, fixed according to its exchangeability with true items of capital value: things brought into being by human labor.

The total madness of co-opting land into a capital role is that land, gifted to us by a mysterious Creator, cannot be made by man. Therefore the buying and selling of land in the market, as if it were a form of capital, invites its hoarding and monopolizing. This allows the ultimate horror to operate in our society: that of an all-underlying monopoly, for nothing can be produced, no labor can be exerted, without access to land.

Advocates of political decentralization such as Kathleen Janaway are entirely lost in advocating that money should be used to buy land. In this urging such folk are “doing the Devil’s work for him!” As we have seen, it is precisely the marketing of land that the false face of money, in our society, arises out of!

Let it be repeated: the original and true role of money in our society is entirely friendly, facilitating the exchange of goods among people by a simple device of measurement. Money’s role in accumulating an unjust quantity of goods in the hands of some depends on those goods being stolen goods!

Let it further be noted that, even were money in today’s society to be done away with, we would rapidly discover who still “held all the chips” — those who hold our society’s false deeds of entitlement to land! And let us note in passing that those deeds permeate equally the entire global stock market, and all those phony mortgages (roughly 80% of which are based on the land component) which have cruelly dispossessed people from their homes and caused the banking crash.

In welcome contrast to these confusions (the Law of Rent having been strictly excluded from our educational systems, from bottom to top!) let me acknowledge Kathleen Janaway’s profound insight (In New Leaves, the journal of the Movement for Compassionate Living):

There is overwhelming evidence that true democracy cannot function on this scale of the large modern state with central government. In the so-called democracies of today, the good of all the people is certainly not achieved. On the contrary the gap between the rich and poor grows ever greater.

Society’s acute need for radical political decentralization is, in fact, responded to by the Natural Law of Rent itself, which in sorting out economic problems carries with it the radical decentralization of political power!

Fortunately, as more and more people are coming today to see, radical political decentralization is not just the only sane way for society to operate, but is also the only happy way — as is so excellently expressed in the Irish Celtic saying, “It is in the shelter of each other that people live.”

Land Is More Important than Money

by Lindy Davies

The contention that “debt money” can only be paid back with money which has itself been loaned into existence, therefore creating an ever-expanding debt that can never be fully paid, is — despite its increasing popularity — fallacious. As Fred Foldvary explained (in GJ #122), the credit-worthiness of borrowers is carefully evaluated by lenders. Borrowers can pay back their loans either by producing more wealth than they have borrowed, or consuming less (or some combination of the two) — thus having enough left over to pay back the loan with interest. If every single borrower is capable of repaying his or her loan with interest, how then can the whole society be unable to repay its debts? Continue reading

Piketty’s Model of Inequality and Growth in Historical Context

by Polly Cleveland

In Thomas Piketty’s doomsday model, slowing of growth in the twenty-first century will cause an inexorable increase in inequality. Piketty is not the first to propose a grand model of inequality and growth. To get some perspective on his model, let’s take a brief look at what the “classical” economists had to say, and how the “neoclassical” economists responded. Continue reading