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Re: Georgists Fallacy

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  • Roy Langston
    ... What makes you think everyone has an equal right to share the rent, any more than landowners have a right to pocket it? Or do only certain people get to
    Message 1 of 5 , Oct 17, 2008
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      Jeffery Smith wrote:

      >Just share the rent.

      What makes you think everyone has an equal right to share the rent, any more than landowners have a right to pocket it? Or do only certain people get to share it?

      >There are two kinds of Georgists, the one-legged
      >variety, who care only about public recovery of rent in lieu of
      >collecting anything else, and two-legged Georgists, who care equally
      >about returning rent to its creators, rather than leave its spending
      >to the whimsy of politicians and bureaucrats and warlords.

      Funny, the latter sound more to me like no-legged Georgists who think the government services and infrastructure that create rent should be paid for by robbing people of their rightful earnings in proportion as they contribute to the wealth of society by their productive efforts -- i.e., by income tax.

      Oh, and you will presumably now be providing some quotes from real Georgists indicating they would be content to leave the spending of rent to warlords...?

      Oh, no, wait a minute, that's right: you won't be providing any quotes to back up your claims about what Georgists believe.

      >Returning rent to the people --

      They didn't have it to start with, so we can't "return" it to them.

      >more practically via dividends but on occasion
      >subsidized services might do -- is what accomplishes sharing.

      Sharing is always popular with those who see that others have more to share than they do.

      >And sharing what's already ours

      Rent isn't already ours. If it were, we wouldn't need government to collect it.

      >is the moral underpinning of recovering it in the first place.

      No, the moral underpinning of rent recovery is the fact that rent is created by nature, government and the community, not by the landowner.

      There are three sources of the economic advantage that manifests itself in rent:

      1. The physical qualities nature provides, to which all presumably have equal rights.

      2. The opportunities and amenities the community provides -- but which some members of the community provide much more of than others, and which all consequently do _not_ have equal rights to share. The first claimant on this portion of rent is the societal infrastructure that makes it possible and profitable for members of the community to provide their various contributions to the aggregate of opportunities and amenities in the course of conducting their private business. Rent must therefore first be used to relieve such people's private business activities of such burdens as unjust and economically destructive taxation.

      3. The services and infrastructure government provides through its paid employees and contractors -- who are consequently the only people who have any claim at all to that portion of rent.

      While a modest portion of rent should be set aside to secure the equal rights of all to use enough land to live on via a universal personal land rent exemption (or, as a second best alternative, a citizens' cash dividend), the notion that the greater portion of rent, let alone all of it, would rightly be shared out as a cash dividend, leaving government to be funded by unjust taxation of private economic activity, is spurious, indefensible, and not Georgism at all, let alone "two-legged" Georgism.

      >Georgist indifference to the fate of rent once collected into the
      >public treasury

      Quote? Thought not.

      >Try to see your proposal to deliver all
      >known rents, especially the value of the land beneath one's home,
      >over to the powers that be, see how normal people respond to that,
      >and why they don't clamor to join your ranks.

      ?? "The powers that be" would include wealthy, privileged private landowners, would it not? Or perhaps it is merely being used as a term of slander, like "warlords"?

      But of course, delivering the rent to such people is not what is being proposed.

      >Sure, in a selfish, atomized society, proposing sharing is not easy.

      Especially when what is proposed is to pay for the government services and infrastructure that create rent by taxing the productive in proportion as they contribute to the wealth of society, and to then share the resulting rent among all equally.

      >But the dividend is
      >what got carbon taxes passed in BC and NZ. Rent dividends could work
      >for land dues, too.

      As a resident of BC, I can tell you that the dividend is widely scorned (many donated their dividend checks to the opposition parties), and the carbon tax is one of the most unpopular policies of a generally right-wing government subservient to wealthy interests.

      -- Roy Langston

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