- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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The UK’s business rates system is “uneconomical, unsustainable and frankly unintelligible” and reform of
the property-based tax “cannot come soon enough”.- John Allan, the president of the CBI employers group, 2019
'The answer to business rates? A tax on land'
This was the heading of a letter to the editor of the Guardian which captured my attention. Due to its significance to the plight and struggles of the retail sector, I wish to quote it in some details:
‘Britain’s business leaders are demonstrably the modern Bourbons, forgetting nothing and learning nothing. They permanently complain about the manifest iniquities of business rates, but completely fail to grasp the obvious alternative despite it being regularly set out and available for more than a hundred years (Retailers warn budget will cause ‘unnecessary loss’ of jobs and shops, 27 October).
Very simply – one taxes land, not property. When one reads of property prices rising it is not that bricks and mortar have increased in value but the land. Why? Because they stopped making it aeons ago and its supply is limited. Also, the value of a site is largely dependent on the planning permission it holds, i.e. the decision of the public authority. The value of my house in Leeds is double what it would be if one applied general inflation rather than land value inflation. Why should I have this potential windfall?
If a business increases its profitability it is penalised by an increase in its business rate, whereas taxing land encourages its profitable use as its valuation is on its “maximum permitted use”. Furthermore, taxing property encourages huge enterprises and many public utilities to hold land banks for future use because they pay nothing in rates. Taxing land values discourages such unprofitable holdings and encourages their use. Spreading the tax base reduces the rate of tax charged.
The practicalities of valuing land are relatively straightforward, even with transitional arrangements during a changeover. The switch lacks only the political will to introduce it. It became Liberal party policy in 1893 and Lloyd George put it into his radical 1909 budget, only to see it defeated in the Lords. It is high time the Confederation of British Industry, Chambers of Commerce and other organisations for business stopped mere complaining and put all their weight behind this much overdue change.’- Michael Meadowcroft, Leeds, (The Guardian 1 November 2021)
Now, the pertinent question at this moment is, what is a tax on land?
I was introduced to this fascinating topic years ago by my friend and editor, Anthony Werene, editor-in-chief, Shepheard-Walwyn Publishers, London.
I had recorded this in a short piece I had written in 2017, which I highly recommend as a short introduction to land value taxation (LVT).
Would Henry George’s ‘Remedy’ help us combat today’s global crises?
Anthony Werner, Editor-in-Chief, Shepheard-Walwyn Publishers, London, UK
‘In Progress and Poverty Henry George sought the ‘cause of industrial depressions and the increase of want with the increase of wealth’ and offered a ‘remedy’ which remains as relevant to the problems of poverty and inequality we face today, as when he first wrote, but it also opens a new way of dealing with environmental pollution.
To understand the relevance of the ‘remedy’ we need to understand what causes poverty and inequality. The cause is institutionalised, just as slavery once was…’-Continue to read
For more reading on Henry Gerorge please see:
GLOBALISATION FOR THE COMMON GOOD, Chapter 5, ‘Promised Land Revisited: A Philosophy for a Progressive and Just Society’.
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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Then the most remarkable thing happened and the First Dog on the Moon* got hold of the plan first!
As for the leaking of the plan, to my mind, It must have been an inside job!
Photo: Via The Guardian/ Twitter/Trendsmap (*The ‘Plan’ by The First Dog on the Moon was first published
in The Guardian on 27 October 2021)
And Now for Your Perusal a Really Fantastic Plan to Save the World
Glasgow 2021 Where We Hope to Rediscover Our Imagination and Build a Better World
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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Nearly 60 years ago, Rachel Carson fought the chemical industry barons. She won and saved the world from the scourge of DDT. The COP26 leadership would do well to study her example, and be inspired by her commitment, courage and reselience.
Silent Spring: A Watershed moment
Rachel Carson’s Groundbreaking Book Still Speaks to Us Today
Silent Spring exposed the hazards of the pesticide DDT and helped set the stage for the environmental movement.
‘Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species -- man -- acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.’
Rachel Carson: Voice of Nature
As Robert McCrum writing in the Guardian in 2016 has remarked: ‘Silent Spring is a classic of American advocacy, a book that sparked a nationwide outcry against the use of pesticides, inspired legislation that would endeavour to control pollution, and thereby launched the modern environmental movement in the US. The great nature writer Peter Matthiessen identified its “fearless and succinct” prose as “the cornerstone of the new environmentalism”. In a few limpid chapters, and fewer than 300 pages, Rachel Carson described the death of rivers and seas, the scorching of the soil, the annihilation of plant life and forests, the silencing of the nation’s birds, the perils of crop spraying, the poisoning of humanity (“beyond the dreams of the Borgias”) and the genetic threats posed by all of the above, especially in its carcinogenic manifestations…
‘The unrestricted use of pesticides in North America had boomed after the second world war. Carson, whose early work for the US Bureau of Fisheries had given her a special understanding of marine pollution, was one of the first to realise that DDT, a radical new pesticide, had severe ecological consequences. As the great ethnobiologist Edward O Wilson has written: “The effects of pesticides on the environment and public health had been well-documented before Silent Spring, but in bits and pieces scattered through the technical literature. Environmental scientists were aware of the problem but they focused only on the narrow sector of their personal expertise.” Carson’s achievement was to synthesise this information into a single message (her unforgettable image of a “silent spring”) that scientists and the general public could relate to and understand...
‘The chemical industry, which had championed DDT as central to the nation’s domestic agriculture, was an unofficial part of the war effort. Carson was seen as triply dangerous. First, she was an outsider; second, she was a humble biologist with no academic background; and third, she was a woman who addressed herself to the general public (writing radio scripts and bestselling books like The Sea Around Us, 1951). In a word, she was unqualified and unpatriotic…’
However, she persisted and she won. She changed the US and Changed the world too: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)
See also: Fifty Years After Silent Spring
The GCGI Call to COP26: Make COP26 The Dawn of a New Beginning