In my opinion the least bad tax is the property tax on the unimproved value of land, the Henry George argument of many, many years ago’ Milton Friedman (1912-2006): American economist and Nobel laureate.
‘The economic case for a Land Value Tax is simple and almost undeniable. Why then do we not have one already? Why hasn’t it been adopted widely in the western world? Even more puzzling is that, right now, as western economies struggle with the global financial crisis, why isn’t this form of taxation being seriously considered as an alternative?’ Sir James Mirlees (1936-2018): Nobel economics Laureate.
‘Land Value Taxation is a no-brainer … it is both fair and efficient. It should be adopted’ Martin Wolf (b.1946): Economics editor, Financial Times.
‘Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds’. Thomas Paine: (1737-1809) British born American revolutionary. Author of ‘The Rights of Man’.
‘Ground rents and the ordinary rent of land are… perhaps the species of revenue which can best bear to have a peculiar tax imposed on them’. Adam Smith (1723-90): Economic philosopher, reputed father of modern economics.
‘In the marketplace, charge land rents, but don’t tax the goods’ Mencius, Chinese philosopher, circa 300BC.
Once, natural resources were fully used for the benefit of all, and not appropriated for selfish ends. This was the age of the Great Commonwealth of peace and prosperity. Confucius (551-479 BC):
‘An acre in Middlesex is better than a principality in Utopia’ Lord Macaulay (1800-1859): Historian, politician and poet.
‘Buy land, they’re not making it any more’ * Mark Twain (1835-1910): American author and humorist.
‘When the missionaries came to Africa they had the bible and we had the land. They said ’let us pray’. We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the bible and they had the land.’ Desmond Tutu (b.1931), Retired Anglican bishop of Cape Town.
‘As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce’.
‘Wherever there is great property, there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor …’ Adam Smith (1723-90): Economic philosopher.
‘Land enclosure is the primary source of wealth for the powerful and is similarly the primary source of poverty for the rest’. Patrick Noble: Author. Organic farmer in North Wales.
‘Rent is the secret tax the wealthy charge the poor.’ Joseph Stiglitz (b.1943): American economist and Nobel laureate.
‘Greed and conflict of interest fall into a massive category of things that are obviously wrong, but not illegal.’ Frazer Nelson: Daily Telegraph article, 30.9.16.
‘To prove legal title to land, one must trace it back to the man who stole it’ David Lloyd George (1863-1945): British Liberal prime minister, 1916-1922.
‘It is not possible to buy a valid title to stolen property’ Robert Keall: Retired investment broker. Ex. member of New Zealand Land Value Rating Association.
‘ No-one can own the fish of the sea’ (in a high court ruling on fish quotas, July 2013) Sir Ross Cranston (b.1948): Former high court judge and Labour politician.
‘No tribe has the right to sell, even to each other, much less to strangers… Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth? Didn’t the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children?’ Tecumseh (!768-1813): Chief of the Shawnee tribe.
‘The land, the earth God gave man for his home, sustenance, and support, should never be the possession of any man, corporation, society, or unfriendly government, any more than the air or water’. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865): 16th President of the USA
‘The land shall not be sold forever; for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me’ Leviticus 25;23, King James’ bible.
‘We hang the petty thieves, the great ones we appoint to high office’ Aesop (620-564 BC): Greek philosopher and author of ‘fables’.
‘Behind every great fortune lies a great crime’ Honoré de Balsac (1799-1850): French novelist and playwright.
‘Amid the greatest accumulations of wealth, men die of starvation, and puny infants suckle dry breasts’.
‘What has destroyed every previous civilization has been the tendency to the unequal distribution of wealth and power’.
‘It is but a truism that labor is most productive where its wages are largest. Poorly paid labor is inefficient labor, the world over’.
‘For every social wrong there must be a remedy. But the remedy can be nothing less than the abolition of the wrong’. Henry George: (1839-1897), American political economist.
‘For how long does an evil have to be practiced for it to become a good?’ Andew MacLaren (1883-1975): Independent Labour MP for Burslem (1922-45).
‘Only the little people pay taxes’ Leona Helmsley (1920-2007): Billionaire American Businesswoman.
‘The law in its majestic equality forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread’. Anatole France (1884-1924): French poet and novelist.
Where you find the laws most numerous, there you will find also the greatest injustice. Arcesilaus: (316-241 BC): Greek sceptic philosopher.
‘The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: “Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one”. Jean-Jaques Rousseau (1712-1778): Swiss writer and philosopher.
‘There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil for every one striking at the root’. Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862) American essayist, poet and philosopher.
‘If I were to re-write this book, I would offer a third alternative – the possibility of sanity – Economics would be decentralist and Henry Georgian’. Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) in foreword to Brave New World.
‘I do not claim that George’s remedy is a panacea that will cure by itself all our ailments. But I do claim that we cannot get rid of our basic troubles without it’. John Dewey (1859-1952) American philosopher and reformer
‘People do not argue with the teachings of George, they simply do not know it… He who becomes acquainted with it cannot but agree’.
‘…but the simplest things cannot be made clear even to a very intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he already knows, and knows indubitably, the truth of the matter under consideration’.
‘I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me and assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all possible means – except by getting off his back’ Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
* The Dutch may beg to disagree with this remark; they have been making land for centuries. But the reclaimed land of Holland is mostly rural and therefore of only marginal value.