Sunday, January 24, 2010

Land Cannot be Private Property

LAND and Natural Resources cannot, in justice, be treated as exclusive private property. That is, the VALUE of land (economic rent) cannot be justly retained by a private "owner." Why? Because land VALUE is generated by the general presence, and the aggregate productive activity, of the community at large.

What happens to land values when, for whatever reason, a population grows around a certain area? Then what happens to those land values as that population progresses in productivity?

Of course, those land values rise, totally independent of an individual owner's capital investment on their land. So who is responsible for those land values? Who creates them? The individual "owner" or the community?

Land values, then, are a creation of the community as a whole. More people, more productive activity, greater demand for land and resources. Wouldn't it make sense, then, to treat land as common property by treating LAND VALUE as our primary source of public funding?

At the same time, justice demands that the full value created by individual (private) initiative/effort be retained as exclusive private property by the private creator of that "added value."

So, justice says, "Let the community collect the value generated by the common demand for access to the sites and resources of the Earth and use it for communal purposes, and let the individual retain the fruits of his labor as his private property."

Yet, isn't this exactly the opposite of what we do? Instead of the State (community) collecting the communal rent, it allows that enormous value to be privatized to the ever-increasing advantage of an overwhelmingly powerful minority of stakeholders.

And on top of that, the State then uses an incredibly costly, divisive, and inefficient system to, in regressive fashion, impede private economic initiative and confiscate the privately generated wealth of productive individuals. Doesn't that seem totally bass-ackwards?

What could be a better way to reconcile our fractured economy and society than to justly distinguish between what is truly "yours, mine and ours?" Who can complain when land is accessible to all for its just cost (land value speculation can't exist when land value is publicly collected), and when the full fruits of production are, untaxed, retained by the producer as his exclusive private property?

We need to change our way of thinking about what is "private" and what is "commonwealth" property. We need to mature in our way of publicly administrating this fundamental distinction. The ongoing and deepening crises of our civilization are the result of our heretofore reluctance to do so. To be part of the solution, start by visiting:

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