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South African Land Reform

According to Meintjes, the land reform in South Africa has largely been regarded as unsuccessful. 90% of the commercial land which was redistributed has now been left unproductive according to government records. The country has high taxes on labour and VAT which cripples industry. There is a large variation in land values and productivity within the country so rural towns are becoming derelict due to high levels of taxation on industrial activity.

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It’s taxation, stupid

After the divisions of the referendum, it is time to pull together to make a success of the people’s choice. The future is not without hope, but it does mean appreciating why so many ordinary working people voted Leave and showing that in a United Kingdom there is a way forward where conditions can be improved for everybody.

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Review of A New Model of the Economy, Brian Hodgkinson

Much of mainstream economic thought is sadly an insult not only to logic and scientific thinking but also to humanity overall due to its utter disregard of treating land—nature—as a separate “factor of production”; instead, the so-called “neoclassical” economic school treats land as a capital good to be exploited for private gain, no different from objects like cars or computers. Most economic models based on this lack of distinction incur flaws that lead to incorrect economic forecasts and faulty economic applications in addressing social issues such as wealth inequality or ecocide.

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The Agenda for Progressive Policy: Social Offsetting can make Capitalism more socially responsible

Businesses bring together land, capital and labour to generate profits, so building wealth. Currently after retention for investment and cashflow, this profit is generally allocated to shareholders, but not all the stakeholders. The wealth that we have jointly created could be shared more equitably through encouraging greater corporate responsibility. This can be achieved by changing the way public revenue is raised from business, so that the wealth created can benefit all, not just the few.

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The Agenda for Progressive Prosperity: Making Wealth Fair

There is plenty of rhetoric about the wealthy paying their fair share of taxes, but there is very little about what is fair and the details of how we could make this happen. The way to be fair is to shift the tax base away from income and more to wealth. I outline here one approach as to how such reforms could be implemented.

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The Agenda For Progressive Prosperity: A five-step process

Tom Burgess is the author of our latest book, From Here to Prosperity. Like many of us, Tom is angered and frustrated by the high level of inequality in our society and would like to bring about greater social justice. His book is written in a common sense style and is based around what he calls “An Agenda for Progressive Prosperity”. Rather than write a lengthy book identifying and explaining the problems, Tom focuses on the solutions and does so by laying out five easy to understand policies.

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The Law of Rent: The Concept

In the five or six years the Ethical Economics blog site has been in existence, the most regularly visited blog has been ‘The Law of Rent – the concept’. Hardly a month has gone by without at least six visits, but in May this year there were an astonishing 112 visits.

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Authors warn of coming financial crisis

It is no secret to many of our readers that an economy which ignores the vital contribution that a land value tax has to offer is subject to the peaks and troughs in the property market. Fred Harrison, the author of Boom Bust and other books predicted the crash of 2008 in 2005. He has recently being speaking to Joshua Philipp, a journalist for the International publication the Epoch Times. You can read the full article here. Some highlights from the piece are outlined below.

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The tragedy of poverty

You have to be pretty desperate to set yourself alight, as a young vegetable seller in Tunisia did in 2010, sparking the Arab Spring which has brought so much hardship in the Arab world, and now onto the shores of Europe. Tunisia itself seemed to offer a glimmer of hope that it had not all been in vain, but the Sunday Times reported (28/02/2016) that already this year there have been 17 self-immolations and 120 last year in protest at corruption and poverty.

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South Africa belongs to all who live in it

There is no excuse for this failure. As the authors of the recently published book Our Land, Our Rent, Our Jobs note, until 2004 most of the municipalities raised revenue by a direct charge on the imputed rent of land. This model, if generalised by central government, would have made it possible to abolish the treadmill taxes that deprive people of jobs and the decent living standards that they would otherwise provide for themselves.

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Is a better tax system possible?

This question was posed in a review of Our Land, Our Rent, Our Jobs in Moneyweb, on a Johannesburg-based website. The reviewer, Ciaran Ryan, acknowledges the difficulty: ‘There is so much invested in the current tax system that it is hard to imagine an alternative. The cost of administering SA revenue systems is about R10 billion a year, and there are an estimated 2 000 registered tax professionals lumping another R1 billion on top of that as fees. A far greater cost is the combined hours and expense incurred by companies, executives, lawyers and the courts dealing with tax matters. That’s a stubborn oak to cut down.’

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The housing crisis and land development

In his recent article “How to Fix the Housing Crisis” in Prospect Magazine, Andrew Adonis argues that the public sector must use its underdeveloped land to provide new housing which is badly needed. He concludes his article: “It is bold state action—central and local government leading development in partnership with the private and voluntary sectors, not abdicating its responsibilities to them—which will resolve the housing crisis. With its vast ownership of land, and its powers to plan, develop and finance, government can get the job done, and it has no one else to blame for inaction. It’s simple, really.”

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Is economic rent sufficient to fund a modern state?

Just how substantial that is, is indicated by the fact that the Hong Kong government is able to fund major infrastructure projects, such as its underground railway and new airport, and education (free from 6-16, with subsidies for Nursery Schools, and higher education through a system of loans/grants for those who cannot afford it) without incurring the high levels of debt burdening most modern economies.

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The case for taxing land

The case for taxing land has been raised in a number of articles recently. For example, The Economist leader (4th April) argued that ‘governments should impose higher taxes on the value of land’, pointing out that ‘land taxes are efficient’ and ‘difficult to dodge’. It also noted the important distinction between property taxes, such as the Council Tax, which values the building and the land on which it stands, whereas a land-value tax values the land only. The former discourages investment because it would push up the tax payable. A land-value tax does not have that negative effect, on the contrary a land-value tax ‘creates an incentive to develop unused sites’. A land-value tax is also a means of automatically recovering for the public purse expenditure on infrastructure through the uplift in land values consequent upon the investment.

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Land Reform through Taxation in South Africa

Further Reading: Our Land, Our Rent, Our Jobs by Stephen Meintjes and Michael Jacques “How do 52 million South Africans share equitably in their 122 million hectares, especially when those hectares vary so enormously in value?” asks the Johannesburg Star. The danger...

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Rethinking Economics

Shepheard-Walwyn will be participating in the Book Fair at the annual Rethinking Economics Conference at Greenwich University in London on the 27th-28th of June. This is the third annual conference that aims to inspire people to rethink the future of economics in...

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