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16 Dec 2012 | Written by

The Fair Tax review

The new internet magazine Justice carries a review of The Fair Tax stating ‘This slim volume argues for a tax which could do more to bring about social and economic justice than any other step a government could take.’

Unfortunately Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, ignored the advice in his Budget statement last week.  To read the full review click here and turn to page 39.

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05 Dec 2012 | Written by

Site Value Tax Is The Fair Tax

Further Reading:

The Fair Tax
by Emer Ó Siochrú

This message is from the Irish Site Value Tax campaign, which started the petition “Finance Minister, Michael Noonan: Stop the government imposing an unfair residential property tax in the 2013 Budget.”:

The 5th of December is budget day and all the leaks from the government would indicate that the government went against their own best advice and opted for a value based, residential, property tax instead of a Site Value Tax. This petition is an attempt to hold the government to account for their actions or lack there of, on this issue. If we must have some sort of property tax we want the government to know that a Site Value Tax is a much better option for all involved. To find our more about SVT click here.

Send this to as many people as you can by email, facebook and twitter today! If we just get two people each and they get two people each, we will have a couple of thousand signatures by Friday, the 7th of December.

Thank you very much for your support on the important issue of property tax.

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30 Oct 2012 | Written by

The Traumatised Society: How to Outlaw Cheating and Save our Civilisation

Further Reading:

The Traumatised Society
by Fred Harrison

The launch of our latest book, The Traumatised Society: How to Outlaw Cheating and Save our Civilisation was held in St James’s Church, Piccadilly on 28th October. The author, Fred Harrison, explained the threat to Western civilisation from rent-seeking, which he identified as the cause of the collapse of great civilisations in the past.

The opening paragraph of an article by John Kay in the Financial Times (27th Dec 2009) gives a succinct explanation of rent-seeking: ‘You can become wealthy by creating wealth or by appropriating the wealth created by other people. When the appropriation of the wealth is illegal it is called theft or fraud. When it is legal economists call it rent-seeking.’

Harrison identifies rent-seeking as cheating and shows how it may be outlawed so that our civilisation need not suffer the same fate as others. To avoid the unpleasant consequences of that fate, he advocates a great awakening because we cannot rely on politicians, policy-makers and economists to lead us out of danger. We have to take our future into our own hands.

‘Many people are all too aware that there is something badly wrong with our current economic system, but they are less clear about how it got so bad, what an alternative might look like, and how we can make the change. This profound book admirably fills that gap.’ Bernadette Meaden in Ekklesia

The launch was the first in a series of events to help stimulate the great awakening. Future events already scheduled are:

January 26th 2013  School of Economic Science, 11 Mandeville Place, London W1U 3AJ

April 6th 2013  St Mary Aldermary, City of London

May 4th 2013  Christ Church Blackfriars Rd. London SE1

June 1st 2013,  St James, Piccadilly, London W1

Extracts from the Traumatised Society were read by the actors, Jemma Redgrave, Jennifer Wiltsie and Carlo Nero (Vanessa Redgrave’s son).

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13 Oct 2012 | Written by

A Principled Approach to Economics

Further Reading:

Progress and Poverty
by Henry George

‘One of the few benign consequences of last year’s financial crisis’, wrote Anatole Kaletsky in The Times (28/10/2009), ‘was the exposure of modern economics as an emperor with no clothes.’ If this is true, to what can we turn in our search for a new economic paradigm?

If we look back to the classical economists, we find that they too were addressing the same question for their time – it is not a new question. Their approach differed from modern economists in that they started from the premise that there are natural laws or principles which pre-exist man, which man may discover and apply in the economic sphere. The title of Adam Smith’s Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations reveals this approach.

Likewise, in The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation David Ricardo sought the principles which govern economics, but he considered ‘the principal problem of Political Economy’ not to be the creation of wealth, as Adam Smith and modern economists do, but to determine the laws which regulate its distribution.

Henry George’s Progress and Poverty sought the cause of growing wealth in the 19th century side by side with dire poverty, again addressing the issue of the distribution of wealth.

These same problems face us to today. The attached paper, A Principled Approach to Economics, explores whether the approach and insights of the classical economists offer us any help in our present predicament.


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24 Sep 2012 | Written by

The Fair Tax: a discussion at Trinity College

Further Details:

The Fair Tax was launched in Dublin on 18th September  and will be discussed at an event at Trinity College, Dublin on 24th September at 7.30 pm. After the event, the Frontline team (a popular current affairs programme on RTE 1) have agreed to allow time on their programme to discuss SVT in the wider context of the Irish government not discussing or engaging with the public on important issues.  The programme starts at 10.30 pm.

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24 Sep 2012 | Written by

Why people fail to understand Land Value Taxation

To those who know and love Land Value Tax (LVT) the case for it seems self-explanatory, compelling and unanswerable. Yet strangely it all too often turns out to be a very hard sell. Present economic theory rests on false assumptions established so long ago that people have forgotten what they are. So the difficulty in explaining the immediate relevance of LVT is that one has to clarify first principles at the same time. This is not so easy. An audience waiting to hear how to revive the economy will not want to be asked to revise basic concepts they think they already know.

Read more here.

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22 Aug 2012 | Written by

The Fair Tax

Paperback Price £ 11.95

  • ISBN: 9780856832901
  • Pages: 170pp
  • Size: 210mm x 148mm
  • Available: the 9th of September 2012

Buy this book:
Shepheard-Walwyn Store

Editor Details:

Emer Ó Siochrú, a registered architect and a development & planning valuation surveyor, is owner director of EOS Future Design. She has served on the boards of a number of statutory bodies and was a founder member and director of Feasta (the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability) until 2011. In her spare time, she runs the Smart Tax Network for fiscal policy development.

The tax regime in Ireland, Colm McCarthy points out in his Preface, has been very favourable to property owners, but especially to developers who, together with their banks, took maximum advantage. It fuelled the disastrous property boom with the huge development-site debts racked up by a handful of avaricious developers, and led directly to the Irish state having to shore up the collapsing banks.

…This slim volume argues for a tax which could do more to bring about social and economic justice than any other step a government could take. The authors believe that Ireland is in danger of missing a golden opportunity to lead the way.

Review by Bernadette Meaden, Justice Magazine 2012

Under pressure from the Troika rather than from a conviction of its merits, the Irish government is belatedly introducing a property tax. Instead, however, of targeting irresponsible developers, speculators and banks, the government is planning to bail them out again by excluding their land hoards and undeveloped sites from the new property tax. So that they can continue to pay nothing, ordinary home owners will have to pay at least 20% extra tax every year.

The argument put forward in this book is that how property is taxed can make a big difference both to government and the taxpayer. Most commonly property taxes are based on the full improved value of the property, but this means penalising those who improve their property. Basing property taxes on site value alone avoids this and encourages economic activity. It is an efficient tax both in terms of the low cost to the government in collecting it and to the taxpayer in paying it. It is fair and naturally progressive because the more valuable sites, paying higher taxes, will be occupied by the wealthier who will not be able to avoid it through tax havens etc.

Other Contributors:

Colm McCarthy has worked at the Economic and Social Research Institute, the Central Bank of Ireland and has undertaken assignments for the EU Commission and for the World Bank. Since 2005, he has been lecturing in Economics at UCD.

Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev, the Head of Research for St. Columbanus AG, and Adjunct Professor of Finance at Trinity College, Dublin. He was the author of the Macroeconomic Case for a Land Value Tax Reform in Ireland submitted to the Taxation Commission.

Ronan Lyons is an economist with experience in urban economics, public policy, national competitiveness, property markets and economic development. He is author of the Report and an economic consultant and commentator.

Judy Osborne, has served on numerous local government committees. She is currently working as an independent environmental planning consultant campaigning for responsible development and for Site Value Tax.

Dave Wetzel is CEO of Transforming Communities, a transport, housing, land tax consultancy he founded in 2008. For 8 years he was Vice-Chair of Transport for London. He is now serving as President of the ‘Labour Land Campaign’.

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09 Aug 2012 | Written by

How intelligent taxes can stimulate growth

Further Reading:

Re-solving the Economic Puzzle
by Walter Rybeck

Rick [Rick Rybeck, director of Just Economics, Washington, D.C. (, is a former transportation and public revenue specialist with the District of Columbia government] and Walt Rybeck explain in the current issue of PM, the magazine of the International City/County Management Association in Washington DC, that how property taxes are levied can transform Town Hall finances and boost economic recovery.

“Traditional property tax incentives are upside-down”, they argue. “They impose higher taxes on owners who construct or improve homes and commercial structures. They reduce taxes for owners whose buildings deteriorate. Owners of boarded-up buildings and vacant lots typically pay lower taxes than owners of well-maintained properties.”

For the full article click here.

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06 Jul 2012 | Written by

Can Taxation Be Fair?

Further Reading:

Globalisation for the Common Good
by Kamran Mofid

Public Revenue Without Taxation
by Dr Ronald Burgess

Following the outcry over tax avoidance schemes Anthony Werner was invited to submit a guest blog to the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) site which was established by Dr Kamran Mofid, author of Globalisation for the Common Good.

The Times in London has caused an outcry by publishing a series of articles on the secretive tax avoidance industry, revealing how the rich and famous have resorted to complex schemes. The problem of tax avoidance is nothing new. The problem is that it is only the rich who can afford these schemes. Years ago a retired judge told me that, when he was a top earning QC, his accountant had said to him: ‘Now, Sir Kenneth, you are earning enough not to pay tax’.

Is there a fairer way? Some twenty years ago Dr Ronald Burgess published a book entitled Public Revenue without Taxation. Impossible we might say – after all Benjamin Franklin pointed out that there are only two things certain in life: Death and Taxation. Read more here.

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29 Jun 2012 | Written by

Insight into decision-making at the Rio+20 Earth Summit

Further Reading:

Eradicating Ecocide
by Polly Higgins

Polly Higgins is a barrister, international environmental lawyer and activist. She has spoken at various conferences including the Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change, Anchorage April 2009, The Talberg Forum, Sweden June 2009 and at the People’s Climate Summit during the COP 15 climate negotiations, Copenhagen December 2009. In April 2010 she launched the campaign, which has already alerted thousands to the objective of establishing Ecocide as a crime. The Ecologist magazine voted her one of the ‘World’s Top 10 Visionary Thinkers’, and she has recently been nominated as ‘The Lawyer for Planet Earth’ in the 2010 Performance Awards.

In the past many visionaries and leaders have been lawyers – think of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. So when I arrived at the World Congress on Justice, Law and Governance for Environmental Sustainability (a pre-Rio conference) I was full of hope that just maybe we might be able to come up with some concrete legal solutions (i.e making Ecocide a crime), to halt humanity in its current trajectory of destroying the environment.

The World Congress is a closed-door invitation-only event.  It brought together some of the top legal minds in the world; Attorney-Generals, Chief Prosecutors, Auditors-General, Chief Justices, Senior Judges and other legal practitioners to discuss the role of the law in achieving sustainable development and to create a document to be taken  to world leaders at the Earth Summit.

The event opened on the 17th at the impressive Tribunal de Justica, Rio De Janeiro.  Achim Steiner, the UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, gave an inspiring speech whilst Ricardo Lorenzetti, the Supreme Court Chief Justice of Argentina, made clear the importance of the judiciary in ensuring governments do not  renege on their promises. We then took a shuttle bus 100 km out of Rio to the Portabello Resort in Mangaratiba; where surrounded by luscious green mountains and a palm tree-lined private beach, it was quite easy to forget the urgency of addressing the critical issues humanity and the Earth are facing.

In Mangaratiba the first day opened with Bakary Kante, UNEP’s Director of the Division of Environmental Conventions. He is a clear leader with a strong moral radar. Kante emphasised that the outcome of the World Congress “must mark environmental law history” and that “we cannot have an elephant give birth to a mouse”. The following days were long, and heated discussions took place relating to the nexus between human rights and environmental rights, and the need to identify transnational environmental crimes. In these sessions I emphasised the need to create a crime of Ecocide which led to fruitful discussions; it was evident that there was much support for the idea. I also took up Bakary Kante’s call for participants to put in writing any substantial proposals to be included in the final outcome document.  It was then up to fate. Whilst a select few disappeared behind closed doors to determine the content of the final document, we were left with Bobby McFerrin’s classic tune being strummed on a guitar with the hopeful words ringing in our ears, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Read More …

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