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.
At a recent event, the Council of Georgist Organizations Conference, Anthony Werner and Fred Harrison were honoured for their contributions to Ethical Economics.
This week marks the 10th anniversary of the event that triggered the 2007/8 crisis and the ensuing Great Recession. But it need not have happened. In November 1997 Fred Harrison, author of Boom Bust and The Power in the Land, wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Press Secretary, Alistair Campbell, to warn them about a ‘housing crisis that would end up in a depression’. No notice was taken. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, even boasted in each of his Budget speeches, including April 2007, that “we will never return to the old boom and bust”.
This is the dilemma facing the British government – and many others – as they struggle to meet the rising costs of the welfare state while trying to eliminate the budget deficit. The options are either to increase taxation, never a popular move, or to increase borrowing. The cost of the former will fall on present taxpayers, the latter on future generations and the young of today who are being wooed by Jeremy Corbyn.
By Tom Burgess: The British people want change, we voted for change. And we will continue to vote for change until we get it. Theresa May said on her first day as Prime Minister that she wanted a government that works for all the people not just the privileged few and then proceeded to do nothing about it.
We are delighted to congratulate Fred Harrison on the receipt of his Best Achievement Award. After June’s election result it is clear that many of the UK’s population are no longer supportive of the Conservatives’ austerity measures and are looking for a way to introduce equality and reduce poverty. This book outlines a way this might be achieved.
In his first budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer had the opportunity to set a course for Britain’s prosperity post Brexit and to help Mrs May achieve her goal of making Britain a country that works for everyone, while reducing the budget deficit. Instead the measures he proposed caused a storm of protest.
New Zealand holds a rather special status in that it was notably the first country to introduce a system of land-value taxation for raising revenue. It was adopted in 1849, some 30 years before Henry George published Progress and Poverty, and finally abandoned in the 1980s.
Rent Unmasked has been chosen for the Winter 2016/17 heat of The People’s Book Prize for Non-Fiction. This competition is based purely on public votes – so we need your help. Successful books from the heats are entered into the final, which occurs annually. [voting now closed].
BREXIT was a gift to the peoples of Europe by those in Britain who voted to leave the European Union, argue the authors of Beyond Brexit: The Blueprint. As a consequence of the referendum decision, the EU is undertaking a review of the crises facing Europe. At their meeting in Rome in March 2017, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, governments from 27 countries – with the UK absent – will receive a plan from Brussels on how to address the problems which, in large measure, were due to fundamental flaws in the way the European project evolved.
There were almost daily warnings following the shock Brexit result that Britain would be heading for a recession. Responding to this the Bank of England cut interest rates to a historic low of 0.25%. So fixated are economists on monetary policy to boost economic activity that little attention has been given to how tax reform could deliver better results. Two of our recent releases contain answers to the problem of the shrinking economy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.