Housing Scam - The Figures - discuss

burns_curtis john.burns-curtis at bigfoot.com
Wed Jan 23 18:07:37 GMT 2002

> How much does a home cost to build?

> Most of the money we pay for a house 
> goes towards the land value that the
> house is built on, ie. the planning permission.

Land Value Tax. Georgists (Henry George the 19th century economist), 
claim that LVT will ensure a fair distribution of land as large 
landowners would find it economically unviable and sell up.  Land 
will the find its true value.


Here is a piece by Henry George on only taxing land values and land 
values only:-


I shall briefly state the fundamental principles of what we who 
advocate it call the Single Tax.

We propose to abolish all taxes save one single tax levied on the 
value of land, irrespective of the value of the improvements in or on 

What we propose is not a tax on real estate, for real estate includes 
improvements. Nor is it a tax on land, for we would not tax all land, 
but only land having a value irrespective of its improvements, and 
would tax that in proportion to that value.

Our plan involves the imposition of no new tax, since we already tax 
land values in taxing real estate. To carry it out we have only to 
abolish all taxes save the tax on real estate, and to abolish all of 
that which now falls on buildings or improvements, leaving only that 
part of it which now falls on the value of the bare land, increasing 
that so as to take as nearly as may be the whole of economic rent, or 
what is sometimes styled the "unearned increment of land values."

That the value of the land alone would suffice to provide all needed 
public revenues-municipal, county, State, and national-there is no 

To show briefly why we urge this change, let me treat (1) of its 
expediency, and (2) of its justice.

>From The Single Tax We May Expect These Advantages:

1. It would dispense with a whole army of tax gatherers and other 
officials which present taxes require, and place in the treasury a 
much larger proportion, of what is taken from the people, while by 
making government simpler and cheaper, it would tend to make it 
purer. It would get rid of taxes which necessarily promote fraud, 
perjury, bribery, and corruption, which lead men into temptation, and 
which tax what the nation can least afford to spare-honesty and 
conscience. Since land lies out-of-doors and cannot be removed, and 
its value is the most readily ascertained of all values, the tax to 
which we would resort can be collected with the minimum of cost and 
the least strain on public morals.

2. It Would Enormously Increase The Production Of Wealth-

(a) By the removal of the burdens that now weigh upon industry and 
thrift. If we tax houses, there will be fewer and poorer houses; if 
we tax machinery, there will be less machinery; if we tax trade, 
there will be less trade; if we tax capital, there will be less 
capital; if we tax savings there will be less savings. All the taxes 
therefore that we should abolish are those that repress industry and 
lessen wealth. But if we tax land values, there will be no less land.

(b) On the contrary, the taxation of land values has the effect of 
making land more easily available by industry, since it makes it more 
difficult for owners of valuable land which they themselves do not 
care to use to hold it idle for a large future price. While the 
abolition of taxes on labour and the products of labour would free 
the active element of production, the taking of land values by 
taxation would free the passive element by destroying speculative 
land values and preventing the holding out of use of land needed for 
use. If any one will but look around today and see the unused or but 
half-used land, the idle labour, the unemployed or poorly employed 
capital, he will get some idea of how enormous would be the 
production of wealth were all the forces of production free to engage.

(c) The taxation of the processes and products of labour on one hand, 
and the insufficient taxation of land values on the other, produce an 
unjust distribution of wealth which is building up in the hands of a 
few, fortunes more monstrous than the world has ever before seen, 
while the masses of our people are steadily becoming relatively 
poorer. These taxes necessarily fall on the poor more heavily than on 
the rich; by increasing prices, they necessitate a larger capital in 
all businesses, and consequently give an advantage to large capitals; 
and they give, and in some cases are designed to give, special 
advantage and monopolies to combinations and trusts. On the other 
hand, the insufficient taxation of land values enables men to make 
large fortunes by land speculation and the increase of ground values-
fortunes which do not represent any addition by them to the general 
wealth of the community, but merely the appropriation by some of what 
the labour of others' creates.

This unjust distribution of wealth develops on the one hand a class 
idle and wasteful because they are too rich, and on the other hand a 
class idle and wasteful because they are too poor. It deprives men of 
capital and opportunities which would make them more efficient users. 
It thus greatly diminishes production.

(d) The unjust distribution which is giving us the hundredfold 
millionaire on the one side and the tramp and pauper on the other, 
generates thieves, gamblers and social parasites of all kinds, and 
requires large expenditure of money and energy in watchmen, 
policemen, courts, prisons, and other means of defence and 
repression. It kindles a greed of gain and a worship of wealth, and 
produces a bitter struggle for existence which fosters drunkenness, 
increases insanity, and causes men whose energies ought to be devoted 
to honest production to spend their time and strength in cheating and 
grabbing from each other. Besides the moral loss, all this involves 
an enormous economic loss which the Single Tax would save.

(e) The taxes we would abolish fall most heavily on the poorer 
agricultural districts, and tend to drive population and wealth from 
them to the great cities. The tax we would increase would destroy 
that monopoly of land which is the great cause of that distribution 
of population which is crowding the people too closely together in 
some places and scattering them too far apart in other places. 
Families live on top of one another in cities because of the enormous 
speculative prices at which vacant lots are held. In the country they 
are scattered too far apart for social intercourse and convenience, 
because, instead of each taking what land he can use, every one who 
can grabs all he can get, in the hope of profiting by its increase of 
value, and the next man must pass farther on. Thus we have scores of 
families living under a single roof, and other families flying in 
dugouts on the prairies afar from neighbours-some living too close to 
each other for moral, mental, or physical health, and others too far 
separated for the stimulating and refining influences of society. The 
wastes in health, in mental vigour, and in unnecessary transportation 
result in great economic losses which the Single Tax would save.


Let us turn to the moral side and consider the question of justice. 
The right of property does not rest on human laws; they have often 
ignored and violated it. It rests on natural laws-that is to say, the 
law of God. It is clear and absolute, and every violation of it, 
whether committed by a man or a nation, is a violation of the 
command, "Thou shalt not steal." The man who catches a fish, grows an 
apple, raises a calf, builds a house, makes a coat, paints a picture, 
constructs a machine, has, as to any such thing, an exclusive right 
of ownership which carries with it the right to give, to sell or 
bequeath that thing.

But who made the earth that any man can claim such ownership of it, 
or any part of it, or the right to give, sell or bequeath it? Since 
the earth was not made by us, but is only a temporary dwelling place 
on which one generation of men follow another; since we find 
ourselves here, are manifestly here with equal permission of the 
Creator, it is manifest that no one can have any exclusive right of 
ownership in land, and that the rights of all men to land must be 
equal and inalienable. There must be an exclusive right of possession 
of land, for the man who uses it must have secure possession of land 
in order to reap the products of his labour. But his right of 
possession must be limited by the equal right of all and should 
therefore be conditioned on the payment to the community by the 
possessor of an equivalent for any special valuable privilege thus 
accorded him.

When we tax houses, crops, money, furniture, capital or wealth in any 
of its forms, we take from individuals what rightfully belongs to 
them. We violate the right of property, and in the name of the State 
commit robbery. But when we tax ground values, we take from 
individuals what does not belong to them, but belongs to the 
community, and which cannot be left to individuals without the 
robbery of other individuals.

Think what the value of land is. It has no reference to the cost of 
production, as has the value of houses, horses, ships, clothes, and 
other things produced by labour, for land is not produced by man, it 
was created by God. The value of land does not come from the exertion 
of labour on land, for the value thus produced is a value of 
improvement. That value attaches to any piece of land means that that 
piece of land is more desirable than the land which other citizens 
may obtain, and that they are more willing to pay a premium for 
permission to use it. Justice therefore requires that this premium of 
value shall be taken for the benefit of all in order to secure to all 
their equal rights.

Consider the difference between the value of a building and the value 
of land. The value of a building, like the value of goods, or of 
anything properly styled wealth, is produced by individual exertion, 
and therefore properly belong to the individual; but the value of 
land only arises with the growth and improvement of the community, 
and therefore properly belongs to the community. It is not because of 
what its owners have done, but because of the presence of the whole 
great population, that land in New York is worth millions an acre. 
This value therefore is the proper fund for defraying the common 
expenses of the whole population; and it must be taken for public 
use, under penalty of generating land speculation and monopoly which 
will bring about artificial scarcity where the Creator has provided 
in abundance for all whom His providence has called into existence. 
It is thus a violation of justice to tax labour, or the things 
produced by labour, and it is also a violation of justice not to tax 
land values.

These are the fundamental reasons for which we urge the Single Tax, 
believing it to be the greatest and most fundamental of all reforms. 
We do not think it will change human nature. That man can never do; 
but it will bring about conditions in which human nature can develop 
what is best, instead of as now in so many cases, what is worst. It 
will permit such an enormous production as we can now hardly 
conceive. It will secure an equitable distribution. It will solve the 
labour problem and dispel the darkening clouds which are now 
gathering over the horizon of our civilisation. It will make 
undeserved poverty an unknown thing. It will check the soul-
destroying greed of gain. It will enable men to be at least as 
honest, as true, as considerate, and as high-minded as they would 
like to be. It will remove temptation to lying, false swearing, 
bribery, and law breaking. It will open to all, even the poorest, the 
comforts and refinements and opportunities of an advancing 
civilisation. It will thus, so we reverently believe, clear the way 
for the coming of that kingdom of right and justice, and consequently 
of abundance and peace and happiness, for which the Master told His 
disciples to pray and work. It is not that it is a promising 
invention or cunning device that we look for the Single Tax to do all 
this; but it is because it involves a conforming of the most 
important and fundamental adjustments of society to the supreme law 
of justice, because it involves the basing of the most important of 
our laws on the principle that we should do to others as we would be 
done by.

The readers of this article, I may fairly presume, believe, as I 
believe, that there is a world for us beyond this. The limit of space 
has prevented me from putting before them more than some hints for 
thought. Let me in conclusion present two more:

1. What would be the result in heaven itself if those who get there 
first instituted private property in the surface of heaven, and 
parcelled it out in absolute ownership among themselves, as we parcel 
out the surface of the earth?

2. Since we cannot conceive of a heaven in which the equal rights of 
God's children to their Father's bounty is denied, as we now deny 
them on this earth, what is the duty enjoined on Christians by the 
daily prayer: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is 
in heaven?"

Tony Gosling
10-12 Picton Street
+44 (0)117 944 6219

tony at gaia.org

"US foreign policy can be defined as follows: 'Kiss my arse or I'll 
your head in.'"  Harold Pinter --- see

Pinter neglects to mention it is run by a private business club: The
Council on Foreign Relations --- 

ps. If you get the "S" and the "11" and superimpose them you get a 
dollar sign. Coincidence of course!

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