[diggers350] Winston Churchill as LVT mascot

Mark Brown markibrown at hotmail.com
Sat Mar 13 13:46:05 GMT 2004

yes, but betterment tax development value on high rental land values say in 
central urban areas. Like where the Jubilee line extension caused high 
increases in land value along it's route after it was built, or a tax on 
land held onto by housing developers/property speculators which has planning 
permission on it, for the reason that these developers slowly release areas 
for house build at such a slow dribble that it keeps the housing supply at a 
level where demand continues to exceed supply and so keeps house prices up


>From: "diggers350" <tony at gaia.org>
>To: diggers350 at yahoogroups.com
>Subject: [diggers350] Winston Churchill as LVT mascot
>Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 10:34:52 -0000
>I didn't initially realise that chunks of the article Wolf wrote for the 
>  were relying on old Winston (a man badly in need of a mohican).
>I know that this is a boring issue for many. I have sat and watched people 
>nodding off or simply leaving the room while grim LVT campaigners try to 
>ngelise their audience. Now you know why - Winston approves.
>Dividing and tenanting out big estates at peppercorn rents. Then 
>ng the freehold makes much more sense than using LVT.
>(FT article)
>The Property Tax is Messy -- Simply Tax Land Value Instead
>Why on earth not put a tax on land?
>by Martin Wolf
>"Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light 
>rns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in 
>the mountains - and all the while the landlord sits still . . . To not one 
>f those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, 
>ute . . . He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to 
>the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his 
>n enrichment is derived."
>Thus did Winston Churchill explain, in 1909, the morality and the 
>y of taxing land (or pure location), rather than development. It is moral 
>cause owners, as owners (rather than managers or developers), contribute 
>hing to land's value. It is efficient, because taxing land distorts 
>  choices. On the contrary, a tax on site values encourages owners to use 
>t they own more efficiently.
>Always desirable, a land value tax is now an idea whose time has come. As 
>ohn Muellbauer of the University of Oxford notes, a tax on site values has 
>he following hugely desirable features in contemporary Britain: it offers a 
>tax base that cannot run away, unlike capital or labour; it encourages 
>ed development; it imposes the greatest cost of holding undeveloped land 
>re prices, and so values in alternative uses, are highest; it captures for 
>he public purse a part of the benefits accruing to landowners from those 
>estments in infrastructure and other amenities made by the public sector; 
>d it makes the cost of speculation higher, improving the country's 
>n of resources.
>Uniform site-value or land-value taxation is a "no-brainer". But what 
>  it particularly attractive today is its superiority to other taxes now 
>sed on property.
>The council tax and the uniform business rate are imposed on land that is 
>oth occupied and developed. These taxes encourage dereliction and 
>  development. Council tax has the additional disadvantage of being imposed 
>t higher rates on the cheaper properties in poorer places, thereby 
>ng the perverse regional effects of differential user costs of housing. 
>n, stamp duty, now at the steep level of 4 per cent on properties worth 
>  than £500,000, is a tax on transactions. But why would anyone wish to 
>  mobility and reduce liquidity in this way?
>What the UK needs, then, is a national tax on the value of land holdings. 
>s is pointed out in the interim report on housing supply by Kate Barker of 
>he Bank of England's monetary policy committee, discussed here a fortnight 
>go, Denmark does already imposes just such a tax.
>If, as seems plausible, the country should move in this direction only 
>iously, the obvious place to start is with the uniform business rate. Prof 
>uellbauer suggests we could reform the business rate by halving the rate 
>  replacing the lost part with a land value element. A floor value might be 
>et at, say, £10,000 a hectare, which would exempt most farmland. He also 
>gests that a tax below 1 per cent a year would be sufficient.
>What are the objections to such a modest reform? One would be that it is 
>rd to value the land component in property values. But insurance valuations 
>might be used to place a value on structures, in which case land value is 
>mply total value less the value of the structures on it. Another objection 
>s that such a tax would impose cash costs on people with no incomes. A 
>bility here, also applicable to current discussions of reform of council 
>, is to roll up tax and recoup it when the asset is sold, developed or 
>In the long run, a national land value tax, at a uniform rate, seems at 
>st a partial substitute for council tax as well. For the moment, however, 
>e big point is that the taxation of property is a mess. This is one reason 
>he housing market and regional policy work so poorly. National land-value 
>xation is a part of the solution. It is both fair and efficient. It should 
>e adopted.
>Churchill's speech (double snore!)
>or  http://www.taxreform.com.au/essays/churchil.htm
>Winston Churchill on Land Monopoly
>Speech made to the House of Commons on May 4, 1909.
>Land monopoly is not the only monopoly, but it is by far the greatest of 
>nopolies -- it is a perpetual monopoly, and it is the mother of all other 
>rms of monopoly.
>Unearned increments in land are not the only form of unearned or 
>  profit, but they are the principal form of unearned increment, and they 
>  derived from processes which are not merely not beneficial, but 
>positively =
>detrimental to the general public.
>Land, which is a necessity of human existence, which is the original 
>  of all wealth, which is strictly limited in extent, which is fixed in 
>aphical position -- land, I say, differs from all other forms of property, 
>nd the immemorial customs of nearly every modern state have placed the 
>e, transfer, and obligations of land in a wholly different category from 
>er classes of property.
>      Nothing is more amusing than to watch the efforts of land monopolists 
>to claim that other forms of property and increment are similar in all 
>cts to land and the unearned increment on land.
>      They talk of the increased profits of a doctor or lawyer from the 
>th of population in the town in which they live. They talk of the profits 
>  a railway, from the growing wealth and activity in the districts through 
>ich it runs. They talk of the profits from a rise in stocks and even the 
>fits derived from the sale of works of art.
>      But see how misleading and false all those analogies are. The 
>s from the sale of a picture -- a Van Dyke or a Holbein -- may be very 
>derable. But pictures do not get in anybody's way. They do not lay a toll 
>  anybody's labor; they do not touch enterprise and production; they do not 
>ffect the creative processes on which the material well-being of millions 
>      If a rise in stocks confers profits on the fortunate holders far 
>d what they expected or indeed deserved, nevertheless that profit was not 
>aped by withholding from the community the land which it needs; on the 
>ary, it was reaped by supplying industry with the capital without which it 
>ould not be carried on.
>      If a railway makes greater profits it is usually because it carries 
>re goods and more passengers.
>      If a doctor or a lawyer enjoys a better practice, it is because the 
>ctor attends more patients and more exacting patients, and because the 
>r pleads more suits in the courts and more important suits. At every stage 
>he doctor or the lawyer is giving service in return for his fees.
>      Fancy comparing these healthy processes with the enrichment which 
>s to the landlord who happens to own a plot of land on the outskirts of a 
>eat city, who watches the busy population around him making the city 
>  richer, more convenient, more famous every day, and all the while sits 
>l and does nothing.
>      Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric 
>t turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles 
>  in the mountains -- and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one 
>  those improvements is effected by the labor and cost of other people and 
>e taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as 
>  land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of 
>his =
>land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes 
>hing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from 
>h his own enrichment is derived.
>      While the land is what is called "ripening" for the unearned 
>  of its owner, the merchant going to his office and the artisan going to 
>  work must detour or pay a fare to avoid it. The people lose their chance 
>  using the land, the city and state lose the taxes which would have 
>accrued =
>if the natural development had taken place, and all the while the land 
>olist only has to sit still and watch complacently his property multiplying 
>in value, sometimes many fold, without either effort or contribution on his 
>      But let us follow this process a little further. The population of 
>  city grows and grows, the congestion in the poorer quarters becomes 
>acute, =
>rents rise and thousands of families are crowded into tenements. At last 
>  land becomes ripe for sale -- that means that the price is too tempting 
>to =
>be resisted any longer. And then, and not until then, it is sold by the 
>  or by the inch at 10 times, or 20 times, or even 50 times its 
>agricultural =
>      The greater the population around the land, the greater the injury 
>  public has sustained by its protracted denial. And, the more 
>inconvenience =
>caused to everybody; the more serious the loss in economic strength and 
>vity -- the larger will be the profit of the landlord when the sale is 
>ly accomplished. In fact, you may say that the unearned increment on the 
>d is reaped by the land monopolist in exact proportion, not to the service, 
>but to the disservice done. It is monopoly which is the keynote, and where 
>onopoly prevails, the greater the injury to society the greater the reward 
>o the monopolist. This evil process strikes at every form of industrial 
>vity. The municipality, wishing for broader streets, better houses, more 
>lthy, decent, scientifically planned towns, is made to pay more to get them 
>in proportion as is has exerted itself to make past improvements. The more 
>t has improved the town, the more it will have to pay for any land it may 
>w wish to acquire for further improvements.
>      The manufacturer proposing to start a new industry, proposing to 
>  a great factory offering employment to thousands of hands, is made to pay 
>uch a price for his land that the purchase price hangs around the neck of 
>s whole business, hampering his competitive power in every market, clogging 
>him far more than any foreign tariff in his export competition, and the 
>  price strikes down through the profits of the manufacturer on to the 
>wages =
>of the worker.
>      No matter where you look or what examples you select, you will see 
>ry form of enterprise, every step in material progress, is only undertaken 
>fter the land monopolist has skimmed the cream for himself, and everywhere 
>oday the man or the public body that wishes to put land to its highest use 
>s forced to pay a preliminary fine in land values to the man who is putting 
>it to an inferior one, and in some cases to no use at all. All comes back 
>  land value, and its owner is able to levy toll upon all other forms of 
>th and every form of industry. A portion, in some cases the whole, of every 
>benefit which is laboriously acquired by the community increases the land 
>lue and finds its way automatically into the landlord's pocket. If there is 
>a rise in wages, rents are able to move forward, because the workers can 
>ord to pay a little more. If the opening of a new railway or new tramway, 
>  the institution of improved services of a lowering of fares, or of a new 
>vention, or any other public convenience affords a benefit to workers in 
>  particular district, it becomes easier for them to live, and therefore 
>the =
>ground landlord is able to charge them more for the privilege of living 
>      Some years ago in London there was a toll bar on a bridge across the 
>hames, and all the working people who lived on the south side of the river 
>ad to pay a daily toll of one penny for going and returning from their 
>  The spectacle of these poor people thus mulcted of so large a proportion 
>  their earnings offended the public conscience, and agitation was set on 
>t, municipal authorities were roused, and at the cost of the taxpayers, the 
>bridge was freed and the toll removed. All those people who used the bridge 
>were saved sixpence a week, but within a very short time rents on the south 
>side of the river were found to have risen about sixpence a week, or the 
>unt of the toll which had been remitted!
>      And a friend of mine was telling me the other day that, in the parish 
>of Southwark, about 350 pounds a year was given away in doles of bread by 
>aritable people in connection with one of the churches. As a consequence of 
>this charity, the competition for small houses and single-room tenements is 
>so great that rents are considerably higher in the parish!
>      All goes back to the land, and the land owner is able to absorb to 
>self a share of almost every public and every private benefit, however 
>tant or however pitiful those benefits may be.
>      I hope you will understand that, when I speak of the land monopolist, 
>I am dealing more with the process than with the individual land owner who, 
>in most cases, is a worthy person utterly unconscious of the character of 
>e methods by which he is enriched. I have no wish to hold any class up to 
>blic disapprobation. I do not think that the man who makes money by 
>  increment in land is morally worse than anyone else who gathers his 
>profit =
>where he finds it in this hard world under the law and according to common 
>sage. It is not the individual I attack; it is the system. It is not the 
>  who is bad; it is the law which is bad. It is not the man who is 
>y for doing what the law allows and what other men do; it is the State 
>  would be blameworthy if it were not to endeavor to reform the law and 
>ct the practice.
>We do not want to punish the landlord.
>We want to alter the law.

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