Thursday, 11 November 2010

A nation ... held back by vested interests?

Here's just one fundamental reason for introducing land value tax ... "In a world of internationally mobile capital and people it is counterproductive to tax personal income and corporate profit to uncompetitive levels ... but a progressive alternative is to shift the tax base to property and land which cannot run away and represent, in Britain, an extreme concentration of wealth" (Vince Cable, Business Secretary, 22nd September 2010).

But there is one fundamental reason why they will not do it ... and that's the self-interest/greed of a very small minority, who own the vast majority of land, and wealth, in the UK.  Over 69 per cent of the UK is owned by 0.6 per cent of the population, or more pertinently 

  • 158,000 families own 41 million acres of land, whilst
  • 24 million families live on the four million acres of the urban plot. 
    No other country in Europe, apart from Spain, has such an unequal concentration of land ownership. The single wealthiest landowner is the Duke of Westminster, who owns hundreds of acres of prime real estate and land in Belgravia and Mayfair ... and the "cousinhood", a secretive network of 6,000 aristocratic families and their relatives who, through intermarriage, continue to own much of the land of the British Isles, still exert influence and control through the political parties, the House of Lords, Oxford and Cambridge, the Crown and the armed forces.

    And, contrary to popular belief, there is no shortage of available and uncultivated land in Britain - the landowners' estates are vast and, in areas such as the Cotswolds and parts of Scotland, say, omnipresent. What Britain suffers from, especially in the south-east of England, is a shortage of land on which houses are allowed to be built (e.g. the "green belt" around London massively inflates the prices of property in London ... which the Duke of Westminster has profited very well from). 

    As a result, the urban plot becomes ever more congested, land values and property prices continue to grow - because scarcity of land attracts a premium value - and our young people, many of them debt-burdened from their university years or struggling to find work in a recession, cannot afford to buy a flat, let alone a house. This forces them into the twilight world of short-term rents and disreputable landlords.

    Given that there is a direct correlation between land scarcity and high house prices, why isn't land reform more urgently debated today? Why are our political and media elites so reluctant to investigate new ways of taxing unearned income, especially at this time of extreme austerity, when Britain already has the fourth-highest marginal tax rates?

    Because those same people, who sit in the shadows (but quietly wield their power) also exert   influence and control over most politicians and those in mainstream media too ... n.b. it is also massively inflated house prices that allow bankers to profiteer from driving young people and families heavily into debt, whilst allowing 'speculation' to continue (at taxpayers expense) from money 'created' out of thin air too (resulting in the 'growth' of 'financial services' using 'fractional reserve banking') ... so not so hard to answer really ... however, they do not control the internet (although they a trying to do so)!