Mark Wadsworth

This is a spare 'blog in case my main 'blog at markwadsworth.blogspot.com isn't working

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (135)

From here:

Proximity is a two-way relationship but Georgists attempt to use it to justify a one-way transfer of wealth. Real estate prices are, indeed, largely a matter of location — but there’s no way to argue that one’s proximity to the rest of the community creates an obligation to reimburse the community, since the community also derives value from people (such as one’s self) being in proximity to it. Me being close to you necessarily implies that you, likewise, are close to me. There’s no getting around that for Georgists. Sorry.

He’s not thought this one through, as he?

The point is that land ownership is a “one-way transfer of wealth” from “the community” to land owners. He says so himself with this: “Real estate prices are, indeed, largely a matter of location — but there’s no way to argue that one’s proximity to the rest of the community creates an obligation to reimburse the community…”

He clearly finds it acceptable for people who want to live in an area to have to reimburse the land owners in that area in higher rents or prices, but why do land owners (as a class) have a greater right to benefit from people’s proximity to each other than the people themselves? Land Value Tax would merely cancel out the existing “one-way transfer of wealth” with an equal and opposite cash payment from “land owners” back to “the community”.

Where the confusion may arise is that the categories overlap: many members of “the community” are also land owners, and most land owners are also members of “the community” (unless they live abroad, for example). So if the proceeds of a tax on land values is dished out again as a Citizen’s Income, people would pay £x and receive £y, for most it would net off to within a couple of thousand pounds either way and the total cash which would actually change hands is only about a sixth of total theoretical revenues.

If by a sheer coincidence, it turned out that the value of the land everybody owned/occupied was exactly proportional to his contribution to “the community” (however measured), then there would be less moral justification for such a tax, but such a state of affairs is unlikely to ever happen, and if it did, it would only be for a few hours.

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