Mark Wadsworth

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

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (144)

Sobers, who has the attention span of a rather annoying child, played the car-d for the umpteenth time. He refuses to address the difference between how cars come into existence and how land comes into existence and then waffles on endlessly about ‘ownership’, having stared out of the window and picked his nose while teacher was explaining it the last umpteen times, but for those who weren’t paying attention, the Homey or Faux Lib typically re-opens the debate as follows:

“Everything only has value because others can be excluding from having/possessing it. If I cannot enforce ownership of my car what use is it to me, or anyone else?”

The patient Georgist then has to remind the Homey or Faux Lib of how things work in the real world:

“We have covered cars a dozen times, and I do wonder sometimes whether you don’t understand or simply don’t want to – to recap briefly.

1. A car has to be manufactured, individuals have to invest their own skills, time and money into making it. If demand increases, the price does not go up – all that happens is that more cars are made.

2. They exchange the car for the equivalent value of somebody else’s output.

3. A car depreciates over time. Its value does not depend on where it is parked. I cannot increase the value of a car by buying one in Newcastle and parking it in Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset.

4. A car is not created ‘by the community’, title is not created by fencing off a pre-existing car and getting the force of the government on my side.

5. Possession of a car is largely a physical thing. A car with good security, locks etc is worth more than one which can be easily stolen. If your car gets nicked, there is little that the police can do to recover it.

6. And yes, there are areas where the police is quite good at recovering stolen cars and deterring car crime – land values in these areas are higher.

7. As a matter of fact, car owners/users pay full whack £55 billion a year in taxes on depreciating assets worth £350 billion – what they are really paying for is the right to use UK roads. If you take your car abroad, its value is unchanged (barring the LHD RHD debacle) and you pay a commensurate amount of tax elsewhere.

8. If taxes were levied on land and buildings at the same rate as taxes on cars, that’d be enough to replace all other taxes.

“The idea that land is somehow uniquely guaranteed by the existence of society is nonsense.”

Try telling that to an olive grower in the West Bank when the Israeli Defence Force marches in, turfs him out and builds a new Jewish settlement. If he sees them coming, he can flee and take his goats, car, TV, steel ingots, whatever, with him. It is now up to the Israelis to decide who ‘owns’ the land.”

The bored child having stared out of the window while teacher was explaining it then re-sets the clock to where they were five or ten minutes earlier and starts again…

I’m not talking about the in and outs of how cars are made, whether they appreciate or depreciate in value etc etc …Ownership of land is EXACTLY the same in this way, as ownership of anything. If you can’t admit as much there’s no point even continuing to reason with you.

Jesus wept.

If we want to drag legal concepts or man-made law into this, there is a certain hierarchy of ‘ownership’. If somebody has just created something with his own hands and somebody else grabs it and runs away with it, then by the standards of a young child, an animal or the most primitive society, the first person ‘owns’ it and the other person is ‘a thief’. If that somebody else comes along with a lot of his big and tough mates and they grab it, they are still thieves.

But if people bumble around doing their best, creating stuff with their own efforts, and then somebody else comes along and grabs half of it because he has the bigger and tougher mates (which is how income tax works, or how rents are collected), claiming that he has the law on his side, then to whom does that ‘stuff’ belong? The people who made it or the people who took it? Who’s the ‘owner’ and who’s the ‘thief’ in this scenario?

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