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Life in a Geonomic Society

Jeff Smith Share Rent, Transform Society
If society decided to share among its members all the annual value of society's sites and resources and air space, what would happen?  ...

What other social relations might change? Increase land ownership participation in community and it benefits community, with town hall meetings and block parties. Those kinds of communities have less crime.  Read the whole article

Karl Williams:  Social Justice In Australia: INTRODUCTORY KIT
It's fine to know of lofty philosophical considerations, and comforting to know that both social justice and prosperity can be thereby reconciled, but what of ordinary everyday practicalities?

Firstly, in a Geonomic society, the experience of real liberty would pervade everything. For citizens would not be beholden to the government to supply it all sorts of financial and personal information demanded by the tax system. Instead of having to abide by a multitude of tax requirements, the land you occupy would simply be assessed by professional assessors. This would only occur once a year, and the assessors would not even need to step onto your property because it would only be your land and not the improvements that would be assessed.

Gone are the armies of tax accountants, tax lawyers and tax department bureaucrats. Gone are the inefficiencies of speculation, the black economy and its attendant criminal elements. Gone is the pool of unemployed and the cost of supporting it (much more on this later). Gone are many of the social problems arising from unemployment, poverty, despair arising from hopelessness, and resentment resulting from great inequities of wealth. And because of LVT and other eco-taxes apply to all of the Global Commons, we'll live on a much healthier planet - and so will our children.

Instead, in steps an inconceivable prosperity resulting from a dynamic economy that encourages productivity, discourages speculation, is not hampered by high welfare needs, abolishes privilege, and doesn't undersell our natural environment. It is estimated that a typical household will have a true disposable income (after all taxes) often double that of the current system, and that the average business will earn trading profits after tax/rent considerably greater (refer to the section "What's in it for me?").

Will this lead to a Singaporean-style society hell-bent on the accumulation of material wealth? It should be said that there will undoubtedly be some who will strive for affluence, and if they wish to live in big houses, drive big cars and have huge bank accounts then good luck to 'em! Remember, in this free and fair society, anyone this wealthy has become so by their own efforts and not by exploiting others nor the Global Commons.

But might our whole mentality be unimaginably different in this new world? No longer threatened by the dead hand of joblessness and the miserably low wages inflicted on workers "lucky enough" to have a job, a new sense of security might well infuse all. And the energetic productivity of Geonomics would enable all, if they wish, to work far fewer hours to provide their basic needs. What is difficult to imagine is the use to which this sudden availability of leisure time will be put - the arts, travel, exercise, personal & spiritual growth, or maybe just lying around in bed eating junk food?

Things will be a lot different outside the suburbs, too. Gone is the opportunity to loot natural resources, and perhaps the predatory attitude towards nature that went with it. With LVT encouraging land to be put to its best possible use, no longer will cities sprawl over what should be farmland. Similarly, barely-productive farmland won't sprawl over what should remain as forest, national park or wilderness. We deal more fully with environmental benefits in the second kit.

Businesses will truly be unchained by real tax reform. No longer will they have to keep endless financial records to satisfy tax requirements, nor will they be burdened by the huge compliance costs of frequent tax returns. You, the shopper, will see the savings passed on - and, of course, there will be no GST.

With economic policies no longer being so contentious, politics would take on a different dimension. The political issues of the day would rightly return to the great social questions dealing with education, global and personal peace, cultural enrichment, human rights, national goals etc.

LVT and other eco-taxes (perhaps supplemented by a few remaining taxes on damaging social undesirables such as on tobacco and alcohol) will, by many calculations, be more than enough to replace current taxes. This is only one half of the equation - the revenue side - so how should a government spend this revenue? Geonomics doesn't deal with the spending issues, as priorities understandably vary greatly from culture to culture. Each society must decide for itself whether it wants to give spending priorities to education, defence (?!), social welfare, environmental repair, mosques, infrastructure etc. Or perhaps it might decide not to spend everything, and instead to distribute much of it as a Citizens' Dividend.Under the current system, public expenditure enriches private landowners courtesy of unwitting taxpayers. For example, if a government invests $millions in a new railway line, the value of land near the railway line is enormously enhanced. Because the value of this public investment has effectively disappeared into the "Black Hole" of private land values, prohibitive rail fares must be charged. But imagine this: what if we collected some of the boosted land values through Land Value Taxation (LVT) - couldn't we could lower the fares? And if we lowered the fares, this would enhance the land values now that the accessible train service is cheaper to use. Enhanced land values means more LVT to collect which could lead to lower fares and so on and so on.

While these iterations wouldn't need to be done in practice, the above scenario illustrates how enhanced land values (created by the community) are recaptured or recycled back to the community. Whether we build a bridge, a park, a bike track, a community centre or rehabilitate creekside vegetation - all these sort of life-enhancing investments also enhance land values, which can be fully recouped for further projects. This is just one aspect of Geonomics and one more piece of the unemployment puzzle, but let's now take a peek at how this tax shift can improve our neighbourhood and lifestyle. ...   Read the entire article

Karl Williams: Two Cow Economics

You have two cows and several hectares of land.

Your neighbour is a single mother, has no cows, no land and works a part-time job.

You tell her that if she works longer and harder she could buy one of your cows and become an enterprising capitalist. So she takes on full-time work so that, after 3 months, she has saved enough money to buy one of your cows.

But what use is a cow (or anything, for that matter) without a plot of your land, which is now worth $20,000?

So your neighbour takes on a night shift in addition to her day job, leaving for work after the kids are in bed and arriving home just in time to get them dressed for school.

After a year she has saved enough money to buy that land.

Expressing great regret you explain that, in the meantime, the taxes on her income have paid for the infrastructure that have boosted the value of your land, so that the current market price for that plot is now worth $30,000. Back to the grindstone, baby!

Another year of sweat and toil follows, after which she returns with the money. But, with hand on heart, you break the news that economic circumstances have recently driven most single and married mothers to bring in an extra income in order to save for the ever-escalating price of land. As no-one’s making any more land, the greater number of bidders has pushed up the price of the fixed amount of land (this is called a “healthy, buoyant property market”). It’s now worth $40,000 but it would be a lot easier if she just got a bank loan, you tell her. However, all those eager bidders for land have also bid up the rate of interest they’re prepared to suffer, so that interest rates are now prohibitive. Your neighbour collapses in tears at your feet, but what can you do? – you didn’t invent the system! Just as our poor mum relents and considers taking out a mortgage, she finally gets some good news – in a surprise move, the Reserve Bank has decided to make it easier on prospective home-owners by reducing interest rates. However, this has had the effect of making the owning of property more attractive, so – immediately the interest rate decision is announced – landowners raise the selling price of land. The “fair market price” of that plot is now $50,000.

However, under political pressure because of the unaffordability of property, the federal government announce that it will institute a First Home Owners’ grant of $7,000. Suddenly that plot is selling for $57,000.

You have two cows and several acres of land.

Your neighbour is a single mother, has no cows, no land and works a minimum wage job.

You’ve had an amazing vision wherein you see the geoist paradigm in all its glory and realise that all other reforms are just band-aids, so you become an activist with ProsperAustralia. You share your insight with your neighbour and so everyone pulls together to successfully reform our insane tax laws and system of land tenure. As a result:
(1) your neighbour can keep all of her hard-earned income, and
(2) those who have enclosed substantial amounts of the Common Wealth for their own private domain now pay fair land value taxation (LVT) to society.

Your LVT bill arrives and you realise you have been holding more land than you really need, so auction off the title to your land and the improvements on it. Because of genuine tax relief, your neighbour can now afford to buy the property.

And so - with LVT and trust and angel dust - they all live happily ever after.  ... read the whole article

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Wealth and Want
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