Letter to Yoni – property Tax

Hi Yoni,
I watched the link you sent to the video “The Taxing Question of Land”.
To me it was a fairly slick presentation that ignored completely the issues I have been raising, and a lot of other issues as well.

My issues are with the whole basis of market based economics.
My fundamental issue is that market based values must set a value of zero upon universal abundance. That can clearly be seen in the example of oxygen in the air. Oxygen is arguably the single most valuable commodity for any human being, yet it has zero market value because of its abundance.

What most people do not consider is the flip side of that equation.
What it means is that there is zero incentive in any market system to produce universal abundance of anything.
What that means is that market based thinking is incentivised to enforce poverty of a significant fraction of humanity.
(A mathematically inescapable conclusion.)

We already see the introduction of laws designed to prevent abundance. Consider copyright and patent laws. Their sole function is to prevent the free dissemination of information and goods (universal abundance in a sense). One could make an argument for patent law that applied to 50% of one cycle of innovation – about 1 year in the tech industries, but no longer – beyond that it is all about monopoly rents, and nothing whatsoever to do with the promoting of innovation.

Similarly with copyright. An argument based on the promotion of innovation can be made for copyright that would last about 1 year – maximum, and no more.

Most of the laws in most countries are about the creation of artificial barriers to entry that protect the economic interests of some group. They may be framed in terms of public goods, like education, safety, healthcare – but when you actually analyse the outcomes, you see that they do not actually achieve those outcomes.

Are you aware that there is no significant correlation between any educational metric and success in later life. Exam results have nothing to do with later success. So why do we put such societal focus upon them?

Similarly with most other laws.

My arguments is with the underlying assumptions of economics.

Market based economics made a certain sense in historical times.
When most things were genuinely scarce, then markets provided a useful mechanism for the allocation of scarce resources and the creation of substitutes.

That process (of creation of substitutes) has now reached a stage of evolution, that we can now create substitutes for anything, including labour.

The system has outgrown itself.

We can now use automated processes to deliver abundance of all of the essentials of life to every individual – but the incentives of market based thinking prevent it happening.

Markets are based in scarcity.

Make something abundant (like oxygen is) and it has no value.

Delivering universal abundance destroys market value.
The whole market based system collapses.

There are so many arguments against Henry George and the video “The Taxing Question of Land” that I am loathe to even start. And I will give one counter example to consider. Consider someone who purchases a piece of low value land, and makes a home there. They are a careful steward of that land, and grow there own food. The get just enough money to survive, but they are happy where they are. Under a land value taxation system, all someone needs to do to force those people off their land is to pay high values for the land around them, and the increases in taxation will force them to leave.

Such a taxation system can be seen simply a tool of the wealthy to force the poor to leave areas desirable to the wealthy.

I am committed to the delivery of sufficient abundance to empower every individual on the planet to self actualise (to use Abraham Maslow’s terminology) in whatever way they responsibly choose – where responsibility is defined as taking all reasonable steps to ensure the life and liberty of all others (which implies a duty of care to the ecosystems that support us all).

To me, the mathematics and logic are clear – that such stability demands decentralisation and massive redundancy – such that each individual has potential control over their own personalised means of producing all of their material needs. Producing such technology, while not a trivial project, is entirely doable within a decade, should we as a society choose to do so.

So short answer – not at all impressed by the documentary – very short term thinking, fundamentally based in a scarcity mindset.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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