|Wealth and Want|
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GUT -- Grand Unifying Theory
H.G. Brown: Significant Paragraphs from Henry George's Progress & Poverty: 14 Liberty, and Equality of Opportunity (in the unabridged P&P: Part X: The Law of Human Progress — Chapter 5: The Central Truth)
Jeff Smith: Sharing Natural Rents to Sustain Human Society
To get rich, or more likely to stay rich, some of us can develop land, especially sprawling shopping centers, and extract resources, especially oil. While sprawl and oil depletion are not necessary, they are more profitable than a car-free functionally integrated city. Under the current rules of doing business, waste returns more than efficiency. We let a few privatize rent — ground rent and resource rent — although rent is a social surplus. As if rent were not profit enough, winners of rent have also won further state favors — tax breaks, liability limits, subsidies, and a host of others designed to impel growth (20 major ones follow herein).
If we are to sustain our selves, our civilization, and our eco-system, we must make some hard choices about property. What we decide to do with rent, whether we let it reward our exploiting or our attaining eco-librium, matters. Imagine society waking up to the public nature of rent. Then it would collect and share its surplus that manifests as the market value of sites, resources, the spectrum, and government-granted privileges. Then we could forego taxing labor and capital. On such a level playing field, this freed market would favor efficiency — the compact city — not waste — the mall and automobile. ...
Drawing their cue from the public, governments tolerate "rentention", the private retention of publicly-generated land values. Lacking this Rent, states turn to taxes. But to grow the economy, all governments — left, right, or undecided — hustle to stimulate development; they cut taxes and slop subsidies. Going beyond the call of duty, the state excuses producers' their routine pollution and limit liability, thereby cutting the cost of insurance. Companies that don't impose on nature, worker, or customer are not benefited at all but lose a competitive advantage. On this tilted playing field, one with the lumps of subsidies and the tilts of taxes, technologies lean and clean have a hard time competing as suppliers of materials, homes, food, rides, and energy. ...
Noticing rent, realizing its social nature, accepting that it's to be shared, and understanding that wages and interest should not be expropriated, for most people that's a new way of thinking. Thinking such thoughts leads to a new way of conceiving economics, too. Ecological economics becomes not just a branch of economics but a whole new discipline, needing a new name. In geonomics we maintain the distinction between items bearing exchange value that come into being by human effort — wealth — and those that don't — land. Keeping this distinction in the forefront makes it obvious and non-controversial that speculating in land drives sprawl, that hoarding land retards Third World development, that borrowing to buy land plus buildings engorges banks, that so-called "interest" is quasi-rent, that the cost of land inflates faster than the price of produced goods and services, that over half of corporate profit, says the Urban Land Institute, is from real estate.
Summing up these analyses, geonomists offer a Grand Unifying
Theory, that the flow of rent pulls all other indicators in its wake.
Geonomics differs from economics as chemistry from alchemy, as
astronomy from astrology. The acid test of any science is prediction,
a test that economics fails and geonomics passes. Plugging in the
land price cycle of 17+ years lets geonomists crank out predictions
more accurate than those generated by "the experts" who missed, for
example, the collapse of mighty Japan. When the land of the Rising
Sun was on the market for four times the assessed value of all
America, that's when a few geonomists, like voices in the wilderness,
countered conventional wisdom by proclaiming that the Japanese boom
would bust. According to these geonomic prognosticators, don't expect
America's next downturn for at least another five years, despite the
tech wreck or any other stock market fluctuations. ...
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Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper