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Peter Lock’s (abridged) Marketplace

Alan Ecob (ERA/NSW)

What an excellent article! It presents what, from the perspective of humankind, is our fundamental problem. It is written in language that any may understand. The problem, of course, is that posed by our now-global financial system. With the possible exception of a few outposts such as Iceland and Cuba, the system effectively determines the policies and practices of national governments, and limits what may be reported in the media. The article’s only needed qualification is to the implication that Henry George‘s ‘Remedy’ may ‘do the job’ for us today. The global situation has now gone far beyond what it was in the USA of the late 1800s. My brief argument for this is:

1).Economic Rent, properly defined, is ‘something for nothing’, the ‘price of monopoly’, the accountant‘s ‘super-profit’, gained by private interests at the expense of what, in a democratic market economy, should become public revenue.

2).In the late 1800s, in the circumstances of the USA, to have appropriated the economic rent attributable to unimproved land and natural resources, and intelligently applied it towards the elimination of other taxes, together with other government action to minimise the emergence of monopoly and undue economic concentration, would have been magnificent policy. But from 1914 on, World Wars changed the game.

3).Today, in the major developed economies, the flow of economic rent that in the shorter term could be related to unimproved land etc. is only a ‘drop in the bucket’ compared with what is being secured from the legion of other sources of economic advantage that are being exploited.

4).Yet, the position as it may become by say 2025, as the availability of key resources such as oil and fresh water declines, as food becomes more scarce, as environmental impacts become more severe, and repayment of our unrepayable global debt becomes seen to be the boulder of Sisyphus being endlessly pushed uphill by world consumers, is indeed an interesting and open question.

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