Against land monopoly and for land value tax
Land monopoly has been opposed, and land value tax supported, by more economists, environmentalists, moral philosophers and historic figures from across the political spectrum than any other tax reform in history.
4 Nobel Economists and 26 Other Top Experts
The four winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics who co-signed this letter are Franco Modigliani, James Tobin, Robert Solow and William Vickery. Other Nobel Prize Winners who endorsed land value tax are listed separately.
It is important that the rent of land be retained as a source of government revenue. While the governments of developed nations with market economies collect some of the rent of land in taxes, they do not collect nearly as much as they could, and they therefore make unnecessarily great use of taxes that impede their economies -- taxes on such things as incomes, sales and the value of capital.
Social collection of the rent of land and natural resources serves three purposes:
First, it guarantees that no one dispossesses fellow citizens by obtaining a disproportionate share of what nature provides for humanity.
Second, it provides revenue with which governments can pay for socially valuable activities without discouraging capital formation or work effort, or interfering in other ways with the efficient allocation of resources.
Third, the resulting revenue permits utility and other services that have marked economies of scale or density to be priced at levels conducive to their efficient use.
Now, the whole of the land was in the hands of a few, and if the cultivators did not pay their rents, they became subject to bondage, both they and their children, and were bound to their creditors on the security of their persons, up to the time of Solon. For he was the first to come forward as the champion of the people. The hardest and bitterest thing then to the majority was that they had no share in the offices of government; not but what they were dissatisfied with everything else, for in nothing, so to say, had they any share....
LAND, n. A part of the earth's surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society, and is eminently worthy of the superstructure. Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some have the right to prevent others from living; for the right to own implies the right exclusively to occupy; and in fact laws of trespass are enacted wherever property in land is recognized. It follows that if the whole area of terra firma is owned by A, B and C, there will be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to exist.
US courts frequently quote Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (four volumes, 1765-69) as the definitive pre-Revolutionary War source of common law; in particular, the United States Supreme Court quotes from Blackstone's work whenever they wish to engage in historical discussion that goes back that far, or further (for example, when discussing the intent of the Framers of the Constitution). The terms and phrases used by the framers often derived from Blackstone's works.
Pleased as we are with the possession [of land], we seem afraid to look back to the means by which it was acquired, as if fearful of some defect in our title; or at best, we rest satisfied with the decision of the laws in our favour, without examining the reason or authority upon which those laws have been built. We think it enough that our title is derived by the grant of the former proprietor, by descent from our ancestors, or by the last will and testament of the dying owner; not caring to reflect that (accurately and strictly speaking) there is no foundation in nature, or in natural law, why a set of words upon parchment should convey the dominion of land; why the son should have a right to exclude his fellow creatures from a determinate spot of ground, because his father had done so, before him; or why the occupier of a particular field, or of a jewel, when lying on his death-bed and no longer able to maintain possession, should be entitled to tell the rest of the world which of them should enjoy it after him....
In the beginning of the world, we are informed by holy writ, the all-bountiful Creator, gave to man "dominion over all the earth : and over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." This is the only true and solid foundation of man's dominion over external things, whatever airy metaphysical notions may have been started by fanciful writers upon this subject. The earth, therefore, and all things therein, are the general property of all mankind, exclusive of other beings, from the immediate gift of the Creator.
The first Jewish US Supreme Court Justice, appointed by Woodrow Wilson in 1916.
I find it very difficult to disagree with the principles of Henry George.... I believe in the taxation of land values only.
Professor of economics, at George Mason University, Pioneer in Public Choice Theory, and winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economics.
The landowner who withdraws land from productive use to a purely private use should be required to pay higher, not lower, taxes.
Scottish essayist, satirist and historian, whose work was hugely influential during the Victorian era
It is well said, 'Land is the right basis of an Aristocracy;' whoever possesses the Land, he, more emphatically than any other, is the Governor, Viceking of the people on the Land.... Again and again we have to say, there can be no true Aristocracy but must possess the Land.
Men talk of 'selling' Land... but the notion of ‘selling,’ for certain bits of metal... the Land of the World-Creator, is a ridiculous impossibility!... Properly speaking, the Land belongs to these two: To the Almighty God; and to all His Children of Men that have ever worked well on it, or that shall ever work well on it. No generation of men can or could, with never such solemnity and effort, sell Land on any other principle: it is not the property of any generation, we say, but that of all the past generations that have worked on it, and of all the future ones that shall work on it....
Who made the Land of England? Who made it, this respectable English Land, wheat-growing, metalliferous, carboniferous, which will let readily hand over head for seventy millions or upwards, as it here lies: who did make it? -- "We!" answer the much-consuming Aristocracy.... "It is we that made it; or are the heirs, assigns and representatives of those who did!..."
"Go to, for all thy parchments, thou shalt pay due debt!" shouts the Universe to them, in an emphatic manner. They refuse to pay, confidently pleading parchment: their best grinder-tooth, with horrible agony, goes out of their jaw.... Reform Bills, Corn-Law Abrogation Bills, and then Land-Tax Bill, Property-Tax Bill, and still dimmer list of etceteras; grinder after grinder: -- my lords and gentlemen, it were better for you to arise, and begin doing your work, than sit there and plead parchments!
President and CEO of the Congress for New Urbanism; Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 1988-2003
You almost can’t find an empty lot in downtown Pittsburgh. They’ve done a lot of things wrong in Pittsburgh but one thing they did right was having this land value taxation so there’s no incentive to have an empty lot. Having a parking lot doesn’t make sense economically so the buildings fill in and you don’t have these big empty spots. So if you can do it in Minnesota, go for it. It's good for the city.
-- Tuesday, January 26, 1999 Cited in Incentive Taxation, Center for the Study of Economics, publishers