Letters

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Hobart has made it into the big league! – Leo Foley
Jan 23, The Mercury

House prices have pushed us into the top 20 of unaffordable cities in the world.
After seven years of boom, the legacy of this government, elected by ordinary
working people, will be a city owned by the elites.

It need not be so. House building is a competitive industry, and with proper
foresight on trade skills, costs will always tend to rise only in line with wages
and the general price index.

The real ‘boom’ has been in land price. Speculation in real estate has pushed
land beyond the price of Tasmanian wages. Young Tasmanian families are excluded
from the market. That demands government action, not with more subsidies and
grants that benefit only existing owners, but real tax reform that will overcome
the existing market failure.

Associate Professor (Economics) Graeme Wells points the way in his letter,
23 January. He says “There would be significant efficiency gains in moving from
the present transactions tax to a flat-rate land tax.” Not only would it be
efficient, it would also be equitable.

The Labor government, under pressure on so many fronts, still has the opportunity
to create conditions of prosperity for all Tasmanians, and to make home ownership
a reality for following generations. Will it rise to the occasion?

Leo Foley
Lenah Valley, Tasmania
Justice the Aim


History’s Lessons – Terry Dwyer
The Australian

 

Geonomics: Recovery of Site-Rents for Urban Density

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Jeffery J. Smith, President, Forum on Geonomics
[A paper submitted to the BSA of the AIA, 2003]

Around the world, a few dozen cities collect ground rents – some of the money that people spend or are willing to spend on a location – rather than tax buildings and other economic goods. Besides raising public revenue more efficiently, these places also motivate efficient use of urban land. No longer taxed for improving their property, while prodded by a rent levy to make improvements, owners who had been speculating or procrastinating get busy and put their once under-utilized land to better use. Overall, better land use raises density in particular and livability in general – goals that other jurisdictions still long for.

Make Poverty History

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We will never make poverty history until we rip up the tax system

Mark Braund, Saturday December 3, 2005 The Guardian

Despite the prime minister’s resolve, the year in which Britain was to lead the world in making poverty history has achieved little. This month there is one last opportunity as the World Trade Organisation gathers in Hong Kong. But even if this meeting throws up some surprises, we will end the year little closer to ending poverty. Increased aid, debt cancellation and fairer trade would certainly have some impact, but they would not address the underlying causes of poverty.

Please Explain, Mr Brumby

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By Lev Lafayette.

Derived from the presentation at the Hume Global Learning Centre, June 28, 2006

Introduction

Tonight I am representing Prosper Australia, an organisation which has, in various guises, been a part of Victoria for over one hundred years. One key objective of the organisation is the reduction, as much as possible of taxes on labour and capital, and for public finances to be derived instead from site rental. Because when it comes down to it, there are only two sources for public revenue; the goods and services which are produced or the resources that are used.

The idea of public financing through site rental was extremely popular in the early days of Australia, supported by both the Liberal Party of Alfred Deakin and his Labor opponent Andrew Fisher. Indeed Alfred Deakin illustrated the case quite succinctly when he said;

Letter to Gorbachev

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* FOUR of the West’s top economists – Nobel prize-winners Franco Modigliani, James Tobin, Robert Solow and William Vickrey – were among the signatories to an open letter to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990/1991. The economists urged the Soviet President to retain land in public ownership, and to raise government revenue by charging rent for the use of land.

* Had he acted upon their advice Gorbachev may have strengthened his hand, but was unceremoniously dumped in favour of Boris Yeltsin. The Russian people have an especially deep feeling for their motherland, and socialising land rents for revenue and slashing all other taxes may well have struck a sympathethic chord. Yeltsin too, however, has been told by western powerbrokers that he must sell Russia’s patrimony – ‘freehold’ her land – as a pre-condition for western assistance.