* 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.