Sunday, December 16, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Zero Point Free Energy - Energy base for a non capitalist economy for a new socialist economy or just a myth ?
As a scientific concept, the existence of zero-point energy is not controversial although the ability to harness it is. Many people claim to have invented perpetual motion machines and other power generating devices supposedly based on zero-point energy.
In quantum theory, zero-point energy is a minimum energy below which a thermodynamic system can never go. Thus, according to the standard quantum-theoretic viewpoint, none of this energy can be withdrawn without altering the system to a different form in which the system has a lower zero-point energy.
Thus, current claims to zero-point-energy-based power generation systems are in contradiction with known physics laws and have the status of pseudoscience.
One of the theories that claims that zero-point energy is infinite is stochastic electrodynamics. In it, the zero-point field is viewed as simply a classical background isotropic noise wave field which excites all systems present in the vacuum and thus is responsible for their minimum-energy or "ground" states. The requirement of Lorentz invariance at a statistical level then implies that the energy density spectrum must increase with the third power of frequency, implying infinite energy density when integrated over all frequencies. However, as pointed out, this energy can't be withdrawn from the system.
According to a NASA contractor report, "the concept of accessing a significant amount of useful energy from the ZPE gained much credibility when a major article on this topic was recently [March 1st, 2004] published in Aviation Week & Space Technology, a leading aerospace industry magazine".
The calculation that underlies the Casimir experiment, a calculation based on the formula predicting infinite vacuum energy, shows the zero-point energy of a system consisting of a vacuum between two plates will decrease at a finite rate as the two plates are drawn together. The vacuum energies are predicted to be infinite, but the changes are predicted to be finite. Casimir combined the projected rate of change in zero-point energy with the principle of conservation of energy to predict a force on the plates. The predicted force, which is very small and was experimentally measured to be within 5% of its predicted value, is finite. Even though the zero-point energy is theoretically infinite, there is as yet no practical evidence to suggest that infinite amounts of zero-point energy are available for use, that zero-point energy can be withdrawn for free, or that zero-point energy can be used in violation of conservation of energy.
Source : Wikipedia
Posted by nickglais at 1:48 PM
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Laurie Pearcey, Director of The Confucius Institute at the University of New South Wales informed analysis on China
Director of The Confucius Institute at the University of New South Wales and former CEO of the Australia China Business Council, Laurie Pearcey, says the legacy of Mao Zedong is likely to continue as China's new leaders take their places.
We at Political Economy Research publish this video not because we agree with its content but because we regard Laurie Pearcey has having good insight into China's capitalist elite especially the Princelings.
Posted by nickglais at 2:51 PM
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I think Steve King makes the most sense - Nickglais. Max is a gold and silver bug and sees the bond market collapsing - he is talking his own book - in fact he has bet money on it, Steve Keen correctly points out that Central Banks can prop up the bond market if it is in their own currency through the shadow banking system. Iceland borrowed in other currencies that was the source of its problems.
Posted by nickglais at 12:26 PM
Monday, November 26, 2012
Léonce Ndikumana: $619 billion of embezzled capital flight from North Africa with connivance of big banks according to new research.
Posted by nickglais at 9:26 AM
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Paul Mattick Jr., author of "Business as Usual: The Economic Crisis and the Failure of Capitalism" and son of influential council communist Paul Mattick, who explains the nature of capitalist crisis. For more films by Brandon Jourdan
Posted by nickglais at 3:40 AM
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
One fifth of British workers equal to 4.82 million people and their families get paid less than the living wage, struggling to make ends meet, a study has found. According to the KPMG study, England has the lowest number of the worker earning below the living wage while Northern Ireland (24 percent) and Wales (23 percent) are home to the greatest proportion of poorer workers. Elsewhere on the continent, the worsening debt crisis has forced many EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, triggering incidents of social unrest and massive protests throughout EU countries.
Posted by nickglais at 1:32 PM
Thursday, October 25, 2012
While Political Economy Research does not endorse the free market economic thinking that underpins much of Max Keiser's analysis, we do find him useful in explaining the contradictions in the current financial crisis eg Goverment Bonds verses Gold..
Posted by nickglais at 11:30 AM
Friday, October 19, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Posted by nickglais at 9:57 AM
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
This confrms a study published by Political Economy Research here : http://democracyandclassstruggle.blogspot.co.uk/2009/03/size-of-derivatives-market.html
Posted by nickglais at 10:00 AM
Monday, October 1, 2012
Iceland's economic 'rebound' continues
by Dean Carroll
28 September 2012
European Union candidate country Iceland's economic resurgence continued this year as a result of "solid policy implementation" and a stabilised krona currency, according to the International Monetary Fund. The financial monitoring review conducted by the IMF stated that the nation's outlook was "upbeat", providing Eurosceptic nationalists with further ammunition to fight against Iceland's proposed EU membership.
Outlining the economic "rebound", the IMF said: "Following a deep and protracted recession, the economy grew by 2.6 per cent in 2011, a performance that looks set to be broadly repeated in 2012 and sustained over the medium term. The output gap is closing, unemployment has decreased, and inflation - though still high - is expected to converge toward the central bank's target of 2.5 per cent in the medium term; if monetary tightening resumes. Public and external debt ratios are on a downward path and financial sector conditions are improving. The fiscal consolidation is broadly on track."
Iceland's progress towards joining the EU club could yet stall if the United Kingdom and Netherlands threaten to veto the country's accession – due to its failure to repay €4bn to 400,000 British and Dutch investors, who lost out when Landsbanki collapsed in 2008. Conflict with the EU over Iceland's whaling and fisheries policies are also yet to be resolved. In addition, public opinion in the country seems to be set firmly against EU membership - cementing the impasse.
However, since formal discussions started two years ago - 18 chapters have been opened, of which 10 have been provisionally closed. In total, there are 35 areas of EU policy and law with which candidate countries have to align themselves. The EU's enlargement commissioner Stefan Füle previously said that Iceland's progress constituted a "very good achievement". It was "proof of the firm commitment by the Icelandic government and the EU to the accession process", he added. Iceland is a member of the Schengen passport free travel area, and the European Economic Area – meaning it participates in the EU's internal market without being a full member state. As a result it already complies with many of the EU's entrance requirements.
But the IMF warned that the eurozone crisis could still have a dramatic impact on Iceland's finances despite its geographical and monetary separation from the EU. "An intensification of the euro area crisis could harm exports, growth and market access," stated the report. "A setback in fiscal consolidation could undermine confidence and impede access to financial markets. Finally, growth could be reduced by delays in investments in the energy-related sector or by an inflation-induced wage-price spiral.
"Banks' balance sheets have strengthened but risks still need to be addressed. The three largest banks are profitable and well-capitalised but nonperforming loan ratios are still high, though well below their post-crisis peak. Although progress has been made, legacy risks remain, including a reliance on deposits locked in by capital controls, asset-liability mismatches, and loan and deposit concentration. There is also still uncertainty in the face of Supreme Court rulings on foreign exchange-indexed loans."
Read more: http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/article/2520/icelands-economic-rebound-continues#ixzz282sbXKwX
Posted by nickglais at 4:30 AM
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Common Statement Of La Via Campesina - GRAIN - Friends Of The Earth International (FoE) - Coordinadora Latinoamericana De Organizaciones Del Campo (CLOC) - Re:Common -World March Of Women -ETC Group -Latin American Articulation Of Movements Toward ALBA
(14 September 2012) We are shocked and offended by an article co-signed by Jose Graziano da Silva, Director General of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), that was pusblished in the Wall Street Journal on September 6, 2012.1 In the article, they call on governments and social organisations to embrace the private sector as the main engine for global food production.
While referring specifically to Eastern Europe and North Africa, the heads of these two influential international agencies make a clear call for a world wide increase in private sector investment and land grabbing. They say that the private sector is efficient and dynamic and call on companies to "double investment in the land itself". Meanwhile, they dismiss peasants and those few remaining policies that protect them as burdens "holding back" agricultural development that should be eliminated. To do so, they urge governments to facilitate the growth of big agribusiness. Their article was published in the context of a joint FAO and EBRD conference in Istanbul on September 13th, which they describe as the largest and most important gathering of companies and decision-makers in agribusiness.
Graziano da Silva and Chakrabarti make a number of biased claims in the article that obscure the reality when it comes to agriculture and food. They point to Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan as successful examples of agribusiness that have transformed these countries from "the agricultural wastelands of the 1990s" into "leading grain exporters." But at no time do they mention that the official statistics from all three countries show that small farmers and peasants are more productive than big agribusiness.
Peasants and small farmers, especially women, account for over half of Russia's agricultural production but occupy only a quarter of the agricultural lands. In the Ukraine, they produce 55% of the agricultural output on only 16% of the land, while in Kazakhstan, where they occupy half of the land, they account for 73% of agricultural production. The fact is that these countries are fed by their peasants and small farmers. And this is true the world over. Wherever offical data are available, as in the EU, Colombia and Brazil, or in the studies undertaken in Asia, Africa and Latin America, peasant farming is shown to be more efficient than large-scale agribusiness.
Contrary to what is claimed by the Director General of the FAO, those who really have the capacity to feed the world are the world's men and women farmers and peasants. The expansion of agribusiness has only exacerbated poverty, destroyed the potential for dignified rural livelihoods, increased pollution and environmental destruction, and brought back the scourge of slave labor and a series of recent food and climate crises.
For social movements and the peasants and small farmers of the world, it is unacceptable and even incomprehensible for a Director General of the FAO to be promoting the destruction of peasant farming and an increase in land grabbing. It is particularly troubling for this to occur after three years of careful, hard work by La Via Campesina and other organisations in constructing the FAO's voluntary guidelines to protect communities against land grabs and after Graziano da Silva had repeatedly assured farmers' organisations during his campaign for Director General of the FAO that he would promote and validate the importance of peasant agriculture and the critical role small farmers must play in food production.
The language used by Graziano da Silva and Chakrabarti is offensive. Phrases like "fertilize this land with money" or "make life easier for the world's hungry" call into question the FAO's ability to do its job with the necessary rigor and independence from large agribusiness companies and fulfill the UN mandate to eradicate hunger and improve the living conditions of rural people.
We wonder what the FAO means by the "International Year of Family Farming" when its Director General says that the obstacles to improving agricultural production are "relatively high levels of protection, lack of proper irrigation, [and] small and uneconomically sized farms." This vision and the FAO's subservience to the demands and interests of greedy investors undermines all the work at conciliation that has taken place in recent years between farmers' organisations and the FAO. And it raises questions about why the FAO has not developed a proposal for concrete and effective action to promote peasant agriculture and family farming as a fundamental response to a global food crisis that is once again enriching transnational banks and corporations.2 Where, we wonder, will peasant families go if these plans to transform their lands into industrial megafarms are successful?
Beyond the issue of the FAO abandoning its mission, it is also of deep concern that the EBRD is playing such an active role in profitting from and promoting investments in land grabbing and the take over of agriculture by big agribusiness. The EBRD's stance is all the more dangerous now that its area of operation is expanding in North Africa.
What is needed for agriculture and the planet is just the opposite of what Chakrabarti and Graziano da Silva propose. Humanity and those suffering from hunger need the agro-cultures of rural areas, which represent half the world's population and make peasant farming possible, to be protected and promoted-- because peasant farming is more efficient and productive, because it produces at least half of the global food supply and most of the employment in rural areas, and because it can cool the planet.
The livelihoods of peasants and indigenous peoples and their food production systems cannot be destroyed to create a new source of mega profits for a tiny group of elites. We need comprehensive and effective agrarian reforms that put lands and territories back into the hands of rural peoples. The commodification and grabbing of lands must be stopped and reversed. We do not need agribusiness; we need more communities and more peasant and indigenous families farming with dignity and respect.
Farmers feed the world
Agribusiness grabs it
2 See, for example, James Cusick, "We'll make a killing out of food crisis, Glencore trading boss Chris Mahoney boasts", The Independent, Londres, 23 August 2012,http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/well-make-a-killing-out-of-food-crisis-glencore-trading-boss-chris-mahoney-boasts-8073806.html; Tom Bawden, "Barclays makes £500m betting on food crisis", The Independent, Londres, 1 September 2012,http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/barclays-makes-500m-betting-on-food-crisis-8100011.html; and Peter Greste, "Rising food prices hit Nairobi slums", Al Jazeera, Doha, 6 September 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/video/africa/2012/09/201296195748591887.html.
Posted by nickglais at 6:44 AM
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Friday, September 7, 2012
From Grain - August 2012
When China began importing soybeans as animal feed in the late 1990s, it ushered in one of the most dramatic agricultural transformations the world has ever seen. On the other side of the world, 30 million hectares of farms, forests, savannahs and pastures in the Southern Cone of Latin America were converted to soy plantations to provide China’s new factory farms with a cheap source of feed. And within China, low prices paid to farmers and other policies favouring large agribusinesses pushed millions of households out of meat production. Corporations and large commercial farmers made fortunes, but rural communities, both in China and the Southern Cone, paid the price (see Box 1, 2 & 4).
Cheap meat for China’s growing urban population was supposed to be the payoff. But in 2008, prices for pork spiked because of a massive disease outbreak that swept through China’s pork industry, and now the country is on the verge of a more serious round of food inflation as a drought in the US causes global prices for soybeans to surge. On top of this, China’s consumers have had to contend with numerous food safety scandals and environmental disasters brought about by the shift to industrial meat production.
The problems generated at home and abroad by China’s growing dependence on imports of feed crops will get much worse if China continues to open its market to imports of maize, the other major crop used for industrial feeds. In 2012, China will import a record five million tonnes of maize, and it is on track to buy another seven million tonnes in 2013. This is only around 5% of national maize consumption, but it is still more maize than China imported during all previous 25 years combined and it is already affecting global prices.
China is now the world’s largest global food market. What Chinese people eat has repercussions on everyone, because of the increasingly global reach of how and where that food is produced. If the Chinese government opens the country up to maize imports as it did with soybeans, it could unleash another global agricultural transformation on par with what occurred with soybeans. Recent developments show that this is already starting to happen.
Posted by nickglais at 10:46 AM
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
The SOC-SAT (Sindicato de Obreros del Campo –Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores) has undertaken many different actions in recent months to achieve fairer production, consumption and sales’ regulations for agricultural produce in the context of food sovereignty.
The political courage shown by SOC-SAT and particularly by their leaders is unprecedented. By undertaking actions of resistance, and proposing alternatives, SOC-SAT is challenging the current neo-liberal system and its disastrous impacts on people.
Recent actions include that of 24th July by SOC-SAT agricultural workers in Andalusia who occupied the La Turquilla farm.
SOC-SAT demands that the farm laborer’s cooperatives be allowed to work the land of the 2,000 hectares of fertile land that is owned by the army, in order to feed their families, instead of using it to grow export crops and rear horses.
Given the current serious economic and social crisis affecting Spain as well as the rest of Europe, SOC-SAT’s actions provide credible solidarity alternatives for defending social justice and human rights in a way that reaches beyond capitalist dogma.
Farmland should first and foremost be used for small-scale family farming and meet the social, environmental and economic challenges of our society.
We also call for an initiative for European agrarian reform of land use, to serve food security and sustainable development.
Contact : Javier Sanchez, Member of the Coordinating Committee of ECVC
For further information : SAT http://www.sindicatoandaluz.org
Posted by nickglais at 11:14 AM
Monday, August 27, 2012
In an recent exchange on Radical Wales a contributor was told he had to choose between Corporate Industrial scale Windmilling or Corporate Fossil Fuel Mining in Wales.
The reply was that these were the false dicotomies posed by Corporate Capitalism and were not the real choices offering fundamental and long lasting solutions to our ecological problems.
The real ecological choices are between the real solution from the ground up and community based or the top down fake "green" corporatism posing as a solution.
The Green market economy is in disarray if anybody cares to take a closer look, with carbon trading on verge of collapse and a well deserved prison sentence looming for one of the founders of this carbon trading scam.
Utimately the ecological prolem is a social problem and not a technical one of windmills or coalmines.
The clear advocates of a ground up community ecological solution are the International Peasant Movement of Via Campesina who have developed an alternative based on the science of agroecology as opposed to agro industrial agriculture.
Posted by nickglais at 4:45 AM
Picture Henry George
Henry George (September 2, 1839 – October 29, 1897) was an American writer, politician and political economist ,who was the most influential proponent of the Land Value Tax.
Henry George in his book Progress and Poverty tries to marry the interests of the working class with that of the capitalist class against landowners.
Henry George was an advocate of the free market and free trade against any form of protectionism. He believed in removing taxes from Labour and Capital and placing the burden of tax on landowners.
However whilst most Georgists are self confessed right wingers some on the Left like the Green Party in the UK have also adopted Georgist ideas.
The object of Land Value Taxation is to ensure that the rent attributable to the natural value of the land , and to the value created by its fortunate location, is paid to society as a whole and not to individual landowners.
Whilst the Land Value Taxation ostensible target is the absentee landowner or speculators, LVT would also fall on every landowner however small and they would be under pressure to extract as much profit from their land as possible to pay the tax.
Posted by nickglais at 4:41 AM
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Posted by nickglais at 3:17 PM
Posted by nickglais at 8:36 AM
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Paul Bowman on Early Irish communist - William Thompson by Workers Solidarity on Mixcloud
The fear engendered in the heart of the ruling classes by the French Revolution had given birth to an almost insane hatred of reform, coupled with a wolfish ferocity in hunting down even the mildest reformers. The triumph of the allied sovereigns over Napoleon was followed by a perfect saturnalia of despotism all over Europe, and every form of popular organisation was ruthlessly suppressed or driven under the surface. But driving organisations under the surface does not remove the causes of discontent, and consequently we find that, as rapidly as reaction triumphed above ground, its antagonists spread their secret conspiracies underneath.
The popular discontent was further increased by the fact that the return home of the soldiers disbanded from the Napoleonic wars had a serious economic effect. It deprived the agriculturists of a market for their produce, and produced a great agricultural and industrial crisis. It threw out of employment all the ships employed in provisioning the troops, all the trades required to build, equip and repair them, all the industries engaged in making war material; and in addition to suspending the work and flooding the labour market with the men and women thus disemployed, it cast adrift scores of thousands of able-bodied soldiers and sailors, to compete with the civilian workers who had fed, clothed and maintained them during the war. In Ireland especially the results were disastrous, owing to the inordinately large proportion of Irish amongst the disbanded soldiers and sailors.
Those returning home found the labour market glutted with unemployed in the cities, and in the rural districts the landlords engaged in a fierce war of extermination with their tenantry, who, having lost their war market and war prices, were unable to meet the increasing exactions of the owners of the soil. It was at this period the great Ribbon conspiracy took hold upon the Irish labourer in the rural districts, and although the full truth relative to that movement has never yet been unearthed, sufficient is known to indicate that it was in effect a secret agricultural trades union of labourers and cottier farmers – a trades union which undertook, in its own wild way, to execute justice upon the evictor, and vengeance upon the traitor to his fellows.
Also at this time Irish trade unionism, although secret and illegal, attained to its maximum of strength and compact organisation. In 1824 the chief constable of Dublin, testifying before a committee of the House of Commons, declared that the trades of Dublin were perfectly organised, and many of the employers were already beginning to complain of the “tyranny of the Irish trades unions”. Under such circumstances it is not to be wondered at, that the attention which in the eighteenth century had been given to political reforms and the philosophy thereof, gave way in the nineteenth to solicitude for social amelioration.
Posted by nickglais at 6:00 AM
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Posted by nickglais at 11:57 PM
See Also :http://democracyandclassstruggle.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/michael-hudson-on-economic-rent.html
This review of Michael Hudson's article is by
Moss, Laurence S.
Article, entitled 'Henry George's Political Critics', is by Professor Michael Hudson, Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of Missouri (Kansas City). The author lists the following twelve criticisms that have been made of George's political positions and strategies:
(1) 'George's Refusal to Link His Proposals with Those of Other Reformers' (p. 8)
Hudson shows how this alienated supporters such as Karl Marx, Edward Bellamy and members of the Labor Party, as well as socialists and other reformers in general. He compares George's 'aloof', 'sectarian', and 'inward-looking' attitude to that of Marx 'who spent much of his time with associates organizing groups to create a following' (p. 9).
There is undoubtedly a large element of truth in what Hudson says, but perhaps the words 'aloof' and 'sectarian' are rather too strong. After all, authors cannot reasonably be expected to combine or cooperate with those who hold antithetical views. Marxists and socialists can reasonably invite land reformers to join them, even if the land reformers do not wish to support a full-blown socialism that aimed for the nationalisation of all the means of production. For Marxists, such land reformers would be a useful ally in the wider struggle. But for George, who was doctrinally opposed to full-blown socialism, any form of cooperation or union with Marxists or socialists would have been, not a means to a larger end, but a contradiction, and a dereliction of intellectual integrity. Whether Henry George was right or wrong, he was no more 'sectarian' than Karl Marx. Each believed sincerely in his own system; each promoted his own sect.
On numerous occasions George declared that he was not a socialist; but his anti-socialism should not be exaggerated.
As Hudson notes, George advocated government ownership of railroads and the telegraph--in itself, a significant socialist policy. And of course his Single Tax policy meant in effect the nationalisation of land values. Hudson states: 'Land remains the largest asset even in today's industrial and high-technology economies. Most "capital" gains are still land-price gains, which substantially exceed corporate profits' (p. 3). Any country that nationalises the main portion of its corporate profits must surely be regarded as mainly socialist.
(2) 'George's Single-Minded Focus on Land Rent Rather than Other Forms of Exploitation' (p. 9)
Hudson argues that another reason for the failure of Georgism to gain long-term popular support is the fact that, although he proposed to abolish private monopolisation of railroads and the telegraph by nationalising them, he did not pursue a policy for abolishing monopolies in other industries. George's view was that, after the Single Tax and free trade are introduced, the forces of competition would cause other monopolies to disappear.
Georgists would have to admit, with Hudson, that this was a brave assumption on George's part, for which no empirical evidence was available at the time. Nor will any empirical evidence become available until such time as a free trade and Single Tax experiment is conducted. It may be that George's assumption will prove to be correct; but a more sceptical view of human nature would suggest that other ingenious methods for the exploitation of man by man would soon be devised, even in a world of free trade and the Single Tax.
(3) 'George's support of Capital Against Labour'
Hudson refers to George's 'almost unconditional support of capital, even against labour' (Abstract, p. 1)--although for the present reader it is not clear whether this is Hudson's own view, or whether he is merely reporting a view held by some of George's critics. The latter would seem to be the correct interpretation, as Hudson later notes that 'George often supported labour' (p. 14). Certainly, it would be quite unwarranted to say that George almost unconditionally supported capital against labour. In addition to the instances cited by Hudson (p. 14), one could cite several instances in the reports of George's Australian lectures where he congratulated the trade unions on the success of their strikes. But, unlike Marx, he did not regard capital and capitalists as the enemy of labour. Under his Single Tax plan, there would be no tax on the profits of capitalists except insofar as they included gains from land and other natural resources. He believed, perhaps naively, that capital and labour could live and work in harmony, after the removal of the injustices and inequalities due to an unequal distribution of the value of natural resources.
(4) 'George's Individualism Rejecting a Regulatory or Planning Role for Government' (p. 16)
Hudson believes that another reason for the political criticism levelled at George was his 'economic individualism' and his rejection of 'a strong role for government' (p. 1). According to Hudson, Single Taxers had 'a highly negative view of government', and George 'sided with free-enterprise advocates whose major objective was to minimize the role of government' (p. 18).
As stated above, George's policy for the taxation of the full value of all land and other natural resources represents a very considerable incursion of government into what is now regarded as the domain of
free enterprise. Hudson appears to have neatly summarised George's overall political position as 'economic individualism', and as a rejection of a 'strong role for government'. In his lecture tour in Australia, he several times chided Australians for relying too much on the government, and not doing enough for themselves, as individuals, to improve their towns and cities. If government needs to play a role, George expressed a preference for local rather than state or national government; but he could not be correctly described as anti-government or anarchist on principle. When asked in Australia whether a land-value tax, by deterring the withholding of land, would encourage overdevelopment of some cities or an inefficient dispersal of development, he replied that such things could be prevented by appropriate regulation--which suggests that he recognised the need for some measure of regulation by means of town planning.
(5) 'George's Opposition to Public Ownership of Land'
Although George said we must make land common property, and although his followers often formed societies with names such as Land Nationalisation Leagues, he repeatedly asserted that he did not advocate land nationalisation. As Hudson notes (p. 18), George recognised that nationalisation of land, even if compensation is paid, would involve political trauma and widespread opposition. A further reason for his rejecting nationalisation was that the leasing of publicly owned land would increase the inefficiency and corruption that he had witnessed in government administration. Yet another reason was that a formal act of nationalisation would have strengthened the case for compensation, thus offsetting or nullifying the public revenue to the derived from the lease rents.
(6) 'George's Refusal to Address the Problem of Interest-Bearing Debt'
Hudson provides (pp. 20-4) a fascinating account, based on quotations from a variety of unusual sources, of the opposition to George's failure to recognise that interest on debt is as much a rentier income as rent on land, and as much a form of exploitation. George believed that the Single Tax would solve the debt problem, because, by removing the speculative element in the price of land and removing other taxes, it would make most individuals and businesses more wealthy and abolish the conditions that pushed people into debt. George was unwilling to accept proposals for credit creation by government, partly because he thought it was unnecessary, and partly because, as already noted, he feared the possibilities for corruption and maladministration in big government.
(7) 'George's Ricardian Emphasis on Rural Land' (p. 24)
If George was criticised for placing scant emphasis on urban land, then, on this score at least, his critics were clearly wrong. He repeatedly declaimed against the unearned increments of urban land, and his emotional accounts of life in the slums of great cities show his deep concern for the urban land problem.
It is certainly true, however, as Hudson points out, that George did not seem to realise, or did not give sufficient attention to, the fact that private ownership of home sites was becoming increasingly widespread, and that home owners would combine with real estate agents and developers in political opposition to a land-value tax. As Hudson observes, 'Rent was becoming democratised rather than being an economic gain restricted to a distinct class' (p. 29).
However, although the ownership of land and the enjoyment of its 'unearned increments' have become more widespread than in George's day, at least in Westernised countries, there are signs that the trend is now reversing. The increasing cost of urban land has meant that an increasing proportion of the population--especially among the younger generation--are forced to become renters rather than owners of urban land. The main class conflict in the future is likely to be not between capital and labour, or between aristocrats and serfs, but between the land-rich and the land-poor, between the urban landed and the urban landless, between the urban land-possessed and the urban land-dispossessed.
It is often said, with some truth, that if the majority of voters in a democratic country are landowners, it would be politically impossible for any government to implement a Georgist land-value tax in the fullest sense. But if the majority became landless tenants, and are aware of the tax-free increments in land value enjoyed by the landowning minority, the reverse may be true. It may then be politically impossible not to implement a wider sharing of the value of land and other natural resources.
(8) 'George's Free-Trade Stance' (p. 26)
George believed that protectionism fosters monopolies, but Hudson cites critics who argued that monopolies also occur in free-trade countries, like England, and that some monopolies like the sugar trust in America, have campaigned for free trade. Hudson also points to the environmental costs, such as soil degradation, that have resulted from over-production for export markets under free trade.
During George's lecture tour of Australia in 1890, it was reported that his opposition to protection alienated many who would otherwise have supported his land-tax proposals. In his lectures he invariably linked land-tax policy with free-trade policy, as if it was intellectually and morally impossible to have one without the other.
(9) 'George's Rejection of an Academic Platform to Elaborate Rent Theory and Taxation' (p. 27)
When George was invited to address the University of California at Berkeley, he destroyed any prospect of being considered for a chair of political economy by abusing the economic profession in general. Hudson believes that this anti-academic stance has persisted among Georgists, and has resulted in the disappearance of Georgist ideas from the academic curriculum. In economics textbooks 'land' has become subsumed as a form of 'capital', and rent has ceased to be regarded as an unearned increment, or as essentially different from profit on capital.
(10) 'The Narrowing of George's Theorizing Beyond the Land Question as Such' (p. 30)
Although George deplored poor working conditions, substandard urban housing, and the exploitation inflicted by the private owners of natural monopolies, it is true, as Hudson states, that his political programme did not contain policies that specifically targeted those problems. He did not regard land reform as the only necessary reform, but he believed it was the most fundamental reform, without which all others would be ineffectual. This has meant that he and his followers have not often been at the forefront in articulating policies in areas other than land reform. In particular, they have not developed policies to deal with the creation of credit, and have therefore lost support from those who see the socialisation or social control of credit creation as another necessary and fundamental reform. As Hudson says (pp. 31, 35), there is a direct connection between credit creation and land prices, and between the banking industry and the real-estate industry. Banks regard land as the best collateral for their loans, and their credit creation fuels the land-price spiral--thus prompting the financial sector to give political support to the real-estate industry and to any other organisation that opposes land-value taxation.
(11) 'George's Alliance with the Right Wing of the Political Spectrum' (p. 31)
Hudson recounts how Georgism has become associated over time with different colours of the political spectrum. For property owners and financial interests, Georgism has been seen as socialist. But many socialists have rejected it, because of George's refusal to support the nationalisation of capital. Others see it as anti-socialist and pro-individualist, because of its plan to remove all income tax, even on the wealthy, and because of its glorification of small government.
The history of Georgism thus seems to show that every conceivable political party can find some aspect of Georgism that pleases it, and some aspect that does not.
I would, however, need to have further evidence before accepting Hudson's statements that George's followers lacked 'a quantitative explanation of how government would collect and distribute the flow of rent', and that 'it would take until the end of the 20th century for some of George's followers to propose paying a "citizen's dividend" out of public collection of land and resource rent' (pp. 32-3). It seems to me that George and most Georgists have always been quite clear on these issues. The revenue from their land-value tax would be used to remove all other taxes, and any surplus would be available for free rail transport, or for welfare payments to widows, orphans and the elderly, or as a grant to each citizen. The term 'citizen's dividend' did not appear in Georgist literature until recent times, but the concept is clearly there in 1879 or earlier. Rather than Georgists catching up at the end of the twentieth century with the 'citizen's dividend' concept of the 'libertarian movement', it would be more correct to say that the latter finally caught up with the Georgist vision. This is not to say that the Georgist plan to have all taxation on land value is necessarily convincing or practical; but the plan itself has been given a reasonably clear explanation, even if not with econometric precision.
(12) 'George's Hope that the Single Tax Could be Enacted Gradually Without Radical Confrontation' (p. 33)
Hudson makes the telling point that, of all the major reforms discussed in George's day, the Single Tax was the only one not to succeed. One reason is that it was the most radical reform, 'given the embedded character of land tenure in society's wealthiest and most politically powerful families, and the fact that mortgage lending was becoming the banking industry's major business' (p. 34). Another reason, according to Hudson, is that George and his followers hoped that land-value taxation could be introduced gradually, 'as a merely technical reform with minimum political confrontation' (p. 34).
Hudson largely attributes the political failure of Georgism to George's personal failings--'his self-centered personality', 'his spirit of martyrdom', his sectarianism, and 'his encouragement of increasingly cultish followers'. He describes George as a 'tragic figure', because of 'his self-destructive political strategy'; the 'tragedy of Henry George' was that 'George the politician turned out to be the worst enemy of George the economic journalist and reformer' (pp. 37-9). In Hudson's view:
The political and personal causes suggested by Hudson would go a long way towards explaining the decline in popularity of George's ideas and policies in the period following his death. But I am not convinced that they are the principal reasons for the lack of acceptance and implementation of his policies today. The ideas of George remain the same even after his personal characteristics, and even his name, are long forgotten. Is it possible that the lack of acceptance of the policies is due, not merely or mainly to the vested interests and ideology of the critics, or to his political ineptitude, but to some defects in the theoretical structure behind the policies?
In my opinion, as argued elsewhere (Pullen 2005), there are several aspects of George's theoretical system that need to be reconsidered. One is the fact, rarely adverted to in the pro-Georgist literature, that his proposed annual tax on the land values of owner-occupied residential land is a tax on an unrealised value or unrealised gain, and therefore is likely to cause widespread hardship and political opposition because of inability to pay. Deferment or postponement of the tax until the owner reaches or regains a sufficient income stream, or dies, is not a politically acceptable solution in a society where home ownership is widely dispersed. A capital-gains tax, as normally imposed, is not levied until after a capital gain is realised. George's annual land-value tax is a land-gains tax that would be levied before the land gains on residential land are reached. Both the morality and the feasibility of such a tax must be questionable.
A second questionable aspect of George's theory is the argument that land-value tax is the only morally justified tax, because all other taxes are taxes on labour or capital; and because the products of work or saving should belong totally to the producer. In asserting this theoretical principle, George seems to have carried his economic and political individualism to an unwarranted extreme position. He understates the role played by others in the life and work of the individual. The labourer's product is produced by the labourer, but is not produced by the labourer alone. It is produced by the individual labourer supported by all the hereditary, educational, social, cultural and environmental influences that have contributed to his or her productivity. Since others have contributed to the productivity of the individual, it would seem perfectly logical and justifiable, on the Lockean or labour theory of property employed by George, for others (or society in general) to claim through income tax a portion of the labourer's output.
A third questionable aspect of George's theory is his belief that, where the land value of private landowners is taken away by the state, their legal title to their land is transformed from 'private property' to 'private possession'. As argued above, this would seem to be a totally unnecessary theoretical distinction. It is surely one which alienated, and continues to alienate, all for whom the institution of private ownership of land is an aspiration, and for whom 'land hunger' is a normal and desirable emotion. There seems to be no reason for declaring that privately owned land that is subject to land-value tax should not still be described as privately owned.
I suggest that theoretical issues such as these need to be addressed before the Georgist policy of land-value taxation can achieve feasibility and political acceptance. George held that if a theory is correct, the policy that it leads to must be feasible. The reverse is also true; if there are flaws in the theory, the policies that flow from it cannot be feasible.
The informed and fascinating survey in this book of criticisms that have been levelled at George covers as much as any reader could reasonably expect within one book. Two further Georgist themes that could be considered in a more extensive survey are: the principle of equal rights to natural resources conceived as a moral issue, and the principle of equal sharing or distribution of the value of natural resources considered in its macroeconomic and utilitarian implications. These two principles are, in my opinion, the most essential and most enduring aspects of George's system. Other aspects of his system--such as the singleness of the Single Tax, the legitimacy or otherwise of taxes on income, and the distinction between private possession and private property--have unfortunately occupied the dominant position in both the pro-Georgist and anti-Georgist debates in the past, and will no doubt continue to engender vigorous debate. But even if an unlikely consensus were ever agreed that George was mistaken on all of these other issues, there remains the fundamental question: would a nation be better off or worse off if the value of all its natural resources was shared equally amongst all its members? Many critics have rejected the moral principle that we all have equal natural rights to land, mainly because they deny the existence of natural rights of any kind; but it would be interesting to learn from Professor Hudson, or from any other reliable source, whether any critics have ever proved conclusively that society would become better off, or worse off, by an equal distribution of the value of its natural resources. Disproof of George's other theories and policies does not in any way disprove that an equal sharing of the value of a nation's natural resources would promote the economic well-being of its members, jointly and severally.
Hudson concludes his well-researched and challenging article with a statement, which the present reviewer would heartily endorse:
George, H. 1879 . Progress and Poverty. New York: Modern Library.
Keynes, J.M. 1944. 'Obituary of Mary Paley Marshall 1850-1944', Economic Journal, 54(214), pp. 268-84.
Pullen, J. 2001. 'Henry George's land reform: the distinction between private ownership and private possession', American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 60(2), pp. 547-56.
Pullen, J. 2005. 'The philosophy and feasibility of Henry George's land-value tax: criticisms and defenses, with particular reference to the problem of the land-rich-and-income-poor', in J. Laurent (ed.) Henry George's Legacy in Economic Thought, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, pp. 177-95.
Stigler, G.J. 1969. 'Alfred Marshall's lectures on Progress and Poverty', Journal of Law and Economics, 12(1), pp. 181-4.
John Pullen, Honorary Fellow, School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, University of New England, Armidale NSW 2351, Australia. Email: email@example.com.
Posted by nickglais at 7:16 AM