The Traumatised Society: How to Outlaw Cheating and Save Our Civilisation
by Fred Harrison
Book Review – Part 2
Harrison devotes the second half of The Traumatized Society to describing countries and communities that have tried to enact a Land Value Tax.
Adam Smith was the first prominent economist to propose the LVT as the most “moral” and least economically harmful tax in his classic Wealth of Nations. Neoconservative icon Milton Friedman also considered it the “least bad” kind of tax. The most famous contemporary Georgist is former World Bank Economist and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz.
Economies and personal freedom flourish wherever an LVT has been implemented. As Harrison reminds us, the economic surge known as the Asian Tiger didn’t start in China, but in Taiwan and Hong Kong – as a direct result of LVT-based economies.
Other experience with LVT
• UK – Britain made several attempts to end predatory rent-seeking through the enactment of LVT. As a result of Henry George’s 1879 international bestseller Progress and Poverty. Winston Churchill (still a liberal in 1909) became one of the most vocal proponents of the People’s Budget. The law, passed by the British parliament in 1909, sought to shift the burden of taxation from wages to land. It was never implemented due to a court challenge by the British aristocracy. In 1931 Parliament passed a revised version of the People’s Budget, which Chancellor of the Exchequer Neville Chamberlain simply deleted it from the law book in 1934. If the LVT had been fully implemented, Britain would have been spared the worst effects of the Great Depression.
• Africa – South Africa’s current economic difficulties relate to a fatal error they made in 2004. They amended their land value tax to add a tax on property improvements. According to Harrison, they should have done the opposite – increase the land value tax and reduce other taxes. As much of sub-Saharan Africa is still communally owned, there is still great potential for emerging African economies to adopt an LVT. This would allow them to develop debt-free, sustainable economies that don’t leave the majority of the population in abject poverty.
• US – Strongly influenced by the 1890s populist movement that campaigned for LVT as well as well as ending America’s debt-based monetary system, five states have passed LVT enabling legislation: Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. American communities that have enacted (and benefited) from LVT include California’s Central Valley, Fairhope Alabama, Arden Delaware, and Pittsburgh and other cities in Pennsylvania.