User Review - Flag as inappropriate
His reasoning on ground rent taxation is flawed in several respects.
1) He assumes that an 100% tax is the only option proposed and shoots this straw man down on the difficulty of arriving at a perfect 100% assessment for land that isn't rented out or that bundles the ground rent with rents on property built upon it.. Charging 90%-95% of the assessed ground rent offers a margin of error and still provides a reason (5%-10% minus error) to invest in land that reflects the low risk. Such profit offers a market force to reduce the error and an agent to collect the tax with the rent.
2) He talks of submarginal land as if there is land that can't make money in this country. This I think is because he writes of a time when population is scarce (his head buried in books on economies past). The lack is of available effort and enterprise, not profit from land. Now that there are more of us the lack of land is more clearly felt. It will take space travel to increase the overall supply of land. There are remote parts of the world where land ownership offers little chance for profit, but who would expect people to pay a tax amount in such circumstances? If profit is not made from a source of profit, then get off the pot (sell) and let someone else have the opportunity.
3) He asks us to forget the other taxes that could be decreased if a universal ground rent tax was introduced, even though he recognises that there is advantage in this. He shifts the goal posts from asking if a ground rent tax has a preferable impact to asking that it have no impact at all. A test that no other tax has to meet nor possibly could.
4) His claim that India and China are poor, not through lack of land opportunity, but through lack of time to accumulate wealth has been criticised far better by more recent events than I ever could. We all get the same amount of time and there is no more land (rising sea levels are outstripping reclamation, but neither can respond to the overwhelming demand). It is land and capital that vary. The market controls capital, but land is a monopoly of the state or of a landed oligarchy. High taxation of the ground rent brings such profit back into the market via lower taxation elsewhere (or government spending). Hong Kong has (fairly) high ground rent taxation and has had since before he wrote this.
It might be a good book in other respects, but since I only referred to it on this subject, my rating for it reflects that. The star is for mentioning ground rent taxation via Georgism.