Power & Market: Government and the Economy

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Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1970 - Economic policy - 225 pages
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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.

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Page 175 - The subjects of every state ought to contribute toward the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities ; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.
Page 175 - The moment you abandon the cardinal principle of exacting from all individuals the same proportion of their income or their property, you are at sea without rudder or compass and there is no amount of injustice or folly you may not commit.
Page 261 - has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other...
Page 17 - When we inquire by what means this wonder is effected, we shall find, that, as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is, therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.
Page 13 - Few, comparatively, as they are, the agents and employees of the government constitute that portion of the community who are the exclusive recipients of the proceeds of the taxes. Whatever amount is taken from the community, in the form of taxes, if not lost, goes to them in the shape of expenditures or disbursements. The two, — disbursement and taxation,^-constitute the fiscal action of the government.
Page 16 - NOTHING appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers.
Page 147 - It operates upon energy, and industry, and skill, and thrift, like a fine upon those qualities. If I have worked harder and built myself a good house while you have been contented to live in a hovel, the tax-gatherer now comes annually to make me pay a penalty for my energy and industry, by taxing me more than you.
Page 96 - The Use of Private Tokens for Money in the United States," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1916-17, pp.
Page 8 - I propose in the following discussion to call one's own labor and the equivalent exchange of one's own labor for the labor of others, the 'economic means' for the satisfaction of needs, while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the 'political means'.
Page 14 - ... of supporting the government; and the other, of those who are the recipients of their proceeds through disbursements, and who are, in fact, supported by the government; or, in fewer words, to divide it into tax-payers and tax-consumers.

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