"Land monopoly is the mother of exploitation", so say the advocates of Land Rent (LR) - otherwise known as geonomists. It is a sentiment with which many students of Scottish history will readily agree. Geonomists point out that through the dispossession, two hundred years ago, of thousands of Scots to feed the dark satanic mills and the Highland regiments, the Clearances were an essential prelude to the Industrial Revolution and to English Imperial Expansionism.
However, geonomic policy aims to break down the resultant land and trade monopolies within Scotland by proposing that all landowners must recompense the community through payment of a ground rent for the exclusive right to occupy a given piece of land, irrespective of whether they intend to use it or not. Since land rental values are entirely determined by factors outside the landowners' control-its locational advantages, natural resources/fertility and infrastructural access-the community collection of such values, known as ground rent, is no more than natural justice demands.
Why, geonomists argue, should public or private landowners be allowed, as at present, to harvest and monopolise the fruits of nature's bounty and of the community's industriousness? The benefits of such a radical proposal, if implemented by an independent Scottish Parliament, would be manifold;1) The end of Highland Landlordism with the commensurate repopulation, revitalisation and "greening" of Scotland's economy.
Indeed, geonomists predict that within a generation of its implementation by an independent Scottish government, the State's present level of activities could be reduced by 90%. They argue that, coupled to the revenue accruing from our dwindling, albeit substantial oil reserves, and savings made by shedding our nuclear commitments, a proportion of LR revenue would form a sizable surplus to be distributed amongst the whole population as a basic income to replace all existing benefits, tax allowances and grants.
The consequent dismantling of the poverty trap, presently ensnaring 1.5 million Scots, and the inevitable improvement in national health and morale would have obvious knock-on effects. The vast bureaucracies required to run D.S.S., the N.H.S. (and some would argue) our Police, Courts and Prisons, would be scaled down dramatically. Where the individual no longer lives in fear of poverty (or the Inland Revenue), where he/she is free to develop his/her own skills and talents and to contract out his services as he/she pleases, outwith the deadening compulsion of an outmoded work-ethic, then family and community life will flourish.
Indeed, as an independent, prosperous and just nation, we would be able to demonstrate on the international stage that the poor are with us only so long as we continue to positively encourage the private appropriation of rent. Perhaps we will even be able to pick up the ancient threads of our international reputation as a socially enlightened country when, as geonomists envisage, we succeed in liberating production from taxation, Scottish land from monopoly, and our people from poverty.
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