Debate Magazine

In the Interest of Balance...

Posted on the 07 April 2018 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

Bayard posted something here, and Simon McKenna responded on Facebook:
"My reply to Mark Wadsworth... I must say the fact that Mark fails to understand my assertion that fiscal economics aside, private rent extraction is morally wrong, quite disturbing (although it is quite common!). Just add that I totally agree that everyone will benefit from 100% LVT. That was not the point I was making, so your presentation of your rebuttal is misleading. I am not advocating "class war" by reminding people that the privatisation of land is wrong:
A) We have to understand that economics is inherently ethical. Poverty isn't a merely fiscal (therefore acceptable) side effect of an economic system that need not cause poverty. Poverty is a moral evil. Ask anyone who suffers from it, or go observe some. Even if you just think about it, most poverty is unjust. It isn't caused by the poor because they fail to work, it is caused by the system which heaps benefits on unearned wealth and penalises work.
B) As a member of a political party, you should understand that politics is about morality as much as economics is about morality. Take the recent arguments advanced by the Conservatives that "Britain must pay it's debts". This is an erroneous argument economically, which relies on an incorrect moral analog to the household budget. It ignores the fact that countries have to be in debt because that is how money is created. https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf
However, people supported it because the moral force of the argument compliments economic illiteracy - one must pay one's debts, therefore we must pay our debts. Likewise, people support notions of a "deregulated free market" because they think people should be free to trade (even though all markets are created and restricted by rules), people still support Marxism because they think it is wrong that one class should rule another (despite the evidence of the terrible economic and moral consequences of Marxism). All of these arguments are factually problematic but have been unbelievably successful because have enormous ethical appeal. Consider Churchill's speeches in support of LVT - he makes the moral argument - it is wrong that one should profit despite not working. It is not class war, it is simple morality.
My original point was to remind people that the private collection of rent is not only extremely economically counterproductive for everyone, it is morally wrong, since no one created the land on which we must all dwell, no one can claim to have the right to the product thereby generated."


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