Friday, 19 July 2013

Magna Carta #2

Weekend Yachtsman left a comment on "Most people think Magna Carta is a document about..."

Not sure I agree with this bit:

"further large chunks in privately collected taxes (rent or mortgage interest)"

Tax is money you have to hand over and get nothing in return, or nothing you've really a right to believe in or expect.

Rent or mortgage payments are voluntarily entered into and you definitely get something from them - the right to occupy a tenanted property or - eventually - ownership of the mortgaged property. Voluntary is the key difference.

You can't really compare them imho.

That's the same lie which the barons came up with, once they had glossed over the bit of how they acquired the land in the first place (by stealing it from the king who'd stolen it from the common people anyway). They claimed that fulfilling their side of the bargain was like being made to pay "a tax", so they were classifying the payment by status of the recipient rather than what they were paying for. Which is the miracle of Home-Owner-Ism - rent or interest paid to a private individual is not "tax" but rent/interest paid into the common fund is "tax".

But all right then, let's agree that things like income tax, Employer's NIC and VAT are definitely taxes because the payer gets nothing in return. In which case Land Value Tax is not a tax, because you do get something in return and it is voluntary. It's like rent (in fact, it is rent, it's ground rent).

Further, "Rents" are a privately collected tax if the land "owner" is just collecting or consuming the rent without paying the nation's share (the location rent) back to the nation.

Think about it logically: if a tax payment is a payment forced upon the payer by the government for nothing specific in return, then look at it from the point of view of the recipient. It's a tax (or a welfare payment) if somebody receives something from other people for nothing in return because the government has arranged it that way.

So you pay tax cash to the government who gives it to welfare claimants, pensioners and other troughers. The recipients give or do nothing of value in return. Similarly, if you pay rent or mortgage interest to a landlord or bank, then they are doing nothing for it in return. It is pure profit. It's like stealing something from somebody and then selling it back to him. The payer is getting something in reutnr but the seller is still acting immorally.

And for every £1 LVT the government doesn't collect, it collects £1 income tax instead, so these Homeys who campaign against LVT are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.


Kj said...

Ah but you forget what the faux-lib clings to: that when you have privately collected rents, people can voluntarily *give* someone land, which they don't have to pay "tax" on. And when people have paid down their mortgage, they can tell everyone to f* off and do whatever their please with their land. So even if for the majority of people, most of the time, existing is a matter of paying someone else either in rent or as a one-time entrance fee, and a cycle of the latter, this little pocket of self-ownership in a couple of decades of some people's lives is reason enough to call the *public* collection of land rent feudal, and not voluntary.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Kj: "when people have paid down their mortgage, they can tell everyone to f* off and do whatever they please"

Yes, that is The Dream.

But people who have paid off their mortgage are more dependent on the rest of society than anybody else.

They need people to provide healthcare, to pay their pensions, a police force to keep criminals away, somebody to drive the bus which they sit in etc. They are physically incapable of doing this for themselves. They are Poor Widows In Mansions.

And if you are "financially independent" and have worked and saved hard, you still need the rest of society and the legal system to ensure that companies pay you your dividends and that banks still pay you your interest instead of just cancelling your account.

And you need people who will provide the goods and services for you to spend your money on.

No man (or woman) is an island and nobody is independent of the rest of society.

Lola said...

Rent = tax. Tax = rent. Why not just admit that and add tax to rent?

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, broadly speaking yes.

But there is a subtle difference from the point of view of the PAYER. Rent is payment for something in return, tax isn't.

However, from the point of view of the RECIPIENT (landowner, banker, welfare claimant or pensioner) it is all tax because it's not for anything in return.

Bayard said...

(by stealing it from the king who'd stolen it from the common people anyway)

Not so, the "common people" never had owned any land, as the concept of ownership only arose when some local big man said the land belonged to him and instead of each family being responsible for their own defence, he and his gang of thugs would defend everyone else, and everyone else would house and feed him and his gang of thugs. Before that, the land "belonged" to everyone and no-one. So the Norman kings and barons took the land from the Saxon kings and earls who took the land from the Romano-British Kings and nobillity, who were the same as the chiefs of the pre-Roman tribes, whose ancestors had laid claim to the land when they were all hunter-gatherers.

Bayard said...

"Rent is payment for something in return, tax isn't."

Nowadays this is true, as you enjoy the same rights and protections under the law, whether you pay your taxes or not. It wasn't always the case: in mediaeval times, if you didn't fulfil your half of the bargain and pay your taxes, you became an outlaw, which didn't mean, as now, some sort of desperado, but that you no longer enjoyed the protection of the law. It was not a crime for someone to kill you or rob you of everything you possessed or both. There are some good scifi stories set in societies that have reintroduced the original concept of outlawry.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, obviously, the barons stole it from the king who who stole it from Anglo-Saxon tribal leaders who stole it from Celtic tribes who stole it from... etc blah blah blah blah.

B, a ransom payment is not payment for something.

You don't enjoy the same rights if you do not pay your taxes, you are in trouble, court judgement against you, bailiffs, might even get sent to jail. So when you pay tax, you are partly paying to avoid all this unpleasantness. But that is purely a negative thing.

It's not like LVT where at least you get some nice land in return if you pay.

Bayard said...

"who stole it from... etc blah blah blah blah"

but not ever from the common people, because they never owned it in the first place.

"You don't enjoy the same rights if you do not pay your taxes, you are in trouble, court judgement against you, bailiffs, might even get sent to jail."

Even, convicted and in jail, the criminal enjoys the protection of the law, so the state has to keep its side of the arrangement, even if the citizen doesn't, thus the state has to invent extra penalties to make the citizen keep their side of the arrangement. Thus the arrangement changes from "pay us and we will protect you, don't pay us and we won't" to "pay us or we will bash you (whilst still preventing anyone else from bashing you)",

QP said...

Don't forget the MMT description of taxes supporting the currency. UK taxes have to be paid in £ and so this creates an essential demand for government IOUs. If banks used their own currency rather than the government currency then I think this would *technically* turn mortgage interest into tax.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, sure, I know all that, but with LVT, the payer gets something extra and specific back if he pays more, with income tax you get nothing extra in return for paying. Let us assume that the penalties for non-payment are similar for both taxes and thus can be ignored.

QP, well that's not just an exclusively MMT point, that is a widely accepted fact. And banks sort of do have their own currencies, so I'm not sure if that conclusion follows.