Thursday, December 27, 2007

Whoops! posted to the wrong blog by mistake. This one will come back in a big way at the end of 2008, but until then it's dormant.

Monday, October 31, 2005

no more blogging for a while

Like Fagin in Lionel Bart's Oliver, I've been reviewing the situation. This blog takes a lot of time away from my other activities, mainly the game I'm developing. The game has a serious purpose and, if I do it well, it will do more good than this blog ever could. But it demands a great deal of time. So no more blogging for a while. There just aren't enough hours in the day to do all I want. Blogging stops today. Over the next week or two I'll update the land rent web site, then leave that alone as well. I need to really concentrate on the game.

Thanks for reading.

Delhi bombing: the rational response is land rent

Today's top BBC story is still the Indian bombing. I might seem crazy to link this with land rent, but hear me out.

According to the article there are many "terrorist" groups in Kashmir. According to everything I can find, sixty dead is very few compared with the thousands who die in the endless round of violence in Kashmir. And if you read about what motivates each side (Pakistan, Kashmir, India) the number of dead is far less than the number who are passionately angry about the question of who controls the land.

The word "rational" comes from the word "ratio" and means an ability to tell when one thing is more larger or more important than another thing. A rational approach to terrorism shows that the big picture, the cause that we should address, is land ownership. When terrorism threatens, we should redouble our efforts to promote land rent. It is the only rational response.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Indian bombing shows the need for land rent

Today's top BBC story is a bombing in India. Compared with the earthquake, this is insignificant. As noted earlier, earthquake deaths are caused by poverty, and economic justice is the solution to poverty. Hence, even in the face of a bombing, our priority should still be land rent.

Who caused the bombing? Fingers are pointed at the Kashmir rebels. If it was them, why did they bomb? Finding answers on western news sites is very difficult - we are told in one sentence that "they want Kashmir to be part of Pakistan" with no further analysis. Plainly we are not supposed to think about their demands. Anyone who bombs another country is plainly evil. (Unless of course it is us.)

Further investigation suggests that the number of deaths in bombing is nothing compared with the deaths within Kashmir itself. This is the only article I could find that tried to explain the Kashmiri point of view. Right or wrong, their point of view is what causes the bombing, assuming that Kashmii militants are the bombers:
My investigation took me to the region in 1993 to carry out extensive field
research on the besieged everyday life of the Kashmiri people, a people seeking
national emancipation from a colonial power. I discovered a similar problem in
Bosnia. The major difference, however, is that Kashmir's tragedy is situated on
the periphery of the world; therefore, the international community has dismissed
it as inconsequential even with the loss of tens of thousands of lives. To
complete my research on Kashmir, I documented the Indian-Pakistan dispute over
the Siachen Glacier located in the Karakoram Mountains of Northern Kashmir.
There are no inhabitants on earth here other than the two rival armies faced-off
on this frozen battlefield. Living with the Pakistani soldiers on this perilous
glacier, I began to understand and chronicle the fervent commitment and costly
sacrifices made on behalf of the Kashmiri people. I also studied the people of
Baltistan who live within a region of Kashmir. Most of the research on Kashmir
fails to report the situation as it is, pivoting on Kashmir's desire to separate
from India, and India's military hold on Kashmir which has led to massive human
rights abuses. The primary purpose in my research was to understand this
conflict from the Kashmiri point of view, to come to terms with the real issues
at stake, and to document state violence against a people guilty only of the
crime of defending their liberty to decide their own destiny. My photographic
record offers a visual chronicle of my visit to Kashmir, and a reminder of the
human cost that has been endured by the Kashmiri people for many years.
- dissertation by Martin Sugarman, University of California at Los Angeles, 2001

It all comes down to a passionate desire for land. India wants Kashmir. Pakistan wants Kashmir. Kashmir wants Kashmir. Whoever owns land owners wealth. But land rent changes the rules - wealth only comes from work (any excess is given in land rent). So the mad desire for land cools down, to be replaced by a sane desire for the tax-free profits of honest work.

Note that even the craziest religious passion relies on economic realities. Bombers get their support from the poor and desperate or from the calculations of sympathetic governments. The ultimate cause is always economic.

Most so-called terrorism comes from a passionate desire for land. Land rent cools that passion and is thus the solution to terrorism.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Lewis Libby story shows why we need land rent

Today's top BBC story is about revealing the secret identity of a CIA officer. The story illustrates the weakness of a secrets-based policy. Apart from the fact that you can never prove that secrets work (because the information is not open to peer review), most of the examples that come to light show very little benefit. In this case we don't know what the CIA officer achieved (if anything) but we do know that her husband's discrete work was ignored, and all the evidence regarding WMD was ignored in favor of political needs.

The real power is political and this comes down to control of resources. Control of resources decides wars and policies, control of resources decides wealth and poverty, control of resources decides justice and misery, control of resources involves trillions of dollars taken from the poor and given to the rich. That is why land rent, the just allocation of resources is vastly more important than any silly games over who said what. In comparison, the whole existence of the CIA and other secretive organizations is irrelevant and probably counter productive by creating distrust.

Friday, October 28, 2005

"today's top BBC story" (unimportant post)

I just checked the BBC site for a not-blog-related reason, and maybe I should clarify something. When I say "today's top BBC story" I mean the main headline at the moment when I write the blog. That is usually just after midnight or around 8 am my time (GMT +). I always choose the main headline to avoid any self-selection bias. But obviously the story changes throughout the day, so it may not be the biggest story of the whole day.

See, I told you this was an unimportant post.

land rent gives power to those who earn it

Today's top BBC story is Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers stepping down. One way to view this is that the US president made a lot of mistakes, and this (trying to send his own lawyer to the supreme court) is just one of them.

GWB comes from a wealthy oil family. You have to be wealthy to become US president - poor people never get elected. A lot of oil money is earned (in prospecting, drilling, etc.) and the rest of it is unearned: a company that can buy the best oil land has an unfair advantage over the others. With better land, they can do the same work as their less landed competitors yet gain higher profits. Land rent would calculate the unearned portion and takes that as tax. That creates a level playing field for all competitors (and also allows all other business activities to be tax free, thus rewarding entrepreneurs). Applying this to GWB, he could only get rich in oil if he was a smarter businessman than his competitors. It appears that he isn't, so under a land rent system he would not be highly wealthy, so he would not be elected President, so he could not make silly decisions like today's.

A better leader in the White House - another benefit of land rent.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Israel and Palestine need land rent

Todays top BBC story is a suicide bomber in Israel. At the root of all the troubles is that Israel and Palestine want the same land. Land rent would solve that problem.

Land rent takes the unearned value of land and gives it to society. So land owners keep all the wealth through their hard work, but none of the wealth that comes simply because of their preferential location. If land rent was applied between Israel and Palestine, Israel would have no economic benefit in occupying the prime land, and Palestinians would find their standard of living raised (see the main web site for how land rent creates a healthy economy). With less desire to grab territory and fewer desperate unemployed youths, the Israel-Palestine problem would be solved, or at least improved beyond all recognition.

Solving the Middle East's number one problem: another benefit of land rent.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the solution to a divided country is land rent

Today's top BBC story is the Iraq constitution. Most voters supported it, but some opposed it. The opposition fears that increased autonomy means the oil-rich states can keep wealth instead of sharing it with oil-poor regions.

Land rent is the answer. With land rent, the value of all land is, in effect, equalized. One result is that no region has an advantages over another region simply because it sits on an oil field. (See the main web site for how land rent is calculated.) There are many other advantages, but this is the one that is relevant to today's news.

Justice between national regions: another advantage of land rent.


Today's top BBC story: millions of children dying from AIDS in Africa, and only five percent get any treatment. It is of course no coincidence that Africa is the (financially) poorest continent on earth. If we add up all the tragedies that are caused or made far worse by poverty, we arrive at one of three possible responses:
  1. Denial. Just get on with your life, make some token payment to a charity, but "there's nothing you can do."
  2. Focus on just one or two charitable needs and ignore the millions of others.
  3. Attack all these problems at their root: economic justice.
It all comes down to poverty, and poverty starts at the most fundamental level: unjust access to raw materials. This unjust access leads to inefficiency, corruption, lack of opportunity, war, and all the other immediate causes of poverty. And these in turn lead to desperation, ignorance, an inability to plan ahead, an inability to cope with or recover from problems, and an endless catalog of misery and pain.
We should do what we can on individual issues like AIDS, environmental damage, terrorism, war, or emergency relief, but in the long term, land rent is the only real solution.