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Taxes: In Defense Of Taxation

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Ayn Rand defined the right to property as "the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values." She justified it by saying Just as man can't exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one's rights into reality--to think, to work, and to keep the results--which means: the right to property.

What this means is that we have the right to the fruits of our labor and the fruits of others' that they willingly give to us. We do not have the right to things we steal from others. Here is where the question arises "what about the ownership of physical space?" Land, and the volume of the air above it, are not the fruits of anyone's labor. They are the metaphysically-required starting points that our lives require in order to create wealth in the first place. With this, I agree with Henry George as he said the following:

Here are two simple principles, both of which are self-evident: I.--That all men have equal rights to the use and enjoyment of the elements provided by Nature. II.--That each man has an exclusive right to the use and enjoyment of what is produced by his own labor

In order to exercise your right to life, you need to exist in some area of space. But you cannot do that if land is in fixed supply, and all of it is already owned, without being compelled to pay a land-owner. What this boils down to is, involuntary servitude. It is a cruel contradiction to say that I own myself but not the space that my body occupies.

Now for the reality of it: We cannot redistribute land. It would be a horrific idea, even if possible. The answer is to redistribute land value -- which the real estate biz calculates regularly -- equally among all citizens, or use it to fund the government whose services in turn are free to anyone in need of them. As a student of Objectivism, I believe that government is a requirement for the survivial of the rational man, so I choose the second one. A single Land Value Tax, or LVT, has been advocated by many key figures including John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and Adam Smith.

What do you think?

Edited by softwareNerd

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In order to exercise your right to life, you need to exist in some area of space. But you cannot do that if land is in fixed supply, and all of it is already owned, without being compelled to pay a land-owner. What this boils down to is, involuntary servitude. It is a cruel contradiction to say that I own myself but not the space that my body occupies.

You seem to object to being born into a world where people already own things that you do not have. Why is that?

Anyway, land does not become "owned" simply by saying "this is mine." One has to develop and/or use the land in some manner, i.e., make into something productive. Do you not accept that people deserve to benefit from what they produce? If a landowner develops his property into an apartment complex, how exactly is it "involuntary servitude" for you to pay him rent? And, what exactly is the supposed contradiction in not owning "the space that my body occupies?" When I go shopping at the mall I simply cannot ever recall feeling such a "contradiction."

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In order to exercise your right to life, you need to exist in some area of space. But you cannot do that if land is in fixed supply, and all of it is already owned, without being compelled to pay a land-owner. What this boils down to is, involuntary servitude. It is a cruel contradiction to say that I own myself but not the space that my body occupies.

If you are concerned, I happen to have a 3 acre parcel of very nice land which I would sell you for $15,000. There are many such parcels for sale, and if you want to voluntarily select someone else's parcel, I won't feel hurt. You could even pick a much smaller parcel. Your conundrum arises from four bad assumptions. First, that land is in fixed supply. The Dutch have a nice disproof of that which they worked out a few hundred years ago (one of the best known examples, but not the only). In fact, very many people who live in New York own their existence space but also own no land (embrace the vertical paradigm for development!). And you also need to remember that even though the Moon is a harsh mistress, there is a lot of unowned surface area there. Second, you have to assume that it is all owned: even without doing anything fancy, there is a considerable amount of unowned land (admittedly in some suboptimal parts of the planet like Timbuktu). Third, you assume that no person would be willing to exchange ownership of a piece of their land for some of your nice money -- surely it is not slavery to be "forced" to pay the baker for the bread that you metaphysically must purchase in order to survive. And finally, you seem to think, erroneously, that you must own the land, and that renting is not possible. Renting a place to live is not difficult -- some people do it their whole lives.

But let's get real hard-nosed (and extraordinarily surreal) about this. All the land is gone, you can't create any new land, can't go to new planets, nobody will sell you any land or even rent to you (man, you must have really pissed mankind off). That's life. You have a need -- is your need a just claim on my life? Your right to life is not the same as the bogus "right to be provided with the means of living".

Let me know if you're interested in the property.

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You claim that these self-evident:

Here are two simple principles, both of which are self-evident: I.--That all men have equal rights to the use and enjoyment of the elements provided by Nature. II.--That each man has an exclusive right to the use and enjoyment of what is produced by his own labor
Nature as such doesn't provide anything, it just is. In order to benefit from Nature, man has to identify what is, formulate values on that identification (as well as his choice to live), and then act to alter his surroundings so that it matches up with those values. Without man's thought and action, nature gives nothing. You spoke of "the fruits of our labor". My point here is that for man, there are no fruits without labor (I am including mental processes as labor).

If you are to live with other men in a non-canablisitc society, then each man's action must be delimited so that no one man's pursuits interfere with anyone else's.

In order to exercise your right to life, you need to exist in some area of space.

... Not if that area is already being managed by someone else. Your right to life is the right to act in order to stay alive, and this action is restricted in that it can't intefere with anyone else in their quest for life. However, if you have a mind and are willing to use it, rational men will be willing to trade you land (or use of land) for the products your mind can produce.

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In order to exercise your right to life, you need to exist in some area of space.

That is not correct. In order to exercise survival you must exist in some area of space. But you also need food. And shelter. And possibly medical care, expensive surgery, drugs, etc. These things are not rights; they are tools of survival which must be earned and maintained by merit, not need. A need does not justify a right. Therefore, your premise regarding the simple need for land ownership doesn't support an ethical land tax. It is arbitrary.

Life is a right. Survival is not. Simple as that.

If you lose that conviction, the rest will fall apart.

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"What this boils down to is, involuntary servitude. It is a cruel contradiction to say that I own myself but not the space that my body occupies.

1) Most people are born into families, and most familes own some degree of property or land, and failing that - are renting accomodation with the intention of acquiring it.

In such unfortunate circumstances as not to be born under someones auspices and through intent, i.e. an orphan child, it would be correct to say you are born in a world where nothing is yours, beyond yourself.

It may be true that others get a better start in life, but it is also true that ones suffering doesn't weigh on everyone else, and doesn't demand our suffering. Bear in mind that no matter where you start one thing is true: potentially the world is yours to gain.

2) If your concerned about the idea of completely privatized land; then consider that just because highway 101, or hospital x are owned by such and such doesn't mean that there can't be government trade standards that demand for instance; no racial discrimination, no treatment for x. Assuming you can pay; the service is yours; and as long as we need medical attention there will always be hospitals in a capitalist society.

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In order to exercise your right to life, you need to exist in some area of space. But you cannot do that if land is in fixed supply...

I don't know of any material entity that doesn't have a fixed supply. Therefore, your argument would have to carry over to all material values, and with that mindset you're only a step away from nationalization of industry.

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Thanks for the replies.

You seem to object to being born into a world where people already own things that you do not have. Why is that?

Land is much different from other objects of ownership, because nobody created it. I object to a world where peoples' ownership of land depends on who conquered it first.

Anyway, land does not become "owned" simply by saying "this is mine." One has to develop and/or use the land in some manner, i.e., make into something productive. Do you not accept that people deserve to benefit from what they produce? If a landowner develops his property into an apartment complex, how exactly is it "involuntary servitude" for you to pay him rent?

I don't want to tax improvements on the land, only the land value itself. Land value is calculated based on the surrounding community; that's why land in the middle of NYC is much more expensive than land in the middle of the Sahara desert.

And, what exactly is the supposed contradiction in not owning "the space that my body occupies?" When I go shopping at the mall I simply cannot ever recall feeling such a "contradiction."

You're right about this part, I take that statement back.

First, that land is in fixed supply. The Dutch have a nice disproof of that which they worked out a few hundred years ago (one of the best known examples, but not the only).

I don't know what disproof you are talking about. You can create and artificial island, but land actually includes ocean space so you wouldn't really be creating new land. It is in fixed supply.

In fact, very many people who live in New York own their existence space but also own no land (embrace the vertical paradigm for development!).

I have dropped the claim that it is a contradiction to own yourself by not the land you exist on. However, I do still think that the value of land itself belongs equally to us all.

And you also need to remember that even though the Moon is a harsh mistress, there is a lot of unowned surface area there.

Land would still be in fixed supply!

Second, you have to assume that it is all owned: even without doing anything fancy, there is a considerable amount of unowned land (admittedly in some suboptimal parts of the planet like Timbuktu).

What's your point? Why should the currently unowned land go to whoever conquers it first?

Third, you assume that no person would be willing to exchange ownership of a piece of their land for some of your nice money -- surely it is not slavery to be "forced" to pay the baker for the bread that you metaphysically must purchase in order to survive.

I do not assume this; as a matter of fact, my argument relies on it. I only plan on giving each human a piece of the value of land, not a piece of land itself. So I am assuming they will be able to buy it if they want some.

And finally, you seem to think, erroneously, that you must own the land, and that renting is not possible. Renting a place to live is not difficult -- some people do it their whole lives.

Since I no longer think it is impossible to own yourself and at the same time not own land, I acknowledge this.

All the land is gone, you can't create any new land, can't go to new planets, nobody will sell you any land or even rent to you (man, you must have really pissed mankind off). That's life. You have a need -- is your need a just claim on my life? Your right to life is not the same as the bogus "right to be provided with the means of living".

You're hypothetical situation assumes I'm wrong from the beginning -- because a portion of the population owns all power over the land -- so I can't say anything. If noone will sell you land, tough luck. But you cannot point to a star and say you own it. You can only own what you create or what someone gives you. Nature is here for the taking, but none of us have the Manifest Destiny to a greater chunk of it.

Nature as such doesn't provide anything, it just is. In order to benefit from Nature, man has to identify what is, formulate values on that identification (as well as his choice to live), and then act to alter his surroundings so that it matches up with those values. Without man's thought and action, nature gives nothing. You spoke of "the fruits of our labor". My point here is that for man, there are no fruits without labor (I am including mental processes as labor).

We deserve the parts of our surroundings that we alter (improvements). That is what labor is. Your inclusion of mental processes as labor is wrong. Like I said before, you cannot point to a star and say you own it.

If you are to live with other men in a non-canablisitc society, then each man's action must be delimited so that no one man's pursuits interfere with anyone else's.

. . .

Not if that area is already being managed by someone else. Your right to life is the right to act in order to stay alive, and this action is restricted in that it can't intefere with anyone else in their quest for life.

Which means that theft must be outlawed. My argument is that owning a star because you pointed at it is theft. It is stealing from all others who equally own it due to it not being man-made. This argument of yours will not work until we settle this point.

That is not correct. In order to exercise survival you must exist in some area of space. But you also need food. And shelter. And possibly medical care, expensive surgery, drugs, etc. These things are not rights; they are tools of survival which must be earned and maintained by merit, not need. A need does not justify a right. Therefore, your premise regarding the simple need for land ownership doesn't support an ethical land tax. It is arbitrary.

You're confusing LVT with postivie rights. Positive rights, like the right to medical care, drugs, etc, are rights to the fruits of other peoples' labor. LVT is the equal right to the fruits of nature.

It may be true that others get a better start in life, but it is also true that ones suffering doesn't weigh on everyone else, and doesn't demand our suffering.

Unless their suffering was caused by something we stole from them! It is the nature of theft in relation to non-man-made things that I want to discuss.

I don't know of any material entity that doesn't have a fixed supply. Therefore, your argument would have to carry over to all material values, and with that mindset you're only a step away from nationalization of industry.

Man-made objects can be created over and over again. Supply is limited only by the fixed number of natural resources that brought it about. So it all falls back on the fact that nature has a limited amount of atoms, and the labor of human beings did not bring it about. But the labor of human beings did bring about man-made objects, which is why the argument doesn't carry over to them.

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We are nature. Where planets condensed out of hot gas, and life out of basic elements on some planets, volitionally conscious beings evolved out of this life. Everything is still evolving; choice is our method of evolution - we adapt the land, and each other to our choice, yet within realities boundaries. Objectivist thought is that the most succesful way to do this is for your choices to correspond to reality, i.e. they are rational.

The reality is we adapt the land, the resources to our design; if I do the adapting I am responsible for it. If I land on a previously uninhabited planet and start mining; it becomes my domain; I lay claim to it. A claim is worthless unless people recognise it; this is where government, in fact reason, comes in - I have to make a reasonable claim; It would be unreasonable, and unfeasible to lay claim to the whole of Mars if it is the only other planet we have contact with.

In fact this chain of thinking gives me rise to ask you this:

Would beings with a volitional consciousness from a distant planet have an equal claim to land, as it was originally neutral, a part of nature?? Would we have claim to theirs?

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Land is much different from other objects of ownership, because nobody created it.

You are ignoring my words which you quote just below. A claim of ownership of land is based upon using that land for some productive purpose, so in a very real sense the person who does that has "created it."

I object to a world where peoples' ownership of land depends on who conquered it first.
As I said above, you seem to object to being born into a world where people already own things that you do not have. I'll ask again: Why is that?

I don't want to tax improvements on the land, only the land value itself.

And what gives you the right to tax someone else's property.

Land value is calculated based on the surrounding community; that's why land in the middle of NYC is much more expensive than land in the middle of the Sahara desert.

Don't you realize that Manhattan was once an empty island? It became what it is by the productive effort of many many people. What gives you the right to claim even one iota of the results of their effort?

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Oakes,

You seem to be treating the value of land as intrinsic, however land (and any other part of nature) acquires its value only after we evaluate it as such. Also, it is important to take a deeper look into what exactly is involved in identifying something as a value. It is a combination of identifying what it is as well as what i can do with it. In other words, you recognize it's potential for labor (I agree with you that the term labor should be restrained to the physical realm, however what i am describing is still a combination of mental and physical activity).

As for the "pointing to a previously unowned star (or moon, or mars, or a plot of land) to declare ownership". Pointing is insufficient because, as you rightly point out, what about a group of people simultaneously pointing to the same unowned x. In this example, however, these people are only identifying a potential for labor in the service of creating a value, none have yet actualized that value by engaging in the labor. It is this actualization of a value that grants someone the right to property of any material object, land included. The proper principle is "first come first serve", the first to actualize value from the material of nature, has right to that material.

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I don't know what disproof you are talking about. You can create and artificial island, but land actually includes ocean space so you wouldn't really be creating new land. It is in fixed supply.

I hadn't properly focused on what you said about the fixed supply of land, because I interpreted your staement metaphorically. So I'll try this again. It is true that there is a finite amount of matter in the universe, and that fact has no relevance at all to the question of survival. People are also in fixed supply. You've given no evidence that there is any problem of survival that follows from the finiteness of the universe. You've given no evidence that a lack of land actually makes survival impossible (not to mention having ignored by explanation why there is no problem), and you haven't done the math to prove that it will ever happen at some point in the future (e.g. the number of people times some minimum existence-space exceeds the amount of land on and above the surface of Earth). So you're talking about a non-problem.

BTW "land" does not include the ocean. That's the ocean, as contrasted to the land.

What's your point? Why should the currently unowned land go to whoever conquers it first?

You are the one who is invoking the concept of aggression -- "conquering" is a completely inappropriate word to use when speaking of unowned land: there is nobody to conquer. When a man discovers something that is not owned and first understands its valuet, then it becomes his to possess. First come, first serve and all.

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DavidOdden,

At the end of your post, you state "When a man discovers something that is not owned and first understands its value, then it becomes his to possess. First come, first serve and all."

The point of my previous post was that it takes more than just to understand the value of something, one has to act on that understanding and only then does it become his to possess. It is "first come, first serve" with regard to actualization only, not identfication.

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To everyone:

According to OPAR, the right to life means the right to sustain and protect one's life. Stephen aptly pointed out that it isn't a contradiction that you own yourself but not the space you occupy. However, the right to *be* implies the right to be somewhere. You may not be allowed to go into a mall, or someone else's backyard, but you must be somewhere. Problem is, if one is born into a world owned solely by those who "got there first", you have no right to *be* anywhere; i.e. if no landowner allows you to persist on their land, you will die. This is fundamentally different than food, because you can grown your own if noone sells you any; you can make it with your own labor. Land, on the other hand, cannot be made, and without it, life becomes a physical impossibility.

Admittedly, parents usually provide the child with enough wealth to avoid this problem. But the system must prevent any denial of rights, however rare they may be. The answer is to have a right to your fair portion of land value, so that you have the buying power equal to the land you are entitled to.

[Please don't ignore the previous two paragraphs! It is the basis of my entire argument...and I spent a lot of time thinking it through!]

Now to reply to each individual person:

We are nature. Where planets condensed out of hot gas, and life out of basic elements on some planets, volitionally conscious beings evolved out of this life.

Objectivism makes a distinction between man and nature, and it does so because ethics and politics only apply to man.

The reality is we adapt the land, the resources to our design; if I do the adapting I am responsible for it. If I land on a previously uninhabited planet and start mining; it becomes my domain; I lay claim to it.

Again, the changes you make are yours to keep. But you still haven't explained why the land itself is your domain.

It would be unreasonable, and unfeasible to lay claim to the whole of Mars if it is the only other planet we have contact with.

What about half of it? Or just as far as the eye can see? Where is your arbitrary line drawn?

The LVT tax solves this problem well, because if someone claims all of Mars, they will have to pay a tremendous tax.

Would beings with a volitional consciousness from a distant planet have an equal claim to land, as it was originally neutral, a part of nature??

If they agree to be ruled by our government, yes.

You are ignoring my words which you quote just below. A claim of ownership of land is based upon using that land for some productive purpose, so in a very real sense the person who does that has "created it."

I didn't ignore your words, I answered them. You said that one has to develop/use the land before they can "own" it, then asked me if I agree that people deserve to benefit from what they produce. What they produce from the land is called an improvement, and people deserve every dime of benefit from it. You are confusing the taxation of improvements with the taxation of land value. This seems to be the source of your disagreement with me; you think the two are the same, so improvements on the land = ownership of the land.

BTW, according to your idea, how do you define labor? Is it okay to just walk around your territory? Must you cut a few trees down and build something? How far must you go before the land is justifiably yours?

As I said above, you seem to object to being born into a world where people already own things that you do not have. I'll ask again: Why is that?

What "things" are you talking about? I have no problem with other people owning things that are the fruits of their own labor or given to them by others. Anything else is okay to own as long as everyone else is given an equal share of the profits from it.

And what gives you the right to tax someone else's property.

I've already argued that land itself is not the property of a select few because none of them created it. The point of taxation is to redistribute the land value to everyone through a Citizen's Dividend and/or government services. I'm not an anarchist so I prefer funding government services and possibly giving the rest to the Dividend.

Don't you realize that Manhattan was once an empty island? It became what it is by the productive effort of many many people. What gives you the right to claim even one iota of the results of their effort?

Refer to my fifth quote in this post. You are confusing improvements with land value. To tax improvements on your property is to claim wealth generated by your productive effort. To tax land value on your property is to claim wealth generated by nobody's effort (nature) or other peoples' effort (the surrounding community). In either case, it belongs to everyone, not just you.

You seem to be treating the value of land as intrinsic, however land (and any other part of nature) acquires its value only after we evaluate it as such. Also, it is important to take a deeper look into what exactly is involved in identifying something as a value. It is a combination of identifying what it is as well as what i can do with it. In other words, you recognize it's potential for labor (I agree with you that the term labor should be restrained to the physical realm, however what i am describing is still a combination of mental and physical activity).

No, I don't think there is an intrinsic value of land. Value must have a valuer. But to value something does not give you ownership of it.

As for the "pointing to a previously unowned star (or moon, or mars, or a plot of land) to declare ownership". Pointing is insufficient because, as you rightly point out, what about a group of people simultaneously pointing to the same unowned x. In this example, however, these people are only identifying a potential for labor in the service of creating a value, none have yet actualized that value by engaging in the labor. It is this actualization of a value that grants someone the right to property of any material object, land included. The proper principle is "first come first serve", the first to actualize value from the material of nature, has right to that material.

You, like stephen, seem to think that the very act of making an improvement on the land constitutes "creation" of the land. You are confusing the land itself and improvements made upon it.

BTW same question goes to you: How do you define "labor", or in your case, "actualizing value"? Does walking around count? Must you cut a few trees down and build something? How far must you go before the land is justifiably yours?

It is true that there is a finite amount of matter in the universe, and that fact has no relevance at all to the question of survival. People are also in fixed supply. You've given no evidence that there is any problem of survival that follows from the finiteness of the universe.

If there were infinite land, there would be no need for LVT, because people could always go out and get more. The fact that land is finite means that there is always the chance that people can take an unfair share of the naturally occuring resources.

You've given no evidence that a lack of land actually makes survival impossible (not to mention having ignored by explanation why there is no problem), and you haven't done the math to prove that it will ever happen at some point in the future

First of all, if you cannot exist on any piece of matter, your -cannot- survive. How could you even regard this as disputable? Secondly, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do the math on so please clarify that.

BTW "land" does not include the ocean. That's the ocean, as contrasted to the land.

Land refers to the entire material universe excluding humans and their products. Thus, it includes not just 3-D space, but natural resources such as air, water, minerals, etc., as they exist in their natural state.

You are the one who is invoking the concept of aggression -- "conquering" is a completely inappropriate word to use when speaking of unowned land: there is nobody to conquer. When a man discovers something that is not owned and first understands its valuet, then it becomes his to possess. First come, first serve and all.

It is conquering if you take more than your fair share (total land area divided by human population), if we do indeed have a right to it. I argue that we do, because access to earth is a basic precursor to the exercising of your right to life, one that cannot be guaranteed no matter how much you work unless the law defines it as a right.

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Problem is, if one is born into a world owned solely by those who "got there first", you have no right to *be* anywhere; i.e. if no landowner allows you to persist on their land, you will die. This is fundamentally different than food, because you can grown your own if noone sells you any; you can make it with your own labor.

Okay, let's say that you are given your own land. But what if no one will sell you the seeds, plants, or trees for you to grow your own food? Then, by your own standard, food is fundamentally in the same category as land. What's next? Clothing? Education? Tickets to rock concerts?

Land, on the other hand, cannot be made, and without it, life becomes a physical impossibility.

Not true. You can live on the ocean. Or you can live in an airplane that is refueled in air and never lands anywhere. Or, you can live on a satellite that orbits the Earth.

But the system must prevent any denial of rights, however rare they may be. The answer is to have a right to your fair portion of land value, so that you have the buying power equal to the land you need are entitled to.

You are confusing Objectivism with Communism.

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Land is much different from other objects of ownership, because nobody created it. I object to a world where peoples' ownership of land depends on who conquered it first ...

So it all falls back on the fact that nature has a limited amount of atoms, and the labor of human beings did not bring it about. But the labor of human beings did bring about man-made objects, which is why the argument doesn't carry over to them.

People own land because they either mixed their labor with that plot of earth, or they purchased or inherited that plot from someone who did.

It is beyond silly to think that humans must somehow be atom-creators in order to claim ownership of land.

Think about that! Everything is made of atoms. Do you demand that humans be Gods of the Universe before we can own anything?

Just as a man mixes his labor with atoms to create man-made objects, he also mixes his labor with atoms to create a piece of property.

A piece of real estate is a man-made object. It is a mixture of human labor and earth (atoms). It is one of the greatest and most permanent man-made objects there is. That is why it has such a high value--because it is man-made.

In your view, only God the Atom-Maker could own land. Well, I got news for you. I foreclosed on God ten years ago.

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Okay, let's say that you are given your own land.

I do not want to redistribute land. I said from the beginning that this is a horrific idea. I want to redistribute land value, which means money.

If noone will sell you the products they made with their own labor, that is their perogative. Food is not in the same category as land, even if noone will sell you it, because it is the result of human labor.

Not true. You can live on the ocean. Or you can live in an airplane that is refueled in air and never lands anywhere. Or, you can live on a satellite that orbits the Earth.

Refer to my definition of land:

Land refers to the entire material universe excluding humans and their products. Thus, it includes not just 3-D space, but natural resources such as air, water, minerals, etc., as they exist in their natural state.

So it includes airspace, water, and even outer space.

You are confusing Objectivism with Communism.

There are two means of getting wealth: stealing it and honestly earning it. Henry George understood the difference; Marx did not.

You associate the LVT with communism because it appears no different than the positive rights chanted by Marxists. But there is a difference, as I just explained. The LVT is in complete philosophical agreement with Objectivism; as a matter of fact, Objectivism requires it to be fully consistent.

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People own land because they either mixed their labor with that plot of earth, or they purchased or inherited that plot from someone who did.

Even if this is true for everyone, that only means they own the part that their labor applied to; not the land itself.

It is beyond silly to think that humans must somehow be atom-creators in order to claim ownership of land.

Think about that! Everything is made of atoms. Do you demand that humans be Gods of the Universe before we can own anything?

I never said that! It is perfectly okay to own land, so long as the rights of everyone else to land are no infringed. I don't mean large landowners should give up their land; but they should be taxed.

Just as a man mixes his labor with atoms to create man-made objects, he also mixes his labor with atoms to create a piece of property.

Those are the same two things. Any time you mix your labor with atoms, it becomes a man-made object. The land and resources themselves are not, obviously. The point of the LVT is to make sure everyone has the equal right to naturally occuring resources.

A piece of real estate is a man-made object. It is a mixture of human labor and earth (atoms). It is one of the greatest and most permanent man-made objects there is. That is why it has such a high value--because it is man-made.

You need to understand the difference betweeen improvements and the land value itself. The real estate biz calculates the two separately all the time.

In your view, only God the Atom-Maker could own land. Well, I got news for you. I foreclosed on God ten years ago.

Good grief.

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[1] Refer to my definition of land:

Land refers to the entire material universe excluding humans and their products. Thus, it includes not just 3-D space, but natural resources such as air, water, minerals, etc., as they exist in their natural state.

[2] The LVT is in complete philosophical agreement with Objectivism; as a matter of fact, Objectivism requires it to be fully consistent.

1. Your definition is stupid. If you can't see that, I doubt there is anything we can do for you.

2. You are far from knowing what is consistent with Objectivism.

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...the right to *be* implies the right to be somewhere.

While that may be true, I can't say I've ever heard anywhere in Objectivist literature that specific formulation. In fact, I see quite the opposite. You have a right to your life, meaning you can live if you choose to take the steps necessary to sustain your life. You do not have the right to be as such. That would be equivalent to a demand on any other living being capable of providing you sustenence, that he must do so if you are unable or unwilling.

Here's a relevant quote from an AR letter to Isabel Paterson:

"No right of mine constitutes an obligation on any man living."

We don't have some innate right to exist, but rather to exist if we can provide for our existence.

if one is born into a world owned solely by those who "got there first", you have no right to *be* anywhere; i.e. if no landowner allows you to persist on their land, you will die.

Having a baby implies an obligation to provide for the material and psychological well-being of the child. Providing the material well-being includes providing a place to live, in addition to providing the other physical things required (food, water, etc.). A parent not able to provide a child with space to exist in, is comparable to a parent not able to provide a child with food to exist on. It would be the parents violating the child's right if they are unable to provide these things, not the rest of the landowners in the world violating his rights by not giving the him a place to live.

Just keep in mind that while existence implies existence somewhere, there is no right to exist without providing the material (including the somewhere) required to exist.

A quick side question: how do you quote in the middle of your post and put the name in? I have seen it done many times, but I do not know how to. There must be some attribute of the QUOTE tag I'm unaware of, and if so (or if it's something else) I would appreciate if someone would tell me. Thanks in advance.

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Refer to my definition of land:

Land refers to the entire material universe excluding humans and their products. Thus, it includes not just 3-D space, but natural resources such as air, water, minerals, etc., as they exist in their natural state.

So it includes airspace, water, and even outer space.

And what now if every square inch of your "land" is being used for continual production by labor. You grant each person the right of exclusive use of the product of his labor. Where then can you "be" if all of the "land" is being used for production?

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Guest jrshep

Oakes,

Property rights are the right to the use and disposal of something. If you own something, it's yours to use (or dispose of) however you decide, not upon permission, and the only limitation upon your choices are the rights of others.

On your view of land as basically all matter in the universe (and even were you to limit "land" to what is typically referred to as land), and on your view that no one has the right to own (use and dispose of) "land," only the right to own their improvements to "land," given that they wouldn't have the right to use the "land," they wouldn't have the right to their improvements. In fact, you have declared that there are no rights at all, no right to life, no right to liberty, no right to property, and no right to the pursuit of happiness. Your view makes human life impossible.

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I can't say I've ever heard anywhere in Objectivist literature that specific formulation.

I don't think you'll find it anywhere.

"No right of mine constitutes an obligation on any man living."

We don't have some innate right to exist, but rather to exist if we can provide for our existence.

There is only a negative obligation: an obligation not to steal, not to kill, etc. They don't have an obligation to keep you alive with their own labor, but to let you provide for your own existence.

One way that someone can prevent you from providing for your own existence is to conquer every piece of land on earth and demand that you either pay or get off. Their territory was not the fruit of their labor, so their obligation to pay the LVT is not to keep everyone else alive with their labor. It is to let them provide for their own existence.

Having a baby implies an obligation to provide for the material and psychological well-being of the child.

True, but the LVT isn't just for children. I may not have a full picture of the effects of a society in which a minority gets all the profits from land value, because I haven't been exposed to anything else. However, I do believe George blamed it for many instances of poverty, unemployment, low wages, speculation, high federal deficit, degradation of the environment, urban sprawl, and so on. So the obligation of a mother to care for her child doesn't eliminate all instances when our equal right to land can be violated.

Anyway, I'm just arguing the LVT from a philosophical perspective :lol:

Just keep in mind that while existence implies existence somewhere, there is no right to exist without providing the material (including the somewhere) required to exist.

"including the somewhere"? You can provide yourself with man-made materials as long as you are willing to labor for them, but no amount of labor will provide you with the basic materials to start out with if they are all already owned.

A quick side question:

[ quote=jedymastyr ]Yadda yadda yadda.[ /quote ]

Take out the spaces

And what now if every square inch of your "land" is being used for continual production by labor. You grant each person the right of exclusive use of the product of his labor. Where then can you "be" if all of the "land" is being used for production?

So, every single square inch is owned. Even if that land isn't being used productively, you have no right to evict anyone from their land. But you will be given money from the Citizen's Dividend which you can use to buy or rent property like you do today. The point of LVT is to give you the partial ownership of land in money-form to allow you to labor, and thus, to live. This time, if everyone throws you off their property, you cannot complain, because through their payment of the LVT, they have the right to all that property.

On your view of land as basically all matter in the universe (and even were you to limit "land" to what is typically referred to as land), and on your view that no one has the right to own (use and dispose of) "land," only the right to own their improvements to "land," given that they wouldn't have the right to use the "land," they wouldn't have the right to their improvements.

My bold. This is not my view nor ever was. We all have the right to own land, but only so far as we don't infringe on the equal rights of others. So, I do believe in the right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness :)

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BTW a few people seemed to have a problem with my usage of the word "land". It is borrowed straight from the classical definition given in Henry George's Progress and Poverty:

WEALTH: All material things produced by labor for the satisfaction of human desires and having exchange value.

LAND: The entire material universe exclusive of people and their products.

LABOR: All human exertion in the production of wealth.

CAPITAL: Wealth used to produce more wealth, or wealth in the course of exchange.

RENT.- That part of wealth which is the return for the use of land.

WAGES: Mat part of wealth which is the return to labor.

INTEREST: Mat part of wealth which is the return for the use of capital.

DISTRIBUTION Me division of wealth among the factors that produce it.

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So, every single square inch is owned. Even if that land isn't being used productively, you have no right to evict anyone from their land. But you will be given money from the Citizen's Dividend which you can use to buy or rent property like you do today. The point of LVT is to give you the partial ownership of land in money-form to allow you to labor, and thus, to live. This time, if everyone throws you off their property, you cannot complain, because through their payment of the LVT, they have the right to all that property.

Sorry, but now you are just back with your original "problem," the one for which you have dreamed up this elaborate "solution." Remember, you said:

"In order to exercise your right to life, you need to exist in some area of space. But you cannot do that if land is in fixed supply, and all of it is already owned, without being compelled to pay a land-owner. What this boils down to is, involuntary servitude. It is a cruel contradiction to say that I own myself but not the space that my body occupies."

And,

"However, the right to *be* implies the right to be somewhere. You may not be allowed to go into a mall, or someone else's backyard, but you must be somewhere. Problem is, if one is born into a world owned solely by those who "got there first", you have no right to *be* anywhere; i.e. if no landowner allows you to persist on their land, you will die. This is fundamentally different than food, because you can grown your own if noone sells you any; you can make it with your own labor. Land, on the other hand, cannot be made, and without it, life becomes a physical impossibility."

You have now come full circle, and gotten nowhere. You just cannot "be," in your own terms.

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