An Historical Perspective

by Bob Keall

In Old Testament times land could be leased but not permanently alienated (Lev. 25:23) and reverted to the original family tribal holders every 50 years - the year of the Jubilee (Lev. 25:28). Ahab rebelled against this Mosaic Law, "withdrew his neighbour's landmark and laid field to field" (Deut. 19:14). This rejection of the law divided Israel and inspired the prophets Isaiah, Amos, Micah and others, to denounce it and the social consequences. At Luke 4:19 Jesus affirmed the Law in His Mission Statement.

The two concepts of tenure traversed Europe. The Romans adopted privatisation and despite whatever else they contributed to civilisation, nevertheless disintegrated. In Northern Europe the feudal concept vesting proprietorship in the king on behalf of all with delegated fiefdoms, was eventually abused in the Enclosure of the Common lands. The delegated baronial privilege or fiefdom (holding in trust) is today fragmented and sold as the title in fee simple.


220 years ago, a landless French peasantry revolted against a landed aristocracy. The economists of those times (the Physiocrats) pointed out that the guillotine did not change the system and advocated an Impot Unique or single tax on land as the real solution. This was ignored. Today, agricultural subsidies prop up French land prices to an absurd degree and obstruct world trade.


144 years ago American slaves were freed (after civil war, and with Lincoln's assassination), but without access to land became a destitute minority. In 2009 a black American President retraces Lincoln's journey to the White House! "The Truths that men die for today, the world lives by tomorrow."


130 years ago Henry George wrote Progress and Poverty showing how all progress is captured in land price making some rich and the rest poor. In "The Condition of Labour" he explained to the Pope that private property in land values was wrong and no more justifiable than slavery. Buying in didn't validate it: there is no valid title to stolen goods. The Pope later recanted, obliquely.


92 years ago. The Russians murdered the Czar and socialised everything.


25 years ago. Douglas began to privatise everything including infrastructural natural monopolies, instead of retaining state ownership of the asset or at least the rights, and inviting tenders for the private operation of the facility under a market rental in favour of the community. Privatising natural monopoly rights was the 20th century equivalent of the earlier Enclosure Acts.


16 years ago. The Resource Rentals for Revenue Assn. recommended leasing natural monopolies on the basis that any Resource Rentals, licences, fees, taxes etc be set-off against any other taxes payable by the individual. And in 1997, that the Rental revenue be used first to abolish GST and then to make transitional accommodations where appropriate and eventually yield a UBI or social dividend as a share in the "Growth of the Economy".


Tax set-off is further explained as the means of applying the reform without compensation or injustice.


It shouldn't be long soon! A global Credit Crunch caused by privatised land values.

At Matthew 5:17, 18 we are promised fulfilment of The Mosaic Law.