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Friday, September 12, 2008

David Friedman on Land Value Tax

Prof. Friedman, I actually didn’t say “support”, I said “defend”. Your father defended LVT as the least bad kind of tax, and you in effect just did nearly the same thing in your comment. Since I know you are an anarchist who supports markets in everything — including competing voluntary legal systems — I would never say you consider a Land Value Tax to be “ideal”.

Note that defenders of LVT point not only to the inelasticity of the land supply, but also to how it recaptures some of the community/government investments in local infrastructure that get capitalized into land values. This is why geoanarchist Prof. Fred Foldvary proposed the following language for the Libertarian Party platform. I wonder if you would find much in it to disagree with.

Given that an imposed government exists and obtains revenue, these are the sources proposed by the Libertarian Party, as being the least worst for liberty and economic well being:

1. Voluntary user fees, for services provided by government, when feasible. Proposing such fees does not imply that the LP favors government provision, but only that given such provision, user fees are the least worst way to finance services with specific beneficiaries.

2. Pollution levies based on the damage caused by the emissions. Pollution is tresspass and an invasion of the property of others, and the levy is compensation for damages.

3. Assessments based on the value of land, as government works and services increase land value, and so long as these are provided and funded by government, a levy based on the site value returns to government that land value and rent added by the services. Proposing this revenue source does not imply that the LP favors government provision, only that given such provision, a charge on the generated land value and rent is less unjust and less economically damaging than general taxes on income and sales.

4. Tolls on highways and streets just high enough to prevent congestion. Such tolls would be charge by private providers, and make the use of streets and highways more efficient.

All taxes other than the above should be abolished, in particular all taxes on wages, interest, dividends, and profits; all taxes on the sale of goods and services; and taxes on buildings and other real estate improvements.