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Pippa Bartolotti Headshot

Why Is So Much Wealth in the Hands of the Few?

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When the English aristocracy enclosed the common land the immediate effect was to disenfranchise the remainder of the populace. Subsequent land grabbing in the name of colonialism underlined the distinction of land as the mainstay of wealth and power, puppet governments did the rest.

In a world where 854 million people are undernourished and 700 million are obese, the inequalities are stark. Governments worldwide, swayed by the lure of past glories and reacting to the strings pulled by the rich, lack imaginative responses to changing circumstances. The link between economic models and inequality will be the testing ground.

Our tired economic models insist on basing their trends on growth - an impossibility in a world of finite resources. Inequality languishes unaddressed at our peril. It will not be enough to ask the most vulnerable to suffer further just to maintain the system which made them vulnerable in the first place.

The need to minimise governance-induced debt will not be met by squeezing the average citizen still further, because they are not likely to tolerate it. With the advent of the internet and mobile technology people are now more in touch with each other than ever before. They are learning to sift through the endless streams of information and disinformation, and they are formulating their own plans. People know that there is a small but fantastically rich elite who hold themselves above the law, who pay little or no taxes, and who for generations have lived quite literally off the fat of the land, stolen land.

Land is the one finite resource where the value is rigged entirely towards the possessor at the expense of the community surrounding it. A tax shift away from goods and services, and towards the value of land would create greater wealth for communities without dispossessing the owners. It would also be the single most effective means of reducing inequality. To continue a bias in policy towards landowners and the rich, at the expense of people and planet, would be no less than a criminal enterprise of government.

Land is used not only for the production of wealth but also as an instrument of oppression of human by human. The challenge before us is to bring about change in policy so that people will pay for what they take, not what they make. Introducing a land value tax is the first step in realising the type of equality based on fairness for all.