Ethics provides us with a way of deciding what is right and what is wrong in the world and also how we should respond to a situation where such a choice needs to be made. We don't always choose what is right, but ethics does provide us with the means for knowing where we are wrong, and possibly helping us to discover why we made the wrong decision.
It is with regard to the ethics of the ownership of land and the rights to it and to other natural resources that concerns me the most. This is because when these resources are held unused (often for purposes of pride in ownership or for speculation in their rising values) there is less opportunity for other people to work and some of the managed but non-land owning workers find themselves unemployed and having to be homeless or live in a state of poverty.
A wise and sensible government would recognize this problem. It can be solved by the use of a tax system which encourages the proper use of land and which stops penalizing everything and everybody else. Such a tax system was proposed almost 140 years ago by Henry George, a (North) American economist, but somehow most macro-economists seem never to have heard of him, in common with a whole lot of other experts. (I would guess that they don't want to know, which is worse!) In “Progress and Poverty” 1879, Henry George proposed a single tax on land values without other kinds of tax on produce, services, capital gains, etc. This regime of land value tax (LVT) has 17 features which benefit almost everyone in the economy, except for landlords and banks, who/which do nothing productive and wrongly find that land dominance has its own reward.
17 Aspects of LVT Affecting Government, Land Owners, Communities and Ethics
Four Aspects for Government:
1. LVT, adds to the national income as do all other taxation systems, but it can and should replace them.
2. The cost of collecting the LVT is less than for all of the production-related taxes—then tax avoidance becomes impossible because the sites being taxed are visible to all.
3. Consumers pay less for their purchases due to lower production costs (see below). This creates greater satisfaction with the government’s management of national affairs.
4. The national economy stabilizes—it no longer experiences the 18 year business boom/bust cycle, due to periodic speculation in land values (see below).
Six Aspects Affecting Land Owners:
5. LVT is progressive--owners of the most potentially productive sites pay the most tax.
6. The land owner pays his LVT regardless of how his site is used. When fully developed, a large proportion of the ground-rent from tenants becomes the LVT, with the result that land has less sales value but a significant "rental"-value (even when it is not being used).
7. LVT stops the speculation in land prices and any withholding of land from proper use is not worthwhile.
8. The introduction of LVT initially reduces the sales price of sites, (even though their rental value can still grow over long-term use). As more sites become available, the competition for them becomes less fierce so entrepreneurs are more active.
9. With LVT, land owners are unable to pass the tax on to their tenants as rent hikes, due to the reduced competition for access to the additional sites that come into use.
10. With LVT, land prices will initially drop. Speculators in land values will want to foreclose on their mortgages and withdraw their money for reinvestment. Therefore LVT should be introduced gradually, to allow these speculators sufficient time to transfer their money to company-shares etc.,and simultaneously to meet the increased demand for produce (see below).
Three Aspects Regarding Communities:
11. With LVT, there is an incentive to use land for production or residence, rather than it being unused.
12. With LVT, greater working opportunities exist due to cheaper land and a greater number of available sites. Consumer goods become cheaper too, because entrepreneurs have less difficulty in starting-up their businesses and because they pay less ground-rent--demand grows, unemployment decreases.
13. Investment money is withdrawn from land and placed in durable capital goods. This means more advances in technology and cheaper goods too.
Four Aspects About Ethics:
14. The collection of taxes from productive effort and commerce is socially unjust. LVT replaces this extortion by gathering the surplus rental income, which comes without any exertion from the land owner or by the banks--LVT is a natural system of national income-gathering.
15. Bribery and corruption on information about land cease. Before, this was due to the leaking of news of municipal plans for housing and industrial development, causing shock-waves in local land prices (and municipal workers' and lawyers’ bank balances).
16. The improved and proper use of the more central land reduces the environmental damage due to a) unused sites being dumping-grounds, and b) the smaller amount of fossil-fuel use, when traveling between home and workplace.
17. Because the LVT eliminates the advantage that landlords currently hold over our society, LVT provides a greater equality of opportunity to earn a living. Entrepreneurs can operate in a natural way-- to provide more jobs. Then earnings will correspond to the value that the labor puts into the product or service. Consequently, after LVT has been properly introduced it will eliminate poverty and improve business ethics.
TAX LAND NOT LABOR; TAX TAKINGS NOT MAKINGS!
Thank you Dear David Harold Chester For this deep analysis
I learned a lot as a young senegalese researcher who tried to give this modest definition using letters that composed the word ethics. If i understood ethics is our web-relation with the others.
I don't see why ethics is in any way connected to the web, as you write. Of course we can discuss it using the web, but the expression of our ways of behavior can be outside of the web too!
From a philosophical perspective, ethics is a code of conduct grounded in morality affected by temporality and decided upon by a majority of rational people in that particular field. Therefore what it is an objective interpretation of subjective morals used for efficeincy, order and to structurise fields of study, research, work, etc.
The majority of people are not rational which makes it a lot harder to decide from what ethics comes. Even if we were to include all of the ethical people, they would not agree on what behavior is ethical. So we need a definition that comes from a different source and the only kind that I know of has its basis in religious teachings.
I agree with you that the majority of people are not rational and yes people are unable to agree on what is ethical. This in fact shows the subjectivity of ethics. For example in science, experiments like cloning and tests on animals is highly debated because there is no agreement on what is ethical. Similarly, the ethics of politics are also debated. This subjectivity in the debates does not create disorder in ethics. It furthers the discussion on ethics and hence ethical codes change with the course of time. This enables ethical codes to grow and adjust to contemporary thoughts and ideas.