An ethical duty to pay dues voluntarily

Jonty Williams

‘After a lifetime of training in the caring for places and the communities attached to them, and a lifetime of searching for reasons for the failure in humanity’s systems of caring for the places and communities of the world, there appears to me now to be a clear and understandable fault in the rules of engagement between communities and the places they occupy.

The flow of wealth, health, growth, decay, the creativity of humanity and the ecologies that support our communities has a blockage. The pressure is building behind that blockage, and unless we can all see how to properly allow the circulation to begin, we are in dangerous trouble.

The blockage comes from a misunderstanding of the proper habits that need to be attached to land ownership. The blockage leads to all the most valuable of the resources at humanity’s command accumulating in the assets of those who have title to places. To defend their places, landowners must rely on the security and weaponry they mistakenly feel they need to maintain their relationship to the places they are attached to.

There is a better way.

At present, landowners retain all the value to the community that a place generates. This is an idea that has persisted for over two thousand years. The retention of this value by landowners, together with nation and empire-building and defending that has gone alongside it, has served our discovery of the workings of the world with some success. All through all these thousands of years, our communities have somehow managed to progress, although with terrible and continuing suffering.

The value to the community that places generate is called ground rent. It varies enormously between place to place.

Ground rent value properly belongs to the public. At present, ground rent flows only to landowners. Making voluntary ground rent contributions opens the flow to the public.

Owners of the places of the world are realising that a portion of their wealth actually belongs not to them but to the body of the earth, to the public sphere.

I can see a future where this truth becomes widely acknowledged.