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On Liberty and Earth Ownership

How we can save our planet, end poverty, and gain freedom through access to what nature provides for free

Barend Gehner • Boek • paperback

  • Samenvatting
    Investors like Blackrock are rapidly buying up the earth. How does it affect our freedom if we can no longer own our homes, farmland, or workshops?

    Most of our lives are determined by earth ownership. In a material sense, some people have to pay rent or mortgage their entire lives, while others become super rich thanks to land ownership. We rightly fear the consequences if we don’t — or can’t — pay our rent or mortgage. We do not dare to live how we prefer. We refrain from starting our own business because we are afraid of the consequences if it is not successful, and we have to sell our house. We refrain from going out into the world with a backpack because we fear a hard life the moment we return without a home and a permanent job. And that’s why we spend the best years of our lives in a boring office.

    Nature provides some things for free, such as air, water, and land. Today clever investors can charge others a high price for their place on earth. If they could, they would extend this to the air we breathe. Geoism is the insight that people are equally entitled to these things. More equal access to natural resources would be a powerful way to reduce inequality within and between countries.

    This approach can help us to better address issues such as unaffordable houses, work pressure, the decline of small businesses, climate change, political oppression, and mass migration. An enormous government and mass surveillance are not the best way to make our world a better place. This booklet sketches an alternative to capitalism and socialism, and outlines what a truly free world might look like. Dutch artist Tobias Osterhaus has created drawings that make it a must-have even for people who hate reading.
  • Productinformatie
    Binding : Paperback
    Distributievorm : Boek (print, druk)
    Formaat : 152mm x 229mm
    Aantal pagina's : 198
    Uitgeverij : Geoliberty
    ISBN : 9789083416700
    Datum publicatie : 05-2024
  • Inhoudsopgave
    Introduction 1
    1. On earth ownership: why our current system is foolish and how we can fix it 6
    Why it’s foolish to pay for our fair share of the earth 9
    1 - Henry George: who is the manna for? 9
    2 - Privatising oxygen 13
    3 - Ten stranded castaways 14
    4 - A cartoon about a red bird, and a blue bird 17
    5 - The Lockean Proviso 17
    6 - The Landlord's Game 19
    7 - Thomas Paine and Agrarian Justice 19
    8 - Moral equals 20
    Who benefits from paying for our place on earth? 21
    Those who own most of the earth are the big winners 21
    Banks benefit 22
    Bosses benefit 22
    Governments benefit 24
    Do homeowners really benefit? 24
    Do we all benefit, just because there is no chaos? 25
    On geoism 26
    How to divide things up 31
    How we can share the earth 37
    Having our private part of the earth 38
    The commons 45
    Spatial planning 46
    A brief introduction to rent 48
    Enclosure 51
    Anyone should be a freeholder 62
    How geoism can save our planet 63
    The right basic income equals our fair share of the earth 67
    Scarcity, monopoly, and rent 70
    Decoupling farming and real estate investment 72
    A fair transition to fairly sharing the earth 75
    Geoism, world peace, and migration 77
    2. On liberty: why we must have the option to do things our own way 79
    Why we need both geoism and liberty 84
    Liberty and feudalism 85
    Geoism without freedom 87
    Liberty as the option to escape 88
    Why we should not be afraid of liberty 94
    Escape and helping other people 95
    Escape and paying our fair share 97
    Escape and protecting the environment 98
    Why the right to escape does not force others to live in chaos 99
    To vote or to escape? 100
    Voting 101
    The option to escape 102
    Liberty according to Spooner 104
    Liberty as The American Dream 107
    Finding the right name for true liberty 109
    Geo-libertarianism, geoism or Georgism 110
    Left-libertarianism 112
    Indepentarianism: liberty as the power to say no 113
    Some more names 113
    Capitalism, free markets, and liberty 114
    Free speech 119
    Money, banking, and liberty 120
    Freedom to take risks 124
    Buying uncertified products 125
    Taking some risks for fun 126
    Risking a virus infection 127
    Hiring affordable craftsmen 127
    Using exotic currencies 128
    Leftists and libertarians should be friends! 129
    Libertarians emphasise freedom, but sometimes underestimate problems 131
    Leftists want to solve problems but promote policies that don't work 132
    Private ownership and liberty 133
    3. Refuting some objections 135
    Objection 1: A Land Value Tax will make land and apartments even more expensive 135
    Objection 2: A Land Value Tax will hurt farmers 139
    Most land value is in urban areas 139
    Other taxes will be abolished 140
    Most people don’t want to grow their own food 140
    Concentrated land ownership threatens the existence of family farms 140
    Objection 3: Fully equal outcomes are not guaranteed 141
    Objection 4: Landed property is no longer so important these days 143
    Objection 5: A focus on negative liberty is outdated 144
    Objection 6: Not everyone wants to be free 145
    Objection 7: A meddling government is necessary to save the earth 146
    Objection 8: Sharing the earth is a form of meddling 147
    Objection 9: Geoism is incompatible with liberty as it requires some kind of government 148
    Objection 10: Liberty will create chaos 150
    Objection 11: Sharing the earth is a utopian ideal 151
    4. Towards a truly free society 153
    Why we can liberate ourselves 153
    True freedom suits our common sense 154
    True freedom will lead to prosperity and well-being 155
    True freedom is in the interest of a vast majority of people 157
    How we can liberate ourselves 158
    Contribute to a moral revolution! 158
    Try to set a good example 160
    Promote equal liberty instead of your own interests 160
    What about politics? 161
    Community land trusts 163
    Civil disobedience 164
    Becoming ungovernable 166
    How we can benefit from our liberty 169
    John just wants to earn more 169
    Michelle wants an affordable house 170
    Jack wants to keep renting out apartments 171
    David wants to leave his bullshit job 172
    Gretha wants to save our planet 173
    Kay wants to invent his own currency 175
    Eve wants to have a place for her tiny house 176
    Theresa wants to be an artist and cross the ocean 179
    Eric wants to be a farmer 179
    Harry wants to live the American Dream 180
    Jenny wants to live in a socialist commune 183
    How I may use my liberty 183
    Further reading 186
    Get involved! 189
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Most of us pay a high price for our place on the earth. Some clever investors and some lucky people who were born earlier than us bought the earth, and the rest of us must buy or rent from them if we want to build a home, start a business, moor a boat, graze our sheep, generate energy, or grow some food.

Paying for our place on earth particularly hurts people with low wages, and those who want to contribute to our society in other ways than just by working for money. We can never relax. If we have paid for our food, then we worry about the mortgage; then we need to care about our children. They in turn need to get a university degree to have a bearable life in an expensive world. And so it goes.

Why do we need to pay for what nature has provided for free? Our world has finite space and natural resources. The reality is that we cannot all have unlimited amounts of land and other natural resources without hindering others. We need a way to minimize disputes, and maximize our liberty to live how we prefer while still protecting the land and its resources.
Our present system of earth ownership is an attempt to solve this. Most of the earth has become private property. This system has some great advantages that we need to consider. If we pay money, we can become private owners of a piece of land, which contributes to our liberty. Within certain limits, the government allows us to decide for ourselves how to use our piece of land. If we want to have more land, we can always buy some, if we can afford it. This kind of free market system promotes efficient use of land to a certain degree.

However, land rights are the source of a lot of misery. In industrial countries, many people are unfree because land is unaffordable. For many people, becoming an owner of some of the earth is almost impossible. They need to pay rent to a landlord, or pay off a mortgage for the rest of their lives. It’s hard for these people to start their own company. People who can buy some land are better off, but still need to work hard for many years before they actually own the space they need to live or to run their business.
Land rights are also an issue for indigenous peoples, although in a slightly different way. Peasant farmers, hunter-gatherers and shepherds constantly fear being driven off their land. Their governments are eager to cede the land they live on to foreign investors.
The earth should be seen as a present to mankind. People remove weeds and build roads and buildings, but they did not create the earth and its natural resources. If we look at it this way, we can understand that it’s strange that we need to pay for something that Mother Nature provided.

However, if we are going to propose alternatives to the present system of earth ownership, we must be aware that most options would be worse than the present system. We should not reintroduce Sovkhozes and Kolkhozes. In a situation of collective ownership, individuals do not own land and are unable to make their own decisions. If they want to use land they need permission from the collective. Abolishing private property may sound noble but usually results in a lack of individual liberty, hunger, and unhappiness.

Collective ownership is not the only alternative for the present system of earth ownership, however. Individuals should have some natural resources, such as a place to build a house or to run a business for free. Individuals should have the option to make their own decisions about this piece of earth, unhindered by a collective. Individuals may work together, as a family or as larger cooperations. But if they want to, they can make their own decision about their own fair share of the earth. This is what a better system of earth ownership should facilitate.

For many of us, the idea that we are entitled to something as valuable as a plot of land for free just sounds too good to be true. Most people are not used to getting expensive things for free. Therefore, we will start with some perspectives from which we may consider the issue of ownership of the earth. ×