Over a quarter of the world’s tax havens are British property. More than half of Britain’s colonial territories and dependencies are tax havens. Strip out Antarctica, the military bases and the scarcely-habited rocks and atolls, and of the 11 remaining properties, only the Falkland Islands is not a recognised haven. The obvious conclusion is that Britain retains these colonies for one purpose: to help banks, corporations and the ultra-rich to avoid tax.
Last month the British government announced that it will introduce new laws to prevent piracy: the armed forces will be allowed to detain ships and arrest suspected robbers on the high seas(4). Yet the same government offers an attractive portfolio of tropical and temperate islands in which pinstriped pirates can bury their treasure.
This authorised theft, of course, affects us too. We are robbed twice by these gangsters: once when they avoid the taxes the rest of us have to pay, again when the tax havens’ secret banking arrangements cause the crises which oblige us to rescue the banks.
Having met George Monbiot at a conference a few of years ago, he was very supportive of our work in identifying the natural wealth of the earth’s resources and how this should fund the government rather than our hard work. With this in mind, it is frustrating that one of the world’s pre-eminent minds keeps overlooking the biggest pirate act: the privatisation of land rent.
Listed should have been at least six examples of robbery by pin striped pirates:
- the taxes dodged by the elite via tax havens (thwarting the social contract)
- the taxes contributed by the poor at regressive rates (via growth of indirect taxes)
- how these taxes fund the infrastructure and community services that make land more valuable
- how this community created land value allows property owners to expand their leverage on these assets to buy yet more land
- how the resultant speculative vacancies hold society to ransom and force working families to live in the sprawling suburbs, robbing them of time and adding to their carbon budget.
- how this process of leveraging leads to a speculative bubble that once every 18 years leads to a bankers bailout.
The whole boom-bust process would be avoided if taxes were switched onto an immobile asset base – land.