Letters to the Editor
April 29, 2009
Dr Gavin Putland

The supply of land is fixed; they’re not making any more of it. Therefore the owners of land automatically constitute a cartel, even if they don’t bother organising themselves. And because access to land is essential, the rents and prices of land are competed upward to absorb the economy’s capacity to pay. That’s why the first home owners’ boost went straight into land values.

Any policy that would weaken the power of the land cartel — e.g. letting land tax rise with land values, so that absentee landowners have to seek tenants or buyers to cover the tax bill — is condemned as an assault on property rights.

And woe to any producers of any other essential commodity, such as cardboard packaging, who organise themselves as a cartel, making their product land-like and thus obtaining a share of the profits that would otherwise accrue to landowners. Yes, producers’ cartels make their unearned profits not at the expense of other producers and consumers, but at the expense of landowners. So they’re treated as criminal conspiracies, and only death will rescue the perpetrators from the prosecutors.

But landowners, whose unearned profits really do come at the expense of producers and consumers, are treated as pillars of society.