The Feudal Origins of Land Titles

Societies have battled for title to land for millennia. One society’s violent claim to land is another society’s violent loss. Today’s landowners are the descendants of the winners of the latest clashes of cultures.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire at the hands of the Germanic tribes, the common people regained their rights to the land, and the use of nature’s wealth in common again developed a powerful following.[1] Their belief in freedom and natural rights resembles our belief (but not our practice) in these principles today.

However, this reversion to social wealth in public ownership came under attack by powerful clans. Petr Kropotkin, a unique historian, describes the repression of these rights as the origin of the modern state:

Only wholesale massacres by the thousand could put a stop to this widely spread popular movement, and it was by the sword, the fire, and the rack that the young states secured their first and decisive victory over the masses of the people.[2]

Those people were struggling against imposition of a legal structure (privatization) which protected exclusive title to land, and all the resources on and under the land, previously owned and used by all in common.[3]

As described by Kropotkin, the medieval roots of our culture grimly parallel the massive slaughter in many countries of the developing world today. People in these countries are fighting to retain, or reclaim, their right to a fair share of the earth’s wealth, resources now owned by the cultural descendants of earlier violent thefts of land.

The resemblance here is not a coincidence; current struggles are a continuation of that medieval battle over who shall have rights to nature’s wealth and, as we have stated and will be demonstrating further, today’s land titles are feudal exclusive property rights.

However unjust, if legal title to land or any other gift of nature can be established (the privatization process) those with exclusive title can, through the collection of rental values or various overcharges, lay claim to wealth rightfully belonging to others.

In the 14th century, the sharing of social wealth in common was still practiced by local communities. But, tragically, that century saw the beginning of a 300-year-effort by the aristocracy of Europe to erase all trace of communal rights. Kropotkin explains:

The village communities were bereft of their folkmotes [community meetings], their courts and independent administration; their lands were confiscated. The guilds were spoilated of their possessions and liberties, and placed under the control, the fancy, and the bribery of the State’s official. The cities were divested of their sovereignty, and the very springs of their inner life—the folkmote, the elected justices and administration, the sovereign parish and the sovereign guild—were annihilated; the State’s functionary took possession of every link of what formerly was an organic whole. Under that fatal policy and the wars it engendered, whole regions, once populous and wealthy, were laid bare; rich cities became insignificant boroughs; the very roads which connected them with other cities became impracticable. Industry, art, and knowledge fell into decay.[4]

Though privatization of the commons started with the Statute of Merton in 1235, the continued efforts to alienate the individual from common use of the natural wealth of the land are documented in Britain by the nearly 4,000 enclosure acts passed between 1760 and 1844 that effectively gave legal sanction to this theft.[5]

Those enclosure acts were the continued privatizations which, in turn, are the continuations of rent seeking legal structures (monopolization) appropriating wealth produced by others.

For the powerful to protect their exclusive titles further, it was necessary to erase from social memory all traces of the earlier custom of social ownership of social wealth. Kropotkin points out,

“It was taught in the universities and from the pulpit that the institutions in which men formerly used to embody their needs of mutual support could not be tolerated in a properly organized State.”[6]

Classics for the past 400 years justified that injustice and we hear those justifications yet today: “This is the most efficient and proper social structure.”

The classic descriptions of the evolution of capitalism explain how trade and industrial capital usurped the preeminent position of nobility with their historical title to all land. Yet in parts of Europe an elite social class still owns large tracts of land.

As late as 1961, the Duke of Bedford, the Duke of Westminster, and the British Crown owned the most valuable sections of London, and large estates still abound throughout the countryside. In fact, at the turn of the 20th century,

the English upper class consisted … of around ten thousand people drawn almost entirely from a core of 1,500 families…. The aristocracy owned great estates and houses and works of art—but, above all, they owned land. Well over ninety percent of the acreage of Britain was theirs.[7]

Today’s neoliberal philosophies are ongoing efforts to prevent a rekindling of mutual support beliefs and social wealth held in common.

We are taught, by those who parrot the original disinformation, that an efficient economy requires all property being privately owned with each individual a “free” bargaining agent.

Exclusive titles to nature’s wealth descended from aristocratic law and today’s unequal property rights laws as applied to nature’s resources and technologies, denying others their rightful share to what nature offers to all for free, are little more than aristocratic law. Their massive appropriation of unearned wealth is the beating heart of today’s monopolies.

Our disagreement with current property rights is that title to land, or any other gift of nature, including mechanical, chemical, electrical, and social technologies, should—since no person built this natural wealth and all are entitled to their share—be conditional.

Exclusive title as opposed to conditional title is that remnant of feudal law which is the primary cause of today’s inefficient economies creating a wealthy few, an impoverished many, and the wars protecting power and wealth.

Profound Thinkers Who Believed in Society Collecting Resource Rent

The French Physiocrats were the originators of laissez faire, the philosophy of little government interference. They held as a cornerstone of their beliefs—extended from the work of John Locke, William Penn, and Richard Cantillon 50 to 100 years earlier—that society should collect resource rents.

One of their most respected members, Mirabeau the Elder, held that this would increase social efficiency equal to the inventions of writing or money.

Note: Those theorists were royalists and their thesis is only true if those rental values return to the citizenry in the form of economic infrastructure and social services. Because their theory was designed for the benefit of royalty, there was no intention of using those funds for the benefit of the masses.

David Ricardo formulated the law of rent, which supports the logic of Mirabeau’s statement. Put in simple terms, Ricardo’s law of rent means that all income above that necessary to sustain labor will be claimed by the owners of the land without the expenditure of their labor.

A land monopolist retains ownership of land until some innovative entrepreneur sees its potential for more productive use. The high price demanded effectively siphons a part of the wealth produced by that entrepreneur and society’s labor to the previous owner, now the holder of that mortgage and sales contract.

Adam Smith’s statement “every improvement in the circumstances of society raises rent” tells us he knew titles to land claim much of the wealth produced by the increased efficiencies of society.[8]

The respected economist John Kenneth Galbraith, although questioning changing tax policy at this late date, accepted the justice of society collecting resource rents. In 1978, the conservative economist Milton Friedman stated, “In my opinion the least bad tax is the property tax on the unimproved value of land.”[9]

Earlier philosophers who believed in the free enterprise philosophy of the Physiocrats, “society collecting the land rent,” include Thomas Paine, who is credited with proposing much of the Bill of Rights; William Penn; Herbert Spencer, the noted philosopher in his classic Social Statics; Thomas Sperry of the Newcastle Philosophical Society; and philosopher John Stuart Mill. These early economists were not radicals. They all “believed in the sacredness of private property, particularly land.”[10]

The Robert Schalkenbach Foundation lists over 100 more famous thinkers —including Confucius, Moses, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Henry Ford, John Maynard Keynes, Albert Einstein, President Eisenhower, and several popes—who recognized the principle that the natural product of the land belongs to all citizens, and lists various places in the modern world where these policies have been, at least in part, implemented.[11]

This is a replay of Kropotkin’s statement, “It was taught in the universities and from the pulpit that the institutions in which men formerly used to embody their needs of mutual support could not be tolerated in a properly organized State.”[15]

Commercial Land

Visualize a trade in a primitive society with someone standing by collecting tribute for trading on a particular piece of ground. The landowner does no productive labor; he or she only monopolizes that land. Of course, to avoid paying tribute, early traders only needed to move to another piece of land. Today that nearby land would also be claimed.

As David Ricardo taught us, the closer one approaches to the center of commerce, the higher the price of land. Every transit line from the suburbs to a commercial district will raise commercial land values a calculable amount.

This high value represents the cheapness and the quantity of trades within any population center and that savings, efficiency of trades, is recognized by the price business is willing to pay for that land.

Because rent lays claim to a large share of the wealth produced by commerce, the land values are very high in large population centers. Land values gradually lower as the distance from the center of population becomes greater and the trades become less frequent and more expensive.

In a matter of minutes on an acre in the middle of a city there would be millions of dollars’ worth of trades in grain, diamonds, stocks, land, finance capital, or consumer products. A share of each trade is remitted to the landowner as rent, thus the high value of land within population centers.

It is not unusual for commercial land to be valued at three, four, or even 10 times the value of the buildings placed upon it. Probably the highest priced acre in the world was in the center of Tokyo, valued, before prices dropped over 75%, at $1.5 billion.

The space of one footprint in Tokyo was valued at $8,000. The land area of the 23 wards of Tokyo was equal in monetary value to the entire land area of the United States. The land upon which the emperor’s palace sat was valued at the price of all the land in California.

All the land in tiny Japan was worth four times as much as all the land in America. “In fact, the real estate value of Tokyo [in 1989] at $7.7 trillion [was] so high that, once collateralized and borrowed against, at 80% of the then current value, it could buy all the land in the United States for $3.7 trillion, and all the companies on the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ and several other exchanges for $2.6 trillion.”

Farm Land

The quality of farmland depends on rainfall, growing season, fertility, and accessibility to markets. Once the quality has lowered to where one can earn only the wages expended in production or distribution at the margins, meaning the economic edge of profits, the land’s value reaches zero.

By exporting food to countries that, if their lands, resources, and trade were not monopolized, could just as well feed themselves, and by farming the public Treasury, agriculture in the United States has made handsome profits and evaded Ricardo’s law of rent.

Unearned incomes (resource rents) from the monopoly created by those laws are capitalized into, and maintain the value of, farm land. Under Ricardo’s law, but without sales to countries able to feed themselves or government supports, the price of the current high priced farm land of America would be almost zero. The $28 billion paid by the American government in 2005 and the $350 billion paid out in the richest 30 countries put the high value on that farm land.

Home Sites

In smaller cities of America, a typical $240,000 house will be on a $120,000 lot. In major population centers, it is not uncommon for the same house to cost double, triple, or even 10 times that price. In Honolulu and parts of California a comparable home would be over $1 million and in Washington, DC it would be $1.6 million.

As labor and material costs are relatively equal, the price differentials are the costs of land functioning under Ricardo’s law of rent. The price of land accurately measures the resource rents paid by producers of wealth to the monopoly landowners who did no work.

The powerbrokers took from the Physiocrats’ free enterprise philosophy only that which protected, and further extended, their wealth and power. As historically most members of legislative bodies were large landholders, naturally they did not accept that society should collect resource rents.

If that were to happen, everyone would have rights to their share of nature’s wealth. The “divine rights” of private ownership of social wealth siphoning large amounts of wealth from those who produced to those who did not, those capitalized monopoly values bought and sold on the markets, would be converted to “conditional rights” where only those who produce are paid.

The use value of land (resources) is then distributed to all through socially-collected resource rents funding governments, education, health care, roads, waster and sewer systems, communication superhighways, etc.

Take homes for example: real estate taxes are currently levied mostly on the improvements and only a small part on the land. The tax structure is the key to land monopolization. At 7% interest, the previously described $120,000 lot, if sold, would return $8,400 per year. The taxes on this typical home would be possibly $4,200 and the land possibly $500.

Removing all taxes on the house and placing them on the land, for a total of $4,700, and collecting the same tax on all equally-valued unused lots and a lesser, but still substantial, tax on lots of lower use value, would convert current privately-collected land rent, a private tax, to socially-collected resource rent. Those lots would then produce no profit and the price of that land drops to zero.

Even though the monetized value of the land disappears, its use value actually increases. As capitalized value in land would be eliminated, the purchase price would be only the value of labor and material that built the house.

The initial capital required to purchase a home would drop to the cost of building the house or the depreciated value of an older home. The annual cost of resource rent is offset by the elimination of taxes, the purchase price of a home lowering 50 to 90%, and those socially-collected rents, along with banking profits, building and maintaining a nation’s infrastructure, providing universal health care, and, though it may also be done through payroll deductions for economic accounting purposes, even retirement.

Society is quintuply repaid for restructuring to social collection of rental values of nature’s resources and technologies (banking is a social technology). Private collection of that same rent is “The extraction of uncompensated value from others.”

Occasionally a city council person will become aware of the social efficiency of taxing unused land within their jurisdiction. If idle land is properly taxed it will quickly be put to use. But these alert officials quickly find that powerbrokers have inserted restrictions into state constitutions and passed laws on local communities’ ability to tax land.

Land held in unrestricted private ownership entitles the owners to large, unearned, rental values which create high, unearned, capitalized values. True free enterprise requires eliminating land monopolization through exclusive titles, society should collect the rent.

The net cost to the homeowner would be slightly lower, much lower if Mason Gaffney and Fred Harrison’s estimation of 35% of national income being resource rent is correct, but there would be no interception of others’ labor through private collection of rent on what nature provided to all for free.

Oil, copper, iron ore, and the like, while still in the ground, are land and can very properly be privately owned so long as the resource rents are paid to society. The world has adequate reserves of most of these minerals. It is only richer deposits and cheaper labor in the developing world that make their minerals more available.

Under Adam Smith’s unequal free market philosophy, the developed world’s more expensive deposits are not mined until the undeveloped world’s cheap deposits are exhausted.

Developing land—clearing, drainage projects, shaping the land, irrigation dams, canals, and so forth—all involving capital expenditures and labor, require special consideration. Those who invest in such improvements should be well paid.

However, unconditional title to land development becomes exclusive title to the land. Currently the government pays a substantial share of development costs. Investors-developers can be fully reimbursed by liberal deductions of the remaining costs from resource rents.

The market measures the rent value of land. The resource rent collected by society would be slightly less than that now collected both publicly (taxes) and privately (interest).

The price spread of resource rents between the choice sites and lower-valued sites should still be maintained. The current private resource tax, some interest and all resource rents, are converted to socially-collected rent that would be slightly lower than the former combination of taxes and land payments.

When Society Collects All Resource Rents, Taxes Disappear

According to Gore Vidal:

In 1986 the gross revenue of the government was $794 billion. Of that amount, $294 billion was Social Security contributions, which should be subtracted from the National Security State. This leaves $500 billion. Of the $500 billion $286 billion went to defense; $12 billion to foreign arms to our client states; $8 billion to $9 billion to energy, which means, largely, nuclear weapons; $27 billion to veterans’ benefits, the sad and constant reminder of the ongoing empire’s recklessness; and finally, $142 billion to loans that were spent, over the past forty years, to keep the National Security State at war, hot or cold. So, of 1986’s $500 billion in revenue, $475 billion was spent on National Security business…. Other Federal spending, incidentally, came to $177 billion … which is about the size of the deficit, since only $358 billion was collected in taxes.[16]

In 1929, federal government expenditures were 1% of GNP and at the peak of the Cold War they were approximately 24%.[17] David Stockman, a member of President Reagan’s cabinet, calculated that after deducting bureaucratic waste and payments to

law firms and lobbyists and trade associations in rows of shining office buildings along K Street in Washington; the consulting firms and contractors; the constituencies of special interests, from schoolteachers to construction workers, to failing businesses and multinational giants, all of whom came to Washington for money and legal protection against the perils of free competition … that leaves seventeen cents for everything else that Washington does. The FBI and national parks, the county agents and the Foreign Service and the Weather Bureau—all the traditional operations of government—consumed only nine cents of each dollar. The remaining eight cents provided all the grants to state and local governments, for aiding handicapped children or building highways.[18]

The American government no longer keeps track of total land valuations. Extrapolating from 1990 land values of $3.7 trillion,[19] we can safely say 2008 values of land were well over $10 trillion. Resource rents at 4% of value would be over $400 billion per year.

That is over three times the percentage of GDP that ran the peaceful American government in 1929[20] and to that must be added the resource rents from oil, minerals, timber, etc. To those rental values we must add profits collected through socially-owned banks. Society will have adequate funds for all essential services.

When necessary to regulate commerce, other taxes are proper but those funds should also be returned to society through social services. For example, ecological taxes can support pollution-free energy development and resource conservation.

The proper level of sin taxes, alcohol, tobacco, etc, would lower disease through lowering consumption and the funds collected would offset health care costs incurred from such habits.

Machinery and inventory are relatively easy to obtain; it is the price of land that restricts ownership of farms and businesses as well as the homes just discussed. While land prices would drop to zero, use values and productive ownership rights would actually increase.

Commerce would flourish as business people, farmers, and other entrepreneurs, all true producers, would be able to start businesses with only the capital necessary to buy buildings, machinery, and inventory. They do not have to purchase monopoly values that, in the form of use values, belong to everyone.

Resource rent being paid to society out of cash flow means only hard working and talented people would own farms and businesses. The mechanism whereby excessive rights of absentee or incompetent landowners intercept the labor of others through exclusive titles would be replaced by society receiving the earnings from that social wealth.

Labor costs to industries and businesses would be reduced by whatever taxes labor previously paid. The elimination of all taxes, and a lowering of finance capital costs makes replacing all taxes with society collecting resource rents and banking profits a bargain for any business.

Although society would be enormously richer, land will not have monetized (capitalized) value against which money can be loaned. The sale value would be calculated as the rental value one pays to society monthly or, as in the case of farmers, annually.

Society, not the landowners, puts that value there by increased population, roads, water systems, sewers, electricity, communication systems, etc. The wealth collected through land rent, profits of socially-owned banks, and all other rental values collected from nature’s resources and technologies would be returned to the people through the cost of social services—measured in employed labor time to provide it—dropping at least 50%.

Opportunities to appropriate unearned wealth will be almost nonexistent and all would be well cared for even as all the functions and services of government (health care, retirement, infrastructures) are well funded

When society collects the rental values of the land and natural resources which nature offers to us all for free, the huge blocs of capital previously buying and selling those capitalized appropriated values (those misnamed profits of the ethereal world of high finance) are transposed into equally-shared use values and each now has a human right, and a community right, to their share of land and resources for homes, businesses, or industries.

If the remaining productive jobs are shared and labor paid equally for equally-productive work, those triple gains from abandoning the private collection of rental values (rights to land at no initial costs as a human right, those socially-collected rental funds building economic infrastructure, and no taxes to pay) will become quintuple gains.

Employment outside the home will lowered to two to three days per week and each citizen of that society, or the world if so applied, will have a quality life. See page 16-17 of Money: A Mirror Image of the Economy for a list of common attributes of monopolies.

Michael Hudson and Baruch A. Levine, Privatization in the Ancient Near East and Classical World, trace the 5,000 year history of privatization of nature’s wealth.

The inclusive property rights laws of full and equal rights, restructuring exclusive titles to conditional titles, as applied in this thesis, has, in one stroke, retains the claimed efficiencies of privatization—private property, individualism, competition—even as it restores in modern form the commons that was the original economic structure for every people on earth.

A study of the four books on property rights law in this footnote will alert one that this subject is in continual discussion in America’s courtrooms and collective rights trump private rights if it can be shown as imperative and just.[21]

Only under deep crisis can all this be placed in front of the courts or Congress. But when that day arrives, the case for full and equal rights for all through equal and just property rights can be made and during severe economic crisis can be placed into law.

The Privatization of the Commons is ongoing yet Today

Laws were written by the powerful for protection of their wealth and power and for attaining more wealth and power. Thus the extension of exclusive titles to land under the enclosure of the commons process, which started formally in England under the Statute of Merton of 1235, created massive wealth for the powerful few and colossal poverty for the many.

See chapter one of The Earth Belongs to Everyone by Alanna Hartzok, 2008. She goes deeply into the early privatization of the commons as a system of theft of wealth properly belonging to all.[1] Those early enclosures of the commons and the ongoing privatizations today are the fundamental property rights laws governing monopolization.

Aristocrats created those first monopoly laws and the very principle of aristocracy was exclusive title to nature’s wealth, those huge blocs of land they controlled.

Those exclusive titles, enclosing the commons, were only aristocratic privileges (monopolization, mercantilism, privatization, rent seeking, they all mean the same thing) inserted into modern law.

Those property rights dealt with rights but only in the sense of superior and inferior rights. As the masses slowly gained more rights, they were given the opportunity to purchase land (resources).

Quietly these unequal property rights spread in step with the wealth production of the ever-increasing efficiencies of technology. The elite, with their excessive rights, were the only ones educated, held all the positions of power, and they created those laws.

Those justifiers of today’s system of theft poured out philosophies of high economic efficiency under property rights as structured, exclusive title to nature’s resources and technologies, and we hear that claim, this is the most efficient economic system, repeated in almost every classroom today. Those superior rights, denying others their rightful share, are continually being protected in laws enacted today.

Superior rights, assured by exclusive titles to nature’s wealth, had a hidden secret: aristocracy proper was to largely disappear but the principles of aristocracy, still protecting wealth and power, lived on in those exclusive titles to nature’s resources and technologies, still denying others their proper share.

At that time, it could not have been anticipated that the common people would ever own a part of the earth upon which they lived and worked. When the bourgeoisie, and later the common people, were brought into the flow of money to purchase land, the fortunate now had, once that purchase was paid for, a share of the superior rights once held by aristocracy.

Our research exposes that hidden secret, exclusive titles to nature’s resources and technologies, denying others their proper share, are the very foundations of today’s monopoly system being imposed upon the world. By giving each a chance—in reality some a good chance, some a small chance, and most no chance of gaining clear title—the system is, like every game of chance, very seductive.

As much of the world now understands the fraud imposed upon them for the past half millennium-plus, those exclusive titles to nature’s wealth, the very essence of monopolization, has the possibility of disappearing into history to be replaced by a peaceful, prosperous, sustainable, federated world with full and equal rights providing a quality life for all.

Contrary to those 700-plus years of justifications, there was never a need for exclusive titles to nature’s bounty to accumulate finance capital. Avoidance of that unequal legal structure, through utilizing the mighty economic and financial engines of full and equal rights and sharing technology, as opposed to monopolization, would have doubled economic efficiency and eliminated poverty as fast as new technologies were invented and monopolization avoided.

Exclusive title to nature’s resources and technologies, denying others their fair share, is a system of theft and, as proven by the first 500 years of the struggle against it, was recognized as such when first being imposed. But philosophical justifications, again those classics and their derivatives taught in the universities and through the media, have erased that reality from the social mind.

To bring up the possibility of such inequality and inefficiency in either polite society, in an academic setting, or in this book, is to create total shock. Such is the totality of the belief systems imposed upon us to hide the reality of a system designed from its origins to lay claim to wealth belonging to others.

The first impositions of unequal rights were by violence as the commons were privatized. Major classics then justified the imposition of that system of theft. Later impositions of the belief in the justice of such thefts of others’ wealth were through the university systems teaching those classics.

The belief systems were so total that professors were unaware those philosophies were only justifying a system of theft imposed for centuries and that process is ongoing yet today.

One of the assumptions of our research is that, in their struggle for full and equal rights, a large share of the world is breaking out from under the belief systems protecting unequal, monopolized, property rights.

The proof that monopolized property rights are systems of inequality and inefficiency would be the transformation of the massive unearned finance capital within a monopolized economy (roughly 60% of all finance capital) into equally-shared use values through restructuring exclusive titles to resources and technologies denying others their fair share to the inclusive principles of conditional titles providing full and equal rights to all.

Under those conditional titles, society will collect rental values on all natural resources; in the case of technologies eliminate those monopoly values through paying inventors well and placing their discoveries in the public domain; and, in the case of monopolization through licenses, legislate those crucial services as a social right or a human right.

Roughly forty percent of today’s finance capital will then, as now, build industry and operate the economy while the 60% once wasted remains with those who produce it as their wealth.

That wasted capital has only been buying and selling the capitalized values of appropriated wealth and running the shadow economy of that appropriation process (the ethereal world of high finance).

Monopolization of land, banking, and technology (which includes communication and the media) are the primary monopolies. One would be hard pressed to prove which one appropriated the most unearned money from its proper owners, you, me, and almost everyone we know, including from each other.

Actually many of us get a part of that unearned wealth and that is why its massive injustice is hard to see.

Next is our outstanding new book on the elimination of poverty by Alanna Hartzok who explains that injustice.

Those crucial 170 words describing an honest, efficient, capitalist economy. Does anyone have the ear of President Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Team?

We are a cooperative publishing house dedicated to the elimination of poverty and war paying ourselves double the normal royalty and will pay higher yet as soon as we can.

We need more cutting edge researchers. If you can broaden our understanding and that of our readers, have a high-quality book within you that you wish to use in class, or just wish to reach the world, please Contact Us.

[1] Alanna Hartzok is Co-Director of Earth Rights Institute. She is currently directing a 34 member International Advisory Group which is developing a program on land value capture for the UN Habitat’s newly-launched Global Land Tool Network. See

[1] Kropotkin, Petr, Mutual Aid, (Boston: Porter Sargent Publishing Co., no date) p. 225.

[2] Ibid.

[3] In The Earth Belongs to Everyone, chapter one, published by this institute, Alanna Hartzok addresses the formalization of the privatization process into modern law as starting with the Statute of Merton in England in 1235. Many other authors address important aspects of that system of theft of wealth produced by others designed centuries ago that needs to be collated as sources and citations.

The privatizations ongoing today are extensions of that same process, read Shock Doctors, by Naomi Klein. The rule of thumb is that privatizing the commons more than doubles costs and creates a mega wealthy class as it impoverishes the masses. The 50% overcharges today (those doubled costs) are the same 50% of a serf’s production paid to aristocracy 300 to 800 years ago. Lawmakers today are continually expanding those aristocratic rights and deferring to the rights of the masses only when the threats of ballot box revolutions are high. Steven Hiatt, Editor, A Game As Old As Empire: and Chalmers Johnson, Nemesisa: The Last Days of the American Empire add to this picture.

As Co-Director of Earth Rights Institute. Alanna is currently directing a 34 member International Advisory Group which is developing a program on land value capture for the UN Habitat’s newly-launched Global Land Tool Network (see This effort is in the forefront to reclaim the rights lost through the privatization process.

[4] Ibid., p. 226.

[5] Ibid., pp. 234-35.

[6] Ibid., p. 226. Read also George Renard’s Guilds in the Middle Ages (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1968), chapters 7-8.

[7] Lewis Mumford, The City in History (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1961), p. 264; Angela Lambert, Unquiet Souls (New York: Harper and Row, 1984), p. 6.

[8] Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (New York: Modern Library Edition, Random House, 1965), pp. 247, 647, 773-98.

[9] 101 Famous Thinkers on Owning Earth (New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation); Durand Echeverria, The Maupeou Revolution (Baton Rouge: Louisiana University Press, 1985), p. 182; Guy Routh, The Origin of Economic Ideas (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Sheridan House, 1989), p. 62; John Kenneth Galbraith, Economics in Perspective (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1987), chapter 5, especially pp. 55, 168; Mark Blaug, Great American Economists Before Keynes (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1986), p. 86.

[10] Herbert Spencer, Social Statics (New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 1995 unabridged edition); Dan Nadudere, The Political Economy of Imperialism (London: Zed Books, 1977), p. 186; Phil Grant, The Wonderful Wealth Machine (New York: Devon-Adair, 1953), pp. 416, 434-38; Hufton, Privilege and Protest, p. 113.

[11] 101 Famous Thinkers.

[12] Eugene M. Tobin, Organize or Perish (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), pp. 14, 21, 56.

[13] Gaffney and Harrison, Corruption of Economics.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Kropotkin, Mutual Aid, p. 226. Read also George Renard’s Guilds in the Middle Ages (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1968), chapters 7-8.

[16] Gore Vidal, “The National Security State: How To Take Back Our Country,” The Nation, June 4, 1988, p. 782.

[17] E.K. Hunt, Howard J. Sherman, Economics (New York: Harper and Row, 1990), p. 511.

[18] William Greider, The Education of David Stockman and Other Americans (New York: New American Library, 1986), pp. 6, 17.

[19] Samuelson, “ Great Global Debtor,” p. 40.

[20] The 2007 budget was $2.4 trillion. But Social Security is a paid-for insurance, not rightly part of that budget and that applies to health care. With costs hidden in other parts of the budget, the actual cost of the military is far above the $439.3 billion listed. We will be listing other areas where massive savings are possible (see Conclusion). Assuming Stockman’s estimate that only 17 cents of each budget dollar will operate “all the traditional operations of government,” those needs in that year’s budget were $470 billion.

[21] Laura UnderKufler, The Idea of Property: Its Meaning and Power (NY, Oxford U Press, 2003); see also Janet Dine and Andrew Fagan, Editors, Human Rights and Capitalism (NorthHampton, MA, 2006); Marjorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital: Dethroning Corporate Aristocracy (San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler, 2007; Stephen R. Munzer, A Theory of Property (); Jeremy Waldron, The Right to Private Property (NY, Oxford U Press, 1988).

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