The Voice and The Tax Committee
Noah D. Alper
[An imaginary dialogue, 1970]
Times were not good. Many economic and social difficulties confronted
the people. Naturally, the question of money arose at the semi-annual
meeting of the Council of Rabbis, Priests and Ministers held to
discuss their common problems.
A priest, Chairman of the Council, said: "It's this way. Indeed
our financial needs are great; but so are those of our people.
Multitudes declare that after paying property, income, earnings, sales
taxes, the many taxes that are hidden in the price of products and
services, allowing social security deductions and repaying the
contributions made by employers that result in higher prices, there is
little enough left to care for the family."
A Rabbi spoke next. "What can we do?," he asked. "If
economists do not know or cannot agree on the answers, why expect us
to? Indeed our people pay out much of their earnings in taxes as the
good father said. But the schools also need more money. This must be
raised by increased taxes, higher tuition charges, or by gifts, And
there are constantly increasing needs for charity. So, again, I ask: "What
can we do?"
Said a Minister: "Since we don't know what to do, and taxes seem
to be a principal cause of our failure to solve or greatly mitigate
our economic and social problems, why not make ours a praying and
seeking-of-ways committee to study how to raise public revenue so as
to place the least burden on our people, especially the poor."
And, after a pause, he continued: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if we
could, meeting as a tax committee of all the people, take our problem
of taxation to the giver of all answers, the Lord, and seek His holy
help in this dire situation?"
The Council members nodded their heads vigorously and affirmatively,
crying out "Amen!"
Instantly, all were transported to heaven and were quickly seated
before the great oval desk of the heavenly Prime Minister. He arose
smiling to welcome them. But before he could speak, a voice was heard
from behind a massive silk curtain of striking, blending colors of
fascinating beauty and seemingly endless dimensions. The voice was
musical, even orchestral in tone, greatly exciting and thrilling.
"Ah!," said The Voice: "Another tax committee! But
different in that it seeks no selfish advantage for some; only the
least possible burden on the people, especially the poor. And this is
why you were permitted here." And then, addressing the Prime
Minister: "Ask the Committee if they have read the first sentence
of the Bible recently?"
As the Prime Minister arose to speak he was interrupted by the Tax
Committee now under a strangely responsive compulsion arising from
their most extraordinary situation. They sang out their answer as a
chorus of trained voices; as if their words were set to
spiritual-ritual music: "In the beginning God created the heaven
and the earth."
The Voice: "And who created man?"
The Tax Committee: "The Lord created man."
The Voice: "Evidently you have not learned in your religious and
secular schools what should be plainly evident to all educated people.
By these acts of creation man was given the only possible provisions
by which to formulate an economic science to deal with the problem of
how men, living together in society, can get a living with basic
equality and justice for all. Also that this made possible a natural
and just system of taxation. Is it not obvious that the earth became
the economic factor Land, and man became the factor Labor; and that
these two factors are the only possible primary factors of this
science, a most essential one for guidance of people as citizens of a
free society? And do you not see that this gives you the most basic
answer to your problem that is possible? But of this I will say more
"It is a shame," The Voice continued, "that people
seemingly have so little knowledge of what is provided in natural law
for their economic guidance and use. Are they so lacking in faith that
they really believe it was left to people as socialists or communists,
as republicans or democrats, as the members of labor organizations or
chambers of commerce, or Councils of Bishops, or the World Council of
Churches to plan -- to create -- a system of economics for the use of
mankind? And why, in view of the great variety of sciences created for
man far in advance of his then known needs and guidance in other
areas, would provisions for the important purpose economic science
serves have been forgotten? Or were they omitted, possibly, to cause
men the endless economic and social problems they experience?"
The Tax Committee remained silent, their faces reflecting great
The Voice: "Effective economic science provisions are provided
to guide men in establishing correct cause and effect patterns -- or
principles of taxation. Then why is there a problem of how man should
secure public revenue? As said previously, with the creation of Land
and Labor, the basic pattern of taxation was created. This tells all
people that there are but two sources of public revenue; Land which
existed prior to man himself without effort on his part and that which
to have in the satisfaction of his wants, man must produce by his
"Phrased differently, our only choice of sources of public
revenue is the value that attaches to land by reason of the growth and
progress of all people as a whole or the value of labor and labor-made
products -- capital and consumer wealth (and services).
"By their nature taxes are like pumps. And, hear this!
Regardless of how many different kinds of taxes there are or that may
be invented by economists or law makers in the future, or how skilled
they are in discussing the merits or demerits of those many taxes,
they can draw (pump) revenue to government from one or the other, or
from both these sources:
- the annual rental value of land sites or locations; and,
- the REWARDS-of-human-effort; wages and interest, the latter a
wage for those who provide true man-made, man-used capital.
"And thus, from the nature of things as created," continued
The Voice, "is not man's only real problem of public revenue that
of knowing and deciding which of these two sources should be used, or
used first, to support government?"
In a tone of impatience, if not of anger, The Voice continued:
"Are you not familiar with and aware of the meaning and the
economic and social significance of these Biblical citations, in
effect, holy laws? Psalms, 115: 16; Lev. xxv.23; Eccles. 5.9.; and,
Again, automatically and in highly emotional musical unison, The Tax
Committee sang out from memory: "The heaven, even the heaven, is
the Lord's but the earth hath He given to the children of men."
"The land shall not be sold forever, for the land is Mine: for ye
are strangers and sojourners with me."
"The land is
given us for an inheritance."
"The profit of the earth
is for all."
"They shall build houses and inhabit
them; they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. They shall
not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat."
The Voice: "Wonderful! Very good, indeed; and so pleasing to
hear. But do you not realize that in keeping with the spirit of these
Biblical laws, that only such things as are made by man can be private
property and, as such, profit man? On the other hand, is it not clear
that the land, itself, is and must be the common property of all?
"Man owns himself; at least no man owns another. And he owns
what he produces. Since he did not and cannot produce the earth no man
can actually and absolutely own a single square foot of it.
"For these reasons, must not special and specific arrangements
be made on earth to allow the actual and continuing inheritance of the
God-provided factor land (earth) to mankind in general and to each
baby born? No man should be allowed to charge or seek personal profit
or tribute from other men because of their need to live on and get
their living from the land. For is not land given without question,
.not to any one generation, but to all the moving generations of men?
"You seem completely unaware that a just and sufficient
provision is provided to assure people of their continuing inheritance
of the earth, one as well as another. It is given you in the form of
natural law. This law in modem times serves more efficiently the
purpose and spirit of the provision given Moses; the law for the
restoration of land to the people on the 50th Year -- the Year of
Jubilee. Had this economic science provision been made known through
proper economic education as it should have been, the people would
have used it long ;agp. Because you have not used it there is much
unnecessary economic suffering and social conflict on earth, including
"As all mature people know some land is naturally better located
or has greater natural fertility or greater concentration of valuable
natural resources such as oil, minerals, timber and the like than
other land. For this reason a rental or royalty value arises on this
better land. Such a value does not arise on land which when used will
only yield labor a bare living and providers of true capital a fair
interest return; on land that would not be used by labor if rent was
demanded for its use.
"It is also well to realize another fact. Land, of itself,
produces nothing, absolutely nothing, which will directly satisfy
man's needs. True, there is gold and crude oil in the land, fish in
rivers, lakes and oceans, and wild game on earth. But a dentist cannot
prepare a gold inlay to repair a tooth, nor can a gasoline service
station attendant fuel an automobile with gold and crude oil in the
earth; nor can anyone prepare food for a meal with uncaught fish in
rivers and oceans, and with wild and uncaught game on earth?
"Man, himself, is the only producer of wealth for man's use; man
must of necessity first labor to produce all raw materials or
completed products he needs on and from the earth's resources.
"And," continued The Voice, "please realize that men,
as landholders, as such -- as such we repeat, produce nothing
either. Nor do they as individuals or as stockholders in Corporations,
as a class, produce the rent of land they demand, collect and seek to
keep for their own use. All the people together do this. Yet, because
of your unfortunate heritage on earth of unjust customs, holders of
'legal' title to land, an important and good thing in itself, and
inherited methods of tax manipulation, some are permitted to privately
collect and use (confiscate) this publicly earned fund as if it were
indeed privately earned as are wages and interest - wages by those who
labor and provide capital. And this, it so happens, is the greatest
single cause of the growth of Socialism or Communism, the common
ownership of man provided capital and control of labor that the
majority rightfully oppose.
"This the people should not permit. We repeat; rent of land is
a. return earned by mankind together in common. It is man's natural
public income and people should be grateful to know of this. As such
it must be publicly collected and used to pay for common services
provided by government for the benefit of all the people. In this way
people can have their just heritage in land as common sojourners on
earth and none will be denied their rights to land.
"Under such methods of providing public revenue other important
benefits will accrue to the people. Those who hold land idle or in
partial use in relation to its fullest possible use value as
determined by the real estate market, would have to improve their
land, sell it to those who can and will use it, or abandon it. It
would no longer pay them to hold their land idle or in poor use except
possibly for special reasons, and this only for a short period of
"And if land within the city's boundaries that is already
serviced with streets, fire and police departments, schools, parks and
playgrounds, and the like was put to better use there would be far
less premature expansion in the use of land located further out in the
city or suburbs thus destroying many good farms nearby. This needless
expansion in land use is both wasteful and costly in many public and
private ways. Is it any wonder that this unsocial and bad economic use
of land is termed 'urban sprawl'?
"It is hard to believe that man would permit a few to control
and to politically arrange the framework of taxation so that some men,
merely as landholders, could profit by taking out of the free market
system (provided for man as a natural plan) products and services
produced by others, without the need of their putting in equal values
of man-created products and services in exchange. They are permitted,
because of this basic injustice, to buy with fills publicly created
rent of land what all others must buy with their privately earned
wages and interest-wage incomes. This is the principal reason why all
who labor, including management-labor of course, and those who provide
truly productive capital, are under the necessity of putting wealth
and services into the economy of more value than they are permitted to
take out because of an evil tax system, one that would make King
George m and his noble henchmen shake with laughter.
"This unjust happening is the major cause of bad distribution of
wealth and services. It is, therefore, also the greatest single cause
of the many and often socially and politically urgent schemes, and
demands for the redistribution of true privately earned wealth and
services. This highly arbitrary redistribution of wealth imposes an
unjust burden on all who fairly earn the wealth in their private
possession, or who inherited it from those who did. (And once private,
always private. This quality of ownership is not voided economically
or morally by reason of the death of its previous owner.)
"Clearly the poor, all people fairly well off, and even those
called 'the rich,' who should also be allowed to take out of the
system values equal to what they produce, are poorer as a result of
immoral and bad economic taxation now permitted on earth. And,
assuredly, all of this is the result of taxation-miseducation in and
out of schools.
"Sending tax committees to heaven, even a holy committee such as
this, can serve no useful purpose. None are to be permitted entrance
to heaven again."
Addressing the Prime Minister, The Voice said:
"Return the Tax Committee to earth. Let its members
seek out and study the holy natural economic laws provided in
creation for their guidance in achieving justice for all people in
securing both private and public revenue. Thus the good of all will
be served, most certainly the good of the poor."
After The Tax Committee had departed the Prime Minister stood sadly
and meditatively facing the massive silken curtain. Suddenly he was
aware that The Voice; the heavenly Comptroller of Natural Laws and
Their Use, was talking to himself. He heard him say:
"It is incomprehensible, absolutely
incomprehensible! Surely common sense alone should force the great
majority of intelligent and capable people on earth to first demand
the fullest possible collection for use of government of their
commonly produced RENT-of-land, their natural public revenue, which
attaches to land given them without cost or labor. They most
certainly should do this before permitting taxation on their
privately earned incomes of wages and interest-wages, or on the
products and services which, to have in the satisfaction of their
desires, they must first produce by their labor -- by the sweat of
"It is incomprehensible, absolutely incomprehensible, that
they fail to do this."
Comments on the YEAR of the Jubilee
The Jubilee Year of ancient Israel and of the Bible was in its day
and time an instrument for securing economic and social, justice. It
was designed to assure equalized rights and opportunity in land, a
gift of God to all. Because of its spirit and principle, when properly
implemented, it would prevent the extensive and cruel monopoly of land
the Hebrews had witnessed in Egypt under Pharoah.
The following excerpts indicate the nature of this special spiritual
and economic provision to be taken each 50th year to assure periodic
restoration (redivision) of land, establish basic economic justice and
to prevent monopoly and growth of great estates.
Ellen G. White in "Patriarches and Prophets," wrote of the
wisdom of the law as follows:
"The Lord would place a check upon the inordinate
love of property and power. Great evils would result from the
continued accumulation of wealth by one class, and the poverty and
degradation of another. Without some restraint the power of the
wealthy would become a monopoly, and the poor, though in every
respect as worthy in God's sight, would be regarded and treated as
inferior to their more prosperous breathern. The sense of this
oppression would arouse the passions of the poorer class. There
would be a feeling of despair and desperation which would tend to
demoralize society, and open the door to crimes of every
The following is from The Soucine Edition of the Pentateuch and
Haftorahs. With Hebrew Text -- English Translation and Commentary;
Edited by Dr. J. H. Hertz, Late Chief Rabbi of the British Empire."
-- Page 533
"According to Scripture 'the earth is the Lord's and all the
land was, as it were, held from God on lease (v 23). The Israelite who
voluntarily or through some compulsion sold his land to another, sold
not the ownership of the land, but the remainder of the lease -- till
the next year of the Jubilee, when all leases fell is simultaneously.
The land then came back to his family, all contracts of the sale to
the contrary not withstanding. His children thus enjoyed the same
advantage of 'a fair start' as their father had before them
(Verinder). Heine rightly remarks that the Torah does not aim at the
impossible -- the abolition of property, but at the moralization
of property, striving to bring it into harmony with equity and the
true law of Reason by means of the Jubilee Year. This institution
forms a most striking contrast to 'prescription' among the Romans,
according to which the possessor of a piece of land could not, after
the lapse of a certain period, be compelled to restore it to its own
real owner, so long as the latter was unable to show that he had
during that period demanded restitution in due form. Far other is the
spirit that we find in the law of Moses. It is not protection of
property, but the protection of humanity, that is the aim of the
Mosaic Code. Its Sabbath day and Sabbath Year secure even to the
lowliest, rest and leisure. With the blast of the jubilee trumpets the
slave goes free. And a redivision of the land assures again the
poorest his fair share in the bounty of the Common Creator.' "
Simon J. De Vries, former Marine officer, pastor and now professor of
Old Testament at The Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Delaware,
Ohio, writes in "Open Housing and the Biblical Law of Property,"
in the Christian Advocate, January 22, 1970:
"In the secular and cultic legislation of the
Pentateuch, humanitarian ideals dominate the moral choices of the
Israelite in government society. One basic passage for the ultimate
principles of a Hebrew-Christian concept of property is Leviticus
25, which legislates for the sabbatical year and the periodic
redemption of property. Here, at verse 23, the ancient lawgiver
solemnly declaims in the name of Yahweh, Israel's God: "The
land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for ye
are strangers and sojourners with me. (RSV)"
Rev. DeVries further states:
"The only historical situation that gives meaning to
this law is the period of Israel's first settlement, a time when it
was just beginning to exchange nomadic pasturing for agriculture. At
this period it was still realistically possible to let the land lie
fallow for one year out of seven, since the people could continue to
live from their traditional pursuits, animal husbandry and hunting."
"No doubt the observance of this custom became a burden as
soon as the Hebrews really settled down; testimony that this was the
case are the successive layers of revision and adaption --
particularly the attempt seen in verse 8 to shift the sabbath of the
land to a 50-year cycle in place of the original seven. What must be
seen, however, is the theological principles clearly implied in this
"Why a sabbath for the land? Because the land is Yahweh's."
"Hebrew law had no notion of absolute property rights. Since
Yahweh really owned the land, no Israelite could arbitrarily or
permanently dispose of what was his; land had to remain within the
families in which Yahweh had assigned it. Every 50 years what had been
sold to strangers was to be returned to its original owners -- and
this meant, in principle, to Yahweh himself. The practical effect of
this law was to keep any person from being disinherited and driven
from the land which was his subsistence."
"The fact is, though, that Israel itself was eventually forced
to depart from its ancient customs; irresistible changes in the
economic order made it impossible to observe these laws according to
their original form. So we must understand that it was only the
particular application of the theological principles that
required revision, not the principle itself."
"The land is mine," says the Lord. This word is ancient --
yet it is eternal. It is no empty slogan; it is profound and
far-reaching reality. It means that no man has an absolute title. It
means that there is a higher consideration in owning and using
property than one's selfish interest and caprice. God as the ultimate
owner is concerned that land and property not merely provide pleasure
for a privileged few, but benefit all his creatures. Thus we may
neither obtain property, not hold it, nor dispose of it, without
reference to the interest of other persons.
"The land is mine," says the Lord. If this means anything
at all, it is that whoever allows his management of property to make
him an enemy of humanity, makes him an enemy of God himself."
Reprinted from "Open Housing and the Biblical Law of
Property" by Simon J. DeVries in Christian Advocate,
January 22, 1970. Copyright © 1969 by The Methodist Publishing
An Amazing Provision for the Fulfillment of the Economic and
Spiritual Purpose of the Year of Jubilee in Modern Times
Millions of students of the Bible are aware of the YEAR of JUBILEE
when the land was to be restored to the families to whom it was
originally given and to others in the community as well. But only a
few of these students seem to realize that factors and principles of
economic science were provided in creation by which the economic and
spiritual purpose of this remarkable institution can be continuously
and efficiently applied in modern times with great benefit to mankind.
An economic phenomenon known as Economic Rent or RENT-of-land, forms
the basis of this arrangement. The essence of the method is to share,
not the land, as such, each 50th Year, but the RENT-of-land as the
free market determines it. This special fund is being recognized by
more and more people as
natural public revenue.
RENT-of-land is natural public revenue for two principal reasons
Bible students will understand. One is that land is not a product of
people -- of labor; the other is that RENT-of-land income arises not
from anything landholders, as such, do; it arises because of the
physical presence of all people and their seemingly endless desire for
products and services; and from their material and social progress in
And this, too, is most important: whomsoever collects and benefits
from this RENT-of-land income are, in fact, the owners of the land. It
is by sharing RENT-of-land as public revenue to meet essential common
expenses of government, that all people in real effect, are
landowners; all own the land. This includes our elderly folks soon to
depart this earth and babies daily born. And this too should be noted;
when this publicly created and earned RENT-of-land is recognized as
the common property of all and the more it is devoted to common good,
the more of the privately earned wages and interest-wages people will
be able to keep to provide for themselves, and to help others in need.
Directly and indirectly involved in this socially and just demand to
restore the rights of all people to the land, are the most serious of
economic and social problems. Among these are the seeming conflicts of
progress and poverty, rich and poor, of race, the existence of more or
fewer jobs, of freedom or dictatorship, of peace or war, of the
unnecessary radicalization of our youth, and a host of other problems
of economic and moral nature.
The Public Revenue Education Council offers literature which makes
clear and understandable this modern way of fulfillment of the purpose
of the Year of Jubilee. We want to share this understanding with you
and others. It is an exciting experience for people, young and old, to
be able to bear witness that there exists a provision to achieve
economic justice in the equal rights of all to the God-provided land
and that assures true private rights to property in what people make.
It is exciting to know, too, that means are provided to implement
this; and it is very exciting to know that such provisions were
neither forgotten in creation or left to man to invent as so many
assume. These are provided! Man only needed to discover their