Ground Rent as a Portion
of U.S. National Income
[A quotation from: The Machinery of Freedom,
"This leaves open the question of how one attains ownership of
things that are not created or that are not entirely created, such as
land and mineral resources. There is disagreement among libertarians
on this question. Fortunately, the answer has little effect on the
character of a libertarian society, at least in this country. Only
about 3 percent of all income in America is rental income. Adding the
rental value of owner-occupied housing would bring this figure up to
about 8 percent. Property tax -- rental income collected by government
-- is about another 5 percent. So the total rental value of all
property, land and buildings, adds up to 13 percent of all income.
Most of that is rent on the value of buildings, which are created by
human effort, and thus poses no problem in the definition of property
rights; the total rent on all land, which does pose such a problem, is
thus only a tiny fraction of total income. The total raw material
value of all minerals consumed, the other major "unproduced"
resource, is about another 3 percent. There again, much of that value
is the result of human effort, of digging the ore out of the ground.
Only the value of the raw resources in fact may reasonably be regarded
as unproduced. So resources whose existence owes nothing to human
action bring to their owners, at the most, perhaps one-twentieth of
the national income. The vast majority of income is the result of