The Single Tax at the Geneva Conference
[From The Nation, 1 June 1927. Reprinted from
Land and Freedom, May-June 1927]
THE Birmingham (England) Gazette of May 26th prints an
interview with Mr. A. W. Madsen on the progress of land value taxation
throughout the world, with special reference to the Memorandum
addressed to the Economic Conference. After giving a summary of the
arguments for free trade and land value taxation contained in this
document, Mr. Madsen is quoted as saying that he and Mr. Douglas were
not able to have the Memorandum presented as an official document, but
it was given to every member.
The delegate from Columbia, Dr. Restrepo, when taking part in the
discussion on agriculture, called upon the conference to consider the
economic and fiscal system of a Single Tax on land values,
particularly with reference to those land owners who took rent from
land without contributing anything towards its productivity.
Similarly, Mr. Weber, general secretary of the Swiss Federation of
Trade Unions, told the conference that what ever might be done to help
agriculture by way of tariffs, cooperation, credits, and so on, such
schemes would inevitably have the effect of increasing rents, thus
benefiting the land owner without benefiting the farmer, as such.
Showing how the system of land value taxation was growing in favor
Glasgow recently called a conference of the local rating authorities
in Scotland, and is determined to petition Parliament for powers to
rate land values. Cardiff decided the other day to call a conference
of the Welsh rating authorities to discuss the matter. Sheffield Town
Council has appointed a special committee to inquire and report; and
at Newcastle on Tyne similar action is being taken.
THE truth is that if this Economic Conference is to be of any value
whatever it must sooner or later grapple with the tariff problem. As
long as tariff barriers exist between members of the League of Nations
that League becomes more or less of a joke. That has been clearly
pointed out in the admirable memorandum addressed to the Conference in
Geneva by the International Union for Land Value Taxation and Free
Trade. "The very existence of a tariff or other artificial
obstacles to trade is an implicit betrayal," the Union correctly
asserts, "of the spirit of the League of Nations."