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Geolibertarians believe in the libertarian principle of self-ownership, but take it to what they consider its logical conclusion by asserting equal right to land. They follow John Locke's proviso that one has private property in land only to the extent that there is "enough, and as good left in common for others." When this is not the case, the land accumulates rental value. Geolibertarians generally advocate distributing the land rent to the community via a Land Value Tax, as proposed by Henry George, and others before him.

Geolibertarians are generally influenced by Georgism, but the ideas behind it predate George, and can be found in the writings of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill. They are sometimes classified as left libertarians, along with libertarian socialists, but could more accurately be called centrist libertarians, since they hold right libertarian views on private property in the products of one's labor, and left libertarian views on landed property.

Property Rights

Geolibertarians are as strong on property rights as any other libertarian, but they consider land to be an equal right shared by all mankind. They say that private property is derived from an individual's right to the fruits of their labor. However, land is not created by anyone's labor, is in fixed supply, and is a fundamental requirement for the exercise of liberty. If all the land can be owned by a few individuals, they say, then only those few have a right to live on it, and therefore no one else owns themselves, instead owing their life and liberty to the landowner for letting them live on the land.

Thus, while geolibertarians recognize a right to privately possess land, they see that right as being limited by the equal right of others to do the same. When someone owns more than their equal share of land, that land gains rental value, which geolibertarians believe should be paid back to the community. This has the effect of both giving back the value created by the community and encouraging landowners to only use as much land as they need, leaving plenty for others.

The Land Value Tax

Geolibertarians advocate the Land Value Tax for a number of reasons. As explained already, it is seen as a means of upholding the equal right to land. It is also the tax most compatible with the free market. It does not affect the price of goods, nor does it discourage productivity, since it does not affect the cost of production. In fact, it actually increases productivity by lowering the entrance barrier into the market and encouraging more efficient land use.

Since public utilities and services increase land value, they could essentially fund themselves through the Land Value Tax. In this way, the tax can fund the functions of government so long as it contributes to the community. Some geolibertarians believe that all government expenditures beyond these functions should go towards a citizens' dividend, an equal payment to the whole community. Some others have argued that the citizens' dividend should come first, and then people can sign a contract to have portions of it go to fund certain services.

External links

What is Geolibertarianism?

A Geolibertarian FAQ

Libertarian Party at Sea and on Land

Thomas Paine Network

Really Natural Rights

The Free Liberal

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This page has been accessed 575 times. This page was last modified 22:13, 23 June 2005. All content is available as Public Domain.


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