… why don’t we just have a land tax, instead of trying to restrict voluntary trade of land between individuals.
My impression has always been that one of the fundamental reasons for tax was to proxy for a social return on a nations capital – such as land. By doing this we get the advantage of actual property rights on land, even though in essence we hold a belief that society as a whole owns that land.
Now my impression of this debate is that NZ society DOES believe it implicitly owns the land. If we had a land tax that proxied the “rental income” for society, it wouldn’t matter who owned the property right to use the land and this whole debate about foreign ownership could be chucked out the window.
Update: Danylmc at Dim Post discusses the same article. I’m not sure I would interpret history the same way as him – was there really much of a cost from the running down of our grossly inefficient railway system? However, lets not argue about this point here – as it is peripheral to both posts. There are two primary points that need to be raised beyond my land tax call above.
Firstly, if the problem is that the government sold the asset too cheaply, then we should raise that as the issue.
Secondly the arbitrary idea of a “strategic asset” might crop up – if we want to think along these lines, lets actually do some thinking. We should ask “is it a public good”, “are there competition issues” and/or “are there externalities from the assets use”. If these things hold, then we can ask what is the best way to define ownership.
Yes there are cases where the government should own assets – but they should be determined by analysis instead of arbitrary catch phrases like “strategic asset”. Obviously there are too many management consultants floating around government at the moment given the amount that term is floating about.