Concern about the environment is widespread. And rightly so. Pollution of the land, air and water, industrial wastes, over development, chopping down of forests and the destruction of nature, is everyone's concern. The underlying cause however, being a system which permits land monopoly and land speculation, is rarely given attention.
Furthermore, people could enjoy both the advantages of urban culture, as well as proximity to nature, instead of as now, either being crowded in the cities or settled so far away that urban amenities are not conveniently available, eg; bus and train services.
Site revenue would also promote decentralisation of urban areas, and give to each decentralised area a firm revenue base with which to support its own development.
Site revenue would ensure speculatively held land is made available to the landless, without first resorting to rain forest land, which of course is currently untitled, and therefore "free" to slum dwellers.
Consider another example: "On September 8 1992, a monsoon storm hit the Himalayas, dumping 52 cm of rain in 36 hours. Flood control measures were simply overwhelmed. In the following days, some 3,000 people died or disappeared after water and mud submerged more than 4,000 villages and towns throughout Pakistan's Punjab and Northwest frontier provinces, Indian and Pakistan held Kashmir, and eastern Afghanistan. All of Pakistan's five main rivers overflowed." But here's the key. "Many of Islamabad's poor -- squatters who live in dry riverbeds -- lost their homes in the flash floods."2
Western media portray the tragedy in all its graphic detail. "There are too many people!" it is said. These people die, or lose their homes in such "natural disasters" only because they are landless; forced to live where nature did not intend. Living in a dry riverbed will certainly subject you to flash flooding!
In Pakistan, the same as elsewhere, much land is withheld from better use because its owners treat it as a financial investment. (Further examples are given in other fact files.) And besides, one may well question whether in fact such flooding is a natural disaster anyway. Rivers flood as part of a natural eco-cycle. Further research may also implicate the vast clearing that is continuing unabated in the Himalayas region; clearing all too often in response to the lack of land available elsewhere. The plight of disinherited people is often attributed to overpopulation or overuse of land. The real reason is the withholding of land for speculative purposes. Site revenue would make such an activity unproductive and expensive.
Site revenue collects ground rent, through higher rates charges on the value of land, thus taking for government revenue the profits of land ownership. At the same time the burden on labour and capital is eased via lower taxes. Under site revenue, solar power becomes far more competitive with today's entrenched -- but environmentally destructive -- fossil fuels.