Posted Friday, Feb. 24, 2012, at 1:33 PM
Great column by Samuel Brittan on the strong case for a tax on land, which is paradoxically an idea with overwhelming support from the economics literature going all the way back to David Ricardo, and an idea loosely associated with monomaniacal cranks. But it's really not a crank idea at all! A tax land is miraculous, offering almost no disintive effect on work or investment (technically it's not impossible to create new land, but it is incredibly rare) while also having egalitarian distributive implications.
As the economy moved away from an agricultural focus, people sort of lost sight of the land issue. But in an interesting way the service economy is almost as land-based as the agricultural economy was and land-related issues like oil and gas reserves are also increasingly salient.