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By Alanna Hartzok, co-director, Earth Rights Institute

course.earthrightsinstitute.org

Police attacks on the Occupations are the current manifestation of the violent suppression of the peoples rights to the planet’s land and natural resources. This harshly exploitative power relationship stems directly from the amalgam of church/state that was the Holy Roman Empire. The fundamentals have never shifted towards justice. The basic person/planet ethic of HRE is "dominium" - legalization of land acquired by conquest and plunder. As long as the few rather than the many “own” the planet, there will be brutality and unending war.

I perceive that a not yet fully conscious reason why the Occupations are so fundamentally powerful is that this action takes and holds land as a commons. Pitching a tent and sleeping on land is a direct threat to the powers that be, because in our system the only ways to acquire land are through inheritance, purchase (with mortgage debt) or rent (to a landlord who has inherited land or purchased land via mortgage debt.) In our system there is NO INHERENT RIGHT to land as a birthright.

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Policy Paper Submitted by the International Union for Land Value Taxation to the United Nations Financing for Development Preparatory Process at the NGO Hearings Week, November 2000

Public finance policy can be structured to enhance both private sector economic activity and public sector services. A fundamental reform in tax policy can optimize incentives for a productive market economy while also providing money for education, health care and other social services, as well as infrastructure. Such reform promotes a different kind of market system whereby wealth is fairly distributed and basic needs for all are met.

Does this sound too good to be true? We are accustomed to compromise and trade-offs, to sacrifice one goal for another. That a systemic reform can simultaneously promote economies which are both free AND fair may seem to be an impossible ideal. But a public finance perspective, variously known as land value taxation, green tax shifting, or resource rental offers such a reform.

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by Alanna Hartzok

Click here for CPA Journal story, "Trends in Taxation"

Presented at the Global Institute for Taxation Conference on Fundamental Tax Reform sponsored by Price Waterhouse Coopers and St. John's University, New York, September 30, 1999 and published in Taxation Alternatives for the 21st Century Proceedings of the 1999 Conference.

This paper details a number of successful practices and work-in-progress on green tax shift policies which harness incentives for efficient, equitable, and sustainable wealth production and distribution. Research is cited which shows the impressive potential of green tax reform to help solve major social, economic and environmental problems facing our global civilization. Additionally, presented is an integrated local-to-global public finance framework based on green taxation principles and policies.

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There is a troublesome and painful contradiction in the lives of many of us who are working for peace, justice, poverty eradication, debt cancellation and sustainable development. While our hearts and minds focus on building a better world for everyone, each day we hand over fistfuls of dollars to build weapons of mass destruction, fuel dangerous, dirty and polluting technologies, and subsidize huge conglomerates which concentrate the wealth of the world in the control of the few. But together we can end tax tyranny and align our visions and values with how we finance our governments.

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Land Ethics and Public Finance Policy as if People and Planet Mattered

by Alanna Hartzok, Co-Director, Earth Rights Institute
Presented at the
The Richard Alsina Fulton Conference on Sustainability and the Environment
March 26 - 27, 2004
Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA
Evaggelos Vallianatos, in his reflections on Why Small Farmers are Essential to Democracy, said: "When democracy thrived in Greece, so did farming. The two were inseparable." He noted that those who worked very small plots of land, not philosophers, laid the foundations for ancient Greek democracy. "Democracy was the Greek smallholders' answer to tyranny" and the "genius of Greek civilization." Vallianotos well remembers the joys and pleasures of childhood on the small Greek farm where he grew up. "My father's farming was wrecked when the Americans converted Greece to agribusiness," he states.1

About Earth Rights Institute

The Earth is the birthright of all people

Earth Rights Institute (ERI) is designed to be an equilateral knowledge platform, where local people collaborate with academics and development professionals, both local and foreign, by exchanging skills, experiences, and knowledge to solve crucial development issues such as widespread poverty, land right disputes and environmental degradation.

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