Why Should We Be Beggars? 221

There is a great campaign song from the 1890’s, of which the chorus goes

The Land! The Land!
‘Twas God who made the Land
The Land! The Land!
The ground on which we stand
Why should we be beggars
With the Ballot in our hand?
God gave the Land to the People!

That key question – why should we be beggars with the ballot in our hand? – was the fundamental driver of the Yes campaign in the Scottish referendum. The answer is, of course, the beggary remains because our corporate masters are enabled to buy off a small but significant minority of the less poor and then brainwash or terrify enough others through their control of mass communication. But so many people are now wondering how on earth we have beggary in a land of so many billionaires, that the question is refusing to go away.

The song above was the anthem of Henry George’s land movement, and it has resonance today. I found land ownership the most passionate of subjects in the referendum campaign. It was as strongly felt in urban communities of Dundee as in the Highlands. There is an excellent article on the subject by George Monbiot today. It ought to be as important in London as in Scotland. The extreme wealth of the Westminster and other London inherited estates ought not be tolerated in a modern society.

I too applaud the Scottish government’s courage in tackling the issue. I wish, however, they had been a bit more bold. That business rate exemption was ever given to sporting estates, by both Tories and Labour, is an abomination. Of course the rate must be imposed. The truth is, much of the Highlands historically supported a greater population than it does now, and there is much land unused that can produce root crops and cattle. The aid for crofting communities acquiring land is also welcome, but should be backed by firm compulsion.

The proposals to end primogeniture may break up large estates over time, but I confess to being not greatly excited by progress measured in half centuries. The major answer should lie in two well understood taxes: inheritance tax and land value tax. I would favour 20% inheritance tax on all estate value above 500,000, 50% on all value above 1 million and 80% on all value above 5 million, with no exemptions or gifting and beneficial ownership ruthlessly traced.

On Land Value Tax, I am particularly attracted by a residency test. LVT should be quadrupled for non-residents, with residence defined as where you pay your income tax. In an independent Scotland, that would sort out a great deal of the problem pretty fast.

Simply repealing the Inclosure Acts would perhaps have difficult ramifications, where the original beneficiaries’ estates have sold land on to become eventually, for example, individual residential plots. But revisiting the Inclosure Acts is a weapon we should not forego when looking at problems like the Buccleuch or Grosvenor Estates. Though for the major aristocratic estates I would favour straightforward nationalisation.

The Establishment, Conservative, Labour and Liberal, have re-introduced the appalling notion of the “undeserving poor”. It is time for action against the undeserving rich.

221 thoughts on “Why Should We Be Beggars?

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  • Fedup

    You cannot make this shit up!

    The crackdown on banks and tax avoiders could backfire by creating more uncertainty for business, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned.

    The above is an excerpt from Times subscription article “IFS warns of instability in tax system”.

    This in your face and open admission of the existence of a twin track system in which we the people are subject to all manner of constraints and laws, whilst the other lot ie the owners/one percentiles/robber barons are so used to fraudulent conduct that any slightest amounts of honesty forced into their world will bring about the collapse of their world.

    The notion that only the poor get taxed to distraction is the fundamental principle of the brand of economics that is getting shoved down our throats. Needless to point out that austerity and cut backs are in fact taxes at source, even before they have been provided for the benefit of we the people.

  • nevermind

    N_ I agree with you, but Abramovitch likes it here, he likes to move his money in cesspit that is the corporation of London, but he’ll let Putin have a few billion.

    you said ‘ It’s about ‘consolidation’ yes it is,

    its like calling in the cubs before the hard frost sets in.
    He must pull levers and he wants a bear hug at the same time. The KGB has never been choosy in their methods, whichever works best and fastest, their close relations with long standing Russian gangs, some of them based abroad helps to ‘consolidate minds’ behind mother Russia.

    The Chechen Bratva’s are currently having another go at each other, they’re busy in Grozny.

    @ whoever wants to go to Mars…Someone decided to spend/waste billions on a journey to Mars, for humans, not robots, that would be too easy, we’re about to f…k up this planet and we need another one pronto where we might be able to carry on as we have done, so lets check out Mars for a cool 80billion plus, my giddy aunt.

    One wonders which two brain cells are pushing this idiocy, for more profits to some, on to unsuspecting taxpayers. No urges to fund such mission.

    Buzz Aldrin, oh yes the very one, said on Newsnight that a trip to Mars would be far too complicated and prone to failure as a round trip.

    With other words, you’re volunteering to go one way, no atmosphere to protect you once you get there, until you dig yourself in as pronto as you get there, youre acquaintance to cancer is guaranteed on the journey there. Whoever bothers to contemplate leaving this beautiful planet…
    I know its a bit old fashioned soppy, might as well stay there, as the NHS is already underfunded and rather stretched as it is.

    I know….just a fleeting thought… how about trying to make things better here on earth? much less egoism and more futurism for our children, try to live on this planet without screwing it up, you can do it, Humanity, you’ve got all the knowledge in the world, every bit of technology to help you to achieve it.
    Go on then.

    Why send Humans if we’re much better at sending robots? well, some are…

    I suspect that the propaganda value makes it necessary for presidents to speak to a human, regardless of the stupid, not very clever, sacrifice and extra money such a human carrier would cost. robots don’t need oxygen, they can even be asleep until they are needed, no need for tea fresh veg or hydrogenated steak and sushi.

    Its still the same notion as that which started the race to the moon, silly point scoring and oneupmanship.

  • nevermind

    Fed up wrote ‘The notion that only the poor get taxed to distraction is the fundamental principle of the brand of economics that is getting shoved down our throats’

    Spot on. Lets make that true statement more inclusive, after the latest budget Osborne is also eyeing up the middle class for more stuffing, he’s changing the state to approx. 1875, please advise…;) hoping that society will follow his masochistic allures.

    So lets add the words ‘more and’, after your ‘get taxed’ above…please.

    night all

  • Mark Golding

    formidable organisation than many recognise – Agreed N_ – formidable Putin?, I don’t think so, he is human; yet much more intuitive than ‘feared’ Alexei Navalny, a Western delusion!

    We understand Putin is dangerous, yet not to the open minded fellow travellers here on Craig and everywhere; Putin is dangerous to the murdering bastards who create chaos to survive, bomb innocent families and deceive the populous with their subliminal viruses through media.

    But by their own hand, time is in a nutshell, the sand is running out; while the scales of humanity are moving and only madness and absurdity can get in the way.

  • BrianFujisan

    Mark a very well written post Thanks

    And on that topic –

    We are not dealing with a “Cold War”. None of the safeguards of the Cold War era prevail.

    There has been a breakdown in East-West diplomacy coupled with extensive war propaganda. In turn the United Nations has turned a blind eye to extensive war crimes committed by the Western military alliance.

    The adoption of a major piece of legislation by the US House of Representatives on December 4th (H. Res. 758) would provide (pending a vote in the Senate) a de facto green light to the US president and commander in chief to initiate –without congressional approval– a process of military confrontation with Russia.

    Global security is at stake. This historic vote –which potentially could affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people Worldwide– has received virtually no media coverage. A total media blackout prevails.


  • Peacewisher

    @Ben: what do you think of #Icantbreathe? There is something that goes to the very roots of democracy that says government/state agents shouldn’t be acting in this way, and should be brought to justice when they do. Obama’s hidden cameras wouldn’t make any difference if citizens can be deprived of breath in this way… and then camera evidence can somehow be overlooked!

  • Peacewisher

    @Brian: There is something clearly very wrong with US Democracy if Larry King has to take to RT with a succession of respected US journalists to get the message across that the celebrated free press of the US are a little more reined in with every new president. Quite horrifying that the Obama administration seem to see it as their right to hack into journalists’ computers.

  • YouKnowMyName

    @Peacewisher 7:06 am, for the #Icantbreathe – I simply refer you to the now 33 year-old lyrics of the sadly late John Graham Mellor (a son of a British foreign office diplomat who saw service in India, Ceylon, Turkey, Egypt, Mexico, Malawi and Iran)

    ‘Joe’ wrote, and spat in my face a few times!… “You have the right not to be killed”, but then qualified this right as “unless it was done by a policeman or an aristocrat”

    plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose; at least he’s got a memorial Plaza in Granada Lat.37.168854, Long. -3.587686, (can even see the ‘blue plaque’ on street view)

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Now he intendeds to tighten the screw, on the most vulnerable in society and all because he hasn’t got a f*cking clue how to balance the books.

    True. But it isn’t about balancing the books, is it? It’s about creating a country in which the hardworkingfamilies have the opporchunity to contribute to our Britain‘s prosperity by hardworking their butts off to buy crap at inflated prices grow the economy while gamblers worthy individuals who pretend know that tidal waves of imaginary money growth=prosperity take a big cut from every transaction invest in our future. Nichtwahr?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    EXCELLENT and revealing piece by Jonathan Cook :Nafeez Ahmed, and what the Guardian has become:


    It is not that Ahmed strayed too far from his environment remit, it is that he strayed too much on to territory – that of the Israel-Palestine conflict – that the Guardian rigorously reserves for a few trusted reporters and commentators. Without knowing it, he went where only the carefully vetted are allowed to tread.

    I know from my own long years of clashing with Guardian editors on this issue.

  • N_


    We understand Putin is dangerous, yet not to the open minded fellow travellers here on Craig and everywhere; Putin is dangerous to the murdering bastards who create chaos to survive, bomb innocent families and deceive the populous with their subliminal viruses through media.

    I think you might have a different view if you were in Chechnya!

  • Ba'al Zevul

    deceive the populous with their subliminal viruses through media.

    It’s oddly touching to see that the RT fans here don’t even consider the possibility that ‘subliminal viruses’ might be present even in RT’s output. There are two opposed sides. Each jumps gleefully on the other’s weaknesses. Neither acknowledges a trace of bias in its own output. It’s as simple as that.

    But re. Chechnya, at least the Russians rebuilt Grozny after flattening it. Compare and contrast:


  • doug scorgie

    4 Dec, 2014 – 11:39 am

    “As for ill health there have been numerous reports confirming that the incidence of diabetes and hypertension is higher in these immigrant groups than in the general population. This is very likely a contributory factor in UK resident Pakistanis and Bangladeshis claiming disability benefits at a higher rate than the general population.”

    I did ask you for references or links so I could look at them myself.

    Could you now do that?

  • guano


    Yes. The Foreign Office is full of comparatively junior people working on subjects, who are not responsible for the foreign policy of this country towards everywhere else. People do their jobs. I was prepared to work there while I was not asked t do anything wrong.”

    The logic of Phil’s position is that nobody must ever work for the state as it makes you responsible for the entire policy of the state. That seems to me foolish.”

    Unlike yourself, I was brought up exclusively with the sons of the elite at UK private schools and I had concluded at a very early age that they had no morals or principles except to reverse the interruptions in the history of colonialism caused by 2 world wars.

    Stopping exploiting your own countrymen and stopping exploiting the rest of the world were the resulting conclusions of the UK population after the destruction of deeply embedded class and nationalist distinctions in the wars.

    The children of the elite were clearly determined to push through their own deeply old-fashioned agenda and it emerged as neo-colonialism, rabidly pro-war, racist, genocidal and elitist.
    In my mind the vast majority of our generation shared that hope for a UK of social cohesion and fair dealings with the rest of the world.

    How the UK has reversed from that liberal dream into one of the most aggressive military regimes ever, you are better qualified to judge than me. I trust your FCO motives implicitly. Meanwhile although I was clever enough to engage with politics I detested the mind-set of these reactionary proto-colonials and set myself to the art of repairing old leather-bound volumes.

    I wish I had set myself to nipping these proto-neo-cons in the bud before they came to full strength and 20 years of destruction, but the truth is that they nipped my liberalism in the bud by various under-the-belt means before our Liberal values could take hold in this post-war UK society.

    The political class has not destroyed the economies of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia,Egypt, Libya, Syria, Palestine, etc etc for no reason, even now putting millions of Syrians in tents for the 4th year running. More power to your elbow for standing up to them now in Scotland.

    I still don’t believe you understand the full extent of their bastardness and maybe you still hold onto some of your FCO dream to change the world towards your own post-war generation vision from inside the system.

    I take Phil and Habbabkuk’s pieces both as vermicious shilling and trolling. You are much too nice to them in my opinion. When the vicar’s poodle, Charles Crawford sticks his stupid head through the fence I cannot stop myself from chewing it off for him.

    The bottom line is that they are more evil than their dictators like Assad and Saddam Hussain because this country achieved reform as a result of the world wars and the recidivist colonials have attacked that reform ruthlessly and systematically, and show absolutely no sign of stopping.

    I work as an electrician now purely because I’ve found you cannot hate the class of people you are working for while at the same time deriving your living from them. Or if you do, it doesn’t last long.

  • nevermind

    Thanks Herbie and Ba’al for referring this Guardian censorship to us here.

    Dr Nafeez piece about Ghaza’s gas field off their coast and the continuing goading, killing and harassment by Israel, the acceptance of a 20 mile zone, only to break it 48 hrs later and shoot at anybody who dares to fish further out than 6 miles, all this is designed to provoke another confrontation. Israel seems hell bent to make the north of Gaza uninhabitable, ready to take over to steal what’s not theirs.

    Eventually Israel wants to take back Gaza and drive the Palestinians into the sea. Freedland is evasive and is giving Dr. Nafeez the run around, why argue with tossers who back a violent nationalistic zionist regime.

    Is it time for a global petition against a world war as proposed by those who have taken over NATO? demand that it is abandoned, just as the Warsaw pact has been broken up? How would that work?

    maybe there’s something for habby to get his teeth into, rather than acting up as Craig’s filter here.

  • doug scorgie

    4 Dec, 2014 – 2:13 pm

    “Last I heard, Jack Straw’s wife had rather an important position… Not many people talk about that office and its role. You hear about MI6 nowadays, but some very important stuff remains under wraps.”

    Alice Elizabeth Perkins, CB, (born 24 May 1949) is the Chairman of the Post Office Ltd. She was appointed to this position in July 2011, to lead the Board following the separation of the Post Office from the Royal Mail [Postal Services Act 2011].

    She is an Executive Coach and a partner in the coaching practice of the JCA Group, a member of the Faculty of Meyler Campbell, which provides training for business coaches and has been an external member of the Council of the University of Oxford since 2006.

    She is a member of the Business Advisory Council of the Saïd Business School of the University of Oxford.

    The early years of her career were spent in the Department of Health and Social Security.

    In 1993 she moved to the Treasury as Director of Public Spending, where her priorities were Defence, the Intelligence Agencies, Aid, Foreign Office and Agriculture spending.

    In 1998 she returned to the Department of Health as Director General for Corporate Management responsible for administration of the Department.

    In 2001 Perkins moved to the Cabinet Office to work as Director General, Corporate Development Group, responsible for human resources across government, top appointments and civil service reform, reporting direct to the Cabinet Secretary. She left the civil service in 2005.

    In early 2006 Perkins joined the board of the country’s largest airports operator BAA, until its take-over by the Spanish firm Ferrovial later in 2006.

    She has also served as a non-executive Director on the Board of Littlewoods (1997–2001) and TNS (the global market information company) where she was also Chair of the Renumeration Committee from 2005 until its takeover by WPP in 2008.

    Such a busy woman; how could she manage all that and still find time to fit in Jack’s conjugal rights?

  • guano

    I am listening to the Qur’an where Allah is describing Himself as the One who shapes the human form inside the womb.

    Contrast that with Radio 4’s thought for the day this morning where the speaker said he believes in something out there.

    The ignorance of the people of this country beggars belief.
    Allah have mercy on them and give them the understanding of Islam.

    The Tory newspapers have finally realised that the ZBC is going to back poodle Miliband against Cameron, in order for Israel to take profits on the land secured by its ISIS in Syria Iraq and Jordan.

    Dimmer than dimmest of dims. English vocabulary cannot describe the daftness of debate in the UK. Sorry to repeat it but: Dryden’s Mac Fleckno, a diatribe against Protestant Supremacy and ultimately, colonialism, also applies here to the neo-cons:

    All humane things are subject to decay,
    And, when Fate summons, Monarchs must obey:
    This Fleckno found, who, like Augustus, young
    Was call’d to Empire, and had govern’d long:
    In Prose and Verse, was own’d, without dispute [5]
    Through all the Realms of Non-sense, absolute.
    This aged Prince now flourishing in Peace,
    And blest with issue of a large increase,
    Worn out with business, did at length debate
    To settle the succession of the State: [10]
    And pond’ring which of all his Sons was fit
    To Reign, and wage immortal War with Wit;
    Cry’d, ’tis resolv’d; for Nature pleads that He
    Should onely rule, who most resembles me:
    Sh—— alone my perfect image bears, [15]
    Mature in dullness from his tender years.
    Sh—— alone, of all my Sons, is he
    Who stands confirm’d in full stupidity.
    The rest to some faint meaning make pretence,
    But Sh—— never deviates into sense. [20]
    Some Beams of Wit on other souls may fall,
    Strike through and make a lucid interval;
    But Sh——’s genuine night admits no ray,
    His rising Fogs prevail upon the Day:

  • Jay

    @ Nevermind

    If it takes 2 brain cells to not want to go to the planet Mars and
    fund more Nhs health care, suppose how many brain cells are needed to realise a healthier lifestyle choices would also benefit the NHS.
    I agree a trip to Mars is over indulgent and not beneficial but things real or unreal are not.

  • mark golding

    Isn’t bias a human weakness Komodo? Bias sits in the grey area between yin and yang. Thankfully the separation is wide and the change known by behavior not the media circus.

  • nevermind

    My point. Jay, was that we have the expertise to achieve a Mars landing and exploration without sending humans, most likely cutting the budget of such undertaking by 80%.

    If the US and NASA needs prancing about and propaganda, the ESA does not, their science speaks for itself.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Mr Scorgie

    “Alice Elizabeth Perkins, CB, (born 24 May 1949) is the Chairman of the Post Office Ltd.” (ie, Mrs Jack Straw)….

    Such a busy woman; how could she manage all that and still find time to fit in Jack’s conjugal rights?”

    Well, Doug, you’ve set out her career and I see that she has carried out the majority of her jobs seriatim and not concurrently.

    I detect a vague note of disapproval in your post: do you object to her for having done different jobs in her career, or to her having been a successful career woman, or to her being married to Jack Straw, or, indeed, to her being a woman? Or, if I have misread the tone of your post and you do not in fact disapprove of her, what point are you trying to make?

    As to the state of her conjugal relations with her husband – is that anuone else’s business, Doug?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Mr Scorgie

    “As for ill health there have been numerous reports confirming that the incidence of diabetes and hypertension is higher in these immigrant groups than in the general population. This is very likely a contributory factor in UK resident Pakistanis and Bangladeshis claiming disability benefits at a higher rate than the general population.”

    I think that medical science has revealed rather conclusively that there is a certain genetical predisposition (ie, irrespective of changes in dietary habits, for example) in within certain racial groups to certain illnesses – or the reverse.

    So I wouldn’t – as you seem to do – see anything racist in someone pointing out “that the incidence of diabetes and hypertension is higher in these immigrant groups than in the general population.” You might as well hint that it is racist to point out there is a greater incidence of fair hair amoung Caucasians than amoung Africans.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “Come on Craig. Is’nt it about time to stop pretending Ukraine isn’t a human rights issue?”

    Not sure that Craig’s saying that it’s not (inter alia) a human rights issue – the question might be, rather, who is doing the violating.

  • Mary

    Palestinian cameraman shot by Israeli forces at Qalqiliya demo
    Bashar Nazzal shot in the leg while covering demonstration in Qalqiliya village of Kafr Qaddum.

    Palestinian man injured after being hit by settler car

    Gaza hospitals suffer as unpaid cleaners go on strike

    Israel issues 4-month Jerusalem ban for 3 Palestinians

    The Mockingjay of Palestine: ‘If we burn, you burn with us’

    Israeli forces raid home of Ma’an reporter in Jerusalem

    Palestinian girl, 14, arrested at Qalandiya checkpoint

    Ministry begins removing rubble from Gaza neighborhood

    Israeli forces detain relatives of stab suspect


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