POLITICIANS AND THE LAND QUESTION.
TO THE EDITOR. Sir,—Permit rue to say a few words a-n-put the land; policy of the Liberal ■and Reform parties, as" propounded by the Leaders of those parties during the election campaign just cloeed. Just now we are confronted with ar. ever-increasing cost of living—» matter closely connected with the land question—to which there, is apparently no limit. The Right Hon. W. 1. Mae-sey" and his disciples were never dons praising themselves for having increased th* Graduated Land Tax, which, they said, was sure to benefit tho workers of the Dominion. Sir Joseph Ward made even more of this matter, and promised to still further increase the Graduated Land Tax. so that tho worker would get a- fair chance of securing a freehold for himself. If these gentlemen were sincere, why did they not tell the elector* of New Zealand how the Graduated Tax works out, and how much benefit the worker derives by it? Tho plain facts of the case are that neither of them wanted to give the gamlß away, but both wanted the> worker's vote. Well, now, let us see how the increased tax of Mr Massey benefits (sic) the worker. According to" the Financial Statement submitted by tho Hon, Jas. Alien just prior h> tha dissolution of Parliament, we find that the unimproved values of New Zealand had increased from £■161,324,000 in 1908-09 to £212,936.000 in 1913-14, or arf increase of £51,612,000,; while in the same period the "taxable land values" (i.e., all over the £SOO exemption) increased from £106,198,550 to £140,448,406—i e., by £34,749,856, and tho Land Tax paid increased from £604,900 to £767,451—i.e., by £162,551. When, in 1913. a resolution passed by tho Otago Land Values League was sent to the Hon. J. Allen suggesting an increase of the ordinary Land Tax, with a consequent remission of Customs taxes on the. necessaries of life by the amount of revenue eo raised—with a view to relieving the burden upon tho workers—that gentlemen was vehement in his denunciation of such a measure, as he regarded it as inimical to the general progress of the community (vide 'Evening Star,' 20/11/13). If the increase of 2d in the £ on the ordinary Land Tax had been placed on the Statute Book, would tho poor land monopolists of Xew Zealand-—represented so faithfully by tho Reform party—have been injured? t'trow not. With the Land Tax exemption being £SOO. the Graduated Taj; commencing at £5,000. the total number oi landholders estimated at 150,000. and the unimproved values in private hands £170,000,000, we arrive at the following : Holdings, up to £SOO unimproved value, 110.000 owners: unimproved value, £30,000.000; averace unimproved value, £273 : Land 'Tax (2d in £) pavable, £2 5s 6d. Holdings, £SOO to £5.000 unimproved value. 34.0C0 owners; unimproved value, £56,000,000; average unimproved value, £1,647; additional Land Tax, £l3 8s 3d. Over £5,000 unimproved value, 6,000 holders; unimproved value. £84,000,000. 'Tints 6,000 persons hold practically as much improved value as the 144,000 put together. Therefore, even with no exemption in respect to the additional 2d tax, the greater proportion of the landholders would gain by the measure suggested above. Up to £SOO unimproved value the average landholder would pay £2 5s 6d Land Tax, while gaining xn average of £lO by reduction of Customs duties-. The low average of the holdings between £SOO and £5,000 (£1.647) shows that tho greater portion of the 34,000 owners must hold under £I,OOO unimproved value, and thus stand to gain and not to lose by tho change. ' Further, it will ba noted 'that, while on a 5 per cent, basis (5 per cent, on £34,249,856). the land monopolists are able to levy upon the people of New Zealand in 1913-14 a rent tribute of £1,712,692 per annum more than in £I9OB-09. the Land Tax has increased by only £162,551. Thus, for every £lO paid by the people, to the land monopolists in increased rent these monopolists pay back to the people—the Government—loss than £i in increased Land Tax. Sorely that is not asking too much. Why not increase tho ordinary Land Tax to meet the cost of the war, and also to enable tho cost of li\ing to he reduced, by abolishing all taxation on foodstuffs and a, reduction on the other necessaries of life. I venture to say that had Sir Joseph Ward come before the country with proposals of this nature we should not now be in such an awkward position politically as we arc to-day. Progressive taxation on these lines would prove" of material benefit to all. prevent reaggregation of land, provide a necessary stimulus to industry, and counteract tho baneful effect, of tho war by making .employment more plentiful. Trie justice, of such a principle is recognised by .Mr E. H. Hiley, the new General Manager of our railways, for on page 10 if his 'Report on New Zealand Railways' re the proposed new line out of Auckland via Hobson and Orakei Bays he says: "It is to be regretted that the department, cannot claim, eome compensation from the landowners in the shape of a betterment rate to assist in meeting the expense of building the railway. ' Though the principle that tho land values made by public works should pay for the public works that make them is 'receiving greater recognition every day. it is astonishing how blow our politicians and the people are to recognise that by far the best method is not by buying up land along the proposed routo of'the new railway and then selling again, but by rating and taking unimproved land values, a method that can be applied in regard to past, present, and future public works, thus treating all alike that have received any benefit from public expenditure. The confiscation by the monopolists of the publicly-created land value, and the exploiting power which thereby is held by them, is the root cause of our indutrial strife. Once the monopoliefs power is broken the path of the worker will be considerably smoother, and less bitterness will be manifested as between man and man. Instead of wrangling about party politics, our parliamentary representatives would be better occupied if they would sink petty bickering and settle down to a calm and resolute deliberation on the Land Question in the interests of tho whole community. The settlement of this vital question throughout the world would be the greatest. factor in determining that which at the present time we all would acclaim with heart and voice—"a world at peace."—l am. etc.. Land Reform. January 1.
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POLITICIANS AND THE LAND QUESTION., Evening Star, Issue 15691, 4 January 1915