Newsletter No. 2 - March 2004
Links to other Newsletters can be found here.
1. The 2004 British Budget
A Health-Creating Society?
Books Recently Received
4. New Items on the Website
1. THE 2004 BRITISH BUDGET of 17 March.
Gordon Brown's Budget included three encouraging points for supporters of restructuring the financial and monetary system.
(1) The pound/euro question stays on the backburner. One reason why Britain should keep the pound - and learn to use the euro as a parallel currency - is to preserve our independent capacity to promote national and international monetary reform.
See "Forward with the euro - AND the pound", now on the website - click here .
(2) Merging the Inland Revenue and Customs (the two tax departments of government) and strengthening the Treasury's role in future taxation policy. This will remove an administrative obstacle to a radical 'tax shift' away from rewards for useful work and enterprise and on to the value of 'common resources'.
The reasons why, and a summary of arguments for the tax shift, will be found in a short memorandum of evidence to the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee in September 1999 (now on the website).
(3) The Treasury is to study the possible relevance of land value taxation to the problem of rising house prices, following the finding of the Barker report that, whereas developed properties are taxed, there is no tax "on the unearned increment in land values when undeveloped land is granted planning permission."
However, despite (2) and (3), mainstream political minds - if left to themselves - will probably continue to be obsessed between now and next year's general election with how much tax should be raised and to ignore what should be taxed.
Supporters of a tax shift will need to publicise the arguments for it (as in the memorandum at (2) above) and put them to our MPs. (They are more fully discussed in Benefits and Taxes: A Radical Strategy.)
2. A HEALTH-CREATING SOCIETY?
The recent UK flurry over obesity has revived discussion about "a new kind of national health service that gives priority to promoting health rather than just caring for people when they become ill" (King's Fund Report on Prevention Rather Than Cure - 18.3.2004)
Shouldn't we also pick up on the more ambitious 'Health For All' movement of the 1980s for a health-creating economy and healthy public policies in spheres other than "health", like work, food and agriculture, housing, energy, and so on?
Appendix 3 of "Health, Wealth & The New Economics" containing summaries of ten papers from six countries at the 1985 TOES meeting in London has now been added to the pamphlet on the website.
Incidentally, what is the significance of the simultaneous rise of obesity and the growth of economists' interest in the 'weightless economy' (see A Partial View of the Future)?
3. BOOKS RECENTLY RECEIVED
Each of the following recent hardbacks is relevant to topics on the website. More information is on their publishers' websites.
(1) William E. Gibson (ed), Eco-Justice-The Unfinished Journey, State University of New York Press, 2004, 340 pp, $48.00, ISBN: 0-7914-5991-8.
A collection of twenty-six contributions - on themes including hunger, economics, lifestyle and environmental justice, - linking ecological sustainability and social justice from an ethical and theological perspective.
It is based on the Eco-Justice Project of campus ministries in Rochester and Ithaca, Upper New York State, USA.
(2) Tony Fitzpatrick and Michael Cahill (eds), Environment and Welfare: Towards a Green Social Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2002, 240 pp, £47.50, ISBN: 0-333-91984-X.
"Social policies of the future will have to be Green. As environmental problems multiply, and as welfare reform becomes more vital, so the debate concerning ecological social policies grows in importance." The nine contributions offer "a comprehensive review of the main questions, problems and themes".
(3) Stephen A. Zarlenga, The Lost Science of Money: The Mythology of Money - the Story of Power, American Monetary Institute, 2002, 736 pp, $60, ISBN: 1-930748-03-5.
"Unheard of wealth concentrates into very few, largely undeserving hands. Americans work harder and produce more than ever but increasingly fall into debt and bankruptcy. Less than 1% of the population now owns about 50% of the wealth".
This impressive book explores in depth the false concept of money that allows this to happen. A very powerful argument for monetary reform.
NB Stephen Zarlenga will be visiting London in May. For details of his speaking engagements, contact Peter Challen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
4. NEW ITEMS ON THE WEBSITE
Among a few changes to the website since the end of January are the following additions:
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