Books: Alanna Hartzok – The Earth Belongs To Everyone

Posted: June 24, 2009 in environment, reflections, society
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alanna hartzokAlanna Hartzok, a U.S. environmental and economic reformer, has put articles and essays of more than 20 years into a book called The Earth Belongs To Everyone, which also discussed the idea of the citizens’ dividend, and green economics.

  • She described how corporate-led globalisation was and is pushing people off their lands, patenting seeds for private profit and control, and seizing the genetic code. (p 17)
  • In Europe between the 13th and 17th centuries masses of peasants were evicted from their farms or saw the common lands fenced off for sheep. (p 31).  In Germany in 1524 the peasants of Swabia presented their complaints to Dr Martin Luther (p 32).  In 1549 Robert Ket, leader of the Peasants’ Revolt in England, explained how the nobility was stealing the common lands of the people. (p 32)
  • Who owns the earth? For 83 countries, 5% owned 75% of rural land, 342 rural properties in Brazil cover 183,397 square miles, 86% of South Africa is owned by some of the white minority, 60% of El Salvador is owned by 2%, 80% of Palestine by 3%, 74% of Great Britain by 2%, 84% of Scotland by 7%, and 95% of private U.S. land by 3%, the worst concentrations being in Florida, Maine, Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon. (pp 69-70)
  • The author quotes some great thinkers of the past — St Ambrose, St George the Great, Clement of Alexandria, St John Chrystostom, St Basil the Great, Jesus of Nazareth, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Henry George, Charles Avila, and Thomas Paine, regarding the need for fair land usage (pp 93-97).  And she quotes former Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple (p 105), and Adam Smith, Count Leo Tolstoy, and Dr Sun Yat-Sen on page 145.
  • There are now 128 municipalities in Pennsylvania that have changed their property taxes, shifting the burden away from buildings and onto land according to site value.  The number of building permits increased after the change. (p 99)
  • The polluters ought to pay (p 158).  In the United States, the federal government owns and manages over 650 million acres of public land, which contains huge amounts of natural resources. (p 158)
  • Intensively-managed small farms producing a diverse range of food, fibre, livestock and energy for local markets would be best.  The establishment of labour-intensive and bio-intensive small farming operations would be greatly furthered by land value tax policies, that remove taxes from labour and productive capital, while at the same time making access to land more affordable. (p 242)
  • Taking control of Iraq has been a long-running strategic design of the oligarchy that has come to rule the United States, she writes.  An article in Harper’s magazine in 1975 outlined “how we could solve all our economic and political problems by taking over the Arab oil fields (and) brining in Texans and Oklahomans to operate them.”  Today there are 41 members of the George W. Bush administration with direct links to the oil industry. (From her talk on March 5, 2003, opposing the proposed invasion of Iraq, on pp 271-74)
  • She quotes U.S. Marine Corps General Smedley Butler’s 1934 book: “I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers.  … I was a racketeer, a gangster … War is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.” (pp 303-4)
  • There are many examples of how the International Monetary Fund has forced weak nations to open their borders to subsidized food from abroad, destroying their own farming industries and, perhaps more importantly, preventing state spending on land reform. (p 317)

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