Pakistan Institute of Development Economics

P & R Vol.2 Issue 1
Edward Dodson on Rentier privilege
Publication Year : 2021
Author: Pervez Tahir

Responding to my column on taxing property, Edward Dodson, director, School of Cooperative Individualism, sent one of his writings to “provide additional food for thought”. Indeed it does. A somewhat abridged version follows. Poverty exists in every country, with differences in degree only. The fundamental cause of poverty is a status quo which benefits in every society a rent-seeking elite. What is “rent-seeking”? Nothing more than the ability to claim what others produce without producing anything in exchange. The most fundamental source of gain from rent-seeking is found in the system of property law and taxation that exists wherever there exists private property in nature, in the factor of production to which political economists gave the term “land”. What the classical political economists agreed upon, generally, is that land (i.e. nature) is the source of individual wealth but is rightfully the birthright of all persons equally. Wealth must be produced by labour with or without the use of capital goods (i.e. of tools and technologies).