Response to the West Virginia Governor's State of the State Message

Carl Shaw

[Reprinted from GroundSwell, January-February 2011]

Carl Shaw, Mt. Zion, WV, writes that U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, who passed away a few months ago, was replaced in a special election by W.V. Gov. Joe Manchin. The President of the W.V. State Senate, Earl Tomblin, according to the law, was moved up to Acting Governor. In response to Tomblin's State of the State message on Jan. 12, 2011, Shaw wrote to him as follows.

Dear Gov Tomblin,

Interesting State of the State speech.

I have a problem with the concept that businesses begin the process of initiating jobs and bringing businesses here.

All the production of wealth begins with work done on the land by labor and capital. Whether it is growing, timbering, mining, grazing, drilling, fishing, hunting, constructing, it all starts with resources at a site on land. Wealth production doesn't start with a businessman.

It is always up to land owners to permit or allow labor and capital to use their land to make wealth. No permission - no production!

It's that simple.

Since late 2007 land has cost too much for most potential users-buyers.

Too high land cost means less production. Too high land cost means idle land. Idle land means unemployed labor and capital.

Too high land cost also means competition among workers for jobs resulting in lower wages.

The way to reduce land costs is to tax the rent of land higher.

Any tax on land is a tax on the rent of land. Untaxed rent gets turned into sale price, which we don't need.
Land is a gift to all of us from the Creator, just like the sunshine , rain-snow, or air we breathe. Land was made to be COMMON property, not intended to be a commodity.

The way to make land common is to tax the rent. (The accompanying 1 page article describes the process.) Taxing rent reduces the part left over which can get turned into sale price. The less left over after taxation, the lower the cost. Just as God intended - free land! The Holy Bible wasn't kidding.

Our Legislature can change the tax laws to encourage higher land taxation. We all make the rent - it is OURS to share.

Taxing labor and capital is a PUNISHMENT for having produced.

Altoona, PA, after 10 years of gradual tax reform, just this month abolished building taxation at the city level. The first U.S.A. city to tax ONLY the LAND! Read this again - that's what I said. Only the land in Altoona, PA is now being taxed.

We could do likewise. Imagine the incentive to build - NO taxes on the improvement -- Altoona's land tax rate is 186 mills. (Calhoun Co. is 7 mills) Talk about an incentive to use the land when the tax rate is that HIGH! Labor and capital in Altoona will have many choices as to where to work.

I wonder if West Virginians will be going to Altoona for jobs?

You probably have never heard of this fundamental economic concept. Do you know why? It is because the econ professors have purposely derailed the word LAND, so as to protect land speculators, rent seekers and real estate brokers.

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