This slim volume sets out some pretty radical proposals for fixing New Zealand’s monetary and financial systems. These systems are not working as well as they should, and Kent’s ideas could improve society and help deal with climate change. I can’t see them happening anytime soon, but the future is a very long time…
Tax land instead of income. Notionally all land is owned by all of us (i.e. the government) and the people who possess it pay rent. Taxing income provides a disincentive to work, so let’s not do it. Taxing land but not improvements would solve the current problem of land banking.
Issue a regular Citizens’ Dividend. This is something like the Universal Basic Income that is being discussed more and more these days, and even being tried out in some places.
Issue alternative domestic currency with built-in decay to encourage circulation. This would only be usable within the country; the current dollar would be used for international trade. The domestic money supply then is no longer subject to international conditions, and the decaying currency encourages spending, i.e. investment and economic activity.
A land tax sounds possible in New Zealand soon, and a UBI seems almost inevitable eventually. The alternative currency is much more of a stretch, though such ideas have been tried out occasionally in the past (in Germany, for instance). But it is great to read about these ideas and to realise that the current systems, though they have been successful in general, don’t have to remain as they are forever. Changing times may call for different approaches — we might need a big shift sooner than we think.