Anthony is a homeless guy who sits near Countdown in Waikanae and often sleeps in the Akatarawas in his tent.
His situation is dire — he has no home, he says, which means his benefit from WINZ has been cut off.
So is the gap between the landed and the landless really getting to this sorry state?
Fewer homeowners, but some own much more
There are now fewer homeowners as a percentage of the population. But more people own more than one home.
The authors of A Stocktake of New Zealand’s Housing wrote in Feb 2018, “Home ownership rates have fallen to a 60-year low and could fall further.
“These falls have been alongside rapid house price inflation in many parts of New Zealand and, with this, deteriorating affordability. We are quickly becoming a society divided by the ownership of housing and its related wealth and recent housing and tax policy settings appear to have exacerbated this division.”
Successive governments have turned down official recommendations for land and capital gains taxes.”
Monopolists should pay rentals
So what is Anthony really owed by society? If we believe all land belongs to everybody, then anyone who monopolises a piece of land should pay a rental to society. This should be divided up amongst central and local government and individuals.
‘Landowners’ exclude everyone else from benefitting from their piece of land whether it be in Queenstown, Mt Victoria or Masterton. Currently land owners pay only one sort of tax for their land – rates. A typical rates bill would come nowhere near the 5% of the land value. It is more like 1-2%.
When I ‘own’ a piece of land in Mt Eden and the government and local government pay for infrastructure around me. This puts up the value of my land.
Over time my property may go up by $1million. All the rise has been in land value. If I sell my property I get unearned capital gain that rightly belongs to people like Anthony and to governments.
The annual rise in the value of the housing stock between 2012 and 2017 averaged $100 billion. With half going to government, this leaves $50b distributed to 4.4 million New Zealanders. Or $11,300 a year for everyone. This is just from the land rents. This is Anthony’s fundamental right. Just by being alive he should get his share in the land rents. He shouldn’t have to beg at WINZ.
Add the rents from minerals, fish, trees, power stations, electromagnetic spectrum and when all added together it should make a respectable basic income.
The only qualification for getting it is being born!