Picture: 123RF/piotrkt
Picture: 123RF/piotrkt

There is no gainsaying that both the Free Market Foundation (FMF) and the Institute of Race relations (IRR) do fine work in holding the liberal line of “a market economy, property rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law”.

They are worthy successors to Sir Winston Churchill, the popular liberal, even when a Conservative prime minister.  However, he differed from the FMF and IRR by condemning land ownership traits and blaming the state, while the FMF and IRR hold such ownership to be sacrosanct  (“Ideology, in SA as in Zimbabwe, is seldom for the good,” September 29).

Churchill explained this in his speech at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh on 17 July 1909: “Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains - and all the while the landlord sits still...  To not one of those improvements does the landowner contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced.

“I do not think that the man who makes money by unearned increment in land is morally worse than anyone else who gathers his profit where he finds it in this hard world under the law and according to common usage. It is not the man who is blameworthy for doing what the law allows and what other men do; it is the state which would be blameworthy if it were not to endeavour to reform the law and correct the practice. We do not want to punish the landlord. We want to alter the law.”

Today in SA, Churchill would bemoan the expropriation of our hard-earned wages, salaries, interest, profits, dividends, capital gains and consumption of the populace, without compensation, when a land tax would secure the same revenue at an average R775/ha/m.

Peter Meakin

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