Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Land Boom in Iowa

NPR investigates a surge in land prices in the breadbasket: Corn

The price of farmland in Iowa has doubled in the past few years. People rush to outbid each other at real-estate auctions, and land owners become millionaires in a matter of minutes.

We visit an auction, look at the broader economic picture, and ask an unavoidable question: Is it a bubble?

Steve Clowney

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The rich folks, the patient money, can afford to wait. When investing factories and other production isn't profitable, they "invest" in land and natural resources. Their grandchildren will do quite nicely. The people who work the land, or simply need a place to live, well, too bad for them!

A more just society would structure itself along the lines proposed by Henry George, in "Progress and Poverty." He saw the consequences of permitting some to privatize that which nature and the community create. And he provided a simple, just, wise, efficient remedy that would give us a sustainable economy.

You might be amused to realize that the board game Monopoly is based on a 1902 game called the Landlord's Game, which was created to teach George's ideas. It came with two sets of rules, one similar to the Monopoly game we play today, and the other called the "Prosperity Rules" which made for a very dull game -- no losers, no big winners, and a game which went on and on. Would we rather be on a fair field with no favor, or have the field tilted, because that's more fun for some? The 1%ers have lots of reasons to prefer the tilted field; it isn't so clear that the rest of us do.

Posted by: LVTfan | Oct 8, 2011 8:48:33 AM

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