Bill Nye on Myths about Global Poverty

Forget the debate about creationism.


We can change the world.

Will we?

Categories: Politics

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  1. The greatest myth of all is that the laws of our social democracy are based on just principles. Too much of our system of law was carried over from the Old World’s system of entrenched privilege. The most destructive of our laws are those related to property and the failure to distinguish between what nature provides to us all and that which we produce by our labor and by the capital goods we produce. The monetary value that is attached to land and to natural resources of all types is function of demand, demand created by population growth and density. Urban land values arise because of the physical infrastructures we create as a community; yet, these values are universally taxed very lightly. Our failure to require those who hold and control nature to contribute the full economic value of what they hold means that we tax actual production and earned incomes in order to pay for public goods and services. The landed get close to a free ride at the expense of those who actually produce goods and provide needed services. This was known early on by writers such as Adam Smith and Thomas Paine. Other deep thinkers such as Henry George, Leo Tolstoy, Winston Churchill, John Dewey, Raymond Moley and Louis F. Brandeis tried to alert their fellow citizens of the dangers; they were ignored and all efforts to introduce changes in how government raised its revenue were effectively opposed by powerful landed interests. We continue to pay a terrible price today in form of a dysfunctional society plagued by widespread poverty and a worsening concentration of wealth and income. As the Physiocratic writers of 18th century France would tell us, what the described as the ‘rentier’ class in this and other societies have secured and protected histories most deeply-entrenched privileges. And, few among us even realizes the nature of the problem.

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