News & Analysis
UN Warns Against 'Land Grabbing'
Foreign buying of farms explosive ... Paris – Is it investment? Or a land grab? Within a few years, acquisition of foreign farmland has become an issue with plenty of explosive potential for the environment and security. Priming it is a rush by China, India, South Korea and Gulf petro-economies to snap up land abroad to secure their food supplies. Western countries are following suit in a bid to meet their targets for biofuels. According to a respected monitor called the Land Matrix Project, 203 million ha of land were transferred to foreign control from 2000 to 2010, either through purchase or long-term lease. To put this figure into perspective: that is eight times the size of Britain. Africa, led by Ethiopia, Liberia, Mozambique and Sudan, accounted for 66% of the transfers, and Asia 14%. But who is buying land where – and what they are doing with it – may never be fully answered, for many transactions are never publicly announced. – SAPA
Dominant Social Theme: Gee, if we don't know who's buying land, it will be more difficult to regulate them.
Free-Market Analysis: On the surface it sound reasonable, that the UN would sound the warning on private land purchases, given they are occurring in the poorest of countries and can deprive farmers of land to grow food. This is called "land grabbing."
But nothing the UN does is aimed at protecting poor people, in our view. The overriding mandate of the UN is world government and any policy that enhances world government is a good one – from the point of view of the powers-that-be – and anything that works against it is a bad one.
Thus, we would be apt to label this as yet another sub-dominant social theme. These memes are tools used by the power elite to frighten Western middle classes, especially, into giving up power and wealth to globalist facilities like the UN.
These are facilities set up by the elites, especially what would seem to be dynastic families that apparently control central banks and are using this control to continually work towards a one-world order. Here's some more from the article:
Paul Mathieu, an expert with the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), said the craze peaked in 2008 or 2009 on the back of the world food crisis and has probably drifted down a little since then. But over the long term, demand will remain high, buoyed by the world's surging population, higher prices for fossil fuels and spiraling demand for food, he said.
And from corruption to environmental abuse, there are plenty of other things to worry about too ... In a 2010 report, the World Bank looked at 14 countries and discovered that actual farming had begun on only 21% of the land in the deals.
Intertwined with the emotional question of land tenure is how water is used for these big deals. The UN's Fourth World Water Development Report, published two weeks ago, describes this as a very big unknown ...
In an interview with AFP last December on the sidelines of the UN climate talks in Durban, Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson blasted land acquisition as "a new form of colonisation". She cited the new country of South Sudan, where she said 40% of the farmland had been sold to foreign interests ....
Seeking to address such issues, the FAO's Committee on World Food Security (CFS) last month agreed on guidelines for land acquisition ... And African countries will need time and resources to beef up their administration of land, moving from rights that often are customary, informal or even undocumented to formalised rights that can be enforced in a fair judicial system.
"These are transitions that took a century in western Europe. In some African countries, it will have to be done in 20, 25 years, with all these risks in attendance," he said.
We can see many memes being presented in this article, from scarcity memes (water shortages) to the dangers of private property generally. One of the most obvious of them is that the idea of private property is itself dangerous.
We would tend to think this is likely the real impetus behind the emergent meme of "land grabbing." The UN and its backers, the elite dynastic families that want to create world government, use mercantilism, the conflation of private interests with public policy to exercise behind-the-scenes control.
We can see, even in this article, the enunciated goal is to move from private acquisitions of land to a more transparent modality that features "formalized rights that can be enforced in a fair judicial system."
We did some fact checking of the article and could not even find a website presenting the "Land Matrix Project." It's not listed in Wikipedia, either.
Perhaps it exists, or perhaps it is yet another made-up entity – similar to the authoritative studies cited by the UN regarding global warming that proved, eventually, not to exist. They were simply newspaper and magazine reports speculating on climate change without facts, yet they were cited as authoritative.
This article makes a lot of seeming speculative statements about land-grabbing before providing the usual solution, which would be the formation of evermore formalized state justice, supervised no doubt by the UN.
There are other issues, as well, that have to do with whether land can be owned and how it is to be administered. In the modern era, thanks to what we call the Internet Reformation, many of these ideas have re-emerged, especially those pushed by Henry George in the 1800s in the US. Here's something from Wikipedia on George:
Henry George is best known for his argument that the economic rent of land should be shared by society rather than being owned privately. The clearest statement of this view is found in "Progress and Poverty:" "We must make land common property."
By taxing land values, society could recapture the value of its common inheritance, and eliminate the need for taxes on productive activity. George believed that this would provide disincentives toward land speculation, but would continue to incentivize development, as landlords would not suffer tax penalties for any industry or edifice constructed on their land.
Modern-day environmentalists have agreed with the idea of the earth as the common property of humanity – and some have endorsed the idea of ecological tax reform, including substantial taxes or fees on pollution as a replacement for "command and control" regulation.
There is nothing wrong with groups of people holding land communally. The problems arise when such occurrences are mandated and legislated. There is a big difference between voluntarism and dirigisme.
Conclusion: If we look closely, we can see the idea that land is communal property is being positioned as a justification for many other potential regulatory interferences. Once the communal nature of land is recognized within the context of the modern state, every kind of globalist facility from environmentalism to world justice is easily put into play.
Posted by Bischoff on 03/27/12 07:10 PM
"Once the communal nature of land is recognized within the context of the modern state, every kind of globalist facility from environmentalism to world justice is easily put into play."
49 States of the Union would have little to worry about foreign "purchases" of their land. Their constitutions require registration of fee simple title to land by a County Recorder, and assessment of lands underfee simple title by a County Assessor for purposes of tax calculations and collection performed at the local level. The populations of those 49 States don't care whether foreigners pay the taxes.
The exception is the State of California. The State of Callifornia changed its constitution pursuant to Proposition 13 in 1979. Foreigners who "buy" land in California are fortunate. Their tax obligation are very limited. Most taxes by Californians are paid by working people and capital investors, not by land "owners".
The other 49 States can always have nature pay their cost of government by collecting all taxes based on the value of land.
Posted by martine on 03/27/12 04:18 PM
Replying to the Daily Bell:
40 organisations have participated in this research. I'm surprised, and disappointed with your need for a blog, when full reports are avalaible!
Posted by martine on 03/27/12 04:13 PM
Click to view link is the first link I googled. It doesn't appear above.
Posted by martine on 03/27/12 04:09 PM
Click to view link /land-rights-and-the-rush-for-land -
An 84 pages pdf report... which, at first read, is intended to 'protect the poor'. And Mr. Mathieu, from the UN, you wrote, is one of the writers.
Or this link:Opportunities and Risks of Large Scale Investments in Land and ...
Click to view link /10_hot_topic_issu.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thanks. We saw this. But it is really strange there is no dedicated site for The Land Matrix in an era where 12-year-olds have blogs.
Posted by NAPpy on 03/26/12 06:53 PM
"The problem is that those who manage to gain control will never agree to give up said land. But hey, the DB says we have No Shortage of Natural resources so why worry."
Like the state? Don't the individuals that control the state resist giving up their control?
Posted by nithsdale on 03/26/12 04:05 PM
The emphasis for over a decade has been on land ownership. It is behind the explosive growth of the CEM, the commodities markets in general, since food is one of the largest components in trading, grains in particular. When you add oil and metals, always coincidental with land ownership (they are separate selling "rights" for landowners), you are into the very basics of "investing".
Hitherto, most investors perferred to concentrate on areas where law assured them some continuity of ownership but with the growth of the global society, it is more apparent that the general concept can be applied even in the "emerging nations", especially if you woo the native leaders with invites to international confabs, enhancing their paltry credentials. Ego seems to go a long way when changing mores.
However, the push for land ownership in Africa and Asia ia aided by the growing acceptance of Islam as the governing factor in those places. Under Islam, contract rights are almost "holy" and have some protection as a result. Islam appears able to supplant most indigenous beliefs and those in the know are busy utilyzing this new entry to acquire new assets for investments. It also is why the West, despite the history of conflict with Islam, is more and more siding with it as globalization continues. The muslims move in, enforce draconian mores and laws and then trade even with their enemies, a situation even orthodox christianity could not cope with in the last 1000 years!
China heralded this fact just five years ago when its government, which refused to grant legal status to any religion but those that were "chinese", even rejecting christianity outright, suddenly changed course and recognized Islam. At the time, China was having great difficulty with its Ughers, an islamic sect that still sits astride the Silk Road and is very much in international "trade". When I heard it, I knew immediately China was going whole hog into Africa and Islam would be a willing partner.
The USA has had its day. For the last 100 years, we have dumbed down our population and as a result have the most ignorant people on the face of the earth. We have replaced the need to know about all kinds of people, where they came from, what they are and what culture they stil embrace with the smiley face, schizophrenia's great diagnostic clue, and told everyone we are all alike so love, love, love. We are about to find that we have closed the door on participation with the world because the rest of the globe still cherishes basic knowledge. Out there they still know their friends and their enemies and love has nothing to do with either!
Posted by earnst on 03/26/12 03:32 PM
I used to support the Nature Conservancy. But what I have seen over about 40 years is that the land reverts to government ownership with fences and "hours". There is a small piece near me I have passed that has never been open when I passed. Well that preserves it I suppose. The problem for me is that private money has been turned to government oversight with attendant loss of efficiency. I find my own private land is strictly controlled as well. So although I tend to agree that no man owns the land or should in general, I can't countenance "public" ownership either. I'm afraid preventing poor or unfair land use is kind of what we've been fighting wars over for some time. I have no answer.
Posted by Jackson on 03/26/12 01:49 PM
Gee. What a surprise. How did the line go? "I'm shocked, Ricky."
We finance our consumption with Obamabucks. These growing economies wonder what to do with those Obamabucks since they can't trade them for something we produce because we are a consumption economy, not a production economy. They have a couple of options. They can convert them into gold by buying gold (they've been doing a lot of that) and, if they are interested in diversification, they can also convert them into land.
Makes sense to me.
Posted by seer on 03/26/12 01:01 PM
"There is nothing wrong with groups of people holding land communally. The problems arise when such occurrences are mandated and legislated. There is a big difference between voluntarism and dirigisme."
The problem is that those who manage to gain control will never agree to give up said land. But hey, the DB says we have No Shortage of Natural resources so why worry. There must be more than enough arable land?
Posted by rossbcan on 03/26/12 10:57 AM
DB: "rent of land should be shared by society rather than being owned privately."
long ago, I was seduced by the Georgian opinion regarding land. "Tragedy of the commons" (no one giving a crap, destroying non-renewable resources) devastates this false POV. Even the oceans should have stewards / trustees, having a personal stake in not destroying / abusing a resource that we collecively and mankind, in perpetuity depends on, for survival. Not sure (yet) how to achieve this, but accountability and preventing monopoly abuse (free, non-destructive access to all) is crucial.
Posted by rossbcan on 03/26/12 10:33 AM
"formalized rights that can be enforced in a fair judicial system."
you OWN it, if those who control the law agree, else NOT.
... as opposed to:
It is an inalienable human right to defend your life and honestly acquired property, independent of contrary opinions, especially those whose final argument is: guns, pointed at you (might is right).
"rule of law", as opposed to "rule of greedy people, with delusions of godhood" once stopped this madness, in its tracks.
Click to view link
and, starving indignious peoples, whose food source (land) has been "grabbed" can only be considered as poachers and vermin by the "grabbers" and will inevitably be "genocided" by their OWN governments, whom are beholden to the "grabbers" and not, the people.
It IS colonialism. Ghadaffi and his "African, gold backed Dinar" was disposed of to keep Africans down, weak and exploitable. The entire third world is in similar traps. They do "hate our freedoms" (to prey).
Posted by Bluebird on 03/26/12 10:23 AM
I would say you are right on, Daily Bell. In fact, I would go one step further and say that if there is a land grab going on, it is the elite who are doing it. They intend to control ALL food and water so as to ration it out to only deserving serfs. If the people of the world don't come together soon and quit arguing over which dictator should be in charge (does it really matter?), it will be too late.