Problem with ‘improved’ land value
In a recent media report the Prime Minister is quoted as saying that if the Debe to Mon Desir highway is built land value would be “improved”. I am not sure where the Prime Minister learned her economics or what her concept of development is but surely an increase in land value is an indication of anti-development, not development.
Those who think that an increase in land price leads to development are sorely mistaken. This idea that an increase in land prices is equivalent to development or would lead to development is indeed a debauched and outmoded capitalist idea. We live in a society where over 100,000 persons have become squatters, excluded from the market for land because they are unable to afford land at current values. This phenomenon of squatting creates underdevelopment and is anti-developmental. Generations of persons are excluded from the security of land possession and land inheritance.
Or it is perhaps the middle classes that would suffer the most from “improvements” in land values. For it is they who would have to pay mortgages through their noses for 20 to 30 years. Often the salary of one partner is unable to fit the mortgage bill. This helps to staple citizens to a mortgage bill for the better part of their lives, curtailing their capacity for other forms of independent economic activity e.g. opening a business. It also leads to a creation of a conservative, psychologically battered class incapable of radical social action when required. In other words if you are tied down to a mortgage, then you are tied down to a job, and would therefore be afraid to do anything that is politically or socially risky.
An improvement in land values is also detrimental to agriculture. Many farmers sell their lands to residential owners or businesses attracted by higher land prices. Even for businesses high prices of land need higher mortgages and therefore interest rates and therefore higher prices. So all round citizens suffer because of “improved” land values. Except of course, if you own land next to the highway, or mall or businesses placed in the names of relatives of friends and engage in land speculation, in order to make a killing.