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The fat of the land

Individuals may not own countries any more, but land inequity is still a huge problem in both poor and rich nations. Is it time for a progressive land tax?

By Jack Thurston   January 2007

Who Owns the World by Kevin Cahill (Mainstream Publishing, £25)

When William the Conqueror commissioned the Domesday Book at Christmas 1085, he instructed his emissaries to find out “what or how much each landholder had in land and livestock, and what it was worth,” so he could properly tax his new kingdom.

According to Kevin Cahill, who has set out to compile a modern Domesday Book on a global scale, the British monarch’s pre-eminence in absolute land ownership has grown over the centuries and the Queen remains by far the world’s biggest landowner, today owning a sixth of the earth’s…

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