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Land rent is for fighting over

July 7, 2008

One problem with private collection of land rent is that people spend their energy fighting over it rather than doing anything productive.  Today’s Tribune carries an example.  In the 1950s, some 400 Chicagoans started an agricultural community near downstate Ullin, 350 miles away.  It prospered for a while, but after the founder’s death in 1978, a schism developed.

The struggle and the lawsuits that followed, members now concede, wasn’t so much about the group’s name, but power, control and money. And there was lots of money.

Over the years, as the Israelite Bible Class had farmed less and less, the group had leased land to local, non-member farmers, a business that generated thousands of dollars of annual revenue.

Also, the farm itself, on the banks of the scenic Cache River, had considerably increased in value since the group purchased it in the mid-1950s, after forming a not-for-profit corporation in 1953.

Today the central court case over ownership, which has been appealed repeatedly, remains active, although after more than 30 years of litigation no one seems too inclined to push it any further.

The issue of rent and land value could not have arisen if the rent were not privatized.

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