“The problem with the right to land is that it’s all been taken.” This thought-provoking essay discusses Georgism, land-value tax, and anti-landlordism, and asks whether our descendants will look back on our time and view land ownership as immoral. The piece is part of Wired’s Next Normal series, which explores the “future of morality and how our ethical beliefs may change in the years to come.”

Everyone today is born with a kind of existential debt. From the moment you emerge, you’re in a space that belongs to someone else, and from then on, money is spent each day to give you access to the space you require to exist. Land ownership, and the accompanying system of sales and rentals, merely allows some people to make money by gatekeeping a resource that no more belongs to one of us than any of us. Economists call this “rent seeking,” and most of us call it “immoral.”

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.