Bentham Jeremy 1748 1832

Bentham Jeremy 1748 1832

Bentham, Jeremy (1748-1832), English philosopher, social reformer and economist; educated at Westminster School and Queen's College, Oxford. He was primarily a philosopher in the tradition of the eighteenth century, and translated its system of thought into a comprehensive programme of social reform that had much influence on legislation. Defence of Usury (1787), his first essay on economics, was an extremely logical application of Adam Smith's principles. His later economic works included Principles and Morals of Legislation (1823) and Manual of Political Economy (1825). All follow the principle of laissez-faire, for which Bentham envisaged a structure of institutions in which otherwise free action would create the good society; he envisaged a cabinet with ministers for preventive services (police, fire, etc.), interior communications, indigence relief, education, health, trade and finance, etc. Bentham's utilitarian calculus of pleasure and pain had much influence on economists of succeeding generations.

'Best Buys.' 'Best Fit.' See Regression Analysis.

Betterment, an increase in the value of land and buildings arising from the actions of public authorities in carrying out public works or improvements or in imposing restrictions on the use of land else-where. For example, street improvements may confer additional value on adjoining or nearby property: zoning ordinances may improve the amenity of a residential area and thus increase values. The term is also sometimes used to describe a charge levied on an owner of property who has benefited from such an increase in value.

From time to time attempts have been made to recover betterment from the owners of property (i) by direct assessments, (ii) by set-off of betterment against compensation payable for adjacent land owned by them, or (iii) by recoupment the purchase and resale by a public authority of land adjoining a public improvement and likely to be increased in value by it. Under present British town planning law the recovery of betterment is confined to 'set-off'.

A systematic attempt to recover betterment faces two major difficulties: first, betterment may accrue to others than property owners; secondly, identifying and isolating betterment due to one specific cause from improvements in value due to general influences. The large to recover betterment arises in, first, the feeling that publicly created value is an unearned increment and should properly be taxed, and, secondly, the feeling that as long as land planning involves the payment of compensation for the reduction of private values by public actions in other directions, the recovery of betterment ought to help balance the s. Apart from the 'hit-and-miss' nature of betterment levies, the second argument is suspect because a better use of land is not likely if the economic cost of planning decisions is disguised. For if all improvement value in land were to go to the state, compensation could be confined to the value of land in its use at a given date; and the incentive to economize in the use of scarce land resources might be impaired. .


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Since then his writings have in turn been increasingly reinterpreted as a special case both by some followers and by some economists who had not wholly accepted his writings. The content of economics is in a state of change, and this site is therefore not a final statement of economic doctrine.

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