Land, however, is not the fruit of anyone's labor, and our system of land tenure is based not on labor, but on decrees of privilege issued from the state, called titles. In fact, the term "real estate" is Middle English (originally French) for "royal state." The "title" to land is the essence of the title of nobility, and the root of noble privilege.Of course, private property in land existed long before the feudal era; it just didn’t go by the name “real estate” yet. But set that aside, and suppose private property really did derive from royal privilege just a few short centuries ago. This still proves nothing bad about the institution of private property as it exists now. If private property is a royal privilege, it is a royal privilege now shared by about two-thirds of Americans (about 66% of Americans own their own homes). Typically, they have purchased the property using money acquired through their own labor. And you don’t need the king’s permission to get some of your own; you just need to raise enough cash to buy it.
Moreover, the policies Georgists advocate would actually return property ownership, in some degree, to the royal class – that is, to the state. A property tax reduces the value of land by an amount equal to the present value of the expected tax liability. In other words, when the government creates or raises a property tax, it expropriates a portion of the land’s value even if it doesn’t seize the title. If Georgists had their way, the property tax would rise high enough to extract the entire ground rent of the land – in other words, until the entire value of the land, net of improvements, belonged to the government. The agents of the landlord state would have discretion to decide how that value, received in the form of property tax revenues, should be used. If that’s not royal privilege, I don’t know what is.