Sec. 1 FROM THE EDITOR Georgist News Going Weekly Sec. 2 RECENT EVENTS The New American Revolution Neo-Media Watch: BBC-Scotland The Moser that Roared Nigerians Dying to Get their Land Back Amnesty International Getting Warm Georgists Rank in Time Magazine Poll Sec. 3 ADVANCE WARNING Lincoln Making Henry George CD-ROM Georgist Cyber-Soldiers Activist Conferences Lacking Something? Sec. 4 SUPPLICATION & OPPORTUNITY Time to Complain about KYC is Now What are Henry George's Best Quotes? Journal of Housing Research Help for Non-Profit Organizations Sec. 5 REMINDERS Internet Outreach Opportunities Abound Discernment of the True Spirit Fight Historical Revisionism Sec. 6 PERSONAL NOTES & MENTIONABLES The Single Tax and the American Revolution Crosby, Beard, George, Twain and Zwick Sec. 7 COMMENTS ON THE GEORGIST NEWS Only One Correction This Week!
Greetings, Fellow Georgists!
Welcome to The Georgist News' first weekly edition! Beginning today, we'll experiment with circulating the #1 Earth Trustee newsletter every week to better serve our active and growing movement!
We think this change will allow us to provide you with more timely and thorough reports. Yet, meanwhile, the size of each newsletter can be reduced for a faster read. At least, that's the idea... = ]
Thanks, everyone, for all the comments and suggestions and don't forget to send in reports from your neighborhood to the Georgist news desk via email to: email@example.com
Adam Jon Monroe, Jr.
Editor, The Georgist News
War in Pennsylvania
Georgists worldwide are acutely aware of the ubiquitous lack of reference, in both mainstream and alternative news sources, to the growing number of Pennsylvania cities experiencing uniquely satisfactory results from the establishment of tax rate shifts from improvements to land. We may be doing better than we thought though, since a concerted opposition is now massing against the success of Georgist reform there.
A far deeper threat than talk is action and PA aristocrats are caught off guard by Georgists' surprising victory with and subsequent mobilization on the Boroughs Bill. As reported in GN-1/6/99, Governor Tom Ridge, with hours to go, signed into law a bill that will allow Boroughs (which are like small cities or large towns) to shift tax rates from improvements to land as Pennsylvania's large cities have been doing (except Philadelphia). Our people there, obviously, are making the most of this fact, seeing to it Borough leaders understand the advantages available to them with the new law.
The usual media reaction to the success of Georgist reform, obfuscation, is currently under way on many levels in regard to the Pennsylvania story as usual, but now, it is being directed to match our legal victory with one of their own. Following is a run-down on the angles of the Pennsylvania war picked up by The Georgist News and friends.
From the Georgist front lines - (Excerpts from a recent report by Josh Vincent) The advancement of the two-rate tax in Titusville, Pa.'s 1999 budget is welcome news. As welcome is the undeniable physical improvement of the once-bereft downtown. One of the more dynamic forces in Titusville - City Manager Carolyne Ford - said that these improvements show that Titusville is "a place where people want to come, to build and have a future."
We'd LIKE to report that one of the older 2-rate cities - Scranton (since 1913) - is taking part in the general renaissance of US cities and the specific success stories of other LVT towns like Allentown, Harrisburg and Titusville. We can't.
Scranton has chosen to increase property taxes but in a retro and obsolescent manner. For years, the ratio of land tax to building tax has been 5.5 to 1. Now, Scranton has decided that for 1999 that ratio will drop to 4.6 to 1.
The economy will surely slide further behind the rest of the region and state; meanwhile Scranton faces state sanctions for not becoming organized vis a vis city finances.
Joshua Vincent, Dir., Center for the Study of Economics 2000 Century Plaza, Suite 238, Columbia, MD 21044 410/740-1177; firstname.lastname@example.org
Fighting Back - Three state bills were introduced Monday, Feb. 8 by State Rep. David J. Steil (R., Bucks), that would centralize control over land use in Pennsylvania. The Georgist News is investigating whether such laws are intended to avert the credit for Georgist reform, mitigate its effects or if Mr. Steil, et al, have merely been misinformed. The legislation is being heavily promoted by journalists and Green leaders as environmentally friendly and anti-development, but this may not be the case.
The Thin Green Line - Students and environmental activists in Pennsylvania are being led to believe they should support the above mentioned bills. They are not currently aware of the green tax shift taking place in many of Pennsylvania's largest cities nor of the Borough Bill passed into law in late November of 1998 (See GN-1/6/99). This is evidenced in the issue's anonymity in the Pennsylvania press, the student press and among student activists in the "Keystone State."
Philadelphia Inquirer: http://www.phillynews.com
Pittsburgh Business Times: http://www.amcity.com/pittsburgh
Philadelphia Business Journal: http://www.amcity.com/philadelphia
Mansfield University's student run web server: http://mustuweb.mnsfld.edu
University of Pennsylvania's student run newspaper: http://www.dp.upenn.edu
Penn State University's student run newspaper: http://www.collegian.psu.edu
SEAC (Student Environmental Action Coalition) Region 13 (PA, NJ, MD) Newslist Archives:
Pennsylvania Progressive Pages: http://www.phillyactivist.org
(If you'd like to try complaining, you can submit editorials of 3-600 words to the PPP via email to: email@example.com )
Generally, in the US, the sprawl issue is being directed by Green leaders toward saving urban gardens/empty lots from gentrification, the purchase of land parcels to hold them undeveloped and UGBs (Urban Growth Boundaries, a.k.a. Green Belts). It seems environmentalists are being programmed to believe that land speculation is the key to ecological conservation.
Of a great many, one such group is American Lands which urges land trusts, UGBs and the de-coupling of timber sales with public revenue, especially in Pennsylvania, despite the success of ecotaxation there. Why not just lobby to raise the rate? Query into their policy has received no response.
American Lands: http://www.americanlands.org
Media Meddling - A few days ago, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran the last in a series of articles on the conflict over land use and development in the region. Though it dealt with sprawl, farming, urban and environmental issues, no mention was made of Pennsylvania's green tax shift cities or the new Borough law. There are two editorials in the series, both of which strongly endorse the Steil bills mentioned above, concluding "Such legislation is the critical first step toward dealing with the array of sprawl problems documented this week by The Inquirer."
One of the dismal articles laments "Such is land planning in Pennsylvania.
"No state law limits where development should go. No state agency determines whether what is built makes sense economically and environmentally.
"A 1947 law giving zoning powers to municipalities, along with its amendments and subsequent court rulings, has put nearly all land-use decisions in the hands of Pennsylvania's 2,569 municipalities and their 12,294 elected officials.
"In the fast-growing exurbs and beyond, most of those officials are part-timers. They are auto mechanics, small-business owners, farmers. No law requires them to take a single course in land-use planning.
"...they squeeze in deliberations on development proposals after work and before bedtime, after they decide to raise taxes and before they honor a scout troop."
Other scandalous blunders in PI's land use series include "the biggest metro areas in Pennsylvania, averaging 13 percent population growth, have gobbled up 80 percent more land..."
Casually lumping Philadelphia in with Pittsburgh and other PA cities statistically would be laughably poor reporting did it not seem so sinister. With Philly's property tax system wholly different than Pittsburgh's or that of most other large PA cities (and so much more financially rewarding to land speculators such as the Inquirer's ownership), to put before the public such misleading facts reeks of landlordist puppeteering.
As Edward Dodson, our man in Philly, mused, "how interesting it would be if the Inquirer were to receive comments on its series from around the globe..." Read it here: http://home.phillynews.com/packages/acre
The Philadelphia Inquirer has confirmed it will print Edward Dodson's letter in response to the series.
Edward Dodson: Edward_Dodson@fanniemae.com
PI needed 'inquire' no further than of their own Eils Lotozo regarding the unmatched sprawl containment benefits glaringly obvious in the PA cities which have been shifting tax rates from improvements to land: http://www.progress.org/cg/lotozo.htm
Another excellent report on Pennsylvania's land reform leadership is available here: http://www.enviroweb.org/earthrights/docs/success.html
Heading up the complaint department for PI's land use series is Rose Ciotta at: firstname.lastname@example.org, but you can also submit comments (plus, your city, state, country and phone number where you can be reached) to: email@example.com
Gov. Ridge's 21st Century Environment Commission has long lists of "old" and "new" ways of operating government, but nothing about you know what: http://www.21stcentury.state.pa.us
And from a January Executive Order, the wording of which begins rather Georgistically, Gov. Ridge appears complicit in the attempt to centralize land use decisions:
The new layer of bureaucracy which Pennsylvania will likely add may assist the press' obfuscation of the success of Georgist reform and distract many of the state's urban leaders.
The Georgist News hopes to bring you an update soon on the progress of disseminating, among PA borough leaders and citizens, the advantages available to them and their bio-region with the new state law (See GN-1/6/99).
Mainstream media is fighting hard to contain the Pennsylvania story and, as well, to marginalize Scottish land reform as a "rural" issue. Recently, BBC-Scotland 'covered' land reform. The article's author is not listed due to indiscriminate reportage.
The piece begins by reiterating the call for reform of a feudal system of land tenure, then states "Those most nervous about reform have been made doubly so by the appointment of Dr. Jim Hunter as Chairman of [HIE] Highlands and Islands Enterprise."
But according to HIE's web site, their primary concern is development, especially property: http://www.hie.co.uk
By this, it would seem BBC-Scotland feels that farmers and renters "are the most nervous about land reform," but their copy reads as if Mr. Hunter's adversaries are capitalists, not the poor. And the very heart of land reform is gouged with the last paragraph casually advancing an impression that farmers want land to be expensive. Hold your nose...now, read.
"An important measure of the importance of land is the price it makes on the open market. Despite the problems facing farming it has not yet been reflected in land prices. However following the poor market conditions for virtually every sector in 1998 more farmers than usual are expected to decide now is the time to leave."
I forget, are Scottish farmers trying to grow food or land prices? Hello!???
Is BBC-Scotland trying to misguide the public to promote American style feudalism in Scotland or are they just piecing together snips of press releases from a real estate office? You tell me:
We're invited to send our complaints to:
Enquiries, BBC Scotland
Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow G12 8DG, Scotland, UK
Tel: +44 141 338 2000
Thankfully, sometimes light finds its way through the phalanx of neo-mindset 'journalists' even at periodicals which normally provide cover for landed interests. Consider, for example, this exciting report from Hanno Beck.
Switzerland's major news weekly magazine, WorldWeek, ran an interesting article in January about tax reform.
Apparently the prince of Liechtenstein has recommended abolishing the income tax. Such a bold call, which influences all European nations, has opened the door for a lot of discussion of fundamental tax alternatives.
WorldWeek gives a general discussion of taxation, and then devotes a couple of paragraphs to one—only one—actual reform idea being promoted in Switzerland.
Here's how they say it (except they say it in German):
"Tax Only Land?
"Opening the door to alternative tax ideas brings forward the old-new suggestion to levy taxes only on land. This would have a remarkable set of results for society. If, as was suggested by the American reformer Henry George in the 19th century, site value were taxed at a high rate, then the landowner would pay the taxes (and renters would pay indirectly). The rich would pay their share because they hold the best and largest sites. All lands would be more intensively used. The government itself is not as a rule a land-hoarder, so would not in general owe tax to itself. Tax evasion would be impossible, because everyone exists on land somewhere.
"More recently, the idea has emerged to offer a per-capita land tax exemption, so as to yield more relief to the poor. The alternative politician from Bern, Bruno Moser, ran with such ideas in his platform when seeking a seat in parliament last year—unsuccessfully, like all great reformers. Henry George lives on via the Internet, as a research institute develops policy proposals at www.progress.org
"If proposals such as these, or even such as that of the prince of Liechtenstein, can bring us up out of the trench warfare of the last fifty years, then much will have already been gained."
That Bruno is something!
Hanno T. Beck, Banneker Center for Economic Justice
The Progress Report—http://www.progress.org
Free Independent Nonpartisan News Daily
Unfortunately, as expected, blood has been shed over the oil wells of the Niger Delta. The indigenous population (Ijaw) has taken over many of the wells to stop the pollution and to establish the peoples' right to the natural resource of their nation, but even the self-styled "democratic" new President of Nigeria, Abukabar, has seen fit to side with Shell Corporation and others who feel too much money is being lost while the wells remain inactive.
Thus, the regional military force, ECOMOG, has engaged Nigerian natives in battle as they have the rebels of Sierra Leone.
In Northern Africa, Georgist philosophy is fairly unknown, yet it's thought the Ijaw would not argue with the general concept, given the wording of their "Kaiama Declaration" (GN-1/6/99).
In the US, Shell gas stations have been picketed and petitions are circulating to raise awareness of and help cease the conflict. Elections for Nigeria's National Assembly will take place this weekend and for President, Saturday, Feb. 27. Security is very tight and many international observers are on hand.
Mentioned previously for more information about Nigeria was Project Underground's web site: http://www.moles.org. Another good source is Pan-Africa News: http://www.africanews.org
But the best might be the Mining Co's Human Rights Web Site: http://humanrights.miningco.com
A late January news release from Amnesty (for land speculation) International regarding violence in the Indian state, Assam, included the following text:
"Tension over land, resources, cultural identity and political power has reached a level where the most basic of human rights—the right to life—is being ignored."
Does this sound like any other places you've been, know of or in which you currently reside? The "right to life" isn't being "ignored," actually; it's being fought over—for access to land is the right to life. Those most ignorant of peoples' "right to life," then, might be Amnesty International itself.
Amnesty International press release quoted above: http://www.amnesty.org/news/1999/32000499.htm
Outspoken Georgists Winston Churchill and Milton Friedman rank very highly in Time magazine's online poll to determine the 20th Century's 100 most important people: http://cgi.pathfinder.com/time/time100/index.html
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is developing a CD-ROM on the life and work of Henry George! It is believed that a vinyl recording loaned to Lincoln from the basement of New York's Henry Gorge School has the voice of Henry George
Stay tuned to The Georgist News for more details on this product's availability.
Georgists must be holding their breath to see whether Lincoln will do justice to George and his work, given the scandalous allegations currently being directed at them from most of the Georgist Movement (See GN-11/3/99). Lincoln Institute of Land Policy: http://www.lincolninst.edu
As regular GN readers are aware, there is an information war taking place over the internet and Georgist cyber-soldiers are, naturally, being the best equipped, carving out a powerful understanding among genuine seekers.
The Georgist News will be forwarding updates and results from, for example, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's online forum on the "Multifunctional Character of Agricultural Land," the World Bank's "Attacking Poverty" discussion and others.
To see for yourself though or to dip your toe into the
fray, try a visit to the "Attacking Poverty" discussion at: http://www.globalknowledge.org/worldbank/wdr2001/current
Starting today and running through Sunday, Feb. 21 will be an environmental organizing conference at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, sponsored by the Vassar Greens and Free The Planet! Registration is $15.
It will be called "Action For the Earth!" and is designed to bring together student activists from the Northeast for workshops on such as working with the media, coalition building, fundraising and motivating ones group. Finding out about the solution might help.
Meleah Houseknecht 914/451-2943; firstname.lastname@example.org
Tomorrow, Feb 20, between 9 AM and 5 PM, Georgists in the area can visit the 2nd annual SEED (Students for Environmental and Ecological Development) environmental activist conference at Illinois' Northwestern University.
The conference is designed to teach students how to develop their skills as environmental activists. Perhaps they would also appreciate knowing the only way Earth's ecosystem can be saved. Registration is only $5.
John Hembling 847/332-6984 email@example.com
Referred by Sue Walton -
The proposed "Know Your Customer" legislation will unfairly "flag" Georgist organizations and impede our work significantly. Georgists should join others opposed to this and take a moment to let your political representatives "know their customers" don't want this. Read the whole story:
Comments will be taken from the public by these agencies until March 8, 1999:
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary, Attention: Comments/OES: firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of the Treasury Manager, Dissemination Branch, Information Management and Services Division, Office of Thrift Supervision: email@example.com
Department of the Treasury Communications Division Office of the Comptroller of the Currency: firstname.lastname@example.org
But before you tell them, tell your state representatives: http://www.house.gov
Sue Walton, Council of Georgist Organizations
847/475-0391; Fax 847/475-3776; email@example.com
From Jeffery J. Smith -
Jack Yost, friend, some of you may remember from the Portland conference last summer, is coming out with a book with a chapter on HG that already has 500 pre-orders. He wants to include some of the best quotes of HG. What are your favorites? Please send them to me for immediate publication and distribution. Big thanks.
Jeffery J. Smith, President, Geonomy Society
1611 SE Nehalem St, #2, Portland, Oregon 97202-6700
503/236-1968; Fax 503/760-4932; firstname.lastname@example.org
From Edward Dodson -
The Journal of Housing Research, which is published by the Fannie Mae Foundation in Washington D.C. Subscriptions are obtainable (without charge, I believe), and I encourage those of you doing research on housing markets and issues to obtain the Journal. The current issue deals with Geographic Information Systems and is rather interesting reading.
The Journal also accepts manuscripts for publication on "theoretical and empirical research on a broad rang of housing issues, including the economics of housing markets, home mortgage finance, and international housing finance."
The email address to request being added to the publications mailing list is: email@example.com.
The Fannie Mae Foundation web site: http://www.fanniemaefoundation.org
In GN #12, Georgist non-profit groups were referred to the Mining Company's "Non-Profit Zone" for tips on various aspects of such groups. Here is another site which may be of similar help: http://www.raise-funds.com/forum.html
Other than World Bank's and the UN's contributions to online discussion of social problems mentioned previously in this newsletter is the Ecological Economics Forum: http://www.earthsystems.org/list/ecol-econ
Spirituality abounds on the internet, but you can tell who is for real, sometimes, by testing for Georgist tendencies. Not long ago, 1 Spirit was prompted to list the web site of controversial Georgist and REAL Founder of Earth Day, John McConnell, on their discriminating links page—a good sign. In addition, their newsletter is a good read: http://www.1spirit.com
Web sites you might think forward inaccurate information intentionally have actually just been misinformed somehow and will alter incorrect information if notified.
A few weeks ago, I did so regarding Earth Day for the Mining Co.'s American History web site and the site now accurately refers to March 21, 1970 as the first Earth Day.
You can fight historical revisionism; try it and see for yourself (and let us know what happens).
The Georgist News is waiting for your reports! Georgists around the world ache to learn of your upcoming speeches, meetings and the battles, defeats and victories of your group. Let everyone know what's happening so we can all work together. "The revolution will be televised," so make sure readers of The Georgist News know about it.
Did you know...?
The United States' Articles of Confederation, Article VIII, reads "a common treasury...shall be supplied by the several states, in proportion to the value of all land within each state,..."
See for yourself: gopher://ucsbuxa.ucsb.edu:3001/00/.stacks/.historical/Articles of Confederation, 1777
Charles Beard, founder of Boy Scouts of America, was also an early American master of political cartoons and the illustrator of choice for Mark Twain, both of whom were avowed Georgists. Many of his drawings, especially for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, are profoundly Georgist.
Jim Zwick, the Mining Co.'s Mark Twain Web Guide mentioned often in this newsletter, now has a section on Beard that includes some of his drawings.
As many have already learned, Mr. Zwick has an accurate account of the Archimedes "controversy" (referred by Dan Sullivan) and Twain's deep involvement with the Georgist Movement. Now, there is also some information on Ernest Crosby, "arguably the most prominent radical social reformer in New York City at the turn of the century. He was the country's leading disciple of Tolstoy and was actively involved with the single tax movement..."
Jim Zwick's magnificent Mark Twain web site: http://www.marktwain.miningco.com
"Very good issue. Full of good stuff. A decided asset to the movement." - Harry Pollard
"Interesting comments. Good luck." - Jack Schwartzman
"Nice work, as usual, on the last two Newses." - Lindy Davies
"The latest Georgist news was excellent as usual." - Hanno Beck
"A minor correction to your latest newsletter: Bruno Moser is Swiss, not Swedish." - Dr. RV Andelson
Doh! My apologies to Mr. Moser and to the nations of Switzerland and Sweden (that it cannot claim Mr. Moser). And thank you, Dr. Andelson, for pointing that out.
Keep it coming, Geo-Pals!
Editor, The Georgist News
This edition of The Georgist News and archives are available on our home page, hosted by Scott Kroyer at: http://www.kroyer.com/gns
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