I. EDITOR'S NOTES: Report from the Eco-Drudge
GEORGISTS COURTED BY WORLD GOVERNMENT ADVOCATES
II. ACTION: Recent and Upcoming Events
WTO VS. UN AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS; CALL FOR GEORGIST STATEMENT ON WORLD TRADE
FOUR GEORGISTS SPEAK TO 1ST CONFERENCE OF THE GLOBAL INSTITUTE FOR TAXATION
SOUTH AFRICAN LAND TAX UNDER ATTACK; GEORGISTS DEFEND
MORE ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERS SEE CAT, PROMOTE LAND TAX SHIFT
NEW GEO-FRIENDLY PUBLICATION OUT: "TAX NEWS UPDATE"
III. WORD: Updates from the Info-War Front
MAINSTREAM REPORTERS STUMBLING ONTO TRUTH?
CATO HAPPY WITH WTO VERSION OF "FREE TRADE"
MARK TWAIN NEWS, GEORGIST TAX "RECKONER"
IV. NETWORK: Outreach Tools and Opportunities
CALLS FOR PAPERS, ABSTRACTS, NEWS ITEMS
V. OTHER NOTES: Comments, Corrections and Personal Notes
MARK SULLIVAN'S MOTHER DIES
FINKELSTEIN, NOT CORD, WAS CSE FOUNDER
In the early part of the 20th century, Georgists were labeled "Progressives" and helped achieve many important reforms in the USA which are now taken for granted, such as the secret ballot and womens' suffrage. Unfortunately, the core issue, a shift to land value taxation, remained unaddressed on a national level where, instead, the persuasive philosophy of Louis F. Post and the other Georgists in Wilson's Presidential Cabinet was used to establish a federal income tax system which, now, heavily favors land speculators over workers.
Similarly, the land tax perspective of early economists like John Stuart Mill, Adam Smith and the Physiocrats is marginalized in their depiction by academics as but advocates of the more easily misrepresented concept, "free trade."
So, who might be enlisted to persuade the world to accept a global system of taxation?
Whether or not a partnership between Georgists and proponents of world government would ultimately benefit the Georgist movement is a question on the minds of some influential Georgists who think it might, such as Alanna Hartzok, Edward Dodson, John Massam and others. [This proves Georgists are neither Right-wing or Left-wing, but doesn't suggest we don't all want to shift toward the land tax, as some publications have been pretending.]
Georgists and sympathetic parties who advocate a Citizens' Dividend (the potential for which Henry George, too, suggested) and even some geo-libertarians wax less decentralist on the world government issue, lured by the prospect of a CD as the logical use for globally collected revenue and/or land rent as its logical source.
Some Georgists counter that (as George also pointed out) the ultimate goal is not simply the land tax shift, but the effect thereof, which is not just efficiency, but freedom. Shifting to land tax decentralizes land ownership, thus wealth and power and this decentralization of power is the freedom sought. Those Georgists want nations and other more local societies to take control of their own destinies and allow others to follow the good example.
Georgists correctly think we are paid too little attention; still, attention we get should at least be for what we really want.
Adam Jon Monroe, Jr. : firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday (11/24) was "United Nations Day." Many people, including some Georgists, whether or not they fear world government, fear worse the effects of the international finance industry upon Earth's people and ecosystem and look to the UN for help. Recently, a petition was circulating to ask the UN for help in combatting such as the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) which seem but means of coordinating the plunder of less developed nations' people and natural resource by investment companies.
Next week, a WTO meeting in Seattle, Washington is scheduled to be thoroughly protested to make news and bring attention to the problems around the world in which the WTO and others, including the US government, have participated. News about this has been far more plentiful on the Internet than in mainstream media, but this has forced the latter to more openly defend so-called "liberalisation." Americans are being led to believe the US economy will go into a depression if world trade organizations are not allowed carte blanche.
The loudest anti-WTO activists attack corporations for being insensitive to
human needs. Though true, this causes a problem for the public, by painting
the issue as a strictly regulatory one. This tends to hide the fact that what
the WTO does world-wide, national governments (including America's) already
allow the banking industry to do internally. Thusly, the WTO's expansion of
the basic economic injustice with which we have grappled for centuries,
landed aristocracy, continues.
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24 November 1999 Call for New Georgist Statement on International Trade New York (GNS) - The UN NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Committee on Sustainable Development has scheduled a 1-day conference for December 7 here at the UN complex to discuss results of the WTO's Seattle meeting.
Alanna Hartzok, NGO Representative for the International Union for Land Value Taxation, is calling for Georgists to write up and present a clear statement to the committee, laying out our position with regard to Jubilee 2000* (which seeks the forgiveness of Third World debt) and other populist groups aligned against the WTO.
*Jubilee is the ancient concept, also found in holy books, regarding debt and
land ownership. Rome's New Year celebration is also being called "Jubilee
2000" and is scheduled to feature a speech by the Pope.
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The Web site of the Institute for Economic Democracy contains a lot of information from a Georgist perspective about problems related to the international finance industry: http://www.slonet.org/~ied/index.html
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23 Novemeber 1999 Georgists Look In Mouth of GIFT Horse
New York (GNS) - Many prominent Georgists were invited to speak to the first conference of GIFT, the Global Institute For Taxation in early October at the Marriott Financial Center in New York's Wall Street District. Among them were Ted Gwartney, Mason Gaffney, Alanna Hartzok and Bill Batt. A few other Georgists were also in attendance, including, to the annoyance of some speakers questioned, the Georgist News Service.
The conference was co-sponsored by St. John's University and Price Waterhouse-Coopers. SJU has a "Henry George Lecture Series" that seldom seems to have anything to do with Henry George, and a similar "Henry George Program."
The title of GIFT's conference was "Taxation Alternatives for the 21st Century." Some speakers referred to "worldwide vs territorialist" tax systems, but the issue of international taxation was not widely debated. There were many tax reform angles discussed aside from often debated ideas like the national retail sales tax, the flat income tax, consumption taxes and taxes on financial transactions. One presenter even used the results of laboratory experimentation to show how the public attitude toward tax compliance might be affected by controlled stimuli, especially punishment and reward. Taxes on ATMs (Automated (Bank-) Teller Machines) was another version of the popular concept to regulate and tax all trade. GIFT Director Pat Collabella's recommended tax reform would require, he said, "to outlaw barter."
Some non-Georgist speakers at the conference were sympathetic toward concerns that the benefits of non-Georgist tax reform would just be collected by landowners and further increase the disparity between the rich and poor. Some, though, like (we are told) eminent economist Dale Jorgenson, asserted that "land is not as important as it used to be," noted the Internet and reasoned that "that wouldn't happen." He did not, however, specifically suggest that cyberspace could be made available to the landless or hungry.
Jorgenson also declared himself an "environmental economist" and, in response to a question thereon from your editor, said "naturally, I'm for a tax on ... natural resource," but stopped short of agreeing it could replace other taxes.
On the final day of the GIFT symposium, a panel on the "Politics of Tax Reform" headed by John Fund (an editor of the recently geo-unfriendly Wall Street Journal), was asked why panelists' tax reform proposals did not address the growing wealth disparity. Responders agreed unanimously that fairness was not an issue for tax reformers. Alexander Polinsky got a few laughs by sarcastically suggesting the establishment of a "department of leisure." At this point, Mr. Fund concluded the entire conference was probably a waste of time. If allowed a follow-up question, which I was not, I might have asked if his department of leisure might serve cake. (Physiocrats might be reminded, by his attitude, of Marie Antoinette's famous proposal for people without bread: "let them eat cake.")
A detailed report on the GIFT conference by Bill Batt, one of the invited speakers, appears in the latest issue of Common Ground-USA's monthly, "Groundswell."
Another recent conference attended by Batt (and Gwartney) was of the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), an association of state legislators which met in Tennessee in August. "Groundswell" carries an article about that, too, which is also available on the "What's New" page at their site: http://www.progress.org/cg/
1. Monday (11/22), the US President, at an economic meeting in Florence, Italy, actually declared we should work toward "universal access" to the Internet. [Apparently, political wisdom really is that the Internet is supposed to be a replacement for land. This trend is coincidental with an increasing number of reports about extremely long hours and low pay for Internet-based employees.]
1A. Uncoincidentally, the average price of a home in Silicon Valley, from
whence the greatest concentration of computer-related work takes place, is
around 3 times the national average.
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16 October 1999 Georgists See the Katz Commission
Capetown, RSA (GNS) - James Robertson and others have been responding to a call from Georgists in the RSA (Republic of South Africa) to defend RSA's land tax system from the "Katz Commission."
October 7th, Peter Meakin, Godfrey Dunley and Michael Jacques gave oral presentations to Katz's 8th Interim Report, which is officially called "Implications of Introducing a Land Tax in South Africa" (though land tax is already in use there).
As in Scotland, powerful interests apparently seek to make land tax a strictly rural issue in the RSA. Property assessor Peter Meakin and other RSA Georgists are not allowing the Katz Commission to overlook the land question's wider import. Evidence of the progressive effects from land tax in an urban setting is not lacking here in Capetown, an inland city surrounded by mountains with yet one of the best urban economies in the RSA (and one of the the highest ratios of land tax to others).
[SIDEBAR: One of the letters the Katz Commission has received from Georgists,
about "Pressures for Tax Restructuring," by James Robertson, the prominent
environmental economist from Britain, is an excellent example of the argument
for land tax as a modern replacement for cumbersome, outdated and inequitable
public revenue sources like sales tax and other kinds of taxes on man-made
Foldvary has written similarly modernistic arguments for the single tax on land: http://www.askhenry.com/ as has Dmitry Lvov http://users.charity.vfree.com/h/henrygeorge/henrygeo.html and James Busey http://www.unitax.org/
The issue of land rights is not a side-show in the RSA. Over 60,000 land claims were supposed to be restored by a law passed here in 1994. Around 30 have been so restored in the 6 years since. Former residents of some land parcels have attempted to simply occupy and take back, by force, their percieved rights thereto. Land reform activists are routinely arrested and harrassed and, strangely, those who have done the most to arrange peaceful land transfers are being hassled the most.
The land tax might become a galvanizing political force in the RSA as well as other African nations, but it could be traded for temporary political regulations and controls to enrich particular individuals. As the public is distracted and foreign economists promote anti-social tax policy reforms, Georgists who have spent many years working for the progress our movement has made and protected here are now in fear for the future of South Africa.
Meakin and others here are, again, requesting help from Georgists around the world to help them outwit the anti-Georgist campaign by the RSA's super-rich. Over the last several years, confusion and cynicism have been sown into public awareness with a vigor by landed news companies and, as corruption is made easier and more widespread, basic economic issues are becoming lost, allowing the land tax to become more vulnerable than ever.
To learn more about the Georgist defense of the RSA's land tax system,
contact Peter Meakin at email@example.com
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15 October 1999 More Environmental Leaders Pointing Out the Cat! Two Thumbs Up for Georgist Tax Reform from "Rachel's" and Herman Daly
The respected environmental periodical, "Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly," has come down firmly in favor of land value taxation. This seems excellent news for Georgists and our cause. Rachel's is read by thousands of people all over the world.
Rachel's is a no-nonsense publication dedicated to keeping the public informed on every aspect of environmental and health news. Unfortunately, editors perceived the issue as one having to do with little other than urban sprawl, but as a health issue, economic security, especially for the poor, is even more significant. Still, Rachel's is being applauded by Georgists for having the courage to side with renters instead of landlords on the issue of land tax, since we cannot afford to donate the degree of funding as can our captors.
It seems very likely the authors of their October 14 edition do see the cat. Reporting on a recent policy statement from Sustainable America, titled "Taxes for Sustainability" and which described 10 tax proposals designed to protect natural resource, Rachel's wrote 6 long paragraphs about shifting to land value taxation and 1 short paragraph about the others, which begins "The other 9 kinds of taxes advocated by Sustainable America will be more familiar to many people ..." and cites vehicle emissions taxes, pollution taxes, etc.
Sustainable America's new package, says Rachel's, is actually "an 'organizer's kit' aimed at citizens who want to mount campaigns to shift over to these new taxes." Sustainable America's Web site is at http://www.sustainableusa.org/
Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly is also translated, each week, into Spanish and #672 is no exception. Access both at http://www.rachel.org/bulletin/index.cfm?St=3
[Source: Bill Batt via Dan Sullivan's Land-Theory List (to subscribe, send
the following message to firstname.lastname@example.org: subscribe land-theory ]
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Herman Daly is one of America's most respected environmental economists. Last year, he was asked to make recommendations to the Russian Duma, their principle representative leadership body. His recommendation, says Mason Gaffney, puts him "clearly in the Georgist camp." Here is Daly's highly persuasive argument for Georgist reform: www.progress.org/banneker-cgi-bin/webbbs/config.pl?read=9157
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The economic system proposed by the physiocrats, who coined the phrase, "laissez faire," would collect 100% of public revenue as a user fee for natural resource. This, however, is not mentioned in any of the many mainstream or alternative journalism about "free-market environmentalism." Society isn't aware that land tax makes land cheaper and Georgists can't help but think, by now, that keeping people from finding out must be job #1 for almost every news organization.
The likely health effects of having true economic freedom and equal access to
the source of all life and all wealth, land, would be tremendous. Maybe
Rachel's will consider a follow-up report on the multi-layered detrimental
effects of historical revisionism. Most folks, for example, are amazed to
learn that the AMA (American Medical Association) actually places a numeric
limit on the number of doctors' licenses universities are allowed to award.
And look at what a farce has been made of Earth Day by removing it from the
date of an astronomical event. Besides, having an organic economic system is
at least as important as having organic food, isn't it?
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"Tax News Update" is a free weekly e-letter from the Center for a Sustainable Economy. Georgists will find some of their reports very interesting and many Georgists recommend it. Editors have expressed interest in using Georgist press releases. Here are some (distilled) geo-notable recent items from TNU.
Sweden's leaders say its budget for 2000, published 9-20, contains the country's first "green tax shift." Proposed new taxes will fall on fuel rather than land though, while the revenue raised will be used to raise worker productivity levels rather than lower their tax rates. [Unfortunately for Swedes, this strategy is certain to increase rents and wealth disparity and, thus, social struggle, while providing only a vague disincentive upon the use of pollutive energy fuels.]
In America now, linking ecology to economics has become politics-as-usual. In Louisiana, all 3 major candidates for Governor favor linking state corporate tax breaks to the environmental records of corporations.
TNU also reports there is a proposal in the US House of Representatives to give federal income tax breaks to those who sell land for purposes of ecological conservation. The bill is targeted at "individuals who wish to insure that land goes to conservation purposes but who cannot afford to donate the land." [No reciprocal tax break was mentioned (for people who cannot yet afford to buy land in the first place).]
Another TNU headline from that week's issue strikes a physiocratic chord, "French Environmental Taxes Would Support Payroll Tax Cut and Shortened Workweek."
To read or sign up for "Tax News Update," go to http://www.sustainableeconomy.org/tnu/
NEWS-WATCH: Mainstream News and the Georgist Movement
How close can news articles come to exposing the Georgist paradigm without exposing the Georgist paradigm? These two items were retrieved through the Progress Report newsfeed: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-11/21/018l-112199-idx.html
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WATCH-WATCH: Exposing Fake Alternative News
CATO Institute is supposed to advocate free enterprise and even has a big picture of a Thomas Jefferson bust on the front page of their Web site. Yet the practices of international finance organizations, which are anything but physiocratic, are praised by CATO, http://www.cato.org/events/seattle/
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GEO-WATCH: Georgist Media News
Mark Twain and Winston Churchill were two of the most prominent people in history who were also staunch advocates of land value taxation. Among other neat related facts in the latest issue of the Mark Twain Newsletter from Jim Zwick, it's learned they had the same birthday, November 30th. Here are some more:
THANKSGIVING THOUGHTS FROM MARK TWAIN
How he celebrated with friends and family in the Nook Farm community in Hartford, and his irreverent perspectives on the holiday: http://marktwain.about.com/library/weekly/aa112597.htm
MARK TWAIN'S BIRTHDAY
"The village contained a hundred people and I increased the population by one per cent. It is more than the best man in history ever did for any other town." - Chapters from My Autobiography
MARK TWAIN AND HALLEY'S COMET
The legend surrounding Mark Twain's birth and death: http://marktwain.about.com/library/weekly/aa120297.htm
TWAIN, CHURCHILL AND BONIFACIO
Mark Twain, Winston Churchill and Andres Bonifacio were all born on November 30th. In 1900 and 1901 their lives and legacies converged as Twain wrote about the Philippine Revolution begun by Bonifacio and confronted Churchill in New York City on the issue of imperialism: http://marktwain.about.com/library/weekly/aa981124.htm
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Tax Reform Australia already had one of the best Georgist Web sites in the world. Now, it has a neat new service: the "reckoner." Just put in your current information and find out how you'd fare with a shift to land tax: http://www.taxreform.com.au/
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Don't forget The Banneker Center for Economic Justice is sponsoring a contest to come up with the best geo-pamphlet. They plan to dish out $2,500.00! Contact Hanno Beck at email@example.com.
People from Ohio University write that they are searching for materials for
the 4th edition of the Humanist Sociology (Teaching) Resource Book, a joint
project of the American Sociological Association and the Association for
Humanist Sociology. They want final copies by April 15, 2000 and rough drafts
by March 1, 2000. For more information and/or expression of interest, contact
the editor: Glenn A. Goodwin, Department of Sociology, Ohio University,
Athens, OH. 48701; Phone: 740-593-1383; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
[Source: Progressive Sociologists Network from CSF (Communications for a
Sustainable Future), a project of Colorado University: http://csf.colorado.edu/
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The following is from the SENS (Sustainability and Environmental News Service):
Sustainability Digest is a weekly compilation of current news items related to the sustainability of human communities at scales from local to global. To receive or stop receiving this newsletter, and to suggest news items for inclusion, send a message to email@example.com
Many Georgists are friends of Mark Sullivan who has been working many years for the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation. They will want to know that Mark's mother passed away Monday, November 15th. Teresa LaMagna Sullivan was the youngest and last surviving of three children, all daughters, and is survived by many children and grandchildren, the latest of whom she was able to see exactly one week earlier.
Cards may be sent to Michael L. Sullivan & Family, 27 High View Terrace,
Bethel, CT 06801. Charitable donations in her memory may be sent to Bethel
Visiting Nurse Association, One School Street, Bethel, CT 06801.
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In the last issue of the Georgist News (11/4/99), I mistakenly credited Steve Cord with having founded the Center for the Study of Economics. Actually, it was founded by Phil Finkelstein and operated under the aegis of the Henry George School in New York until Phil's death. It was then handed over to Steve who also ran the Henry George Foundation of America out of its headquarters in Columbia, MD. The CSE Web site: http://www.smart.net/~hgeorge
Adam J. Monroe, Jr : firstname.lastname@example.org