You are receiving this a day or two late, because the Council of Georgist Organizations annual conference, being held this year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, takes place August 29-September 3 and I am there, far away from my desk. Look for a conference report next month!
September 2 is the 162nd birthday of Henry George - an economist, social reformer, and tireless worker for worldwide economic justice.
September 2 also marks four solid years of daily publication by The Progress Report, the pro-Georgist daily news web site at http://www.progress.org/
You can always reach the Georgist News at firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTENTS: (to return here just click the headline)
The Henry George Association of Korea held the eleventh Land School, an annual Georgist summer camp, from August first to fourth at Jesus Abbey in Taebaek City, South Korea.
The theme of this year's Land School was Environment and Land Value Taxation. There were six lectures, two discussion sessions, and two spiritual seminars. More than one hundred people interested in Georgist movement stayed together through the four-day school, abiding by the strict dress and behavior code of the abbey.
The Henry George Association of Korea holds, in addition to the annual Land School, regular chapter meetings, frequent education sessions, an annual leadership camp, and various campaigns including monthly picketing on the most visible street in Seoul, and nationwide signing-up on a petition for special legislation on Land Value Taxation.
The association was established in 1984 under the leadership of the Reverend Archer Torrey who had built the Jesus Abbey in 1964 in Taebaek City, a coal mining town in mountains, about five hours Southeast from Seoul. There are Korean translations of Progress and Poverty and a few other Georgist texts written in Korean.
South Korea has suffered from vicious land speculation during her rapid economic growth since the 1960s, and most South Koreans agree that land needs a better public policy. Faced with economic recession since the 1990s, however, the Korean government is loosening the regulations allegedly for economic recovery, which Korean Georgists are severely concerned about. Since they think land speculation is one of the most important factors that caused the recession in Korea including the IMF bailout in 1997, they are worried that the government inattention to land could bring about another economic disaster.
GN Comments: Thanks for a thorough and interesting report. Will other readers send us a few words on Georgist activities in their region or nation? Let's keep sharing.
A leading Liverpool City Councillor has been appointed by the Henry George Foundation of Great Britain to assist in a research project funded by the Lincoln Institute: "Preparing to Pilot Land Value Taxation in Britain".
Following an open advertisement in Liverpool's "Daily Post & Echo" group of newspapers and the national "Property Week", Chris Newby was interviewed and appointed on 15 August. He is a member of the ruling Liberal Democrat group on the city council that voted last year to ask the UK Government to be allowed to pilot a Pennsylvania-style split-rate.
Newby is responsible for 'e-business' and modernisation of the city's business image. A former communications manager in the British army, he was already the city council's political 'champion' for the project.
His first task is to help write the bid for a third stage of Tony Vickers' Lincoln Fellowship project, which will mainly consist of the trial land valuation of an area of the city centre. For the technical aspects of this, it is hoped to secure the services of Robert Kane, a member of the Institute of Rating Revenues & Valuation (IRRV) who has been involved with the project this year, including a visit by ten British property experts to PA in March.
With Kane, Vickers recently met with the local manager of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to discuss the extent to which they might be allowed to advise the project. They were told that any official approach must come from the City Council.
Newby is now researching the status of Liverpool's land information data sets and existing regeneration projects. He will act as the HGF link-man with civic and business groups in the city while ensuring that every assistance possible comes from city officials to enable the pilot valuation to produce successful results in a year's time.
A conference is being organised at Liverpool's John Moores University on Friday 9 November. It is co-sponsored by the city's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, City Council and JMU itself, where another Lincoln Fellow Professor Peter Brown is on the faculty of surveying. The Forum of Private Business, representing non-corporate enterprises throughout Britain, is also a sponsor. There will be at least two excellent American speakers, namely:
Jonathan Saidel - City Controller of Philadelphia, the birthplace of Henry George. Philadelphia is considering LVT (land value taxation) as a measure to stimulate urban renewal.
Ted Gwartney - Chief Assessor of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Gwartney is a former executive director of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, has served as Chief Assessor of British Columbia, and has written widely on land valuation and how to introduce LVT to cities.
The event expects to train its participants to:
GN Comments: We know and respect UFE's sincere work even though it does not currently take a Georgist perspective. But the big question is, while this well-meaning group with a shoestring budget pushes its agenda and continues to hold workshops all over the United States, where are the similar Georgist projects? Are Georgists reaching activists and leaders as effectively as UFE?
On July 18, Green Party member of the Greater London Assembly Darren Johnson put this question formally to the presiding Independent Labour Mayor of London: - "Does the Mayor support the idea that the increase in land values, that always follows when London creates new transport interchanges, i.e. Docklands Light Railway and Jubilee Line Extension, should be captured and returned to the people of London?"
Ken Livingstone began his answer: "Yes, I support the principle..." but went on to make out that a land-value tax would be "a monstrously complex tax."
GN Comments: Should we be pleased or disappointed? If Livingstone does understand the principle of Site Value Taxation that is good, but if he considers the implementation "monstrously complex" then someone has been feeding him false information.
Street thugs in New York charge rent to illegal drug sellers based on the value of the street corner that they occupy. Mafia elements in Italy (see item #8 below) charge "protection" rates for parked cars in central locations. Insurance companies and banks in every nation of the world calculate the value of land every day. And local governments in most places do likewise.
If all these enterprises manage to know the relative value of sites, can Mayor Livingstone really be afraid of the complexity? Or perhaps he is more afraid of disrupting some of his political allies?
We look to leaders for leadership. Mayor Livingstone, your test is now taking place.
In this groundbreaking and highly accessible book, Barnes redefines the debate about climate change. He proposes an elegant and virtually painless way to reduce carbon emissions while paying every American a yearly cash dividend. His plan - the Sky Trust - is now being considered by Congress and the Bush Administration.
"Who Owns The Sky?" is available at www.islandpress.org, Powells.com, and Amazon.com.
For more information and excerpts from the book, please visit www.skybook.org
For additional information on the Sky Trust and other Common Assets issues of interest to Georgists, visit www.taxpolicy.com/common
It is the maldistribution of wealth, not the lack of gross wealth, which is the cause of poverty in Nicaragua and the rest of the world. How entire communities of able bodied vigorous people in an agrarian country can remain indigent, while huge areas of fertile and commercially advantageous land lie fallow, can only be explained by the mismanagement of natural resources, i.e., a macro-economic system that encourages concentrated monopoly and speculation in land value instead of the productive use of land itself.
The earth, and Nicaragua in particular, is a rich resource with which, misleading theories of population notwithstanding, the people are capable of supporting themselves very well. Emergency donations are a nice gesture, but these crises will only disappear when the macro-economic rules allow producers to apply their labor on the best lands available, and to earn the full value of their labor. For that to happen, the public must charge a user's fee to those who would monopolize land and other limited resources, a fee whose value is equivalent to the benefit the monopolizers receive by denying others the same access to those resources.
GN Comments: The Instituto's web site is at www.ibw.com.ni/~ihg
Rome's shortage of parking lots and parking spaces has spurred the criminal element to extract protection fees from automobile owners. They stand guard over every potential parking sport, then charge a motorist to pull in. If you refuse to pay and leave your car, when you get back you are likely to discover a ruined paint job or other damage.
GN Comments: So criminals are implementing an illegal form of site value taxation. Of all types of taxation, this is the cheapest to collect and requires the least bureaucracy. Usually governments are quick to learn from criminals, so perhaps we will soon see an increase in the use of legitimate site value taxation by governments.
What's the difference between a house in Key West and one in Brandon? About $474,517, says Coldwell Banker, which studied listing prices for similar houses in 300 markets across the United States.
The real estate franchise company had a particular house in mind for its survey: A 2,200-square-foot house with four bedrooms, 21/2 baths, a family room and a two-car garage in a neighborhood where a newly transferred middle manager might look for a house. A house fitting that description could be had for $145,233 in Brandon, the state's most affordable market, but cost $619,750 in Key West, the most expensive.
The gap between the high and low ends of the market was bigger in Florida than in any state except California and Connecticut. In California, a $1-million gap separated homes in Bakersfield from those in Palo Alto.
The most affordable market in the survey? Minot, N.D., where a mere $119,000 gets you four bedrooms, but you probably pay a little extra for heating.
GN Comments: Can it be any more clear than this? The same house, in different locations, costs vastly different amounts. Let's face it - doorknobs and gypsum board cost the same everywhere in the United States, and labor costs vary only slightly. The cost differences are due to site value.
On Saturday August 18, two Georgist organizations - the Center for the Study of Economics and the Henry George Foundation of America - held their annual board meetings, at the Friends Meeting House in Philadelphia's Old City district.
One could not escape hearing bits of news. Here are three:
(a) Bea Gaddy, a leading activist assisting the homeless in Baltimore, ran for City Council and was elected in 1999. Now Gaddy, thanks to Alanna Hartzok, Mike O’Mara, and other Georgists, sees the importance of property tax reform for Baltimore as a means to increase the housing supply, curb land speculation and restore the city.
(b) Legislation that would permit localities to try a two-rate property tax if they wish, will be presented next year in the states of Virginia and Connecticut.
(c) Two Georgists are at work on a software project that would enable speedy and inexpensive assessment of site values for communities of virtually any size. Once perfected, this program would enable assessments to be conducted at costs far below current levels. Sounds like a triple opportunity - help areas with outdated assessments to come into the 21st century, make money, and put inaccurate assessment systems out of business.
For more information, visit www.widerquist.com/usbig/index.html
GN Comments: Will Georgists be presenting at this event, or will the "basic income" idea develop in ignorance of the groundbreaking work of Jeff Smith and others?
For more on Citizens Dividends, visit www.progress.org/dividend
For more information, or to register for the event, visit http://www.neighborhoodcoalition.org
If you spend too much time warming up, you'll miss the race. If you don't
warm up at all, you may not finish the race.
- Grand Heidrich