No long introduction from me this month - we have an abundance of news, so let's go straight to it.
Please remember that your own reports, remarks, and rejoinders are always very welcome. Deadline for the April issue: March 20. You can always reach the Georgist News at firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTENTS: (to return here just click the headline)
For additional details, see our report in last month's issue.
Joshua Vincent, who runs the Henry George Foundation of America and the Center for the Study of Economics, has a long list of individuals who deserve thanks for their work on behalf of this new law (and he belongs on that list himself). We have space to name two here, not Georgists, but people to whom we all should send thank-you communications, to reinforce their understanding that they did the right thing by permitting the two-rate property tax option for the city of Fairfax.
Send your thank-you notes to:
The Henry George Association of Korea held the second annual Leadership Camp from January 24th through 26th in Daejon, two hours south of Seoul. Mr. Gang-soo Jun, email@example.com, professor of economics at Daegu Catholic University, was reelected as president of the association at the general meeting held on January 25th.
The theme of this years Leadership Camp was The Current Tax System and Land Value Taxation. Each of the four chapters of the association, that is, Seoul North, Seoul South, Busan and Gwangjoo chapters, presented a topic. Mr. Se-yol Kim, former president of Hannam University gave an address encouraging the camp participants and Korean Georgists. Mr. Chang-soo Park, a staff member of the association, had a special session.
The Henry George Association of Korea holds, in addition to the annual Leadership Camps, annual Land Schools, regular chapter meetings, frequent education sessions, 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. A recent picketing near the Korean National Assembly drew considerable attention since real estate prices are now rising after a decade of stability.
The Henry George Association of Korea 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 has been loosening the regulations allegedly for economic recovery. Since Korean Georgists 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 about another round of land speculation leading to an economic disaster.
GN Comments: Many thanks to Dr. Kim for this report. We are inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication of Korean Georgists.
CLPS opened an office in central London on February 12. This year it will publish three more monographs in its Inside Story series. The first one, published last summer, was authored by London property company boss Don Riley. "Taken for a Ride" had enormous impact. Wide media coverage led to private consultations with leading businessmen and lobby groups searching for new ways to pay for public transport.
As a result of that media interest, which included a major feature in the Financial Times, CLPS was invited by a commercial conference company to co-sponsor a conference called "Using Land Value Gains to Finance Transport Infrastructure". This takes place on March 12. Organisations sending representatives include the Department of Transport and the government's Strategic Rail Authority. They have not been deterred by the early bird discounted rate of £539 for the privilege of listening to the Georgist case for financing mass transit systems! The other co-sponsors are the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Institution of Highways & Transportation.
Fred Harrison has resigned from Land & Liberty, which he edited for over 20 years. He says: "The time has come for aggressive reportage of fiscal policy. We have to make it clear to the politicians that they must turn to mainstream Georgist principles if they want to solve the problems that continue to defeat them." CLPS is launching a new bulletin - Economic Intelligence (EI) - which will be mailed free to politicians and their advisers, the media and think-tanks. In the first issue, Harrison says he will reveal how the Blair government has been secretly taxing land values for the last five years, raising hundreds of millions of pounds for the public coffers.
With virtually no cash in the bank to finance the new campaign, Harrison is launching The CLPS Rent Fund. Contributors who support the London campaign will receive EI six times a year.
"It's taken me several years to rethink the way we present the Georgist case," Harrison told the Georgist News. "We will apply many of the lessons that we learned in Russia. We developed a formula that opened doors in Moscow, and it has to be put to the test in the West." The work in Russia continues with Harrison serving as consultant to Dr Tatiana Roskoshnaya, who will direct the Russian campaign from St Petersburg.
After over 20 years as editor and an involvement with the magazine going back at least to 1972 (when I first subscribed), Fred Harrison has resigned from "Land & Liberty", the quarterly international journal of the Henry George Foundation of Great Britain. He has decided to concentrate his energies on the Centre for Land Policy Studies and the "deep end" Georgist journal that he created in 2000 "Geophilos". (See the above article for more on Harrison's plans.)
An appreciation of Fred will be published by HGF's Publishing Director Nicholas Dennys in the Spring 2002 L&L, out mid-April. Discussions are taking place with Fred about a special issue of L&L later this year, incorporating selected articles he has written over the years for the journal and the entire index for the period of his editor-ship.
Meanwhile HGF has taken the opportunity to carry out a 'make-over' of production, in conjunction with a review of L&L's Mission and marketing strategy. The new production company WRAP Communications, which worked with Fred to produce his last issue, has been retained for the whole of 2002.
Says Nic Dennys:
"The Henry George Foundation intends that Land & Liberty should speak not just for itself or for the Foundation but be a principal means by which the global Georgist Movement increases understanding of its philosophy amongst key opinion formers world-wide, especially where there is political transition. Consequently, it is addressed to those who may never have heard of the ideas of Henry George. It seeks not only to analyse current political issues but also to provoke new areas of debate. We wish our articles to be well informed about the issues that engage people generally, and our presentation and language to be accessible to any reader."
Themes currently planned are:
Each issue of L&L will contain one - at most two - interview and/or analyses of/by a major figure in the debate being themed, someone who may not yet be a Georgist but who is moving into our orbit. The rest of the magazine will include world-wide news and comment, research abstracts, reflections on historical events that have topical interest, book reviews, letters and a 'beginners page'. The format will develop under the new editorial team, to which Wrap will make a major contribution themselves. They already produce titles for Britain's Conservative Party and the foremost professional property valuation institute of the UK.
HGF has decided to make the Foundation's Chief Executive ex officio Managing Editor. At the same time, with the departure of Tony Vickers (Chief Exec since 1998) this month, HGF can announce that Peter Gibb will become acting Chief Executive for the remainder of 2002, while continuing as Executive Director of Land Reform Scotland. Gibb will spend four days a month in London.
As well as retaining Paul Brandon as Executive Officer on a permanent basis, HGF has decided to recruit a full-time Campaigns Officer, to maximise income from its growing membership of Progressive Forum International, the outreach initiative that is closely linked with L&L marketing. Recent new corporate members of PFI include the International Property Tax Institute and Friends of the Earth, as well as international property consultancy Atis Real Weatheralls. Read L&L to find out why they have joined. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details of membership and L&L subscriptions.
Mark your calendars now for the 2002 Council of Georgist Organizations Annual Conference. This year's dates are August 21-25, 2002. The site will be London, Ontario, Canada.
John Fisher of the Henry George Foundation of Canada is this year's program chair. The conference will begin on Wednesday, August 21, 2002 with a welcoming reception at about 7 pm. The next morning, participants will board a motor coach for A VIEW OF CANADA - a 6 hour tour of southwestern Ontario Province which will give attendees both a taste of some American History Falsities and Canadian Issues. The tour will include lunch and is an intergal part of the conference.
London is easily reached by train by ViaRail/Amtrak (just 9 hours from New York and 5 hours from Chicago). Air Canada is the official air carrier for the conference. It flies into Toronto and London. Toronto is just 120 miles northwest of London.
More details will follow next month. If you would like to be put on the conference mailing list please contact Sue & Scott Walton: email@example.com
See last month's Georgist News for additional background on the Philadelphia situation.
One of the Georgist leaders giving testimony at the February 12 hearing was Dr. Nicolaus Tideman. To read his brief, sharp remarks, simply visit this WWW site: http://www.progress.org/philly09.htm
On the morning of February 20, a leadership forum on property tax reform for Philadelphia took place, coordinated by Ed Dodson.
"I would say it was a mild success. Only about 30-35 people showed, although the questioning from those who were in attendance was thoughtful and helped to educate them. Joshua Vincent did a nice presentation on which neighborhoods and even specific properties would experience a tax increase or decrease based on the changes proposed by the City Controller.
"Eugene Davey, representing the Phila. Board of Revision of Taxes confirmed the impact based on his department's review and based on current assessments. It was clear that assessments are often very low, in some cases it seemed they were less than 10% of current market value. So, the distributional impact of shifting more of the weight to assessed value of land parcels does not uniformly result in greater equity. There are residential properties in high demand neighborhoods assessed at little more than homes in neighborhoods where values are far less.
"Paul Jacobs, representing the assessment firm that did the corrective work in Allegheny County, estimated that a citywide reassessment of Philadelphia would cost at least $25 million and as much as $50 million. He did indicate, however, that there is good data on property sales.
"Nate Saunders, who is Business Administrator for the City of Harrisburg talked about how (under the leadership of Mayor Reed) Harrisburg was brought back from the brink of bankruptcy to become a thriving city with a much expanded tax base and the reduction in vacant properties from some 5,000 to now just a few hundred. He credited the introduction of the two-rate property tax as being a major component of the Mayor's program.
"The objective of the organizations sponsoring this forum was to offer the public an opportunity to learn about the benefits and any costs associated with the implementation of a two-rate property tax. The discussions were productive and reached an important audience of leading groups."
GN Comments: You can still take action to help the city leaders of Philadelphia to understand the advantages of land value taxation. Visit the WWW site http://www.hallwatch.org/faxbank/landtax/writeletter/ and you can send - automatically and free of charge - letters to the members of Philadelphia's City Council.
"Last year in Minnesota, the Republican controlled House passed legislation that would have shifted the newly-created state-wide business property tax toward site based taxation over a 10 year phase-in period. The measure stalled in the Democratic Senate largely because the center cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul mistakenly believed it meant a tax increase for their businesses.
"The measure's author, House Republican Tax Chair, Ron Abrams, says he is likely to reintroduce the measure in 2003. I have hopes that the congregation-based organizing group to which I belong, ISAIAH (part of the national Gamaliel network, see http://www.gamaliel.org/Foundation/foundation.htm) can convince Minneapolis of this measure's importance both to itself and the Twin Cities region as a whole."
Please update your records.
"The Discovery of First Principles presents the story of human settlement on the earth, how modern societies came into being and what the most thoughtful among us have had to say about the most important elements in their own and other societies. From the time of the most ancient civilizations, people have felt compelled to justify or struggle to overcome existing socio-political arrangements and institutions. The conflict continues to this day.
"This book, to be published in three volumes, provides a comprehensive look at our history against the test of reasoned, moral principles, arguing the case that law must be consistent with these principles in order to be just."
For more information, and to place your order for Volume One, visit this WWW site: http://iuniverse.com/bookstore/
The new 59-page booklet, titled "Economic Justice in Australia: A Guide to Real Prosperity for Everybody" has a modern design and a conversational style. Frequent quotations and pictures break up the text so that a typical reader will find the booklet pleasant, not overwhelming.
The booklet - and Prosper Australia is planning others too - is written toward an Australian audience, but anyone would find it a very helpful, friendly and thought-provoking introduction.
To obtain a copy, and to make a contribution to the work of Prosper Australia, telephone (03) 9670-2754, or fax (03) 9670- 3063, or visit their WWW site at http://www.taxreform.com.au/
For more information, see: http://members.aol.com/votetoto/
GN Comments: See especially the "Commentary" and "Platform" sections of Toto's WWW site. Are there other Georgists planning to run for public office? Tell us!
Come to a presentation on "Earth: Commodity or Community?" Sunday, March 3, from 1:30-5:30 P.M. at Holy Names College in Oakland, California.
Speaker: Rabbi Dan Goldblatt, head of Beth Chaim congregation and a member of the Headwater Rabbis Campaign. Followed by wisdom circle discussions. Booths, music and networking. Open to public. Suggested donation $5-10.
A major crisis of our time is being shaped by a conflict between two radically different perspectives of our planet. Within industrialized societies the dominant perspective views Earth as a COMMODITY. With this view the modern world has built an extractive economy, which uses Earth as a rich warehouse of resources to be mined, developed, and exploited for the benefit of humans. Individuals are seen primarily as consumers. This perspective and resultant practices are endangering the future of Earth and the entire life community.
We need another view. The ancient perspective of world religions sees Earth as COMMUNITY. Humans are part of the web of life and interdependent with all earth systems. Let's join in an inquiry of how to recover a sense of Earth as Community and remember how to balance use with reverence. Our human destiny is to leave a healthy Earth for future generations.
For further information, contact Cindy Spring (510-655-6658) firstname.lastname@example.org
At the hearings, experts from Mexico, Chile, Brazil and the United States will make short presentations discussing the impact of "free trade" policies in their countries. Labor activists, local political leaders and others will discuss the impact of free trade in their communities. The hearings will also include a forum for open discussion.
Please contact ART at email@example.com or call 773-583- 7728 for information on how to attend.
GN Comments: You and I know that both the supporters and the opponents of so-called "free trade" often miss the key principles involved. We bemoan the lack of a sensible Georgist voice in the debate over so-called free trade. Well, now we have a big opportunity to make an impact and brighten up the debate with accurate Georgist input.
Men occasionally stumble on the truth, but most of them pick themselves up
and hurry off as if nothing had happened.
- Sir Winston Churchill
The greatest and noblest pleasure which we have in this world is to discover
new truths, and the next is to shake off old prejudices.
- Frederick the Great