In many parts of the world, May Day is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Labor to our civilization. Perhaps we should also celebrate a Land Owner Day to highlight that land "owners" contribute nothing to the economy, and often force the economy into artificially inefficient patterns.
In a perfect world, what holidays would you expect to see?
Please remember that your own reports, remarks, and rejoinders are always very welcome. Deadline for the June issue: May 20.
You can always reach the Georgist News at email@example.com
CONTENTS: (to return here just click the headline)
A report from Tony Vickers:
"Talking Politics", a weekly Saturday morning radio magazine show on the BBC, devoted its entire half-hour on March 30 to land reform, thanks to a book by journalist Kevin Cahill. Cahill's book, Who Owns Britain? came out in January and is featured in the Spring 2002 issue of Land & Liberty.
Unfortunately no Georgist organisation was invited to join the discussion panel, although one of the panelists did acknowledge that "the Henry George Society knows how to implement land taxes." This was in response to right-winger Peter Hitchens scoffing that land wasn't an important issue any more and that land registers are really only for crazy people who want to tax land owners, which is not possible anyway!
England & Wales still don't have a complete land register. Cahill spent 13 years researching through other records to find out who owns most of England, Wales & Scotland. His ideas are not entirely in sympathy with those of Henry George, but he has got Georgists excited, and even achieved a mention for HG in Parliament - by Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders. I interviewed Sanders for L&L, in which he says "This is too serious an issue for just a debating society. This (LVT) is one of the most important issues our generation has to decide."
Cahill had lodged a formal complaint with the British Office of Fair Trading against the biggest bookstore chain, W.H.Smith, on the grounds that they refuse to stock his book. Their excuse: it hasn't met their criteria for media exposure. Sounds a pretty lame excuse now!
GN Comments: Thanks for this news. For people interested in more information on Cahill's book, see this review at The Progress Report - http://www.progress.org/revwob.htm
ECONOMIC JUSTICE AND THE GREEN MOVEMENT
The Council of Georgist Organizations will hold its twenty- second annual North American conference August 21-25, 2002 at the Delta Armouries Hotel in London, Ontario, Canada. The function room in the front area of the hotel was an actual armory used by the Canadian Army during the first part of the twentieth century.
This year's host organization is the Henry George Foundation of Canada. John Fisher is the foundation's president. John and Alanna Hartzok, representing the Council, are in charge of programming. They have chosen an overall conference theme of ECONOMIC JUSTICE AND THE GREEN MOVEMENT.
The conference will begin Wednesday evening, August 21, 2002 with a welcoming reception featuring the Lord Mayor of London. Thursday will feature a day long bus tour entitled "War, Freedom and Discovery". War refers to several War of 1812-1814 battle sites that we will visit; Freedom refers to the Cabin of Joseph Henson, who was the model for 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'; Discovery refers to our stop at Oil Springs and North America's first commercial oil well.
Friday's theme will be "Ecology, Trade and First Nations". Topics will include types of citizens dividends and social issues, and a lively luncheon discussion of US/Canadian relations with regard to Trade. Friday night after dinner on your own at the Taste of London near the hotel, the Annual CGO business meeting will occur.
Saturday's theme will be "Monetary Policies and Sustainable Development." The day will feature Laurie Gallant of Smithers, British Columbia (owner of Footprint Environmental & Associates) and Paul Hellyer, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and noted author. Georgists Dan Sullivan and Steve Zarlenga will respond.
Saturday night's banquet will feature Frank deJong, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario. The conference will conclude at approximately 2 pm on Sunday, after our annual friendship brunch and Team CGO Recognition Awards.
The Council has negotiated discounted transportation fares on Amtrak and Air Canada.
Conference Brochures will be mailed in mid-May via first class mail.
For more information, please contact Sue or Scott Walton at 888/262-9015 or
847/475-0391; fax: 775/248-8630;
Trivia Questions: What's Canada's favorite fast food? What is a Tim Bit? Will the Conference Bus Tour stop to buy some?
Answers: Next issue.
Mason Gaffney noted the April 23 decision by the United State Supreme Court to limit the notion of "takings" and his reaction is "Thank goodness for small favors! ...when Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas are reduced to a minority, something of interest is happening! Be of good cheer, then, my friends: every worm has its turning."
According to the New York Times, the court ruled against a group of land owners around Lake Tahoe who had contended that government restrictions placed upon them amounted to a "taking," in constitutional terms, and thus entitled them to monetary compensation.
The Times went on to say, "In effect, the ruling preserves the status quo across the country, meaning that property owners who are subject to various land-use and zoning regulations are not necessarily eligible for government compensation. Had the ruling gone the other way, the effects could have been seismic."
GN Comments: We are not talking about seizing land here, just passing rules about how it can be used. Compensating land owners for the economic effect of such land rules has always seemed odd to me because no one acknowledges any corresponding privilege for owners of capital or labor. For instance, if Congress passes an increase in the income tax, we don't hand out compensation equal to the increased amount being taken from workers; and if a government agency buys widgets from Company A instead of Company B, we don't expect it to go ahead and pay B as well in compensation for not demanding its products. So the idea that a land owner should bear no risk at all and cannot possibly lose anything without the government being required to bail him out, seems odd.
For the classic rejoinder to "takings" advocates who seek government handouts, see the article Government Takings? What About Givings? reprinted at the Progress Report: http://www.progress.org/archive/diamant.htm
"That was before the same powerful gusts paid for vacations to Panama and Costa Rica and allowed him to quit his part-time job.
"In the past year, dozens of wind turbines have appeared on the drab, rolling expanses of rural farmland in Oregon and Washington.
"Hilderbrand and scores of other farmers have made thousands of dollars by leasing their land to wind farm developers."
Alanna Hartzok has won further recognition for land value taxation from the United Nations. Hartzok submitted a case study of the effects of the City of Harrisburg's tax shift. In response, the "Best Practices & Local Leadership Programme of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT" said, among other things:
"We are interested in learning more about your experience and considering it also for the 2002 cycle for the Dubai Awards. We would therefore be grateful if you would send us updates that reflect any new developments as well as photographic material."
GN Comments: It's pleasing to see land value taxation noticed as a sensible policy for sustainable development. Please assist Alanna Hartzok if you can.
New chapters include:
It's another opportunity for the Philadelphia-area Georgist coalition to see and be seen:
"Transportation & Land Use in the Philadelphia Region," a conference
sponsored by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and other organizations.
Date: Monday, June 3, 2002.
Location: Doubletree Hotel, Broad and Locust Streets, Philadelphia.
For more details, you are supposed to use their web site at http://www.greenworks.tv/pec/ ...although they don't seem to have it up to date just yet.
GN Comments: Thanks to Ed Dodson for sending the conference announcement. How about you? When you see something of potential interest to readers of the Georgist News, please send it along.
Here is the letter:
"While it's never good news that 45 states are facing budget deficits, the fact that many are cutting funding for anti-sprawl programs, as reported in USA TODAY, in not necessarily bad ("State budgets pinching anti-sprawl programs, News, March 25).
"Although they were often implemented with the best of intentions and may have components, such as watershed protection, that work very well, these programs typically slow or halt the housing growth that is needed to accommodate the nation's growing population. As a result, home prices increase, housing affordability declines, and the quality of life that the anti-sprawl measures sought to protect actually deteriorates.
"Such approaches to growth just don't work. When the supply of land for new homes is disrupted, prices increase, and real people suffer. The National Association of Home builders believes that the curtailment of these anti-sprawl programs offers an ideal opportunity for elected leaders, residents and the home-building community to work together to devise sensible, "smart growth" solutions that do work and enhance the quality of life for all residents."
For instance, Skinner introduced an amendment to the Illinois state constitution in 1976 and again in 1979, to permit shifting taxes from buildings to land. Such efforts in Illinois continued on into the mid-1980s.
Newspapers called Skinner "the General Assembly's resident expert on property taxes and assessments." Clearly, this is a candidate who actually understands something about our economy and will follow through with more than "lip service."
On Wednesday morning, May 1, the Progress Report will reprint a guest editorial written by Skinner in 1979, on how to rehabilitate major cities. You will be able to find the article at http://www.progress.org/skinner.htm after 8 AM on May 1st.
Mozambique's 1997 Land Law is an extremely important example of innovative land law reform in Africa. The Law and its accompanying regulations (including the so-called Technical Annex for the delimitation of community land) together represent a significant and promising effort to integrate customary and formal legal frameworks, to secure land rights for communities, families and individuals, and to stimulate development in rural Mozambique.
For those who have difficulty or wish to avoid downloading long papers from the Web, email or paper copies of the article may be requested from the FAO Legal Office, FAO, 00100, Rome, Italy, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Federal Aid to States for Fiscal Year 2001 takes each federal spending
program and shows you, state by state, what happened to the money. The maps
and charts are exhaustive in this 58-page free report. See for yourself at:
If you're running a 26-mile marathon, remember that every mile is run one
step at a time. If you are writing a book, do it one page at a time. If
you're trying to master a new language, try it one word at a time. There are
365 days in the average year. Divide any project by 365 and you'll find that
no job is all that intimidating. All it takes is discipline - daily
discipline, not annual discipline.
- Charles Swindoll
No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No stream or gas drives
anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and
power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused,
- Harry Emerson Fosdick
Made possible in part by funding from interested individuals and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.