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An educational seminar entitled Democracy, Earth Rights and Ecotaxation was held in Dakar, Senegal on March 7, 2002 immediately preceding the Congress of the African Confederation of Green Parties. The seminar was an opportunity to consider how land rights, ethics, and taxation policy can work together to support green initiatives, policies, and agendas.
Alanna Hartzok of the Earth Rights Institute created the seminar and now has added a new "Earth Rights Africa" section to the Institute's web site. All of the seminar papers and related materials are available at http://www.earthrights.net/docs/africa.html
You will find the text of such presentations as:
The latest information from conference administrator Sue Walton:
Want to know the program for the 2002 CGO Conference, and register at the same time? Go to our website: http://www.progress.org/cgo/conference/
Do you need a passport? NO, (for Americans & Canadians) but you will need at least a copy of your birth certificate showing when & where you were born as well as some form of government issued photo identification. All other attendees or naturalized citizens will need passports.
Crossing the border via trains, busses and cars there have been only minor delays, but check traffic reports on the radio when approaching a crossing area (especially in the Buffalo/Niagara frontier area). Conference Host John Fisher recommends that people coming from Ohio, Western PA, VA, DC/MD and points south cross the border at Detroit/Windsor. John travels south several times a year and finds that coming through Detroit is the shortest and fastest route. Before you travel, check with the Canadian or American Motor Club about construction delays.
To answer last month's trivia questions - donuts are one of Canada's favorite fast foods, and a Tim Bit is a 'donut hole' from a Tim Horton donut ... and yes, the conference tour bus will stop for some!
Next month we will provide a list of Tim Bits Locations and Blueberry Farms along the route from Detroit/Windsor. Tim's also serves great coffee. Tim Bits are always fresh and not like Krispy Kremes and Dunkin Donuts (speaking as a former Donut shop employee, I am finicky about the donuts I eat).
If you attended the CGO conferences in 1998, 1999 or 2001, you got to eat some great organic blueberries that John Fisher provided. In 2002, you can pick your own. Next month, John will be providing this publication with the names and locations of the farms along route 401.
Sue Walton, Conference Administrator
You can always reach Sue or Scott Walton at:
888/262-9015 or 847/475-0391 fax: 775/248-8630
For 2003: mid-July, BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT (Ted & Toni Gwartney hosts)
For 2004, mid-July, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (Team CGO hosts)
One other note - effective immediately, CGO can accept wire transfers for dues & conference payments from non-North American organizations & individuals. Wire transfers can be expensive, however, so check with your financial institution before contacting the CGO.
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I hope that the Georgist News can continue to report news, views and events
for you. The past twelve months have been eventful; may the Georgist News
keep us informed throughout the excitement of the next twelve.
- Hanno T. Beck
b) The Federal Reserve Bank of Phila. and the Metropolitan Philadelphia Policy Center are co-sponsoring a presentation on Thursday, June 13, 2002 by Myron Orfield, Minnesota State Senator and author of the book "American Metropolitics." He is also Director of the Minneapolis-based Metropolitan Area Research Corp. Mr. Orfield will discuss his research on the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan regions and how communities can stem the tide of sprawl while bridging economic disparities. For more information, check the MPPC website at http://www.metropolicy.org
All Georgist organizations should be listed in this directory. It is free and easy to do. Visit that web site and follow the instructions. Let's see dozens of Georgist organizations on the list soon!
GN Comments - We are delighted by anything that points out the absurdities of neoclassical economics. Take a look at Mr. Putland's project.
A NY Times reporter notes that gasoline prices in the U.S. have remained remarkably low over the last 20 years. Using 1982 prices as a base year, gasoline prices should be $2.45 per gallon based on inflation rates. However, total costs people absorb for transportation continue to rise faster than inflation. A report by the Surface Transportation Policy Project indicates, "Americans spend five times as much on transportation as the federal government spends on all road building and public transit. And in most parts of the country, people now spend more on transportation than on medical care, education, clothing and entertainment - combined."
What might surprise you more is that "in at least seven American metro areas, residents spend more on transportation than they do on housing, and the rest of the country is close behind."
What's behind these high costs of owning and running an automobile? The NYT Times reporter suggests "the real culprit ... is Americans' quest for cheaper housing. New suburban houses may look cheap on paper, but getting to them is not. ... A car is the price of admission to suburban life."
GN Comments: We knew transportation costs were high, but in the same league as housing? That's a shock! As far as we know, the Georgist approach is the only integrated policy that would not only address problems of transportation and housing costs together, but also has a proven track record of success. We need to make certain that reporters such as Stephanie Mencimer cannot ignore Georgist proposals when they research and write articles on these topics.
"A University of Illinois agricultural economist last week said the spread in farmland costs between the U.S. and South America may be less of a factor in head-to-head crop-growing competition than is often believed. The U.S.' pricier land largely reflects capitalization of more generous farm [subsidy] programs into land values and rental rates, Bob Hauser, a U of I agricultural marketing and policy specialist, told a conference.
"Using USDA estimates, Hauser said the average land cost to grow a bushel of soybeans in the U.S. was estimated at $1.91 per bushel vs. $1.24 in Argentina. The 67-cent-per-bushel difference makes Argentine land costs about 35 percent cheaper than that in the U.S. "I would argue that (difference) is mostly due to the support programs, the subsidies," he told the audience.
"U.S. and Argentine costs were quite similar when non-land production expenses and the cost to transport the beans to European customers at Rotterdam, Netherlands, were compared.
"In the U.S., the non-land expenses averaged $3.20 per bushel and transportation costs, 81 cents, for a total of $4.01. In Argentina, the non-land cost was pegged at $2.69 and transportation charges at $1.30 to total $3.99. Hauser acknowledged the effect of farm subsidies on farmland values and rents was "a very complicated" issue.
"Other factors, including residential and commercial demand for farmland, come into play, he said. Comparing land values also is tricky. "It's hard to describe costs across two counties or across a state, let alone be representative of a country," the economist added. Citing USDA figures again, Hauser said the land rental charge is estimated at 14 cents per bushel in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso where much of the new soybean expansion is occurring. The land, while quite productive, is cheap because of the 'huge' costs to transport crops to a port to be shipped to the foreign buyer. Non-land production costs in Mato Grosso were put at $3.75 and transportation costs at $1.91.
"Producers in Brazil's interior will be highly responsive to fluctuations in soybean prices, Hauser predicted. Land will come into production much faster when soybean prices increase to $6.50-$7 per bushel. By the same token, land in Brazil's interior also will be idled when market prices nosedive to $4 and no longer cover non-land production costs.
"Questions exist on whether the current subsidy-oriented farm program will help farmers gain efficiencies in the long term or help young producers enter farming, Hauser said. "At least one side would argue it becomes much easier to get in and out of farming with the lower barrier of land prices," he added. Allen Gray, a Purdue University agricultural economist, said land rents are "very much like a variable cost of production" for those producers who farm the 45 percent of U.S. farmland that is rented."
GN Comments: What's the bottom line? Here are some possibilities: Corporate welfare handouts are addictive. Subsidies distort the economy. Special privileges should be abolished.
Also - GN readers might want to look at "The Effects of Potential Land Development on Agricultural Land Prices," by Andrew J. Plantinga, et al., a paper available at the Resources for the Future web site http://www.rff.org/
a) In "The Global Activist's Manual," three-dozen organizers describe how they are actually building movements for global and local economic justice. Working with different constituencies and issues across the United States, they offer lessons that you should find valuable wherever you are.
Case studies cover coalition-building, cross-border work, direct action, corporate and government campaigns. A "Practical Tips" section covers basic organizing skills, and a brief movement directory is also included.
You can order single copies of The Global Activist's Manual: Local Ways to Change the World at http://www.faireconomy.org/
a) A great untold story of our time is the staggering scope of privatization and abuse of dozens of resources that we collectively own. The plunder is widespread, affecting public lands, the broadcast airwaves, the Internet, the public domain of knowledge and creativity, publicly funded medicines, and even our genes. As companies quietly seize our common wealth, however, our government often fails to protect us, sometimes actually giving away our common assets.
"Silent Theft" is a fresh and compelling critique of how private markets are eclipsing and "enclosing" the American commons. David Bollier - a journalist, activist and public policy expert - not only documents the serious costs and consequences of runaway market activity, but develops a new language for understanding and reclaiming the commons. For more information on the book, visit http://www.silenttheft.com
GN Comments: For more on the Georgist perspective on "common assets," be sure to visit the Common Assets Headquarters web site at http://www.taxpolicy.com/common/
PUBLIC PROPERTY RIGHTS ADVANCE AS NATIONS FIGHT BIOPIRACY
Countries are breaking new ground in the area of "public property rights" - the notion that natural resources aren't there for the taking but are the "property" of the public. Twelve ecologically diverse nations agreed earlier this year to advocate international rules protecting their rights to genetic resources found on their territory.
Formally called the Group of Allied Mega-Biodiverse Nations, the alliance includes Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and Venezuela. The group will seek new trade rules for patenting and registering products made from their plant and animal resources in order to curb foreign prospecting of local species.
GN Comments: Are any Georgist organizations propelling the movement against bio-piracy? If not, why not?
Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.
- Oprah Winfrey
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even
though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who
neither enjoy nor suffer too much, because they live in the gray twilight
that knows not victory nor defeat.
- Theodore Roosevelt
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