Please send in your New Year's Resolutions, your reports, news, and opinions, to share with other readers. Deadline for the February issue: January 22.
You can always reach the Georgist News at email@example.com
CONTENTS: (to return here just click the headline)
More and more Green Parties worldwide are explicitly calling for Georgist economic policies. Paul Brandon of the Henry George Foundation (UK) notes this recent example:
With house prices rising at an unsustainable 30% a year, the Guardian newspaper asked six experts what they would do to control speculation and make housing more affordable. Only Xanthe Bevis, the Green Party housing spokesman, identified land speculation as the crucial factor, and called for an end to private profiteering in the housing sector.
Said Bevis, "To address the issue of inflated prices of land and speculation, we propose a land tax, to be levied and spent locally. Investment in building should enrich the whole community in which the house is situated. Something should also be done about using empty houses. There should be tax breaks for refurbishment, and massive regeneration needs to go on in areas where there are empty houses..."
The entire Guardian article is on the WWW at http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,854705,00.html
Dear Members, Affiliates, and Friends of the Council of Georgist Organizations:
Greetings. Today, even more than in Henry George's day, the world confronts a massive array of social and ecological problems, including: Threats of war, terrorism, and government surveillance; the diversion of public revenue from needed social services into the pockets of the makers of weapons of mass destruction; the loss of jobs, wages, benefits, and pensions at the hands of corporate executives who grab whatever they can; increasing poverty with its disease, hunger, homelessness, and helplessness; and increasingly severe and disastrous ecological changes brought about by our dependence on non-renewable natural resources. Knowledge and implementation of the Georgist Paradigm is needed now more than ever.
The Council of Georgist Organizations was founded to foster communication and cooperation among the loose-knit network of educational and activist Georgist Groups, particularly in North America. Our CGO Conference is the only annual gathering of Georgists on the continent. It is the best opportunity for Georgist advocates to renew friendships, meet new contacts, and learn of new efforts and approaches in promoting our shared vision of a better world.
Our 2003 Conference will be held on July 15-20, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Our Conference Hosts will be Ted & Toni Gwartney. And our Conference Planning Committee is coming up with an exciting mix of solid sessions and interesting excursions. The theme this year will be "Affordable Cities: Bringing the Cost of Living Down to Earth".
The conference will start with a Wednesday Evening Reception on the Hotel's Rooftop Japanese Garden. Thursday will focus on Tax Assessment Issues in both the morning sessions and afternoon bus trip. Social events will include a visit to the Booth Memorial Park & Museum and a Seafood Dinner at a restaurant overlooking Long Island Sound. Other conference highlights will include a follow-up session to last-year's on Monetary Reform; a program on alleviating urban poverty; and a look at the coming resource wars. To balance things off, on Friday evening we will have a round trip "escape" by ferry to scenic Port Jefferson, Long Island. As in previous conferences, we are preparing a very interesting Banquet program for Saturday evening, and a convivial Sunday morning Brunch.
Bridgeport is conveniently located but an hour and twenty minutes from New York City. The hotel is located in downtown Bridgeport, offers free parking, and is just a few blocks from the world famous P. T. Barnum Museum. Since the hotel is only one block from the Amtrak/Metro North railroad station, this should be one of the easiest conferences to get to via air or rail.
A lot more is being planned. CGO Administrators Sue & Scott Walton are working with the Planning Committee and the Executive Committee to make this a very fulfilling conference. The conference mailing will be sent out in the Spring.
The CGO Business Meeting will take place at the conference, most likely on Saturday or Sunday. There will be a important decisions to make in 2003, including the location of the 2005 conference. (2004 will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico.) At the conclusion of the 2003 Conference, the next three-year term will begin for CGO officers. Early in 2003 a Nominations Committee will be formed. (At my request, our Secretary and Administrators have researched and determined that Robert's Rules allows for non-voting Affiliates to serve on committees.) The committee will solicit nominations from Members and Affiliates, contact nominees as to their availability, and present the willing candidates to the Members for election. Ballots will be sent out and returned prior to the 2003 Conference.
Once again it is my privilege to ask for your commitment and for your generosity. We want you as active Members and Affiliates. And we need your extra monetary contributions. In today's economy, we must conserve our financial resources. We can no longer rely on one or two large organizations to fund CGO operations. Such support must now come from conference fees, dues, and other donations. The more we receive in dues and donations, the less we will need to collect in conference fees. We hope you can afford an extra generous gift this year.
Please use the accompanying reply form [see GN comments below]. This form will also be used to update your address, if need be, in the "Georgist Directory" (An Introduction to the Georgist Philosophy and Movement).
A new benefit, begun this year for Members and Affiliates, is access to our interactive Bulletin Board, where you can post and/or respond to Georgist educational and activist "want ads". If you need assistance in your Georgist work, this may be the way to find it. Thanks go to our Webmaster, Hanno Beck, for setting up this new service.
As another benefit, The Georgist Journal, edited by Lindy Davies, is now being sent to all CGO Members and Affiliates. A provisional CGO Statement of Purpose was provided to Lindy and now can be found on the back cover of The Georgist Journal. The current issue provides excellent coverage of our 2002 Conference in London, Ontario.
Last but not least: Thanks go to our 2002 Conference Host John Fisher, and to all who helped out. By all accounts, this was one of our best conferences. We hope the same will be said of our 2003 Conference in Bridgeport. With your support and participation, no doubt that will be so!
On behalf of the Officers of the Council of Georgist Organizations - Best wishes for the Holidays and New Year.
Mark A. Sullivan, President
GN Comments: To reply, or to request a reply form, please contact the Council of Georgist Organizations, Inc: PO Box 57, Evanston, IL 60204 USA, or telephone 847-475-0391, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
GN Comments: Godfrey Dunkley has sent this news clipping about a Citizens Dividend idea for South Africa:
A Basic Income Grant (BIG) was the solution to South Africa's massive blight of poverty, Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said on Saturday.
Speaking at Lavender Hill in Cape Town, where he was wrapping up the DA's three-week BIG campaign, Leon said the African National Congress and its allies in the New National Party should know that the DA was not going to stop fighting for a change in government policy towards the poor and destitute.
"We will go on, without letup, until the ANC starts to redirect its expenditure away from presidential jets, wasteful commissions and needless arms deals, and towards the real priorities – poverty alleviation, HIV/AIDS, safety, health and education." He said the DA had found that between 10 and 12 million people would be eligible for the BIG and that it would cost the state about SAR15 billion to introduce.
"We have put forward a proposal that does away with the requirement for an expensive means test. We have outlined a responsible and sustainable way of financing the grant without over-burdening either fiscus or taxpayer.
"And so instead of being an 'impossible dream', as the NNP suggested last week, a BIG is a real possibility. In this debate, we need to remember President Kennedy's prescription that: 'If we cannot help the many who are poor, we cannot save the few who are rich.'"
In the spring of 2002, a number of Georgists, including Tony Vickers, Bill Batt, and Jeff Smith, gave presentations at the Global Conference on Environmental Taxation. They were well-received and influential.
Now we can walk away from that success, or we can build upon it by establishing an even larger Georgist presence at the 2003 event, to be held in Sydney, Australia.
Participation costs money. If you have any suggestions or contributions that might help to bring Georgists to Sydney for the conference, contact Jeff Smith at email@example.com or Bill Batt at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the Global Conference on Environmental Taxation, visit http://www.vermontlaw.edu/elc/envirotaxconinfo2003.cfm
Professor Kim Yoon-sang has sent two very significant news items to the Georgist News:
The book consists of the following thirteen papers:
1. Life of Henry George
2. World View of Henry George
3. Henry George's Thoughts on Land
4. FAQ on Land Value Taxation
5. Henry George and Free Trade
6. Henry George and Environmental Problems
7. Henry George and Theories of Income Distribution
8. Henry George in History of Economics
9. Korean Land Problems: Diagnosis and Prospect
10. Land and Economic Crisis of Korea
11. Chinese Land Tenure and Henry George
12. Real Estate Bubble and Financial Crisis
13. Rethinking Henry George
GN Comments: Many thanks to Dr. Kim for these two pieces of good news!
GN Comments: Our top housing price observer, Ed Dodson, offers these comments:
Housing prices continue to rise across most of the U.S. And, of course, very few analysts focus on the fact that these increases are a result of land markets. As housing becomes less affordable - particularly to those who are not already homeowners - a variety of measures are introduced to narrow the gap between what people earn and what homes (and land parcels) cost. Local governments, non-profit groups and even employers are providing grants or low interest loans for use toward down payment and closing costs.
The gap has expanded to the point that at least one state housing agency, Rhode Island's, has introduced a mortgage loan program with a 35 year term. This at a time when interest rates on mortgage loans are at historic lows.
Affordability is a serious problem, with median home prices approaching $200,000 in Rhode Island and many other states. Extending the term of a loan to 35 years reduces the monthly payments so that potential homebuyers can afford to borrow more money. They make interest-only payments for the first five years, then the loan begins to amortize.
Ed Dodson sends in this from the Wall Street Journal (11/13/02):
"Potlatch Corp. has agreed to negotiate the sale of development rights on as much as 600,000 acres of private forest land to the Trust for Public Land, a San Francisco environmental group. Trust officials expect to raise no less than $40 million from private and public sources to pay for the rights over the next few years, ensuring that the forest remains a preserve for hunting, fishing, and logging. This accord is just another example of a conservation group finding common ground with a traditional foe of the environment, in this case a timber company, to slow suburban sprawl. Nationwide, such groups are purchasing development rights to forests located near populated areas to ensure that developers go no further."
GN Comments: We see stories like this all the time. Some people appear to think that we aren't shoveling money into landlords' pockets fast enough. Does anyone really believe that transferring tens of millions of dollars from citizens to landowners is a just, fair, or sustainable way to preserve a sound natural environment? Instead, those who want a better world should ask why exclusive land rights are so costly in the first place, and work for a system where all humanity can benefit from natural resource values. Natural resource values are the birthright of all persons, not a tiny elite.
Some months ago, Dr. Mason Gaffney recommended that Georgists order a free copy of a World Bank report titled "The Role of Natural Resources in Fundamental Tax Reform in the Russian Federation," by Benoit Bosquet. I now have a copy of that report, and wish to re-emphasize Gaffney's recommendation. I am pounding my fist on the table right now, telling you to order a free copy of this report!
Although we normally think of the World Bank as a corrupt, secretive organization, this report offers a sharp outline of a Georgist program for the Russian economy.
From the Abstract - "The Russian Federation has one of the richest natural resource endowments in the world. Despite their importance in the Russian economy, natural resources do not contribute as much as they could to public revenues. Large resource rents (excess payments or above normal profits generated by natural resources in scarce supply) are dissipated through subsidies and wastage or are appropriated by private interests.
"Failure to tax this rent means levying taxes elsewhere (on capital and labor) to sustain revenues, thereby depressing investment and employment, or foregoing potential revenues. Failure to reinvest rent means that Russia perpetuates the tradition of exporting low value added raw materials and excessive capital outflows and retards its transition to sustainable economic development.
"A more appropriate natural resource taxation system would enhance the fiscal role of natural resources and improve incentives for resource conservation and environmental protection."
To order your free copy, contact: Doreen Duff, telephone 202-473-9506, fax 202-522-2754, or email: email@example.com
If you prefer to view the report online, visit http://econ.worldbank.org/files/13168_wps2807.pdf
I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they
are looking for the experience of being alive.
- Joseph Campbell
And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life
in your years.
- Abraham Lincoln
Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of
leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of
- Lin Yutang
The Georgist News on the WWW - http://www.georgist.com/