Have you made a resolution for the year 2004? Share your economic justice goals for the new year with other Georgist News readers.
Deadline for our February issue: January 25.
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CONTENTS: (to return here just click the headline)
In 2001, the city of Pittsburgh abandoned the two-rate property tax. Georgists were disappointed and predicted that the city would suffer. Now the city hovers near bankruptcy, its bond rating is the lowest ever, and the city is on the verge of being declared officially "distressed."
Ironically, one of the treatments often prescribed to shore up a "distressed" city's economy is the two-rate property tax. The city of Clairton, Pennsylvania is an example of a city whose recovery plan included using the two-rate property tax.
And there are broader questions for economic justice supporters who look at Pittsburgh. Was the city's property tax really so important during its time of prosperity, and was its abandonment in 2001 the largest cause of their current fiscal trouble? Dr. Mason Gaffney, writing in the current issue of GroundSwell, considers these questions.
GroundSwell is the membership periodical of Common Ground-U.S.A. To become a CGUSA member or to obtain a copy of GroundSwell, contact Common Ground-U.S.A. P.O. Box 57 Evanston, IL 60204, or email to Sue Walton at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.progress.org/cg/
GN Comments: In last month's issue, we ran a short article titled "Some Cities Don't Even Know What Land They Own." Here is a reply from Tony Vickers, which indicates that the problem is even worse than that.
All owners are poor at knowing what the value of their land holding is; however, corporations that trade globally are going to have to change their filed accounts radically if proposals by the London based International Valuation Standards Committee (IVSC) get implemented. At present UK companies only need to value their assets on a 'value in current use' basis. This will need to change to 'market value' basis by 2005 - so shadow accounts are already being drawn up for 2003/4 on the new basis.
The idea is to prevent shareholders being misled by incorrect (usually very low) company valuation. Considering about 40% of the value of most companies is in land and natural resources, there is clear scope for asset stripping by canny market operators who raid under-valued, asset-rich older companies whose operations are based on sites and resources that haven't been valued at market rates.
The implications for Georgists are profound (and positive), in a world where trading is increasingly global. It is also good news for valuers using the most sophisticated modern methods, whose services are going to be in increasing demand. In cities that aspire to trade in the modern world, more frequent and professionally sound valuations of property will be required and a much better basis for tax assessments should fall out of the new IVSA requirements.
It's another proof that potentially free trade and progressive taxation go hand in hand. But we must be vigilant and see that every jurisdiction complies.
- Tony Vickers, http://www.landvaluescape.org/
GN Comments: Congratulations to the InterStudent program! Here is a report from Harry Pollard.
GN Comments: We are beginning to suspect that Dave Wetzel might be one of the world's most energetic Georgists.
A few signs of his busy-ness: an upcoming meeting with 'Charlie' Faulkner (part of the Blair cabinet and member of the House of Lords) ... a working lunch during the Christmas holidays ... increased coverage from the local newspapers ... upcoming conferences and public events.
Congratulations to Dave Wetzel and his colleagues, and to their organizations such as the Labour Land Campaign and Transport for London.
GN Comments: Here is a set of announcements from Mark Sullivan, president of the Council of Georgist Organizations. To see Sullivan's full letter summarizing CGO activities in 2003 and looking toward 2004, visit the CGO web site at http://www.progress.org/cgo
A related problem to fundraising is the perception of a diminishing number of people at our conferences, and perhaps even within our movement. While we leave it primarily to our members, affiliates, and friends to add to the ranks of our movement, the CGO is looking for ways it can help by making it easier for young people to attend our annual conferences. For it is at the annual conferences that many interested individuals make that vital personal contact with other Georgists.
So, in conjunction with our new fundraising committee, the Council is proud to announce the establishment of two CGO scholarship funds: the CLANCY-VENTURELLA FUND and the ANDELSON-ARNOLD FUND. These funds are for the purpose of helping those with limited means to attend our conferences.
The first fund is named in honor of the memory of Bob Clancy and Sam Venturella, two early presidents of CGO who both believed our conferences should be open to all. Both devoted nearly all their adult lives to Georgist education and advocacy. Bob directed the Henry George School in New York and founded the Henry George Institute. Sam headed up the Henry George School in Chicago. The fund in their honor will be used to defray the expenses of conference attendance without any obligation other than for the recipient to attend.
The second fund is named in honor of Professor Robert V. Andelson and Dian Arnold. Bob was a Southern gentleman, and Dian a Southern lady. Bob was a Georgist author and philosophy professor at Auburn University, and Dian was an active Georgist educator and supporter of the Organic School in Fairhope. Both were active supporters of CGO. The fund in their honor will be awarded annually to a selected young scholar to attend and deliver a scholarly paper of merit at the CGO conference.
Setting up these funds, and a procedure for selecting those who will receive support, is not a simple task. At this time, I have appointed the following individuals from among the ranks of our Members and Affiliates to work with our dedicated Staff member Sue Walton to set-up the funds and their attendant procedures: Dr. Harold Kyriazi, Dr. Heather Remoff, Alanna Hartzok, Lindy Davies, and Hanno Beck. We hope to have the funds administered by one or two 501(c)(3) members of CGO. The funds and processes involved are expected to be in place and a full presentation given at our 2004 conference in Albuquerque. The first scholarships are expected to be awarded for the 2005 conference in Philadelphia.
For your information - dues are due, if your organization is a member of the Council of Georgist Organizations.
Sue Walton describes the dues structure:
Of course no extra donation is too small or too large and will be most appreciated!
GN Comments: An interesting note from Ed Dodson of the School of Cooperative Individualism.
A New York City Councilman named David Yassky likes this tradeoff for reasons that ought to lead him to a rather different observation. Councilman Yassky told the Times: "When there is a change from manufacturing to residential, their property values will increase 500 to 600 percent. When you have that kind of wealth created by a government action, it is only fair to use some of that wealth for the public good. I want to make sure a good portion of that housing is affordable."
It might not be a bad idea for someone to invite Councilman David Yassky over for a visit to the Henry George School.
GN Comments: We second that suggestion. Politicians and citizens must learn that all zoning changes carry economic implications, and not only for one property. Zoning must be a well-understood and public process, not a pit for speculators and bribe-takers.
Wednesday, January 21st at 12 noon
Friends of the Earth hosts a luncheon on
"The Do's & Don'ts of Influencing Public Policy."
Friends of the Earth will share its lobbying know-how with the nonprofit community. Dispelling some of the myths that surround a nonprofit's ability to influence public policy means more work can be done to protect and defend our fragile environment.
Join Norm Dean, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, and other FoE experts, in an open discussion of our right to be heard.
Location: Friends of the Earth 1717 Massachussetts Avenue NW, Suite 600, Washington DC.
For more information or to RSVP, call 202-222-0746.
The Forum on Geonomics has released a new, comprehensive bibliography on geonomics. Researchers and journalists please take note: http://www.progress.org/geonomy/biblio.htm
And don't forget this bibliography on the two-rate property tax, compiled by Gilbert Halverson of Common Ground-U.S.A.: http://www.progress.org/cg/biblio.htm
Foreign Policy In Focus and The Sustainable Energy & Economy Network will hold a citizens' conference on January 6-8 for education and action on oil and its relationship to politics and power.
The "National Summit on PetroPolitics" will bring together representatives of labor, the global justice movement, peace activists, environmental organizers, students and leaders from communities of color and faith to talk about the many ways in which our nation's dependence on oil impacts the economy, foreign policy, and the environment.
The events will be held at the Academy for Educational Development, 1825 Connecticut Avenue NW, 8th Floor, near the Dupont Circle Metro station in Washington, DC.
For more information, visit http://www.petropolitics.org/
January 23rd - 25th, 2004
at the University of Oregon campus
Eugene, Oregon, USA
Topics will include water rights, how to hold mining company owners accountable for pollution, dealing with brownfields, recognizing "environmental racism" and others.
For more information, visit http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~caer/
Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what
makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a
- Vince Lombardi
The door to opportunity is always labeled 'push'.
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