Deadline for our August issue: July 25.
You can always reach the Georgist News at firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTENTS: (to return here just click the headline)
If you want any last-minute information about the Council of Georgist Organizations conference to he held July 21-25, 2004, in Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA), please contact Sue Walton at email@example.com
by Paul Martin
Below are the headlines of recently uploaded news stories on the IHG website at http://www.ibw.com.ni/~ihg. (Enter and click on the "NEWS and Photos" link to get to the "IHG News as of June, 2004" page and the following stories which include informative news, IHG statistics, and some interesting photos.)
Enjoy your visit to our website!
Paul Martin, Director Instituto Henry George Managua, NICARAGUA
On July 6, 2004, a conference "Financing Transport Infrastructure Through Land Values: Making it Happen" will take place at the CBI Conference Centre, Tottenham Court Road, London, UK.
This will be a one-day participatory conference examining how transport projects can be financed through land values, and the wider benefits of changing the tax base.
For more information visit: http://www.thewaterfront.co.uk/
Edward J. Dodson comments on a May 5 Dallas Morning News article by Dave Michaels entitled "Appraisal Cap Plan Aids Rich, Official Says":
According to Mitchell, the bill would allow wealthier owners to pay taxes at less than their homes' market value without offering the same benefits to other property owners. He believes that home value should be factored into the formula, with higher caps applying to pricier residences to keep in line with market values.
Meanwhile, officials in several counties say they might be forced to scale back funding to certain services or hike tax rates to offset losses resulting from the cap, hitting lower- income residents the hardest. Collin County Judge Ron Harris remarks, "We don't think a person living in a $200,000 house should have to pay more taxes so people in a $1 million house can get a tax break."
Comment by EJD: We know it is unlikely these lawmakers will even think of the appropriate solution of exempting improvement values from the tax base. But, perhaps some Georgist News readers in Texas could propose they do so and as an added measure to ensure progressiveness, suggest that for primary residences (which would exclude vacant land, second homes or investment properties) the first $50,000 in value would be exempted from the tax base. One complexity of this idea is that in communities where land values are low and housing prices are by extension low, there may not be enough higher priced properties to raise the necessary revenue for public goods and services, particularly the schools. State government would have to find the revenue to balance the local community budgets.
(extracts from a Wall Street Journal article by David Wessel)
Technology is challenging that approach. Parts of the spectrum long have been designated for "unlicensed" use, such as microwave ovens and cordless phones; geeks called this "junk band."
The junk has turned to gold. All sorts of new wireless devices, from poker chips equipped with radio transmitters so casinos can keep tabs on gamblers to wireless Internet zones that can serve a whole neighborhood, are exploiting unlicensed slices of spectrum.
The folks on the so-called right, Wessel writes, think the economy would be better served if the government let license- holders essentially own their pieces of the spectrum, arguing that the profit motive would encourage them to welcome new technologies. Folks on the so-called left think the economy would be better served if more of the spectrum were treated like a public park for all to use, encouraging a proliferation of wireless devices. Regulators need to find a productive balance between these two views.
GN Comments: A third way offers a better solution to scarce spectrum. Openly auction off short-term leases to spectrum, with the proceeds going to the federal government, or back to all citizens as a dividend. There will be less hogging of spectrum and more opportunity for start-up entrepreneurs, plus more fair sharing of the high market value of this common resource.
by Ed Dodson
The June 16, 2004 edition of the Wall Street Journal reports on a growing "residential" market in areas designated as forestland. Weyerhaeuser Corp. has title to huge tracts of forestland in Washington State. Beginning in 2002 the company began selling 20-acre sized lots for residential development at a price of around $140,000 up to $250,000. Purchasers must put in their own septic systems and dig wells for water. In addition to the land costs, purchasers are spending an average of around another $300,000 to construct a residence.
The Journal reports that because the land is designated as forestland, the annual property taxes are under $1,000 for the entire acreage, yet the tree sales from the parcels can return up to $10,000 an acre, or around $250,000 "assuming all were cut down."
Why Weyerhaeuser is taking this approach: "they can sell the land faster as a modified tree farm than by going through the lengthy process of gaining regulatory permits for a traditional development."
Fred Harrison of the Land Research Trust (UK) has announced the publication of a new book, "Lie of the Land" by Duncan Pickard.
Pickard is a land owner. But he understands, and openly admits, the array of special privileges that he receives.
Harrison notes, "The one subject that arouses passions at the level of European policy is the Common Agricultural Policy. Duncan Pickard's 'Lie of the Land' is a bombshell in that debate." In the United States as well, increased attention is being paid to the huge welfare handouts being given to agribusiness corporations - in defiance of justice, in defiance of world opinion and even going against rulings from the World Trade Organization.
For ordering information, write to the publisher, Shepheard-Walwyn, at Suite 604, The Chandlery, 50 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7QY, UK. Or, visit their web site: http://www.shepheard-walwyn.co.uk
Harrison, by the way, promises that he himself is "writing a barrage of books to be published over the next two years." Be ready to assist in Harrison's barrage by reading his books and putting them in front of people who need to understand what Georgism is offering to the world.
GN Comments: Here we present a portion of Stephen Zarlenga's report on his recent presentation.
On June 10th, Stephen Zarlenga, Director of the American Monetary Institute addressed the TOES (The Other Economic Summit) in Brunswick, Georgia.
The TOES is a loosely organized group of people fighting for economic justice, including academics and NGO activists from around the World who present alternative economic viewpoints and goals contra the present abusive wealth concentrating system. Unprecedented efforts were made to suppress this year's TOES meeting, and the plutocracy is getting very adept at this censorship and intimidation.
The TOES meeting was held at Brunswick, as close to the G8 as possible. Check a road atlas and you'll see that we were 5 miles North of the Jeckyll Island resort, and about 5 miles south of Sea Island. Georgia authorities had tried to block the TOES meeting, including denying a meeting hall for the talks until the first week of June, when court lawsuits finally opened up a community college campus for the talks.
Various groups were invited to speak, including the Jubilee movement to write off third World debt; 50 Years is Enough to stop the IMF (International Monetary Fund); and several groups concerned with the WTO, Globalization, Corporate power abuses and economic justice. And in the TOES tradition there were several talks by local activists.
The American Monetary Institute was invited to talk on "Removing Structural Injustice From The Monetary System." The talk is posted at the AMI website at http://www.monetary.org/toestalk.
I stressed how our nation has the power to solve our most pressing economic problems if the monetary system itself is brought to bear on them; that if these problems are solved in the US it has an immediate beneficial effect around the world.
I discussed how a well-financed "mythology of money" has kept us from doing this; a mythology which now improperly defines money as credit, and misidentifies appropriate government money creation as inflation; and I laid out the reforms necessary to fix the monetary system. This whole TOES experience was very valuable.
GN Comments: Another interesting item from Ed Dodson.
He does not make the connection between the ongoing subsidies to farmers that have artificially driven up land prices and required the use of bank financing for farmers to acquire acreage for planting (or not planting to get government tax credits, as the case may be). U.S. farmers carrying heavy debt loads will need to diversify and move away from monoculture production in order to survive, particularly if negotiations regarding "free trade" in agricultural goods prevent the U.S. government from restricting imports or continuing the deep subsidies. The big question is: Is there another round of loan defaults, bankruptcies and family farm foreclosures on the horizon?
The New Economics Foundation says:
NEF is friendly to Georgist views. If you are interested in the job, visit http://www.neweconomics.org/ right away, because the deadline for applications is July 7.
The 9th Annual Great Parks/Great Cities conference, organized by Project for Public Spaces in partnership with GreenSpace and the London Parks and Green Space Forum, gives parks leaders from around the world the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn about innovations from their peers in other countries. Join a growing group of dynamic individuals dedicated to the future of parks, from places as far-flung as Ghana, Brazil, Singapore, Australia, and of course the U.S., along with the UK and Europe.
This year's conference will be held in London from July 10-13, 2004.
For more information, visit: http://www.greatparksgreatcities.com/.
A national rally against poverty will take place on September 4, 2004, at the Ellipse (between the White House and the Washington Monument) in Washington, D.C.
The purpose of the rally is to raise the visibility of poverty issues in America and call for a White House Conference on American Poverty.
For more information, visit: www.communityactionpartnership.com/events/rally/default.asp
GN Comments: Georgists can give these people some much more powerful, proven solutions to poverty than a vague proposal for a "White House Conference." Will you attend?
The two important things I did learn were that you are as
powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the
most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step,
making the first decision.
- Robyn Davidson
Women need to see ourselves as individuals capable of creating
change. That is what political and economic power is all about:
having a voice, being able to shape the future. Women's absence
from decision-making positions has deprived the country of a
- Madeleine Kunin
The Georgist News is an email newsletter, sent free of charge. Its purpose is to keep you updated on the latest news, world events, projects, and initiatives of relevance to people who, like Henry George, seek a world free from special privilege and free from the causes of poverty.
The Georgist News on the WWW - http://www.georgist.com/