We have an extra-large set of exciting news items to share with you this month. Georgists around the world are actively working. Please drop us a note to tell how your own efforts, or those of your organization, are proceeding. Would you like publicity, or help from your fellow Georgists? The first step is to communicate.
Deadline for our April 2005 issue: March 25.
You can always reach the Georgist News at email@example.com
CONTENTS: (to return here just click the headline)
by Cho, Young-Min (Henry George Association of Korea)
Forty georgism-devoted attendees studied and investigated the validity and feasibility of Land Value Taxation Town through some programs such as watching Video tape of Fairhope case, a presentation of case studies and specific plans in Korea, a lecture about community cases by Reverend Kang Dong-Jin, an actual member of a community, BONACOM and enthusiastic discussions. Through these activities, a committee for investigating the validity of land value taxation towns was newly established and two members for the committee were elected. The committee will investigate the feasibility of the town and prepare to implement it for Korea, so it is expected to play an important role in the near future.
In addition to its annual leadership camp, the Henry George Association of Korea holds regular chapter meetings, frequent education sessions, an annual Land School, and various campaigns. Some past campaigns have included monthly picketing in major downtown spots in Seoul, and nationwide petitioning for special legislation on Land Value Taxation.
An additional note of excitement from Korea:
Introducing a New Organization - Citizens' Union for Land Justice(CULJ)
A news story about CULJ and the Henry George Association of Korea appeared recently at: www.jabo.co.kr/sub_read.html?uid=9661§ion=section2§ion2= Although it is written in Korean, you will surely be inspired by the photograph on that page.
GN Comments: We have a candidate! Here is a news release from the Green Party of Ontario. As we indicated in the Georgist News two few months ago, the GPO is fielding its strongest candidate in this special election to fill a vacancy in the Provincial Parliament. The GPO, which fully supports Georgist tax reforms, enters this campaign facing no entrenched incumbent, and the front-runner has never held elected office. Seems like a ripe opportunity.
St. Patrick's Day Promises To Be Greener Than Usual
Frank de Jong, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario, has been selected as the Green Party candidate for Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey (DPWG) in the upcoming March 17 by-election.
De Jong was elected at a nomination meeting at an event attended by enthusiastic DPWG Green Party supporters. De Jong said that a vote for the Green Party in DPWG would be a vote for:
"The Green Party stands for strong communities, local decision-making and long-term solutions. We're regular folks who just want to make a difference for our families and the future of Ontario," said de Jong.
"We'll work hard to protect people's long-term interests and preserve the environment that sustains our lives and our economy. We're a party with great ideas and strong values - and we're ready to serve the people of DPWG at Queen's Park."
For more information, visit the Green Party of Ontario web site: www.greenparty.on.ca/
One of deJong's best articles on land value taxation appeared in GroundSwell, the periodical of Common Ground-U.S.A.: www.progress.org/cg/dejong1103.htm
by Sue Walton
2005 COUNCIL OF GEORGIST ORGANIZATIONS CONFERENCE OPTIONS
#1. THE PLACE TO VISIT in PHILADELPHIA is the Constitutional Center which opened in 2003. The Council has made a tentative reservation for our participants on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005. In order for the CGO to host a particular group tour, we must ask that people pre-register. There will be a bus to the Center leaving our hotel at 12:30 pm for a 1:00 pm tour; afterwards, there will be a guided bus tour through America's Most Historic Square Mile before returning to the hotel at about 4 pm. Hotel check in is at 3:00 pm, however participants who arrive on Wednesday morning, can check their luggage at the hotel bell stand. The featured exhibit at the Center will be: "Lincoln - the Constitution and the Civil War."
The cost for this optional event will be $35 per person. To reserve your place, please send a deposit of ten dollars ($10.00) per person earmarked Constitution Center to the CGO, PO Box 57, Evanston, IL 60201.
#2. You've been invited to tour Arden, Delaware on Sunday afternoon, August 7th. Our bathroom equipped bus will depart our hotel at 1 pm and will arrive back by 6 pm. While in Arden participants will be able to tour the new Arden museum and enjoy some Arden Georgist Gild hospitality. Hotel check out time is 12 noon, so if you are not staying over, luggage may stored at the lobby bell stand. The cost will be $40. To reserve your place, please send a deposit of fifteen dollars ($15.00) per person earmarked Arden Tour to the CGO, PO Box 57, Evanston, IL 60201.
Reservations must be received no later than March 15, 2005 or you can fax your registration with credit card to: 775/248-8630 - please include your name and address as well as phone number and the names of the people you are reserving for.
Tour registrations may also called in to: 888/262-9015 or you may register at our website: www.progress.org/cgo/excursion.html
If we do not receive a sufficient number of reservations by March 15, 2005, or in case of a medical emergency etc, we will return your deposit. This tour will not be available on the regular conference registration form!
Your deadline is March 15, 2005.
This year there are four land value tax bills being considered by Maryland's legislature.
HB846 - Statewide - transforming the state property tax to a land-only tax, plus tying it to certain public education obligations, thus adding considerable emphasis to land value taxation in the future.
HB1036 - Local option LVT for Baltimore City only, voluntary and keeps taxation of personal property and utility property basically the same.
HB1075 - Local option LVT for Counties and Baltimore City.
John David Kromkowski, the Georgist attorney who drafted these bills, added these remarks:
"We have quite a collection of cosponsors on the bills, 18 different Delegates in varying configurations for about 12 on each bill, except for the Baltimore City only bill which was put in at the last day and is meant to be the fall back, 'at-least-let's-test-it-in-Baltimore' bill.
"We have 10 of the 22 on the Committee as cosponsors on one or another of the bills, plus we have the Vice-Chair on the three main bills and she doesn't usually sign on to stuff without consulting with the Chair. So I think we are at least in a better position than last year. My plan along with Del. Gordon has been that it will probably take three years. This is year two. We shall see. Still a very long and difficult road."
To help these bills, and for further information and details, get in touch with John David Kromkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Joshua Vincent at the Center for the Study of Economics at email@example.com
Robert P. Willis of Des Moines, Iowa has submitted a tax shift proposal to the Iowa Property Taxation Review Committee.
The tax shift plan would cap all property assessments on improvements, while re-assessing land every year. In this way, the property tax would gradually become more and more of a land-only tax. Willis also recommends cutting the state sales tax and drawing the same revenue from the modernized property tax.
For more information on this proposal and to help, contact Bob Willis at Rpwtxbustr@aol.com
The Joint Planning and Development Committee of Connecticut's state legislature is considering a bill that would give cities with a population over 100,000 the option to enact land value taxation.
This option would apply to five cities - Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, Stamford, and Waterbury.
For more information and to help this legislation, contact Joshua Vincent at the Center for the Study of Economics at firstname.lastname@example.org
A bill introduced in both the Minnesota Senate and House would convert the state-wide commercial/industrial property tax funding education inequities into a state-wide commercial land tax.
Commentary by Joshua Vincent of the Center for the Study of Economics:
Two factors have led to the introduction of these bills. ARISE, a Gamaliel-associated group of congregations in the Minneapolis- St. Paul area were introduced to land taxation as an achievable reform in a session at the Gamaliel National Conference in Milwaukee by the Center for the Study of Economics in early 2004.
Another was a study performed by Mark Haveman of the Minnesota Taxpayers. The study confirmed the above benefits, and has been widely disseminated in the tax policy community thanks to a prominent article in State Tax Notes.
ARISE is launching a parcel-by-parcel study in the immediate central, Seven Counties area. The Center is happy to assist them in this endeavor.
For more information and to help this legislation, contact Joshua Vincent at the Center for the Study of Economics at email@example.com
A note from CGO administrator Sue Walton:
We also must know if your organization is a tax-exempt 501c3 organization (ie. are donations to your organization tax deductible under US IRS regulations)?
GN Comments: In last month's Georgist News we had an article by Ed Dodson, concerning the latest land value trends in Japan. Dodson asked whether any readers had further information, and this interesting reply came from Roy Langston:
The Japanese appear to have learned very little from the economic "lost years" of the 1990s. The country's troubles since the late 80s all trace to the land bubble that was caused by the gradual reduction of its land tax since the early 1950s. The Meiji-era land tax was the economic foundation of modern Japan, and land taxation supplied a significant fraction of government revenue during and after the Allied occupation. However, land tax revenue as a fraction of GDP was gradually reduced over the years until by the 1990s it was only a derisory amount, and the land tax was finally abolished altogether in 1997 (last I heard, there was still a local property tax, nominally averaging 1.4% and capped at 2.1%, but the valuations are far below market even after the collapse of the bubble).
In addition, in the late 1980s Japan followed a low-interest-rate policy of expanding bank credit that made land speculation even worse. Because land rent is a slowly rising fraction of GDP, the present value equation implies that if long-term economic growth exceeds the sum of the discount rate and the land tax rate, land values will diverge (i.e., become infinite). Now, if there is one thing land speculators like more than unearned wealth, it's infinite unearned wealth. Unfortunately, economics cannot deal with infinite quantities, so over the long term, economic growth cannot exceed the sum of the discount rate and the land tax rate. Abolition of Japan's land tax effectively meant that long term economic growth was limited to the discount rate - which the Ministry of Finance had continued to push down to a fraction of 1%, in a doomed and misguided attempt to stimulate growth. It was the age-old story: reduced land tax --> speculative bubble --> economic stagnation.
It is worth noting that when Japan's government imposed an additional tax on capital gains from real estate sales to try to rein in the land speculation frenzy caused by reduction of the land tax, the result was the exact opposite of what was putatively intended: rather than sell their land to those who might have used it more efficiently and have to pay the capital gains tax, landowners simply chose to retain their land and try to find ways of extracting rents from it themselves. This reduced efficiency of land use, dried up market inventories, and consequently pushed land prices even higher.
The Eastern Economic Association Annual Conference will be star-studded with Georgist participants. The conference will take place in New York City, March 4-6, 2005.
Among the many Georgists who will be running a session, or delivering a paper, or leading a discussion, are - Mary Cleveland, Clifford Cobb, Steven Cord, Josh Farley, Gary Flomenhoft, Alanna Hartzok, Jerome Heavey, Michael Hudson, Laurence Moss, Steve Shafarman, Jeffery Smith, and Dan Sullivan.
For full information on the conference, visit www.iona.edu/academic/arts_sci/orgs/eea/conf2005/NYhome.html
by Ed Dodson
In some parts of the country, well over half of all land sale transactions involve exchanges. So, low effective annual rates of taxation on agricultural land rental values allows capitalization into escalating sales prices. And, the IRS code allows sales to go untaxed as well, pulling up land prices even higher.
It should be no surprise that young people aspiring to own land for farming are forced to borrow heavily or lease land from others.
The corrupt and secretive World Bank occasionally runs events with some potential for good.
March 14-17, 2005 will see an "Energy Week" conference at the Bank's headquarters in Washington, DC. Topics to be discussed include extractive industries, environmental policies, private versus public investment, and carbon pollution.
More information on the event can be found at www.worldbank.org/energy/energyweek2005/
Georgists such as Harold Kyriazi and Sue Walton have recently been looking for Georgist bumper stickers. From time to time, various organizations have printed some, but at the present moment, exactly what bumper stickers are available?
We would love to list all available Georgist-related bumper stickers. If you or your organization has some, speak up and tell us!
CERES is a U.S. coalition of environmental, investor, and advocacy groups working together for a sustainable future. The 2005 CERES conference will be held April 13-14, 2005, in Boston, Massachusetts. The conference will address various themes of interest to Georgists, such as how to deal with shortages of drinking water, energy policy, sustainability, liability, and governance.
Visit www.ceres.org/conference/2005/ for full information and to register.
Champions know there are no shortcuts to the top. They climb the mountain one
step at a time. They have no use for helicopters.
- Judi Adier
The miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in their
industry, application, and perseverance under the prompting of a brave,
- Mark Twain
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.
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