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Deadline for our October 2005 issue: September 25.
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CONTENTS: (to return here just click the headline)
1. News from Korea
2. A CGO Note
3. Hartzok at Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Symposium
4. What I Saw at the 2005 CGO Conference
5. New Book on Land Value Taxation
6. New Free Online Data Source
7. Join the Hunt
8. Patent Rules
9. What Can We Learn from Proponents of a National Sales Tax?
10. Reminder - Upcoming Event
11. New Staff at The Georgist News
12. AT THE MARGIN: Quips and Quotes
13. About The Georgist News
by Cho, Young-Min: Henry George Association of Korea
The Henry George Association of Korea held its 15th Land School, an annual Georgist summer camp, from July 27th to 30th. The camp was held at Jesus Abbey in Taebaek, a coal-mining town in the mountains about five hours southeast from Seoul, South Korea.
There were 11 lectures, presentations, a documentary show introducing the activities of HGAK and Henry George, and religious sessions. Ninety people interested in the Georgist movement and/or biblical justice stayed together through the four-day school, abiding by the strict dress and behavior code of the abbey. They also had hours for discussion and social activities in the Jesus Abbey's beautiful environment.
As with the 14th Land School, lots of lectures were attended by several generations who have participated in the Korean Georgist movement over many years and who had already received considerable training. The intensive instruction can now be considered an established feature of the Land School. This last Land School, however, was different from previous ones in an important respect. In the past, some of the attendees participated mainly to visit the Jesus Abbey, which is quite famous in Korea, but all of those of the 15th Land School came primarily to partake in the Land School program. As a result, the program proceeded more smoothly, had greater depth, and developed more productive discussions.
Dynamic activities of the Citizens' Union for Land Justice (CULJ) of Korea
Meanwhile, CULJ kept on speaking out and issuing manifestos about government policies related to land and property through press interviews and participation in TV and radio debates. CULJ also opened the 3rd Policy Debate on July 14th at Bae-Umteo, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. In the debate, participants from the ruling party, universities, and other organizations discussed land tenure taxation, land rent taxation, and other related policies. On July 22, 2005 CULJ started a campaign to collect one million signatures which will be used in a media campaign to exert pressure on the government to legislate for "The Public Concept of Land Ownership Intimate with the Market."
August 2005 may be a very important time for government policies related to land and property, which policies would affect the entire Korean society. Therefore, CULJ is actively engaged in a variety of endeavors to encourage the government to adopt a taxation reform package that would strengthen LVT and alleviate taxes on production activities.
Below are recent activities by CULJ since its launch.
CULJ was officially launched on February 22nd, 2005 as an association of various citizens movements which agree on land justice, and the Henry George Association of Korea is the leader of the movement. On the launching date, Professor Jun, Gang-Soo, a Korean Georgist, presented "a direction of the land policy to solve the polarization" to the official policy conference. In the presentation, he showed statistics on the extremes of land ownership, including that the top 1% of all landowners own 45% of all taxable land, and the top 10% own 72% of it. Facts like these gave the South Korean society a big shock as they were disseminated widely by most of the major press and broadcast media.
High officials who aroused suspicions of land speculation resigned!
Last March and April, Lee, Heon-Jae, the Finance Minister, Choi, Young-Do, the chairman of National Human Rights Commission, and Gang, Dong-Seok, the Construction and Transportation Minister, all high officials, resigned over their own and their relatives' land speculations. CULJ demanded their resignations and a taxation reform package which would strengthen LVT and alleviate taxes on production activities for the purpose of eradicating land speculation. This was done through peaceful demonstrations, the issuing of manifestos about government policies related to land and property, and through press interviews, TV and radio debates, etc..
Pressing for enactment of the Trust Act for Officials' Lands
On April 27, 2005 CULJ demanded legislation regarding the Trust Act for Officials' Lands through a policy debate titled, "High Officials' Land Speculation, Cause and Countermeasure." Ji, Byung-Mun, a member of the National Assembly from the ruling party, expressed his strong commitment to the Trust Act for Officials' Lands legislation, and promised to introduce it, complete with the more detailed material CULJ has given to him, in the extraordinary session of the National Assembly this September.
GN Comments: Our thanks to Cho, Young-Min for a detailed and very exciting report. If you have the time, please consider volunteering to assist CULJ and become a part of their energetic success!
by Sue Walton
Save the Date: July 19-23, 2006 for the 2006 CGO Conference, in Skokie, Illinois!
GN Comments: Alanna Hartzok of the Earth Rights Institute was not only present, but was the only NGO representative speaking at a major event. Here is Hartzok's report.
"The U.S. must embark upon a mutually beneficial alliance that increases U.S. energy security while promoting sustainable development in African oil-producing countries," said Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, former CBCF Vice President of Research and Programs.
The lead author of the study, Paul Michael Wihbey, President of Global Water and Energy Strategy Team, said that "The U.S. has a very important opportunity at this critical juncture in world history. The country could benefit tremendously if it recognizes that good governance, infrastructure, and human development goals are keys to the security and sustainability of oil exports form West African hydrocarbon states."
As Co-Director of Earth Rights Institute, I had the opportunity to be the only NGO voice on the panel following remarks by members of Congress and the authors of this policy paper. Other panelists included the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S. and representatives of the Council on Foreign Relations, World Bank, Shell and Marathon oil companies.
In my ten minutes of comment I focused on the aspects of the Breaking the Oil Syndrome paper that referred to the distribution of (resource) rents and the importance of using such revenue for poverty reduction and infrastructure development. I said that Earth Rights Institute viewed such policy approaches as an emerging new form of democracy, one that captures the value of land and natural resources for the benefit of the people as a whole, while removing the tax burden from economically productive and beneficial activities.
I also talked about the Niger Delta Fund Initiative, our Odi Ecovillage project in Bayelsa State, Nigeria, the ecovillage development model in general, and our work with U.S. donor agencies as facilitated by Earth Rights Institute Program Coordinators Francis Udisi and Gordon Abiama, in association with ERI Co-Director Ann Goeke and the Bayelsa State government of Nigeria.
Mr. Udisi, also present at this event, was instrumental in bringing to the floor a statement by Professor Joseph M. Ebiware, Vice President of the Ijaw National Alliance of the Americas. Professor Ebiware urged the Congressional Black Caucus to do everything possible "to let justice roll down like water and righteousness, like a mighty stream" in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria where the Ijaw people number 14 million inhabitants who have suffered environmental degradation and ongoing impoverishment in this area of intensive oil production.
GN Comments: Bravo to Alanna Hartzok! If you would like a copy of her written statement, or the symposium press release, or the "Breaking the Oil Syndrome" policy paper, contact Hartzok directly at email@example.com. You can find the Earth Rights Institute on the WWW at www.earthrights.net.
by Hanno Beck
GN Comments: A new book, scheduled to be released during September, is called "Land Value Taxation." Here is the official pre-publication announcement from Ashgate Publishing (UK):
"The empirical research underpinning this work has attempted to concisely provide the role of land value systems within the selected case study countries. The work has clearly identified a number of challenges being faced by those countries and jurisdictions that currently utilize land value tax systems. Given these challenges this book is timely in that it provides detailed expositions of property tax systems that are undergoing significant change and reform.
For more information visit www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c22894.
GN Comments: Thanks to Wyn Achenbaum and others who sent copies of this book notice to the Georgist News.
by Ed Dodson, School of Cooperative Individualism
Look up demographic, economic, housing, and mortgage lending data from U.S. Census, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, Section 8 Expiring Use, and other data sets. Or display key statistics on any location in the United States through colorful, customizable maps, charts, tables, and rankings. With DataPlace, policy-makers, practitioners, members of the media, and scholars of housing and community development can analyze, interpret, and apply data to make educated decisions and inform others.
I am holding in my hands a handsome 20-page booklet titled, "An Introduction to the Georgist Philosophy and Movement." This is the 2005-06 edition, newly published by the Council of Georgist Organizations.
A few typographic errors have been discovered in that booklet. Can you find more?
Sue Walton urges everyone to look for mistakes in the booklet - and in the CGO online directory of members, which can be found at www.progress.org/cgo.
If you find flaws, please let Sue know immediately. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GN Comments: More and more people are beginning to realize that patent laws, which were originally meant to stimulate invention, are now being used primarily to stifle invention. Big reforms are needed, and many Georgists have proposed either charging a fee for patent protection, similar to a land value tax, or abolishing the special privilege outright.
Here is an interesting quote found by Ed Dodson of the School of Cooperative Individualism:
"Clearly there are very powerful interests that stand to lose from reform of intellectual property rules, specifically the pharmaceutical industry, the medical equipment industry, the software industry, and the media and entertainment industries. These sectors include many of the biggest and most powerful corporations in the world. But the strength of the resistance to reform does not affect the intellectual argument for reform. It would be difficult to identify more harmful economic policies than the current system of patent and copyright rules. There are few cases where the application of standard neo-classical economics could have such beneficial effects."
by Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research in Post-Autistic Economics Review, 5 July 2005.
Most Georgists agree that a sales tax is just about the worst of all taxes. In the United States, the racist origins of the sales tax make it even more unsavory. And now, in the wake of the Kelo decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, it is clear that high sales taxes make it easier for businesses to have governments seize people's homes via eminent domain, since businesses are the visible payers of the sales tax.
In spite of all this, a group supporting a national sales tax rate of over 50% is achieving a great deal of publicity thanks to a book.
Here is a portion of their most recent online newsletter. What lessons can we Georgists, who have much sounder economic ideas, learn from all this?
"Can I say any more? You did it. We started off as number #1. Only you could have made that happen. But the battle has just begun and this is just the first step. The first product. Now the job is to keep the book at number #1 for as long as possible.
"Support that book tour! Talk show host Neal Boortz and Congressman John Linder are on a national book tour. Many bookstores have sold out, some before Neal arrived. Respected publisher Harper/Collins/Regan is on its fourth reprinting of the book. You should be pleased. That battle is won. But the war goes on. We need to keep it number #1.
"Help us activate new members! We're getting as many as 5,000 new petition signers and members a day! Our floors are creaking. Our phone lines are overwhelmed. Our website is humming. We need you, today, to help us handle this torrent of new supporters brought in by the congressman and Neal's great publicity. Will you help? Volunteers are needed today to show up at their congressman's and senators' August recess town hall meetings, speak to groups, and write letters to the editor and more! Please contact us today if we can count on you to help. Grassroots update: Massive turnout at Congressman John Linder and Neal Boortz's book signings.
"Books were sold out in Buckhead, GA, Lawrenceville, GA, Cobb County, GA, Jacksonville, FL, Fayetteville, NC, and Greensboro, NC. Our volunteers are doing a great "get out the vote" campaign to turn out the people. Some stores are allowing petition signing and literature distribution. Click here to see first-hand accounts and pictures at stops all over the country: www.fairtax.org/book_signings.html.
"Send the link on your local event to your congressman's and senators' tax aides. After taking a look at the photos of your local event, send the link to your congressman's tax aide. There is nothing more real to an elected official than photos of voters packing a bookstore! Send 'em the link and then call 'em to follow up."
Although we mentioned this in the Georgist News three months ago, we just want to add a final reminder.
The American Monetary Institute's 2005 Monetary Reform Conference will take place September 29-October 2, 2005, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S..
The conference will deal with monetary reforms and related topics. For a list of speakers, full schedule of sessions, and registration information, visit: www.monetary.org/2005conference.
Several Georgists, including Nic Tideman, Cay Hehner, and Dan Sullivan will be among the featured speakers.
A big welcome to Enzo Piccone, the new copy editor for the Georgist News.
Banish the future. Live only for the hour and its allotted work. Think not of the amount to be accomplished, the difficulties to be overcome, or the end to be attained, but set earnestly at the little task at your elbow, letting that be sufficient for the day.
- William Osler
One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon - instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.
- Dale Carnegie
I live a day at a time. Each day I look for a kernel of excitement. In the morning I say: "What is my exciting thing for today?" Then, I do the day. Don't ask me about tomorrow.
- Barbara Jordan
Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have. Spend it wisely.
The Georgist News, a project of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, is an (plain text) 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/