A very happy New Year to everyone! If you are making New Year resolutions, send them in so we can share them with Georgist News readers. You are an important part of the worldwide movement for economic justice. Find something that needs to be done, and push aside the daily crowd of usual tasks for just a little while - and make it happen.
The deadline for our February 2006 issue is January 25.
You can always reach the Georgist News at email@example.com
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Commentator Jeff Cohen has written, "Of the top oil producing countries in the world, only one is a democracy with a president who was elected on a platform of using his nation's oil revenue to benefit the poor. The country is Venezuela."
Cohen goes on, "CITGO is a U.S. refining and marketing firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Money you pay to CITGO goes primarily to Venezuela - not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. There are 14,000 CITGO gas stations in the US. By buying your gasoline at CITGO, you are contributing to the billions of dollars that Venezuela's democratic government is using to provide health care, literacy and education, and subsidized food for the majority of Venezuelans. Instead of using government to help the rich and the corporate, as Bush does, Chavez is using the resources and oil revenue of his government to help the poor in Venezuela."
These are big, important claims. Can we verify them?
I have begun buying all my gasoline at CITGO. But before we declare CITGO to be the Georgist gas station, I would like to see additional facts. Are any Georgist News readers more familiar with the situation and able to tell us, with some definiteness, about the advantages of buying from CITGO?
Bill Batt of Albany, New York (U.S.) writes:
"But at the very beginning of the show, he talked at length about the possibility of having all Iraqis share the revenue of the nation's oil 'along the lines of the Alaska Permanent Fund.' Wow! With his stature as former Secretary of State, and as a University of Chicago trained economist, it might just raise the prospects of this idea going someplace in the halls of Cheney-Bush. (I doubt if the Iraqi parliament would alone be able to accept such a model without US help or endorsement.)
"Unfortunately the Charlie Rose show doesn't voice-stream online. But we should note that we do have Schultz as one who supports the idea - to whomever we might want to mention his name."
GN Comments: Many thanks to Bill Batt for noticing and telling us about George Schultz's remarks. Now I am going to make a diatribe.
Let me offer a radical suggestion. Perhaps these occasional endorsements are not actually endorsements at all. They are trial balloons. People are putting forward ideas as tests, to see which ones draw the biggest and best response. Schultz does not necessarily believe our idea or any other - he just wants to try out some possibilities, looking for reactions. Georgist ideas will have to yield quite a good response before they are taken seriously in the political workshops of most nations.
When we see an apparent endorsement, let's not follow it up with direct thanks to the source, nor with demands that the endorser should make further statements. They are not seeking that kind of thing. Rather, let's consider their statement as a trial balloon and try to give it as warm and broad a reception as we can. That means writing letters and op-ed articles, and using other public channels to quote the endorsement and, importantly, to build on that. We can make it politically appealing, not threatening, for others to make similar statements. When dozens or hundreds of public figures are trying Georgist ideas as trial balloons of their own, due to earlier successes of similar trial balloons, we will see much easier and speedier victories for our ideas. Let's show that public figures can make pro-Georgist statements without suffering, and indeed that a rash of supporting ideas will spring forward.
To really do this, to be able to give pro-Georgist trial balloons the response that they should have, the Georgist movement would need to spend more time developing "media relations" and getting to know more journalists, as well as building our own media muscles further.
A trial balloon from a well known public figure is a big opportunity. Other groups and organizations are ready to pounce on such opportunities when they receive them. Can we, too, be ready?
Merry Solstice. This world works in wondrous ways. Did you know ...
Wages are at a 30 year low? War and crime are at low points, fatality-wise? Families have fewer children when they have title to land? In China, boy babies outnumber girls 117 to 100? Over 100 Iranians died recently from a smog attack? School teachers who taught "geonomics" were persecuted, too? Harvard is the biggest owner of forests in New Zealand? The CEO for Toll Bros sold his stock while claiming the housing market was fine? Freddie Mac adjusted downward by $0.25 billion and Fannie Mae by $2.4 billion? Gold broke its $500 barrier, yet only caught up to inflation? The experts say the housing bubble is at its peak? The experts say some housing markets are more than 75% overvalued?
Read all about it and more in the winter issue of The Geonomist at http://www.progress.org/geonomy/geonom143.htm
Tell a friend, even a list of them.
Let me know if you want a hard copy, complete with the popular cartoons.
Forum on Geonomics, 3604 SE Morrison St., Portland, Oregon 97214, USA
These are but three of the many topics that will be discussed at the 2006 CGO Conference, to be held July 19-23, 2006. For more information please contact Sue and Scott Walton, CGO Administrators, at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have scanned and formatted this pamphlet for addition to the School of Cooperative Individualism library. It should be available to readers within a few days, as I got caught up on coding for recently added materials. Check the library listing under "anonymous."
"Inside, the editor, Kate Miller (who has published several previous articles on LVT, including three by me) asks readers to email her at email@example.com 'to contribute to the debate on LVT.'
"I don't think Valuer has an on-line version. I'm going to ask her to let me publish them on both the ALTER ( http://www.libdemsalter.org.uk) and Landvaluescape (http://www.landvaluescape.org/) sites."
GN Comments: For more, visit the Liberal Democrats Action for Land Taxation and Economic Reform (ALTER) website at http://www.libdemsalter.org.uk
Phone number remains 312-362-9302.
Web site remains http://www.hgchicago.org
You will find a collection of articles, notes and essays by Dr. Mason Gaffney, one of the top Georgist scholars of our age.
Gar Alperovitz reminds us that "economic instability radically weakens all forms of civil society network building, including those that nurture democracy and communities' interests in their environments." Solving the problem of economic instability means facing up to a fundamental truth; namely, that the system of law in place in virtually every society around the world secures and protects entrenched privilege at the expense of equality of opportunity and true liberty. At best, the introduction of representative government and "democracy" mitigates the effects of entrenched privilege. In the process we have constructed an elaborate institutional architecture - employing millions of people - focused not on solutions but on managing the intensity of the problem.
Our first challenge is to somehow reach a broad consensus on the distinction between true liberty and privilege. This raises the questions of what, if any, rights we have to the earth. Is access to the earth the birthright of all persons, equally? Or do some persons have a superior claim to the earth and its life-supporting systems? The world is organized based on the latter idea, and the result is that billions of people are marginalized, oppressed and forced to live without access to what the philosopher, Mortimer J. Adler, described as the "goods" necessary for a decent human existence.
There was a time in history when access to the earth was far more equally available. Tribal societies thrived for thousands of years under communitarian structures that treated nature as common property. Early writers on political economy examined this earlier historical period and remarked on the absence of want. The capacity to produce surplus was quite limited, but these societies functioned without the hierarchical structure that eventually appeared - when the hunter-protectors evolved into a militaristic caste that shared power with those who took advantage of the general fear of the unknown to establish themselves in the priestcraft. The resulting kings and aristocracies demanded tribute from those who actually produced wealth. The priests demanded tithes (and sacrifices) as payment for their services to keep the gods pleased. Settlement of groups in one location, the allocation of control over specific parcels of land, over sources of water and other natural resources, triggered the changes in socio-political arrangements and institutions that continue to worsen the distribution of income and wealth in every society.
Today aristocracies no longer have the ability to demand direct tribute. Organized religions in most countries do not have the legal authority to require tithes be paid. These forms of wealth confiscation have been replaced by claims on wealth (i.e., on production) by those who control access of nature. Land ownership is, essentially, a static activity; ownership contributes nothing to the production of wealth. Ownership allows non-producers to demand a payment from others for mere access.
If we are to restore our societies to structures that secure and protect our equal birthright to the earth, our laws must be changed to treat the value of land (whether in our cities and towns, agricultural or natural resource-laden lands, or the resources contained in our lakes, rivers and oceans) as common property. Thomas Paine argued in a pamphlet he titled Agrarian Justice that anyone who was granted control over land owed a "ground rent" to the community for this privilege. The American writer Henry George greatly expanded on this argument in his books at the end of the 19th century. The logic of these arguments was largely ignored at the time; the mentality of the late 18th and 19th centuries was one of human conquest of nature. We continue to live with the results.
The world's leaders made a remarkable commitment to implement the principles espoused by Paine and George in the crafting of the Law of the Sea Treaty: a proposal for the sharing of the economic value arising from the oceans' natural resources opposed by monopolistic corporate and nation-state interests. Not only do we desperately need the Law of the Sea; we need a corresponding Law of the Land, so that "ground rent" finally becomes community property.
Sincerely, Edward J. Dodson, Director School of Cooperative Individualism
This brief item was reported in the Henry George News for December, 1944. I am hoping to discover more information about this venture. If anyone can add details to this interesting footnote in history, please come forward.
GN Comments: You can reach Ed Dodson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Authors of selected papers will be required to participate in a research seminar on the impact of large landowners on land markets, to be held at the Lincoln Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the fall of 2006. Participants will be asked to present their work-in-progress for review and discussion at the seminar.
The final papers will be submitted as Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Working Papers. The Institute will pay $10,000 for the completed paper as well as cover expenses for travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts for the seminar and for local lodging during the seminar.
See http://www.lincolninst.edu for further information.
The conference will focus on "Forging Dynamic Public/Private Partnerships And Implementing Innovative Mechanisms To Fund Infrastructure For Sustainable Communities."
For more information visit http://www.fundinginfrastructure.com
Georgist Melville M. Forde, passed away on December 7, 2005. He died at home with his family around him.
From the death notice: "Mel was a lifelong resident of Seattle, Washington (U.S.), born on Aug. 29, 1920. Mel is survived by wife Clara, children Sharon Davies, Terry Forde-Edgar, Eileen Andrews, Leigh Forde, Keith Forde, and Kelly Forde; grandchildren Kelly Mark Davies, Justin Eide, Rachael Edgar and Melody Claire Forde. Mel will be remembered for his honesty, loyalty, sense of justice and humor."
My interest is in the future because I'm going to spend the rest of my life
- Charles Kettering
Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution.
Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.
- Thomas Edison
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