News and opportunities. Those are the things that we offer to you this month. Now think about your own region - it too has news and opportunities for Georgism, no matter where. Tell us what seems to be the biggest opportunity for Georgism in your area, and how other Georgists could help.
The deadline for our April 2006 issue is March 25.
You can always reach the Georgist News at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTENTS: (to return here just click the headline)
Mortgage interest rates have been remarkably stable at low levels for more than a decade now, despite the rising cost of living. What this means is that for savers and lenders, the real rate of return on these investments has been very low. In one of the more ironic twists of fate, for retirees whose pensions and social security incomes are supplemented by interest income from investment in government securities and money market funds, total incomes fell considerably and have remained low. The beneficiaries of this redistribution of income have been borrowers - individuals, businesses, government - and land owners.
Even with mortgage interest rates remaining below 7%, the high cost of property in many parts of the U.S. have forced buyers to use financing structures that work only if land prices continue to climb. Given the probability of continually rising interest rates, taking on an adjustable rate mortgage makes sense only if the purchaser of a property is planning to live there for a few years before selling, or is anticipating an increase in household income to match the likely increase in monthly mortgage payments when the interest rate adjustment occurs.
As we know, almost none of the policy analysts who look at the high cost of land call for a change in tax policy to tame land speculation and make the land markets function competitively in the way the markets for labor, capital goods and credit function.
It is true that all around the country there is resistance to higher density construction in existing communities. Part of this is community opposition to more housing units and the number of automobiles brought into already congested areas. Also, there is the concern that the construction of "affordable housing" units means the introduction of households on welfare and a perception of associated social problems; eg. crime and illicit drug use. Citizens are approving the issuance of bonds, the proceeds of which are being used to acquire land to be preserved as open space and kept out of the market. Development is forced further out from centers of employment, of course, resulting in longer automobile commutes and huge expenditures on infrastructure in once rural areas.
All of these factors combine to add to the stress on producers of goods and services who must compete for customers against producers whose costs of production are much lower. Companies continue to substitute capital goods for labor in order to save on production costs - as much because of medical insurance benefit costs as actual wages - or relocate production facilities elsewhere. One of the great changes that has occurred for U.S. companies is that there are fewer and fewer regions in the U.S. where relocation results in protection of profit margins. Lower land costs and labor costs in one part of the country may be offset, for example, by insufficient infrastructure to support production. Movement of production to another country altogether may be the only way (at least in the short-run) to protect profit margins. Ignored is the warning left by Adam Smith that only in high wage countries is business sustainable.
We should not ignore another great stress, the one that few in the U.S. Congress seem to worry about, which is the escalating national debt. When George Bush leaves office, the national debt will certainly have reached $10 trillion. At an average cost of 5% per year, the federal government will need to raise $500 billion in taxes just to service this debt, let alone paying it down. This will be good for retirees and other holders of government bonds, so long as this stress does not become the final straw that breaks the camel's back.
If you have never seen the Georgist Registry, be sure to get a copy. For more information, contact Nadine Stoner, President, Common Ground-U.S.A., at NadStoner@aol.com
Taking the train? We will have Amtrak discounts and can show people how to get to within 4 miles our suburban hotel via Metra, our heavy commuter rail system.
By plane, we will have shuttle and taxi coupons available. We strongly suggest that you fly into O'Hare, not Midway.
Our conference confirmation letter will give websites and "insider info" on public transit and driving tips.
Conference brochures will be out on April 15!
GN Comments: Many thanks to Sue Walton for these notes. Do consider coming to the Council of Georgist Organizations conference July 19-23, 2006.
"This tax would take the form of an annual charge on the value of a site, levied according to its status in the local plan, whether or not it was developed. Its advocates claim that it would bring idle or underused land into the best use for it, leading to an increase in supply and a decline in price.
"Rather than capturing planning gain on one site at one moment, a land value tax would also recover value from neighbouring sites that had benefited from the development. Local authorities would collect more tax by the mere act of designation (or zoning) suitable land for industrial or residential development, thereby increasing its value even if no development took place. Landowners would have no incentive to hold sites back from development. Councils, in contrast, would have an incentive actively to pursue re-zoning."
Back in 1957, John L. Monroe was working on his Commerce and Industry Program, with plans "for a nationwide expansion." On January 29 of that year, he wrote to a Mr. Drummond Bell of the Bridgeport Brass Company in Connecticut regarding the departure of Jessie Matteson from the Henry George School in Chicago.
This is the only reference I have found to Mr. Bell. So, I am wondering whether he was a Georgist, and an executive at the Bridgeport Brass Company, and whether John Monroe's program was delivered at Mr. Bell's company.
If anyone has any information on this connection, I would appreciate hearing from you.
GN Comments: Ed Dodson can be reached at email@example.com
"According to this provocative critique of globalization, modern economics has become dehumanized and no longer serves the needs of society. Bringing together their expertise, an economist and a theologian reintroduce what has been lacking in the processes of economics and globalization: a moral and spiritual context. Fundamental issues covered include equity and efficiency, production and consumption, economic and spiritual well-being, economic growth and social justice, free and fair trade, and profit maximization and sustainability. Written in a clear, engaging style for both the general reader and the academic, this daring work demonstrates how the most timely issues of economics can be understood by anyone.
"Marcus Braybrooke is an Anglican priest, a peace counselor, the president of the World Congress of Faiths, a patron of the International Interfaith Centre in Oxford, a cofounder of the Three Faiths Forum in London, and the author of '1,000 World Prayers, Faith and Interfaith in a Global Age', and 'What We Can Learn from Islam'. Kamran Mofid teaches economics, business studies, international business, and political science. He is the author of 'The Economic Consequences of the Gulf War' and 'Globalisation for the Common Good.'"
Papers in all interest areas are eligible. Economists from over forty countries will attend the conference.
For more information on the Philadelphia conference, submission, or
registration, please go to
GN Comments: Our thanks to Alanna Hartzok for notifying us of this event.
For more information on speakers and the conference schedule, visit www.hds.harvard.edu/cswr/events/Ethics_Values_Environment.html
For more information, visit www.nahb.org/build4boomers
It is better to deserve honors and not have them, than to have them and
not deserve them.
- Mark Twain
Our way is not soft grass, it's a mountain path with lots of rocks.
But it goes upwards, forward, toward the sun.
- Ruth Westheimer
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