THE GEORGIST NEWS

WEB EDITION
Volume Thirteen, Number Three, September 2010

Happy Henry George's Birthday! And Labor Day! And Fall Equinox! Celebrate the leadership of a UK Labour candidate. Absorb the letters from the Congressional Research Service. And help welcome aboard new subscriber Steve Proffsl in Bowling Green Kentucky, a self-employed desktop publisher/computer programmer with three threads on Geoism in Google groups if you'd like to join him. If you know anyone else who'd happily be a reader, please put them in touch.


CONTENTS: 1. News: UK Labour leader & Common As Air 2. Good Press: Pravda, Guardian, and a documentary 3. Numbers: The Buyout of America 4. Movement Progress: IHG Nicaragua Project 5. Letter: Dodson, Wetzel, Hungerford, Metalitz, Goldwater, Walton, Earthsharing 6. Likable link: Review of RSF film; LandValueScape 7. What You Can Do: Endorse; Comment; Writer letter; Attend AMI Conference 8. At the Margin: Quips and Quotes 9. Publication affairs: Contributors, About the Georgist News


1. News: Housing Crisis, System Failure & A Republic of Letters UK Labour leader Andy Burnham calls for a higher tax rate on land value and cutting other unpopular taxes. "Shadow health secretary calls for higher land taxes" http://www.progress.org/2010/labour.htm Intellectual property as an issue may be resolved by history. In 'Common as Air,' Lewis Hyde shows that Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison all argued against its privatization. "Revolution, Art, and Ownership" http://www.progress.org/2010/founding.htm To keep up with the latest in the world of economic justice, visit the daily news site, The Progress Report, where such articles appear. To establish a shared frame of reference for a discussion about how to solve economic issues with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, try sending them the progress.org link, see how it goes.


2a. Good Press: Pravda and Entering the Debate By Fred Harrison, August 27, 2010 Pravda is now citing fiscal reform: http://tinyurl.com/249xz5w I knew that I would not be popular with mainstream economists, in claiming - back in 2005 - that the world was heading for a depression. Now, 3 years into the downturn, commentators are finally coming to terms with the reality. This means the discourse on what needs to be done just might be allowed to open up to allow new ideas to enter the debate: www.helium.com/items/1933168-us-in-economic-great-depression


2b. Good Press: British Guardian via Carol Wilcox Letters in Saturday's Guardian, August 14, 2010 From Eric Deakins, London Peter Wilby congratulates, with obvious great effort (gritted teeth?) some of the US mega-rich on their philanthropic intent. In the rest of his article, he lambasts them for tax avoidance and evasion, not paying fair wages, etc. It is sad that an experienced journalist can miss the point. We should not rely on the good nature of the mega-rich to help create a fairer society. This is a task for our democratically elected governments. Are any Labour leadership candidates listening? We need a government with appropriate policies - for example an annual wealth tax and a tax on land values for starters. These would help ensure that all the mega-rich (and the not quite so rich) make a realistic contribution to the costs involved. High house prices not caused by shortage From Ken MacIntyre, Leatherhead, Surrey There is no evidence that high house prices are caused by a shortage of homes (Editorial, 6 August). With over a million properties suitable for housing lying empty in England alone, it makes no sense to talk of a shortage. There are two factors causing inflated house prices: the failure to tax land values; and the ability of banks to create unlimited credit, leading to leveraged speculation in land. In 1970, the average house price (more accurately, it is the land on which it stands which increases in value) was £4,400. Now it's about £180,000 - an average rise of 9% a year. Speculation depends upon a constant supply of ever more indebted buyers - a pyramid scheme, whose final collapse is inevitable. A land tax would tax unearned gains from rising values and so discourage speculation and encourage idle resources to be used, cutting the blight of boarded-up properties. It would provide the government with the bulk of its revenue, enabling taxes on income and property taxes, such as council tax, to be phased out. A land value tax is advocated by the Green party, the Co-operative party and even some members of the cabinet.


2c. Good Press: Monopoly Documentary by Bob Matter, Co-curator, "Curious Georgists Go to the Movies", Chicago IL, August 20, 2010 A new documentary is being released in September and October 2010 titled "Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story." About Monopoly's origins: their web site says: "Few people realize that the game began as an anti-capitalist political platform thirty years before it evolved into a game about getting rich and took the world by storm in the depths of the Great Depression." http://www.monopolydocumentary.com/home.htm


3. Numbers: The Buyout of America Private Equity firms have billions yet get government credit to buy up others and charge their investors high fees "Can Private Equity Cause the Next Big Credit Crisis?" http://www.progress.org/2010/kosman.htm Want all the current indicators in one place? Periodically, The Progress Report publishes just such a digest. To give readers greater breadth, depth, and the most salient facts, many articles at The Progress Report are not single articles but compilations on a particular theme, offering a compendium of data on one sector:


4. Movement Progress: IHG Nicaragua Project by Paul A. Martin, Director, Centro Educativo Internacional Henry George (CEIHG), Managua, NICARAGUA, director at ceihg.org, August 29, 2010 "Build it and they will come." The CEIHG is now up and running. Our first "Comprender la Economía" (Understanding Economics) course since March 2009 started this month with 65 students. Thanks to those of you who responded to our request for assistance in obtaining equipment for our CE course! We now have a live connection to the internet and can use google satellite maps to show students in class what the land tenure situation looks like in Nicaragua.


5a. Letter: School of Cooperative Individualism newsletter by Ed Dodson, ejdodson at comcast.net, July 29, 2010 Contact me for a copy of the latest issue. Thanks. We continue to struggle to move our principles out of the wilderness and into the mainstream, but despite our best efforts, we continue to decline in number. At various times I have described us as consultants, the remnant of the movement initiated by Henry George and the thousands who embraced his message. Today, at least, we have technologies and communication tools that allow us to reach audiences all around the globe. For quite a few years now, I have been studying the historical record left us in the writings of our predecessors. They struggled with many of the same issues that we face. There were intense and repeated arguments over theory, over what the message to others ought to be and how it ought to be delivered, over the importance of education versus activism, whether to align with existing political parties or establish an independent party, and so on. There is much to be learned from these early exchanges, and I have spent a great deal of time resurrecting the writings of both prominent and obscure members of the movement. Two key persons in the drama were Joseph Dana Miller and Charles Joseph Smith. Miller founded the Single Tax Review in 1901 (the name of which was changed in the mid-1920s to Land and Freedom) and remained its editor until his death in 1939. Charles Joseph Smith succeeded him as editor until the Land and Freedom ceased publication in 1943. The articles written by these two individuals over this period are instructive and illuminating. I have arranged them chronologically in the "Biographical History" listings for Miller and Smith in the School of Cooperative Individualism website.


5b. Letter: Martin Wolf and the Mayor of London by Dave Wetzel, Transforming Communities, August 5, 2010 Re last issue, [Vol.13 #2] 2a. Good Press: British mainstream media Martin Wolf has been appointed to a Government Treasury Committee so maybe he will have more influence now. Also, the Mayor of London is adopting a new London Plan. Nic Ferriday from Friends of the Earth wants facts and figures to help him give evidence to the London Plan Inquiry. He is arguing that improved sustainable standards for buildings (especially houses) will cost more to build but will not increase the price of housing as this extra cost will be deleted from the land price to be paid to landowners. Nic needs statistics showing the percentage of land price to building price and examples where higher standards have been introduced with no adverse effect on house prices. Can you help?


5c. Letter: GINI or concentration of rent August 17, 2010 To show that rents (for land, resources, spectrum, privilege) flow largely into a few pockets (of rich people), which official statistical source(s) is (are) the best? Sure, it's commonsensical, but don't people new to the idea need such sources of data? The best answer to date: I do not have ginis for the various components of income. The Census Bureau website does have some income inequality information, but I don't know if they examine the various source of total income; you can check their website. I would imagine it may hard to get a gini for rent (which includes rent, royalties, and income from trusts & estates) because so few people receive income from this source. Thomas L. Hungerford, Ph.D. Congressional Research Service Government and Finance Division 101 Independence Ave, SE Washington, DC 20540 (202) 707-6422 August 17, 2010


5d. Letter: Anyone read "This Time Is Different?" by Chuck Metalitz, taxpayer at fastmail.us, August 7, 2010 It's getting a lot of interest on various blogs and podcasts I see, and right now is #443 on Amazon. I had assumed this to be another of those books that ignores or misunderstands the role of land. But now I see an assertion that "Reinhart and Rogoff's recent influential study of financial crises finds a recurring root - the country's property markets." So, is there anything useful here for geoists? (No, I do not plan to read it myself, unless someone I respect suggests that it is worthwhile. I'm in the middle of three books now, and next on my list is America's Protectionist Takeoff 1815-1914 by Michael Hudson.)


5e. Letter: Thomas Spence by Stewart Goldwater, August 9, 2010 Thomas Spence was born in Newcastle in 1750. Spence was the leading English revolutionary of his day, with an unbudgeable commitment to individual and press freedom, and to the common ownership of the land. His scheme was not for land nationalization but for the establishment of self-contained parochial communities, in which rent paid to the Parish (wherein the absolute ownership of the land was vested) should be the only tax of any kind. A Memorial for Spence was unveiled on the 260th anniversary of his birth, 21st June 2010. Thomas Spence Society, http://thomas-spence-society.co.uk/


5f. Letter: Council of Georgist Organizations by Sue Walton, August 15, 2010 The Council of Georgist Organizations is pleased to announce that Al Katzenberger of St. Louis is the 2010 recipient of its 2010 Economic Justice Award for his outstanding work on behalf of the Public Revenue Education Council and the Georgist movement. Al received his honor at the concluding banquet of the CGO's 2010 annual conference. Changing of the guard: Ed Dodson has regretfully resigned as President of the Council of Georgist Organizations effective on September 1st, 2010 due to personal reasons. Ed will stay on as a Program Advisor. Ted Gwartney, former CGO President and current CGO Vice President, has resumed the role of Council President. Long time CGO Advisor and Webmaster Lindy Davies has agreed to become Vice President. Best Wishes to Ted, Lindy, and Ed on your new roles. Watch this space: Within two months, the Council of Georgist Organizations will be announcing the site for its 2011 conference.


5g. Letter: Latest Oz Newsletter by Karl Fitzgerald, k2 at earthsharing.org.au , August 26, 2010 In the recent Earthsharing Australia email newsletter, read about the annual dinner, independent parties, and more. To see it, write the e-ddress above.


6a. Likable Link: Film review by Scott Baker, August 1, 2010 Check out this recent review of the RSF film, The End of Poverty: http://www.hulu.com/watch/151119/the-end-of-poverty Add comments.


6b. Likable Link: Introducing Landvaluescape and the PLRG by Tony Vickers, tonyvickers at phonecoop.coop, August 20, 2010 A new Entry entitled 'Introducing Landvaluescape and the PLRG' has been published to LandValueScape: http://tinyurl.com/3yd8a6d "LandValueScape News" is the newsletter of the Professional Land Reform Group. Next PLRG talk is Thursday 16th September 6pm at LSBU (Borough Road, SE1 0AA).


7a. What You Can Do: Save Stuyvesant Town/Cooper Village by Scott Baker, President: Common Ground - NYC, ssbaker305 at yahoo.com, Aug 4, 2009 I would like to send follow-up email to NYC Councilman Dan Garonick and his office, and also CC Scott Stringer's office. I now have a nibble of interest, nothing more. A follow-up would go a lot further if I could include all of your names in the CC.


7b. What You Can Do: Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends ... by Joshua Vincent, Executive Director, Center for the Study of Economics, August 2, 2010 For New London Connecticut, your comments on the page appreciated! http://www.theday.com/article/20100801/OP05/308019884 Also, Transportation for America is soliciting comments about provisions that should be included in the new transportation legislation. Congress is working on reauthorizing the federal transportation bill, a multi-billion dollar bill that has the power to shape our communities for generations. Rick Rybeck wrote them to suggest that state and local governments be allowed to place congestion tolls on federally-funded facilities and that value capture should be part of the funding strategy for all transportation projects that result in higher land prices. We should specify that value capture is best achieved through a special assessment district where the tax is levied on land value only. (Otherwise they will probably jump to the TIF delusion.) Let's see if we can get some additional LVT input: http://tinyurl.com/2fdgww8


7c. What You Can Do: "Property Taxes" Trending on Yahoo by Jason Bessey, August 7, 2010 The phrase "Property Taxes" is the 5th most searched term on yahoo.com. Perhaps now might be the time for LVT proponents to search that term, find today's news articles on the topic, and (where applicable), leave posts on those articles explaining why LVT is a superior alternative to property taxes. Might as well do it when there are so many people searching for the term, eh?


7d. What You Can Do: Attend AMI Conference by Stephen Zarlenga, Director, American Monetary Institute, August 7, 2010 Please see the new 32 page brochure at our website designed to help people understand monetary reform: http://www.monetary.org/32pageexplanation.pdf Printed copies are available. The Lost Science of Money book has just been reprinted. Please view the 1 minute video describing the book: http://tinyurl.com/23hunkn and send me comments! Check out AMI's YouTube channel which includes several videos of William Black's outstanding presentation at last years conference: http://www.youtube.com/user/AmericanMonetaryInst Prof. Kaoru Yamaguchi, of Doshisha University in Kyoto Japan, has created a macroeconomic model of our American Monetary Act and will be presenting this paper at our conference this year. The 6th Annual AMI Monetary Reform Conference schedule of speakers and topics is taking shape nicely at: http://www.monetary.org/2010schedule.html


8. At the Margin: Quips and Quotes Where water is boss, the land must obey. - African proverb A billion here, a billion there - pretty soon it adds up to real money. - Everett Dirksen, speaking to fellow senators on government spending The worst crime against working people is a company which fails to operate at a profit. - Samuel Gompers (labor leader, friend of Henry George)


9. Publication affairs: Contributing to this issue Along with those acknowledged above with each blurb, Editor: Jeffery J. Smith Assistant Editor: Caspar Davis Archivist: Stewart Goldwater Owner: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation Founder: Adam Monroe Send your news and other interesting material to the Georgist News, jjs at geonomics.org or gn at progress.org. The deadline for the next issue is the 25th of this month. The Georgist News, a project of Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, is an email newsletter brought to you free of charge. Its purpose is to keep you updated on the latest news, citations, events, and initiatives of relevance to people who, like Henry George, seek a world free from special privilege and the causes of poverty. Do you know someone who'd enjoy reading the GN? Please forward them an issue and ask them to subscribe, or send us their eddress. As always, it's free. Thanks. The Georgist News is also available online: http://www.Georgist.com/


The Georgist News, Volume Thirteen, Number Three, September 1, 2010