April 2017

REMEMBERING

Benjamin Howells

“Benjamin Howells was first elected to the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation board in June 1999, and he served until June 2010. Ben was well-liked by both the board and staff members of RSF, and only stepped down from the board upon having fulfilled the mandatory term limit of nine consecutive years.”

“Ben passed away at age 86 leaving his wife, Ellen, three children and two grandchildren. Our condolences go out to his family and friends. Ben was greatly loved and admired by his Robert Schalkenbach Foundation colleagues, and his noble, kind, and generous spirit will be greatly missed by all of us who had the privilege of serving with him.” –RSF President, Ted Gwartney

Read more via the link provided.

GLOBAL EVENTS

Sacred Water, Profane Markets
Register on Eventbrite Now

Friday, May 19th, 9:00 am – Noon
22 East 30th Street, New York, NY 10016

We would like to invite you to an exciting event in New York City on how natural resource policy has created enormous environmental and social problems. Don’t miss the chance to be a part of this vital ethical and economic debate that will shape policy dialogue for years to come. You can also register to join the event via live stream. For further information email: alanna@centurylink.net

Bridging the Right-Left Divide

Thursday, July 27 to Monday, July 31, 2017
Hilton Garden Inn, O’Fallon, Illinois
Organized by the Council of Georgist Organizations

The 37th Conference of the Council of Georgist Organizations is sure to be an unmissable event. The conference is focused on networking, meeting old friends, recharging and enriching understanding. Speakers include Don Killoren, Andrew Theising, Erich Jacoby-Hawkins, Ted Gwartney, Gordon Abiama, Jeff Graubart, Nic Tideman, Karl Widerquist, Vitnarae Kang, Anthony Werner, Bill Batt, Brendan Hennigan, Dan Sullivan, John Kelly, Mike Curtis, Josh Vincent and Lindy Davies.

2017 Urban Economics and Public Finance Conference

May 5, 2017
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
113 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA

The economic growth and development of urban areas are closely linked to their revenue sufficiency and fiscal prospects. This research seminar offers a forum for new academic work on the interaction of these two fields.

Walking tour: Land, villains, and revolutionaries: a social movement history

Saturdays 9:00pm  
American Youth Hostel, 312 Mason Street 
Organized by the Henry George School of San Francisco

EVERY MONTH, SECOND TUESDAY

May 9: Illinois Is Not Broke
Organized by the Henry George School of Social Science Chicago


LITERATURE

The Annotated Works of Henry George Vol 2

RSF is proud to offer The Annotated Works of Henry George Vol 2 for purchase on the RSF bookstore (link above). The work presents the unabridged text of Progress and Poverty, the most influential work. The original text is supplemented by a new index and by notes that explain textual changes George made during his lifetime, as well as his many references to history, literature, and economics.


IN THE NEWS

SNP conference backs call for land taxation to transform Scotland #SNP17

“In a historic step forward for the land reform movement in Scotland, the party’s spring conference unanimously backed calls for a tax on ownership to end the feudal ownership system that has endured in the country for centuries.”

“The amended motion said the government “must include exploring all fiscal options including ways of taxing the value of undeveloped land” in its gradual land reform programme.”

Mainstream Economics Has Become a Celebration of the Wealthy Rentier Class

“These views largely depend on whether they view the One Percent as innovative, smart and creative, making wealth by helping the rest of society – or whether, as the great classical economists wrote, the wealthiest layer of the population consist of rentiers, making their income and wealth off the 99 Percent as idle landlords, monopolists and predatory bankers.”

“A case in point is the Scottish economist Angus Deaton, author of The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality. (2013). Elected President of the AEA in 2010, he was given the Nobel Economics Prize in 2015 for analyzing trends in consumption, income distribution, poverty and welfare in ways that cause no offense to the wealthy, and in fact treat the increasingly inequitable status quo as perfectly natural and in its own kind of mathematical equilibrium.”

‘Universal Basic Assets’ A new economic model that could save the other 99%

“The social instability caused by vast economic disparities is likely to only grow deeper under the pressures of climate change and automation.”

“We urgently need to design a new framework that delivers greater social and economic equity. Some economists and activists are proposing Universal Basic Income, a guaranteed minimum payment for everyone, as a way to ensure a guaranteed minimum for people to live on. We believe that a universal basic income is only the first step in making our economic system more equitable.”

“In designing Universal Basic Assets we take into account access to traditional physical and financial assets like land and money, as well as the growing pools of digital assets (data, digital currencies, reputations, etc.). We also recognize and assign value to exchanges we engage in as a part of maintaining the social fabric of our society but that do not currently carry with them monetary value (caring, creative output, knowledge generation, etc.).”

How to Fix San Francisco’s Housing Market

“The real problem is an emasculated housing market unable to absorb the new arrivals without shedding older residents. The only solution is to take supply off its leash and finally let it chase after demand.”

“Discretionary permitting limits how quickly the housing stock can grow. Land use restrictions can increase the price of housing by as much as 140% over construction costs. Relaxing–if not abolishing–these types of restrictions would be hugely beneficial.”

“The most realistic plan would be to retire San Francisco’s property tax in favor of a land tax and make the change revenue-neutral. Considering the city’s property tax rate is barely over 1%, a revenue-neutral land tax probably wouldn’t deliver the sun, the stars, and the moon like it would at much higher levels. That said, it would still be an improvement over the existing property tax.”

Economist Josh Ryan-Collins: How Land Disappeared from Economic Theory

“Anyone who has studied economics will be familiar with the ‘factors of production’. The best known ‘are ‘capital’ (machinery, tools, computers) and ‘labour’ (physical effort, knowledge, skills). The standard neoclassical production function is a combination of these two, with capital typically substituting for labour as firms maximize their productivity via technological innovation.”

“But there has always been a third ‘factor’: Land. Neglected, obfuscated but never quite completely forgotten, the story of Land’s marginalization from mainstream economic theory is little known. But it has important implications. Putting it back in to economics, we argue in a new book, ‘Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing’, could help us better understand many of today’s most pressing social and economic problems, including excessive property prices, rising wealth inequality and stagnant productivity.”

“Today’s economics textbooks – in particular microeconomics – slavishly follow the tenets of marginal productivity theory. Even progressive economists such as Thomas Piketty have fallen in to this trap. Once you strip out capital gains (mainly on housing), Piketty’s spectacular rise in the wealth-to-income ratio recorded in advanced economics in the last 30 years starts to look very ordinary.”

Utopian thinking: to ‘take back control’ of England, we must find out who owns it

“Understanding who owns this country has been a utopian project for at least a century and a half. In 1872, in an effort to disprove radicals’ claims that only a tiny elite dominated the landed wealth of the nation, Lord Derby – a major landowner himself – asked the government to undertake a proper survey. The Return of Owners of Land – or “Modern Domesday”, as it became known – was the first comprehensive assessment of land ownership in Britain since William the Conqueror’s swag list after the Norman conquest. But far from dousing the demands of the radical land reformers, the survey lit a fire under the issue.”

“So if the answer to who owns England isn’t available from existing public data, how to find out? Well, the Victorian land reformers did leave us one other legacy: the Land Registry, whose job it is to gradually register who owns all land in England and Wales. Yet 150 years after it was founded, it’s still not completed its task – around a fifth of all land remains unregistered. And though the Land Registry has thankfully just survived a government attempt to privatise it, it remains a very closed public service: you have to pay £3 just to find out who owns a single field. Paying to find out who owns the whole country would cost a fortune.”

“The government’s recent housing white paper heralded some welcome steps in this direction – announcing that the Land Registry would soon make freely available its datasets on land owned by UK companies and offshore firms. But that’s only a fraction of the total. Aristocratic families, who almost certainly still own the great majority of England, will be exempt – since their huge estates are invariably registered in an individual’s name, if they’re registered at all.”

Tax land, not labour -Dominic Frisby

“Each parcel of land in the UK is assessed for its potential annual rental value. Remote, rural farmland will have a low rental value. Prime city centre real estate will have a much higher rental value. A tax is then levied based as a percentage of the annual rental value of that land (in its unimproved state).”

Join our Facebook discussion group.

To start discussing Land Value Tax (LVT), and other ways of making a difference in the world, join our discussion group on Facebook. Here, you can ask questions about Earth Sharing, LVT, ending poverty, and protecting the environment. You will be able to talk with professors and regular people in the larger Earth Sharing community. It is also a gateway to other discussion groups, a marketplace of ideas for making the world a better place.

We don’t necessarily endorse any of the viewpoints in these discussions on Facebook, but they are sure to make you think.

March 2017

 Obituary of Andrew Mazzone

“The Henry George School of Social Science mourns the loss of Andrew B. Mazzone, president and CEO of its board of directors. Andy, who was born in Massachusetts and resided in New York City, died February 21, 2017. His vision and passion heralded many successes for the school, founded in 1932 to establish economic justice and sustainable prosperity.”

Why Britain’s disastrous housing shortage is the economy’s top threat

House prices are far too high relative to earnings in most parts of the U.K., property costs are gobbling up too much of national income, reducing productivity and denting economic growth, and the latest homeownership figures make for grim reading.

The Housing Crisis Is Not Inevitable

New York City can’t tackle its housing crisis without taking on real estate speculation. The theory that an imbalance between supply and demand has created a housing crisis makes some intuitive sense. But this simplistic account overlooks the role of speculators and other producers, who play a major role in creating this demand and the rising prices that go with it, along with the inevitable gentrification and displacement of poorer residents that follows.

Gentrification and soaring rents are not inevitable. There is an alternative to de Blasio’s approach. But if the city is serious about bringing down housing costs, it has to be willing to acknowledge and take on speculative real estate development. In the absence of federal funds for public housing, the new buildings could be created as part of community land trusts, limited equity co-ops, or mutual housing — proven models that would keep the units off the commercial market and render them permanently affordable.

What is Indonesia’s Progressive Tax on Idle Land Ownership?

Sofyan Djalil, Indonesian Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning, says the progressive tax on land that is deemed idle will not disturb the investment climate of Indonesia because industrial estates and land that has a clear development purpose are exempted from this tax (this includes land destined for property development projects). Through the progressive land tax, the government wants to combat speculative land buying, something that has become a problematic phenomenon in Indonesia.

New forecasting tool suggests one-quarter of single-family homes in Vancouver could be torn down by 2030

To create the teardown index, the researchers used municipal data and BC assessment records on Vancouver single-family homes purchased and sold between 2005 and 2015. With the data, they compared land value, building value and property sizes with factors including if the property was torn down a couple of years before or after being bought or sold.

With Vancouver’s recent rise in home values, the tool predicts one-quarter of detached homes in Vancouver could be torn down between now and 2030. Right now, half of single-family homes have relative building values (RBVs) below 7.5 percent, which is the value of the building relative to the total value of the land and buildings. Ideally, a new development’s RBV should be between 60 and 70 percent. The researchers discovered that when the RBV of homes drops below 10 percent, there’s a significant rise in the number of teardowns. “It’s a little bit more than one in four that get torn down at 10 percent relative building value.”

Conference videos, new books, and more!

2016 CGO Videos

Presentation videos of many of the Council of Georgist Organization’s 2016  Conference in Orlando, Florida are now available online. The conference examined and celebrated the role of land trusts and intentional communities in the movement for economic justice and prosperity. Watch the videos here.

Kim-Mai Cutler – The San Francisco Bay Area: A Modern Housing Crisis

This past July, Earth Sharing organized an event in Oakland, California entitled: BIL Oakland 2016: The Recession Generation, a project of Robert Schalkenbach Foundation. The aim was to help millennials navigate the uncertainties of economic life in the aftermath of the financial crisis. One of the speakers at the event was Kim-Mai Cutler, a technology reporter and columnist for TechCrunch, best known for her work on the intersection of technology and culture in the Bay Area. Cutler has worked for Bloomberg, VentureBeat, and the Wall Street Journal. In her talk, she discusses the insights of history on the Bay Area housing crisis. From local governance issues to land value taxation, Cutler gives an in-depth analysis of what’s needed to fix the crisis. Prior to the event, Cutler wrote this article about Georgism in the Bay Area.

Click here to view Cutler’s speech.

Henry George, Anti-Statist

In this article, David S. D’Amato is critical of  Edward O’Donnell’s Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality, (available for purchase from Robert Schalkenbach Foundation) claiming it characterizes George as merely a Socialist or a Progressive. D’Amato claims that George’s ideas were more aligned with supporters of free markets.

However, D’Amato is making a similar mistake. He states: “And whereas O’Donnell is clearly repulsed by the libertarian Spencer (or at least the popular caricature of him), George, for a time, “regarded Spencer as a formidable ally in his crusade to abolish private land tenure” (see David Weinstein’s Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Spencer). George even cites Spencer favorably in Progress and Poverty’s acknowledgment of the theoretical desirability of “the abolition of government,” which he calls “the promised land of Herbert Spencer.” With “for a time,” D’Amato oversimplifies George too. In fact, George wrote a scathing attack on Spencer called A Perplexed Philosopher after Spencer changed his views on land. A Perplexed Philosopher is also available for purchase from Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

Annual Monetary Reform Conference,
Chicago, Sep 29 – Oct 2

Dennis Kucinich and fellow Georgist Nicholas Tideman will be speaking at the upcoming 12th Annual Monetary Reform Conference.  The conference is at the University Center in downtown Chicago, September 29th to October 2nd.

Remember there are no at-the-door registrations.  Sign up now online at www.monetary.org/2016-ami-monetary-reform-conference.


New Books!

Buy both books before October 1st, and receive 20% off the total price. Simply reply to this email.

Robert Schalkenbach Foundation recently releasted two exciting books: Rent Unmasked and the The Annotated ­­­­­­­­Works of Henry George: Volume One. They are both available for purchase on the Schalkenbach website (links below).

Rent Unmasked
Mason Gaffney Festschrift

“Rent Unmasked” honors Mason Gaffney for the quality of his lifetime’s work and dramatizes the way his economic insights would resolve contemporary economic and political concerns.

The book includes fifteen new essays on How to Save the Global Economy and Build a Sustainable Future as A Tribute to Mason Gaffney.

The Annotated Works of Henry George: Volume One

The six-volume edition of the works of Henry George assembles all his major works for the first time with new introductions, critical annotations, extensive bibliographical material, and comprehensive indexing to provide a wealth of resources for scholars and reformers.

“Volume 1” presents three major works by George and new essays to provide context: Our Land and Land Policy (1871), The Irish Land Question (1881) and Property in Land (1885).

 

(2014 September-October) Contents: CGO Presentation Submissions

THE GEORGIST NEWS
– Serving the Earth Sharing Community

  1. (2014 September-October) Conference: CGO Request for Submissions
  2. (2014 September-October) Social Media: Peter Thiel on Henry George
  3. (2014 September-October) Good Press: Henry George and Modern Ireland
  4. (2014 September-October) Likeable Link: China Rolling Out Property Taxes
  5. (2014 September-October) Social Media: Libertarians Battle… Citizen’s Dividend
  6. (2014 September-October) Earth Sharing: Gaffney on Piketty (Abridged)

1. (2014 September-October) Conference: CGO Presentation Submissions

The CGO & IU will be hosting a joint conference next August in Southfield, Michigan (suburb of Detroit).  We need to know in advance who the speakers are and what they will present. To submit presentation proposals, please contact Dan Sullivan (director@savingcommunities.org) for US topics and Dave Wetzel (dave.c.wetzel@gmail.org) for international topics.

*The deadline for submissions is October 10th.

2. (2014 September-October) Social Media: Peter Thiel on Henry George

The following is a response from the controversial Peter Thiel, the cofounder of PayPal and Facebook’s angel investor. Thiel was asked by one of Fred Foldvary’s students, “rromanchuk”,  what he thought of Henry George:

[–]rromanchuk 31 points 10 days ago

Have you ever read anything from Henry George? If you have, any thoughts? I think he gets an unfair treatment from almost every school of economic thought, including the Austrians, no, especially the Austrians.

When it comes to the three factors of production, it bothers me how lazy academia is when it comes to land. The fact this guy induces so much rage from every political faction and almost all schools of economic thought (from fringe to keynesian) seems like a signal he might be on to something.

[–]PeterThiel[S] 56 points 10 days ago

Yes, I think George is a really interesting thinker. The idea that we should tax land heavily (and perhaps not tax anything else at all) is very interesting, since many of the bad monopolies in our society involve the unholy coalition of urban slumlords and pseudo-environmentalists.

http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2g4g95/peter_thiel_technology_entrepreneur_and_investor/ckfjrtn

3. (2014 September-October) Good Press: Henry George and Modern Ireland

Thanks to Wyn Achenbaum for sending this article to the Georgist News. It details the enduring effect Henry George had on Ireland. There is also an interesting discussion of how Joseph Fels improved employment opportunities for Dubliners with his campaign to use vacant lots for urban farming.  We think you’ll find it thorough and informative.

http://www.theirishstory.com/2014/08/24/progress-and-poverty-henry-george-and-land-reform-in-modern-ireland/#.VBsWqhbE4RH

4. (2014 September-October) Likeable Link: China Rolling Out Property Taxes

“Now Chinese authorities say they are moving to rapidly roll out property taxes nationwide, in a bid to reshape the country’s financial structure and curb some of the incentives for local governments to trammel the rights of farmers and others left behind by China’s extraordinary wealth gains.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/china-moving-quickly-to-roll-out-property-taxes-nationwide/article20294761/

 

5. (2014 September-October) Social Media: Libertarians Battle Over a Citizen’s Dividend

Michael Huemer is a libertarian writing for the Cato institute. He is a proponent of the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG). In an article which can be found here, he argues against LVT from the standpoint of the best way to fund a BIG. His contention boils down to opposing redistributing what people produce in a high density area to those in a low density area. He says that the Georgist ethos of “one ought to keep what they produce” is contradicted by such spatial redistribution.

In this article, Matt Zwolinski, also writing for Cato, argues that the Georgist ethos is not inconsistent.

“Mike brings up the issue of population density to show that a large part of land’s value depends on the productive activity of other people. But, really, all of land’s economic value depends on the productive activity of other people… It’s not benefitting from the positive externalities of others’ labor that’s the problem. It’s the forcibly excluding others from doing so [the higher return available given access to the best locations].

This explains why, contra Huemer, people in low-population-density areas are entitled to compensation from people in high-population-density areas. High-population-density land is, ceteris paribus, more valuable than low-population-density land.”

6. (2014 September-October) EarthSharing.org: Gaffney on Piketty (Abridged)

“A few days ago I sent you some notes on Piketty’s current blockbuster. Reader Lindy Davies, a skilled and insightful editor, quickly recognized it was too long, technical, and divagating for many busy (and who isn’t?) readers, so he has abridged it.  So here is the Reader’s Digest version, for those who might prefer it.”                                                           -Mason Gaffney

Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the 21st Century, has been a best-selling book on economics recently, but who has time to read it?  Piketty’s thesis is that modern economies are self-destructive because they permit the income from owning property to grow faster than wages and the economy as a whole.  The result is growing inequality and social unrest.  Most of the book is a description of historical statistics demonstrating that simple point.  But, as Mason Gaffney, a retired economist from the University of California, Riverside explains, the point really is not as simple as it might seem.

http://earthsharing.org/capital-in-any-century-a-response-to-thomas-piketty/