The Georgist News: February 2017


The short life of Pennsylvania’s radical tax reform

The town of Altoona began trying out the land value tax in 2002 on the recommendation of the Center for the Study of Economics. From 2011, land value tax completely replaced taxes on buildings.

Nevertheless, five years later, land value tax advocates don’t have clear examples to point to of projects or investments in the city that would have been made without the tax system in place, and the reform has been undone.

The incentive created by the city’s land value tax was limited because the county and the school district imposed property taxes. Another major problem was that the tax system was so unusual that potential residents and businesses struggled to understand the potential benefits of moving to or investing in the city.

In some cases, businesses might have been turned off by the relatively high rate of tax on land, not understanding that there was no rate of tax on structures.

Britain has enough land to solve the housing crisis – it’s just being hoarded

The UK’s biggest house building firms are sitting on 600,000 plots of land that have planning consents – four times the number of new builds in the UK last year.

Land is often bought and sold many times over before construction goes ahead, and many owners have no intention of every building. The result is speculation and very expensive housing.

The average price of agricultural land in England is £21,000 per hectare, whereas land that has residential building consent is valued at close to £6 million per hectare.

Narendra Modi has made it extremely unappealing to be a landlord in India

The Modi government is introducing measures to encourage first-time home buyers, introducing tax incentives for self-occupied properties and rentals.

In the past, these tax incentives were capped for owner-occupied houses but not for rentals. Therefore, a landlord could book the loss they suffered on lower rent, which helped in reducing their overall taxable income. 

It is expected that this will bring new real estate to the market in turn bringing the prices down, which have already fallen by 30 percent after the demonetisation.

Mayor positive about a Land Value Tax trial

With the release of the London Finance Commission report, Assembly Member Tom Copley called for a Land Value Tax to replace the three basic property taxes: council tax, business rates and stamp duty land tax.

Copley said a Land Value Tax would discourage land banking, where developers sit on land waiting for its value to rise without building on it. This would incentivize the building of news homes quickly while raising much needed funds for investment.

Congress moves to give away national lands, discounting billions in revenue

Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away 640 million acres of national land to state governments. Critics fear this could eliminate mixed-use requirements, limit public access and turn over large portions for energy or property development.

The oil-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could soon be up for sale. States with small budgets may be unable to invest in the management of these lands and decide to sell them off.

Areas at stake are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forests and Federal Wildlife Refuges, and contribute to more than $600 billion each year in economic stimulus from recreation and 6.1m jobs.

Not Dirt-Cheap: 10 Cities Where Land Is Worth More Than the Home on It

A home for sale last year in San Francisco’s Sunset District came perilously close to redefining the very concept of a “fixer-upper.”

The place was not inhabitable in any way, and yet it sold for just under $1 million last February after just a short time on the market. In space-strapped San Francisco, the real value of real estate lies in the land.

Could Land Value Tax reduce the tax bill for 99% of us?

Calculated based on a total land value in England of £1.842 trillion, residential properties would pay 79.5 percent of the tax, businesses 15.5 percent and agriculture 4.8 percent. Current Council Tax is unfairly distributed because it uses property bands.

On this basis, the top 1% of property wealth owners would be liable for 54% of the residential part of the tax assuming the tax is introduced at a flat rate for all. Land Value Tax, unlike Council Tax, is not a residency tax it is an ownership tax, so people in rented accommodation do not pay the tax. 

Infrastructure Australia says tax land not property to capture value

Infrastructure Australia recommends that governments gradually get rid of stamp duties and tax land values over the long term, arguing it is the “fairest” way of raising money for new infrastructure.

A new train line that makes it faster for people to get to work will typically attract people to buy houses nearby, increasing land values. IA’s report said “there are serious challenges for any form of value capture based on property prices rather than underlying land values.”

Why Falling Home Prices Could Be a Good Thing

Instead of looking at homes as investments, what if we regarded them like a TV or a car or any other consumer good? They would be somewhat cheaper in most places, where population is growing slowly. But they would be profoundly cheaper in places like San Francisco. That was the conclusion of a recent paper by the economists Ed Glaeser of Harvard and Joe Gyourko at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The paper used construction industry data to determine how much a house should cost to build if land­ use regulation were drastically cut back. Since the cost of erecting a home varies little from state to state — land is the main variable in housing costs — their measure is the closest thing we have to a national home price.

President’s Letter & New Literature

Dear Georgist News Subscribers,

We hope you have enjoyed the articles, videos, and other media we have released over the past year. Spreading these fundamentally important ideas offers hope for a world without extreme poverty and environmental destruction. This work is truly a labor of love for us all. Thank you for being part of it and we look forward to getting you more involved in our fight for justice.

One such way to get more involved includes becoming more informed. Our parent organization, Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, is offering books on various facets of Georgism (follow the link to see book images and descriptions), in return for donations to help us achieve our vital mission. If you have ever been curious about the economic forces that shape the distribution of wealth on the planet, and how we can protect our environment for future generations, these books offer fresh new insight.

Please see the annual letter from RSF President Ted Gwartney. The letter contains highlights of what we have been up to over the last year. All donations are tax deductible. If you would like to donate or purchase the books, please snail-mail us this form. Further instructions for doing so are provided here.


Jacob Shwartz-Lucas
Editor, Georgist News

Georgist News September 2016 (Basic Version)

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

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).

2016 CGO Conference: In Land We Trust

The next Council of Georgist Organizations Conference will take place August 15-19, 2016 at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Theme: In Land We Trust 

This year’s conference will feature an examination of the pitfalls and potential of land trusts and other planned communities, including Disney World and Celebration Village, with a look at how such trusts have changed surrounding communities for better and for worse, with Georgist and outside speakers. We will visit Osceola County Historical Society and its Pioneer Village which will show Florida’s Agricultural heritage, and we will give ourselves a  sense of “life before Disney.”

A Tribute to Mason Gaffney

The Robert Schalkenbach foundation is launching a new book at the conference. Rent Unmasked: How to Save the Global Economy and Build a Sustainable Future; Conflict Resolution and Ethical Economics.gaffney

It is an analysis of Mason Gaffney’s contributions to land economics by twelve prominent economists and land experts. Mason and several authors plan to attend, including Fred Foldvary, Francis Peddle, Fred Harrison, Ted Gwartney and Polly Cleveland. Polly will also be our banquet speaker.


The Annotated Works of Henry George

RSF is also launching The Annotated Works of Henry George; Volume One. Volume one includes an introduction to the six-volume series that focuses on the social context for George’s political economy, as well as the public and private struggles that George faced. Tension between the dream of economic justice and different techniques to realize it proved a continuing challenge for the Georgist movement after its heady early years.
Volume 1 presents three major works by George and new essays to provide context. George wrote Our Land and Land Policy (1871) while still a journalist in California. Fred Foldvary shows that George, even as a neophyte economist, wrote with uncanny insight and analytical skill. In The Irish Land Question (1881), George dove into the maelstrom of Irish land policy. Jerome Heavey provides the essential clarification of the history and politics of Irish land law and explains why George’s remedy was not adopted. Property in Land (1885) incorporates the debate between George and the eighth Duke of Argyll. Brian Hodgkinson provides the historical and philosophical setting for this exchange between the Scottish aristocratic landowner and the American “Prophet of San Francisco.”

Other Topics

Other topics include, On Free Trade with Lindy Davies, Did Protectionism Help Cause the Civil War: an analysis of suppressed history with Dan Sullivan, Bill Batt on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and a regional coordinator for the Citizen’s Climate Lobby on how they are effectively campaigning for a carbon tax coupled with a citizens dividend.


The conference begins on the evening of Monday August 15 and ends with a farewell breakfast on Saturday, August 20, at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort at Disney World. The book launch sessions will be held on Tuesday, August 16 from 2:00 to 5:00 PM.

For further information contact Sue or Scott Walton,

Summer 2015


Happy Birthday Henry!

family treeIn celebration of Henry George’s 176th birthday, Lawrence Bosek tried valiantly to get Google to feature Henry George on their website (Google Doodle), but alas they did not. You can help Lawrence by writing to Google ( asking if they will feature George next year.

Ida B. Wells was featured on a Google Doodle recently. If you had clicked her Google Doodle that day, you would have seen that she was listed as a supporter of Henry George, with a link to his Wikipedia page. With so many people visiting Google, it greatly boosted the number of people visiting George’s Wikipedia page too. Imagine if everyone saw George’s face on Google next year!

CGO & IU Conference

What did you like about this year’s conference organized by the Council of Georgist Organizations and the International Union for Land Value Taxation? That’s what we asked this year’s attendees. Here are their responses, edited for brevity.

Read more.


Response to “Space and the City”

This is a response to “Space and the city,” an article in The Economist. More people than ever are seeking to move to cities, and rent is skyrocketing as a result. The problem has always been land speculation, under-using prime locations. In the late 19th century, it meant that there was artificially limited space available for housing, as many tenement dwellers …

Read more.


Corrupt Politicsfamily tree

In this great comic, Chris Tolworthy explains how politicians and technocrats use obfuscatory language to distract us from the real issues. He presents a reform that would naturally hold those in power accountable and solve many of the world’s seemingly intractable problems.

Read more.

Online Course: How to Predict Economic Depressions and Protect Your Savings

“At the end of this online course, you’ll be left with a comprehensive understanding of how the real estate market works, how it affects the economy, and most importantly, how to predict the next real estate crash and economic depression.”

Henry George Academyfamily tree

Mike Curtis has compiled his many years of teaching material into a trenchant, bare-bones, step by step guide to Georgism. This clean, attractive and professional new website is a good place to point people who want to thoroughly understand the mechanics of Georgist economics “without having to read Progress and Poverty.”

March & April 2015

CGO & IU Conference 2015 Schedule

This year’s joint Council of Georgist Organizations and International Union for Land Value Taxation conference will take place near Detroit (Southfield, Michigan) starting August 4th, 2015.

Tuesday, August 4th: Michigan Cities Day

  • Samantha Harkins, director of the Michigan Municipal League Foundation, and other Michigan leaders, will lay out the situation in Michigan.
  • David Triggs (Thames Water) and Dave Wetzel (Transport for London) discuss Who should pay for water and transit?
  • Mason Gaffney (University of California, Riverside) will explain how moving away from real estate tax has impeded Michigan’s recovery.
  • Ted Gwartney, who implemented Georgist assessments in Southfield almost half a century ago, will show how ending the under-assessment of land made Southfield successful. Also, Gwartney summarizes paper by Mark Skidmore (University of Michigan and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy) on Detroit’s financial problems.
  • Joshua Vincent, (director of the Center for the Study of Economics) will show why Pennsylvania’s LVT cities bounced back from the collapse of Big Steel, and how Michigan cities could bounce back from the collapse of Big Automotive.

Wednesday, August 5th: Education and Movement Building

  • Heather Wetzel, of London (UK), speaking on the myth that subsidies go to the poor
  • Paul Martin of Managua, Nicaragua on education among indigenous peoples
  • Education roundtable with Lindy Davies, Jacob Shwartz-Lucas, Edward Miller, Mike Curtis and Karl Fitzgerald

Thursday, August 6th: Field Trip

  • Detroit’s Museum of History
  • Belle Isle urban park on the river between the US and Canada
  • Detroit’s blight and redevelopment

Friday, August 7th: International Focus

  • Gordon Abiama of Nigeria on securing equal resource rights in the third world
  • Karl Fitzgerald of Australia on determining total resource rents
  • Bill Batt on deadweight losses

Saturday, August 8th: Socializing

  • Alanna Hartzok on what she learned while running for Congress
  • Ed Dodson speaking on Francis Neilson, a prominent Georgist during the 1st half of the 20th century, toasts and remembrances at our our annual Farewell lunch

This year’s conference is an usual length, but there is more time than ever for personal conversation over the hotel’s excellent full breakfast and manager’s reception, both of which are free to hotel guests.The full conference brochure will be out by the end of April. If you would like a hard copy, please contact Sue & Scott Walton, Conference Administrators



Henry George Birthplace, Archive and Historical Research Center

The Henry George Birthplace has been busy adding more publications to their digital historical archives. Especially interesting are the “Tax Facts” which was an early Georgist California-based publication. Begun in May, 1922., William C. de Mille, wrote in the first issue . Wyn Achenbaum believes that the entire collection is now available via the birthplace website and Google Books. If you know of other issues not yet available, please let us know.

family tree


Ten Ways to Create a Sustainable New York City

Lindy Davies, writing for lays out a brillant plan to create a green NYC. Chief among the measures listed is a land value tax.



Recording: Winston Churchill -People’s Budget

In this recently posted recording of Winston Churchill, addressing his countrymen over radio in 1909, explains the benefits of the People’s Budget. The budget of course included a measure to heavily tax land value. Thanks goes to Peter Smith for making this recording available to all.


Sprawl costs US more than a trillion dollars a year.

Sprawl is an enormous problem, according to a new study by the New Climate Economy, it costs the US economy more than $1 trillion every year. Yet, as Georgists, we know that the infrastructure that is currently wasted on sprawl could, if spent in line with the Henry George Theorem, bring in more than the cost of that infrastructure. We could fund all kinds of environmentally friendly activities with that money or pay it out as a citizen’s dividend.

You can read more about the study here. The next time you’re in a discussion online and people don’t seem to understand how big of a deal sprawl is, or why the Georgist remedy would help so much, referencing this study may prove helpful.

(2015 January-February) Contents


1. (2015 January-February) Conference: CGO
2. (2015 January-February) Book: Land – A New Paradigm
3. (2015 January-February) Good Press: Stiglitz Says Piketty is Wrong
4. (2015 January-February) Likeable Link: Economic Board Games
5. (2015 January-February) Likeable Link: They’ll pay you to live there.
6. (2015 January-February) At the Margin: #BlackLivesMatter & LVT