(2013 August) Contents

THE GEORGIST NEWS

Volume Fifteen, Number Thirteen
August 22, 2013

CONTENTS

1. (2013 August) Book: Sharing the Earth
2. (2013 August) Conference: CGO
3. (2013 August) Conference: The IU
4. (2013 August) Good Press:
How a Progressive Tax System Made Detroit a Powerhouse (and Could Again)
5. (2013 August) Video: Ed Dodson’s New Video Blogs
6. (2013 August) Good Press: Mankiw’s Treatment of LVT
7. (2013 August) Likeable Link:
After Protests, Brazil’s Oil Money Will Go To Education and Healthcare
8. (2013 August) Likeable Link:
Private Landlords Taught Me How to Get Rich Exploiting The Poor
9. (2013 August) Audio: Stiglitz on Rent-Seeking
10. (2013 August) Video: I’m Not A Bum, I’m A Human Being

About The Georgist News

1. (2013 August) Book: Sharing the Earth

What if you could live in a world where everyone had enough? Where financial struggle would not exist, and where involuntary unemployment and poverty could become a thing of the past? A world where our economies are thriving, yet our ecologies are sustained?

Sharing the Earth not only shows that such a world is possible, it also shows how it can be accomplished. This book builds a case for a detailed and comprehensive economic reform of unprecedented scope, and it does so with both sound logic and a passion guaranteed to draw in anyone who has ever dreamed of a brighter future and a better world, for ourselves and future generations.

Martin Adams has done a masterful job of perspicuously explaining the Earth Sharing paradigm in a manner that is as intellectually rigorous as it is inspiring. Martin has done a great deal of research, drawing on academics and a large community of concerned citizens. Many individuals from the online Georgist community collaborated directly with Martin on this publication, editing the book together on google docs. This book has drawn on the power of social media to create community, a mutually supportive community that works together towards tangible gains.

Sharing the Earth has been published as both a hardcover and a paperback. It is also available as an ebook with considerably more features than the physical editions. Please help support Martin’s work by purchasing a physical copy of the book from Robert Schalkenbach Foundation’s website. It can also be read for free on the beautifully designed SharingtheEarth.com. Ebooks are available using the links below:

http://earth.sh/ebook-kindle
http://earth.sh/ebook-ipad
http://earth.sh/ebook-smashwords
http://earth.sh/ebook-nook

RSF Bookstore:
http://www.schalkenbach.org/store.php?crn=93&rn=694&action=show_detail

 

2. (2013 August) Conference: CGO

This year’s CGO conference was an exciting one, brimming with potential from a younger generation of Georgists attending their first conference: Nate Blair, Irisha Johnnyl Johnson & Nathan Johnson, Andrew Perry, Ben Harp, and Jeff Dean. Returning youngins included David Harrell, Ashely-Eve Downs & Edward Miller, Martin Adams, and Jacob Shwartz-Lucas. An estimated 20% of attendees were under 40 years old, full of energy and new ideas, all enthusiastic about collaboration. The conference was a great opportunity for them to finally meet after over a year of facebooking, and video conferencing.

cgo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left to right: Nate Blair, David Harrell,
Edward Miller, Jacob Shwartz-Lucas,
Andrew Perry, Jeff Dean, Ben Harp

A diverse and stimulating range of topics were covered at the conference including:

  • Georgist Education
  • Land policy in US history
  • Pittsburgh’s land tax history
  • Experiences with LVT and Pennsylvania’s Assessments
  • The Politics of Assessing
  • How the 1913 Income Tax Divided the Georgist Movement
  • A Hundred Years of Georgist Songs
  • The Commons Movement: A Civil Right to the Commons
  • Introducing our Vision to Average Communities
  • Transportation and Land Value
  • Social Media Outreach
  • Subway-stop Taxpayer Lots in New York City

Sue Walton, chief organizer of the conference, had this to say:

The Council of Georgist Organizations would like to thank everyone who attended its 2013 Conference in Pittsburgh. We would like to recognize all of the Team CGO  volunteers, especially Osamu Uehara who organized and cooked up a storm at our “happy room” (formerly known as our hospitality suite).  The CGO would also like to thank Jacob Shwartz-Lucas and others from the social media community for their efforts in bringing a large bunch of younger Georgists to the event.  We look forward to seeing you next July in California!

 

CGO Website:
http://www.cgocouncil.org/conf13.htm

 

3. (2013 August) Conference: The IU

Below are pictures of the 2013 IU Conference in London, followed by a report from Bill Batt.

IU photo

Left to right: Daniel Syddall (UK), Alanna Hartzok (US),
Luka Achi (Nigeria), Niels Charlier (Belgium),
Jacob Shwartz-Lucas (US), Vitnarae Kang (South Korea)

IU photo2
Left to right: Niels Charlier (Belgium), Peter Smith (UK)

For several reasons, the 28th conference of the International Union for Land Value Taxation – www.theIU.org  – will be remembered as among the best in living memory by the roughly fifty-five people that were in attendance. There were some seventy people initially registered, but many could not make it at the last minute due to health issues, visa problems, and other conflicts.  Those coming to London from beyond the UK represented almost half of those present, together representing seventeen countries. All this made for some interesting and even compelling exchanges. The theme was Economics for Conscious Evolution, subtitled A Geo-Justice Conference, and all aspects of this title were fully evident with some thirty-seven speakers from every country represented. Conference session topics included:

  • Land and Geo-Justice
  • Land Rights Prospects and Realities in Africa
  • Sharing the Commons: Land, Land Rent and Money
  • Critique of Current Financial Policies
  • Claiming Water, Fish & Oil Commons
  • Why Socializing Rent & Untaxing Production is Good for Labour
  • Case Study: Argentina – From Public Debt to Abundance for All
  • The Socialist Case for Supporting an Annual Land Value Tax
  • Climate Change and New Economics
  • Inequality: Cause and Cure
  • Land Trusts & Eco-villages

Saturday, July 27, David Triggs organized an informative and fun river and bus tour of London’s high points as related to matters of economic justice. Not least were visits to the revitalized Docklands, the British Museum holding a copy of the Magna Carta, and the Guildhall, the home of the London’s Corporate seat for some 800 years. The day-long tour finished at the notable Hyde Park “Speakers Corner,” with the few drops of rain not dampening the attention of attendees and passers-by in any significant way as speakers representing many countries supported the 1949 IU Declaration for Human Rights including the right to share land wealth.

The meeting was held at Mandeville Place, the home of the School of Economic Science – www.schooleconomicscience.org. The building is a gorgeously appointed structure with space fully adequate for the conference sessions, coffee and lunch breaks, and book displays.  While our conference was in session, other activities were continuing without interruption.

No account here can be complete given the number of sessions. Besides the listing above, one might mention the possible legal challenge to South Africa’s Constitution that is now looming, suggestion of airport landing slot rent collection as a solution to the growing congestion at Heathrow, Gatwick and other London Airports, the growing power of a rejuvenated Georgist movement in Australia, the utility of computers and the internet in our movement, and the appeal of Georgism to all dimensions of the political spectrum.

The whole conference, including the Saturday tour, was filmed by Joni Smith and  Noel Jamie, and  for the first time, it was possible to provide live video streaming to those who wanted to follow the proceedings from afar, thanks to the talents of  Daniel Syddall. The entire program is available for viewing here:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQKAZ5C332NlOkLAmHkdeuOmUE8u8bFNG.

Dan has also created graphics online that explain how land value taxation works in dynamic format.  These can be viewed here: http://www.geogebratube.org/material/show/id/12785. They are powerful explications of the relationship between land rent, labor and taxation. Dan was also able to impart much of this technological skill to others at the conference so that we can expect to see its wider application soon elsewhere.

Indeed, our conference made more use of visual materials than ever before. Most presenters had PowerPoint presentations, maps, diagrams, statistical graphics, YouTube segments, and photographs. The presentations of this conference have been collected and will shortly be online and downloadable in addition to the video-streamed presentations. Records of all the other conference programs going back to its founding in 1926, will also soon be available on theIU website (www.theIU.org), and last year’s 2012 Buenos Aires conference is now available.

Every conference shows an improvement, and the biennial conference being discussed for the year 2015, perhaps in Seoul Korea, will offer a still wider array of material than even this meeting had.

A sideline feature of this conference was the number of newly available books written by members of the Georgist movement. RSF had its mini-catalogue available for book purchases. Alanna Hartzok’s collection of published articles, The Earth Belongs to Everyone, was available at the registration desk, as was the DVD of the film, The End of Poverty, sponsored by the Schalkenbach Foundation three years ago. The exhibit table also carried a reprinted edition of Leon MacLaren’s The Science of Economics. Along with his father Andrew, MacLaren was the Founder of London’s School of Economic Science in 1937. One needs also to note Fred Harrison’s several books, including his newest, The Traumatized Society. The conference speaker and Irish author of The Fair Tax, Emer O’Siochru, had her book on the table for the first time as well. John Stewart, who portrays his Georgist philosophy through fictionalized accounts, had not only all his books present but was honored by the conference for his long involvement in the movement. We are fortunate to have a close working relationship with the Shepheard-Walwyn publishing house and its director Anthony Werner. Anthony had the books in its ethical economics series on the exhibit table for the full conference.

The conference acknowledged the outstanding contributions promoting LVT and working with TheIU over many years by awarding trophies to Ole Lefmann (UK/Denmark), Fernando Scornik Gerstein (Spain) and Hector Raul Sandler (Argentina).

A few other items are worthy of note.  Shortly before the conference, the news of the second revolution in Egypt was broadcast. The interim Prime Minister appointed by the intervening military was a venerable elder-statesman and well-known liberal economist. Hazem Beblawi, who had earlier served as vice-prime minister and minister of finance, was now head of the provisional coalition. His past writing shows a very clear understanding of rentier states, and edited a book in 1987 titled The Rentier State. A letter was drafted and signed by all the attending members of the IU urging Mr. Beblawi to press the new leadership to tax resource rents as a way to revitalize the Egyptian economy. This letter is now available on the IU website.

The IU business meeting addressed still other matters, in due course.  The election of officers began by thanking Fernando Scornik-Gerstein for his service as president for the past seven years, and the election of Dave Wetzel as the new president. Vice presidents for some twenty other nations were chosen as well. It was also formally agreed that the IU should aim to have a conference every second year.

The most contentious measure involved whether to change the name of the organization by deleting reference to “Free Trade.” From its inception, the name has been ‘The International Union for Land Value Taxation and Free Trade,’ even though it is widely understood that the words “Free Trade,” have today become linked to an economic philosophy of neoliberalism essentially opposite to that in 1926. Free trade advocacy for Georgists has always been premised on the assumption of the universal institution of taxation of land rents, which would then provide greater efficiency, equity, and a harmonized level playing field among nations. For this reason, and the fact that current usage of free trade in our title acts as a barrier when discussing LVT within the UN and other places, a majority of those present and voting argued for the elimination of the words “and Free Trade.” But altering the IU constitution requires a 2/3 majority, and the vote fell just one short of that number.  As a result the informal agreement arrived at was to explore other wording for a special General Business Meeting early next year.

Lastly, no conference report can be complete without mention of the role that Alanna Hartzok played as the newly-engaged General Secretary for the IU. She performed not only as the pivotal person in the conference management but also kept discussion of the executive committee on track in its many prior Skype conference calls and email exchanges. The organization now faces the task of generating a budget that will allow the operations of the IU to continue at the new level of accomplishment and success it has now reached.

The IU’s website:
http://www.theiu.org/theiu-conference-2013

4. (2013 August) Good Press: How a Progressive Tax System Made Detroit a Powerhouse (and Could Again)

Mason Gaffney and Polly Cleveland teamed up recently to write an article for the Huffington Post discussing the history of the property tax in Detroit.

“The Georgist Progressive movement supported cheap mass transit on trolley cars. With fixed costs funded by property taxes, fares stayed low. Property taxes also paid for public education, public health, public parks, water, sanitation, welfare — all the public services that make a big city livable, and its small industries viable. Property tax rates of 2.5 percent of market value were normal; there were no sales taxes, business taxes, or income taxes. Detroit’s private sector was a big collection of small machine shops, little businesses and services. That’s what attracted Henry Ford, the Dodge brothers and other young tinkerers to Detroit. In one of history’s ironies, trolley cars nursed the auto industry that later rose up to slay them.

In 1897 Pingree became governor. He centralized the assessment of property taxes, and had the State Board of Tax Commissioners revalue all property. They found so much untaxed land, especially railroad holdings, that they actually lowered tax rates even as they raised more taxes.”

The article can be read here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-manning-cleveland/detroit-tax-system_b_3734397.html

5. (2013 August) Video: Ed Dodson’s New Video Blogs

Edward Dodson and Jacob Shwartz-Lucas  sat down after Jacob’s CGO presentation on social media to discuss how Ed could broadcast his ideas to a larger audience. One option, in which many Georgists can easily follow suit, is to produce video blogs.

Ed’s recent blogs

Property Markets and the Economy- installment 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPHnoq4uqEc

Property Markets and the Economy- installment 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXfID9amrgo

Creating your own video directly through youtube is easy. Here is a tutorial to get you started.  You don’t need any special programs, just a working webcam, which most laptops these days are equipped with. See the little black dot on the top center of your laptop monitor? That’s a camera. There is a small hole near by as well, that’s your microphone. If you have a youtube account, you should have everything you need to create a video. Give it a try!

6. (2013 August) Good Press: Mankiw’s Treatment of LVT

Cameron K Murray in a recent article had this to say about professor Mankiw’s treatment of LVT:

“Mankiw’s Principles of Economics, the most widely used introductory economics textbook, can be held high as an iconic symbol of what is wrong with the economics profession…

To get down into a little more detail, in what should be an important chapter in Mankiw’s textbook on the effects of taxes on markets, he simply rehashes a handful of nonsense myths about taxation – the Laffer curve, the French being taxed into low work hours, land taxes being unable to raise enough revenue for government and so forth.

One interesting point is his statement that taxing land values are impractical because the value of land is inseparable from building improvements therefore such taxes will be distortionary. This might seem a minor issue in the much bigger issues covered in the almost 900 page tome, but it concerns the most fundamental issues economists are meant to understand – where value comes from, and how best to raise taxes.”

mankiw

Full article:
http://georgist.com/files3/wp-admin/Cameron%20K%20Murray

7. (2013 August) Likeable Link: After Protests, Brazil’s Oil Money Will Go To Education and Healthcare

“After this summer’s massive protests against spending choices by the once-popular government, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has passed a law that will reserve all of Brazil’s oil royalties for healthcare and education.”

Full article:
http://gawker.com/after-protests-brazils-oil-money-will-go-to-education-1169784162?utm_campaign=socialflow_gawker_facebook&utm_source=gawker_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

8. (2013 August) Likeable Link: Private Landlords Taught Me How to Get Rich Exploiting The Poor

“I decided to be pro-active and head to the Property Investor Show at London’s Excel Centre. As the name suggests, it’s a show for property investors, where they all congregate in a big hall and explain the benefits of letting out poky, one-bed flats in Croydon to weird povvos who can’t get on the housing ladder.

I wanted to get a better insight into why property is so pricey that our city centres are becoming playgrounds for [rich landowners] while the poor are taking up arms and setting up burning barricades to stop bailiffs kicking them out of their homes…

Institute for Public Public Policy Research, for every pound it spends on building houses, the government is spending £19 on subsidising rent. So things are seemingly still geared towards propping up landlords rather than making sure there are enough homes.”

 

Full article:
http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/i-learned-how-to-make-it-big-on-the-property-market

 

9. (2013 August) Audio: Stiglitz on Rent-Seeking

“Professor Joseph Stiglitz joins the BBC’s Justin Rowlatt, a phalanx of French economists and the Parisian public, as they debate the cost of inequality at Paris Dauphine University.”

In this audio clip, 27:00 in, Stiglitz explains the concept of rent-seeking. He specifically cites land as a prime example.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01brr81