(2013 October) Contents

– Serving the Earth Sharing Community

October 23, 2013


1. (2013 October) Announcements: CGO, Newport Beach
2. (2013 October) Announcements: Young Georgists’ Conference
3. (2013 October) Good Press: Slate
4. (2013 October) Good Press: Financial Times
5. (2013 October) Huffing and Puffing: Huffington Post Selections
6. (2013 October) Announcements: Fred Harrison’s Homage to Henry George
7. (2013 October) Video: Mauá Surroundings – Why Poverty?
8. (2013 October) Video: Moon Plots for $20
9. (2013 October) Video: Land Grabbing -Oxfam & World Bank Conference

About The Georgist News

1. (2013 October) Announcements: 2014 CGO Conference

The 2014 CGO Conference in Newport Beach, California, July 7-12, 2014

Start saving money for your trip to the 2014 CGO Conference in Newport Beach, California, on July 8-11, 2014. The conference will take place near the Wayne Orange County Airport.  The fun doesn’t have to end with the conference though. Why not make your trip a vacation?

Visit: world class museums, two presidential libraries, beaches, aquariums, arboretums, botanic gardens, vineyards, missions, whale watching, La Brea Tar Pits, Santa Catalina Island, Queen Mary, Hollywood, Getty Villa, Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, San Diego Zoo & Safari Park, Balboa Park and USS Midway.

There are also many amusement parks nearby including: Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld and Universal Studios.

Dine in the ethnic neighborhoods of: Olvera Street, Little Tokyo, Korea Town, China Town and Little Saigon.

Here is a map with important locations in bold: http://bit.ly/17eSWEB

3. (2013 October) Good Press: Slate

How Much Money Could a Land Value Tax Raise?
By Ashok Rao

Ashok Rao, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, concludes that a significant portion if not all public revenue could be generated via the land value tax. He cites fellow Georgist Steve Cord’s paper in The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, entitled “How Much Revenue Would a Full Land Value Tax Yield.”

Link to Rao’s article: http://slate.me/1eujV0q




4. (2013 October) Good Press: Financial Times

How a levy based on location values could be the perfect tax

By Merryn Somerset Webb

The following article lauds the land value tax as “In theory, not just an excellent tax but the best of all possible taxes.” There were some dubious statements in the article about the effect of the tax on banking and what various groups think of LVT, but we still appreciate the positive attention.

The article was written in response to fellow Georgist Nicholas D Rosen’s article:
LVT and Real Estate Boom and Bust

Link: http://on.ft.com/163CfLf

5. (2013 October) Huffing and Puffing: Huffington Post Selections

With this entry, we inaugurate a regular feature, “Huffing and Puffing,” that covers Georgist-relevant articles in The Huffington Post. Here are two by Dr. Mary Cleveland:

“Taxing Carbon Is Like Taxing Diamonds” is a piece on the progressive nature of the carbon tax.

Link: http://huff.to/1b54R7W

In an article entitled “Book Review: The Economics Anti-Textbook: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Microeconomics, by Rod Hill and Tony Myatt” Dr. Cleveland praises the authors for their criticism of mainstream economics textbooks. She also touches on a few Georgist aspects of the book.

Link: http://huff.to/14zkZhJ


6. (2013 October) Announcements: Fred Harrison’s New Website and Homage to Henry George

Fred Harrison has launched a new website, feeling strongly that the lexicon of the Georgist movement, particularly the word “tax”, is stifling progress. Though the site is still under construction, you may visit it at: http://sharetherents.org/.
The following statement, released a few days ago by Harrison, contains his rationale for the site:

Homage to Henry George
Fred Harrison

I have launched a new initiative for economic justice on www.sharetherents.org  This is based on the audit of my performance. I came to realise that there was never a chance of succeeding with the language and strategies that I inherited when I first walked into the London headquarters of the British Georgist movement back in the 1960s. So I celebrate my departure from the past with a homage to the activist who, in the 1880s, successfully launched the first global reform movement.


It was towards the end of a decade-long campaign to help the people of Russia that I realised why we had failed. I identified two reasons. First, the rent-seeking culture had become so deeply embedded that it would never allow fiscal reform anywhere in the world. Second, our tools undermined our ambitions. I share my reflections in case they are of value to others. I have road-tested them in China (last month) and the United States earlier this month). I was left encouraged.


(1) The assumption that ours is a rational society. If I and my colleagues strained hard to explain the integrity of land value taxation to policymakers and the media, reason would ultimately prevail. On the basis of deep historical research, I now understand that under no circumstances can the Georgist paradigm be negotiated into existence. I describe what I call the statecraft of greed in The Traumatised Society and in Ten Theses being serialised on www.sharetherents.org The agents of power have to be bypassed.


(2) The concept of “land value taxation” obstructs progress. I no longer use it. Here’s why:


(i) land: emphasis on this word distracted me from the other half of what people were excluded from when land was enclosed. Rent is the value of the services of both nature and society. People were excluded from society when they were deprived of their rights of access to the commons. By failing to demand the restoration of the right to create an authentic democratic culture, the void was left for other ideologies to fill.


(ii) land value: this term concedes the right to privately own the capitalised value of rent. This strengthened people’s determination to avoid public claims on “their” asset values.


(iii) taxation: “tax” shuts down people’s minds. Denial is the default position. I was embarked on Mission Impossible. And: by threatening a tax on “their” land, I implicitly conceded that government would only recover a part of the rent (a 100% charge would be resisted as confiscation, as a “taking”). I allowed myself to be co-opted by the rent-seeking agenda!


(3) Language By talking about “increases in the value of their land”, I misrepresented economic reality. The value of their land did not increase. It was the value of public services that were further enhanced by tax-funded investments. Derelict governments allowed land owners to capture enhanced rents. I reinforced rent-seeking by endorsing the myth that “their” land increased in value.


(4) Objectivity    My books presented an objective account of land value taxation without the passion that is required to reconstruct communities on the basis of freedom and justice. I ought to have offered visions of the future that might flow from the recovery of the community’s rents. Restoration of an authentic democratic culture would lead to ways of living significantly different from those bequeathed by the predators. My objectivity lacked the inspiration needed to overcome the despair and denial which, I now recognise, helps people to cope with the perverse laws of the land. Over the course of four generations, the Georgist paradigm was dumbed down.


(5) The Shift        We need a culture shift (facilitated by a tax shift) to control the geopolitical trends that pose an existential threat to humanity. I am exploring ways to mobilise people beyond the methods employed by most NGOs (which seek to ameliorate painful symptoms rather than alter the foundations of a corrupted social system).


Georgists from around the world pitched in to our Russian campaign. It was a wonderful exercise in collaboration. I do not want that effort to have been wasted. Failure to save the people of Russia will not have been in vain if the lessons are learnt. Today, in China, the World Bank is once again pushing to privatise land and rent. Reasoned discourse with the international financial institutions and sovereign governments will not yield change: their mandate is to protect the rent-seeking culture.


We need to foster what Mason Gaffney calls a Great Awakening: a renewal of humanity’s moral/spiritual heritage, the kind that preceded great reforms of the past. The way to achieve this is to excise the mind-bending language bequeathed to us by the culture that was incubated by the predators of the past. Their vitriolic values have all but erased the last traces of decency in our communities.


I am optimistic, for this reason. The next generation of activists will be unique in the history of our species. So far, humans have lived according to the rules of territoriality. This was a necessary evolutionary strategy. Territoriality, however, has been rendered obsolete. Time and space are overcome by clicks on keyboards. Cell phones mobilised tens of thousands of people into the squares of Arab cities, and their sheer numbers was sufficient to overthrow those who exercised monopoly power. But they were not equipped with the knowledge of what it would take to lay the foundations for a better future: hence the re-assertion of rent-seeking in Egypt by the military, the owners of one of the country’s largest landed estates.


Back in the 19th century, Henry George provided a clear exposition which empowered the people of the street. He even animated some policy-makers (who, at the turn into the 20th century, realised that they were faced with the opportunity to change the course of history). We now need a narrative that resonates with the realities of the 21st century. Those realities cannot be adequately articulated in the idioms that pass for economic and political discourse today. My effort to scope out new concepts is but one contribution to what I hope will be a fresh start to redeem the selfless sacrifices of four generations of activists.


If you view this initiative with sympathy, please check out the Cheating Index plan and register your support: http://sharetherents.org/the-cheating-index/

19 October 2013


7. (2013 October) Video: Mauá Surroundings – Why Poverty?

Below is a link to a video about land speculation in São Paulo. It is part of a video series called Why Poverty?. The group is apparently well funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Ford Foundation and The Skoll Foundation among others. Their approach to producing videos is somewhat novel:

“We’re not a campaigning organisation. We don’t want money. We’re not pushing for a single, specific solution to global poverty.

We do want people to think and ask questions. What is it like to live in poverty? How does it shape you? Why are people still hungry? Why does it matter? What can I do to change the situation?”


Though their strategy is fit for a purpose other than promulgating LVT, there is much we can learn from the way Why Poverty? engages their audience. Rather than offering an immediate answer, they invite their audience to step into the world of the poor, to feel for them and to begin to care about the deeper institutional causes of poverty. Instead of immediately offering the solutions, they tell stories that make people want to find out for themselves. It’s my view that this type of story-telling and a focus on the “why”  is what makes their videos so popular. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Horses, and people for that matter, need to be thirsty before they will drink. Simply inserting the why before the what often conjures such thirst.

“There are 450,000 empty properties São Paulo. A new movement is reclaiming them for families. It’s a battle that pitches people’s rights to homes [more aptly land] against the rights of home owners. If they are lucky enough to have homes, the poor of São Paulo live in cramped conditions, miles from amenities and work. But there are plenty of places to live in the centre of town and hundreds of families have taken over empty and abandoned buildings and founded new communities.

But it’s an action that puts them against the police and the law, as they break in and settle down. ‘The fight will not be done for you. It will be done by you.’ “


Link to video: http://bit.ly/Z6gMh

One may wonder if the approach and branding style of  Why Poverty? was influenced by the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation 2009 film (in partnership with Cinema Libre Studios), The End of Poverty?, and Why Global Poverty?, its companion book.

– Jacob Shwartz-Lucas


8. (2013 October) Video: Moon Plots for $20

“The notion that one man can lay claim to all the extraterrestrial bodies in our little corner of the galaxy sounds preposterous. Yet Dennis M. Hope, 65, of Gardnerville, Nev., the subject of this Op-Doc video, believes just that. For three decades, he has built a thriving business by “selling” land plots in space, on places like the moon, Mars and Venus.”

Obviously, the hottest properties are on Venus…

Link to the video: http://nyti.ms/10VeK39

9. (2013 October) Video: Land Grabbing -Oxfam & World Bank Conference

The following video produced by Oxfam urges YouTube viewers to tell the World Bank to put big land deals in poor countries on hold until other solutions can be worked out.

“Land grabs are tearing whole communities apart, leaving people hungry and homeless. It’s big business at a big cost. But the World Bank has the power to be a force for good. With your assistance, it can help protect the rights of the world’s poorest people.” -Oxfam

The World Bank Land and Poverty Conference at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C., March 31 – April 3, 2014 is such an opportunity for Georgist scholars to offer LVT as a solution. The World Bank is now asking for papers to be presented at the conference. Contact Alanna Hartzok at earthrts@pa.net for more information.

Link: http://bit.ly/17F9RfS