7. (2013 December) News: Connecticut Land Value Tax Pilot Program

Connecticut is allowing the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management to create pilot land value taxation programs in as many as three municipalities in the state.

“Selected municipalities shall develop a plan for implementation of land value taxation that (1) classifies real estate included in the taxable grand list as (A) land or land exclusive of buildings, or (B) buildings on land; and (2) establishes a different mill rate for property tax purposes for each class, provided the higher mill rate shall apply to land or land exclusive of buildings.”

Read more: http://1.usa.gov/1aUkImZ

2. (2013 November) News: They’ve taken your home. Now they want to rent it out to you.

If you thought mortgage-backed securities were dangerous, Blackstone financial has recently borrowed 479 million dollars to buy up foreclosed homes and package them as rent-backed securities.

“Like mortgage-backed securities, the bonds would get sold in tranches, with the senior levels getting rental revenue first, and the junior tranches taking the rest. Rating agencies like Kroll, Morningstar and Moody’s have blessed the deal, presenting the senior tranches with a triple-A rating, essentially labeling it as perfectly safe for investors.”

“This facilitates the single-family rental scheme, by giving firms a fresh source of cheap money to spend on cornering rental markets, wrestling them away from traditional mom-and-pop rental management companies.”

Read More: http://bit.ly/17aLbS0

6. (2013 November) News: Land Values Skyrocket in Minneapolis

In Minneapolis, developers report that land values in the most desirable areas have doubled in just two years.

“For builders, there is even a sense of déjà vu. ‘The new lots that are coming out… are almost the prices that they were in 2005 when everything crashed.”

If only the periodicity of the real estate cycle seemed like déjà vu. Then again, why learn when you can speculate?

Read more: http://nyti.ms/1fN9bsx

2. (2013 May) News: EEA Conference and AMI Event Held in New York City

Jacob Shwartz-Lucas recently represented RSF at the Eastern Economic Association conference and the American Monetary Institute special event at Cooper Union, both in New York City. Jake writes:

This past week I attended the Eastern Economic Association (EEA) annual conference and an American Monetary Institute (AMI) event in NYC. At the EEA, I was able to see the Stand Up Economist Yoram Bauman, and get free copies of his comic book guides to macro and microeconomics. I also did a great deal of networking with leaders of the Basic Income Grant (BIG) Coalition. Proponents of a BIG believe that we should simply give everyone in society at least a small amount of money. The basic income is entirely unconditional. The rich and poor alike receive the same amount. BIG proponents favor funding such programs through land and other natural resource taxation.

In 2011, I stayed for a couple days in the village of Omitara/ Ojtivero, the site of the Namibian Basic Income Grant. Most households in the village pool their BIGs under an elder matriach, or “big mamma” as she is called. Each big mamma would allot part of the family funds to schooling, medical care, and small business ventures. Contrary to skepticism over whether the poor villagers would misuse their BIGs on drugs and alcohol, I saw a community that made extremely prudent financial decisions. My hosts were also overwhelmingly generous, serving me several meals and offering me their only bed.

The land the village is on is government owned, and the villager’s rent does not increase with the increasing living standards brought about by BIG. However, the village is very isolated. I asked my host “Where would you like to live?”. She replied “In Windhoek [the capital], but the rent is too high.” If there was a land value tax, without taxes on buildings and other forms of production, there would be a greater supply of living space closer to public amenities for these people. In the absence of a land value tax, communities enjoying no rent or fixed rent can quickly realize a significant increase in living standards. This is because the rent does not increase with the BIG in these situations. I suggested that BIG programs prioritize situations in which the rent will not increase.

Jake during his stay in Namibia.

Jake during his stay in Namibia.

The AMI event was scheduled to be held at the great hall at Cooper Union, but due to protests over a decision to start charging tuition, it was moved across the street. In brief, the problem addressed at the event was that of privately appropriated seigniorage, seigniorage being the difference between the value of money and the cost to produce and distribute it. Representatives of AMI believe that the interest obtained by private banks from loaning newly created money is an unearned privilege. Therefore, they propose that we move to a full reserve banking system and endow an independent monetary authority to determine the congressional budget limit. The government would then be allowed to spend up to that limit. It is an issue that many Georgists feel strongly about and it is one that perhaps we all should become at least somewhat familiar with. Overall, I had a very pleasant and productive experience this week.

3. (2013 May) News: Alanna Hartzok Delivers Address at World Bank Conference

World Bank hears lecture on aiding poor & stimulating business
By Hunt Henion (Examiner.com)

During the annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, 700 leaders from around the world came to discuss “innovative approaches to follow up on recent global and regional initiatives…that contribute to poverty reduction, gender equality and sustainable economic growth.” One of the speakers was Alanna Hartzok of The Earth Rights Institute, who spoke in part on the value of untaxing production.

http://www.examiner.com/article/world-bank-hears-lecture-on-aiding-poor-stimulating-business


To read Alanna’s presentation click here and here.

2. (2013 February) News: Whose Land? Our Land (Occupy London)

(03 February 2013) Friday’s meeting of Occupy London’s Economics Working Group (EWG) discussed land value and the proposition “Share the surplus value of the land for the common good” achieved consensus. “Surplus value” was generally accepted to refer to value arising from land itself by virtue of resources, flora, fauna or location which had, in the past, been used for the common good but has been captured for private gain over centuries.

This agreement follows on from series of meetings on land and land value tax (LVT) commencing with Fred Harrison on 4th January 2013:

Occupy and land value
http://www.freecriticalthinking.org/daily-pickings/351-occupy-and-land-value

Specific proposals for the introduction of LVT were presented to one of the EWG meetings by the Coalition for Economic Justice but weren’t universally supported. A number of arguments are raised against LVT which have been addressed by advocates:

Killer Arguments Against Land Value Tax …Not!
http://kaalvtn.blogspot.co.uk/

Land valuation is often cited as an obstacle to the introduction of LVT:

Valuations and potential LVT receipts
http://kaalvtn.blogspot.co.uk/p/valuations-and-potential-lvt-receipts.html

Other ideas to share the bounty from the land will be explored but this agreement in principle is a big step forward on the road to addressing fundamental flaws in our economic system.

To subscribe to the Critical Thinking mailing list to receive Daily Pickings: http://www.freecriticalthinking.org/subscribe

3. (2013 February) News: Michael Scott Moore Still Held Hostage

Cliff Cobb writes:

I recently discovered that Michael Scott Moore was captured by Somali pirates in January 2012 and was still alive in January 2013, after one year of captivity. For those who do not know him, Moore wrote several articles about Henry George for San Francisco newspapers when he was living there. In 2009, he wrote an article entitled “This Land is Your Land” for Pacific Standard. (You can read it here: http://www.psmag.com/politics/this-land-is-your-land-3392/)

There are many stories about his kidnapping on the Internet. One from September 2012 that gives information about a rescue effort is http://www.theinertia.com/politics/american-surf-journalist-kidnapped-by-somali-pirates/. (Thanks to Matt Stillman for that story).

I hesitate to encourage any action that might endanger Michael’s life. I had hoped to find a way to contact his family to determine what they recommend, but I was unable to do that. Several people made private suggestions about what might help, but in the absence of approval from his family, I think it is better to err on the side of caution. The fact that his captors have kept him alive for a year is a good sign.

I encourage anyone who has further information about this situation to post on the Georgist News blog.

4. (2013 February) News: LVT in Ireland

Noonan calls on FG ‘dissidents’ to join Greens and support ‘site-value’ tax system
By Councillor Malcolm Noonan

Green Party Environment Spokesperson Councillor  Malcolm Noonan said today: “The Fine Gael TDs in urban areas are right to point out the fundamental unfairness of the property tax that is being introduced. They can back up that talk by supporting the Green Party proposal for a site value tax which provides a credible and fairer alternative to what is being introduced.”

http://www.kilkennypeople.ie/news/local/noonan-calls-on-fg-dissidents-to-join-greens-and-support-site-value-tax-system-1-4683115

1. (2012 October) News: Henry George Lecture at Scranton University

Glaeser to Speak at Henry George Lecture Oct. 22
http://www.scranton.edu/news/royalnews/announcements/2012/10/02/Henry-George-Lecture%20.shtml

The 27th Annual Henry George Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Economics and Finance, Omicron Delta Epsilon and Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, will take place on Monday, Oct. 22. The lecture will feature Edward Glaeser, Ph.D., Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will discuss “Economics of the City.” It will be held in the McIlhenny Ballroom of the DeNaples Center.

For more information, contact Janice Mecadon, administrative assistant, Department of Economics and Finance, at 570-941-4048 or janice.mecadon@scranton.edu.