5. (2013 July) Opinion: Two Georges and a Spencer

” [George] Smith discusses Henry George’s allegation that Spencer’s later views on land ownership were intellectually dishonest.”

In part one of Smith’s analysis of the tension between Henry George and Herbert Spencer, Smith makes the case that Henry George misinterpreted Herbert Spencer’s early views. Herbert Spencer made a full reversal from his stance that land should be nationalized. Yet, Spencer never truly explained this reversal and George accused him of dishonesty as a result. Smith does not explain this reversal either, but he promises to in part 2 of this article. Smith is a neo-libertarian and disagrees with both George and the early Spencer, but due to the fact that Spencer played such a pivotal role in shaping the U.S. libertarian movement, Smith likely feels the need to defend Spencer’s integrity.


6. (2013 July) Opinion: Noam Chomsky: Who Owns the Earth?

In a recent article posted on truth-out.org entitled Who Owns the Earth? Noam Chomsky points out that modern borders were created through colonial methods of divide and conquer, horrific acts of violence that project division and hostility into the present.

“Almost all borders have been imposed and maintained by violence, and are quite arbitrary. The Lebanon-Israel border was established a century ago by the Sykes-Picot Agreement, dividing up the former Ottoman Empire in the interests of British and French imperial power, with no concern for the people who happened to live there, or even for the terrain. The border makes no sense… Surveying the terrible conflicts in the world, it’s clear that almost all are the residue of imperial crimes and the borders that the great powers drew in their own interests.”


Earlier in the article he states:

“If Palestine ever gains independence in something like the terms of the overwhelming international consensus, its borders with Israel will likely erode through normal commercial and cultural interchange, as has happened in the past during periods of relative calm.

That development could be a step toward closer regional integration, and perhaps the slow disappearance of the artificial border dividing the Galilee between Israel and Lebanon, so that hikers and others could pass freely where my wife and I crossed 60 years ago.”

It’s hard not to draw a parallel between Chomsky’s sentiments and the Georgist philosophy, to see the practical application that would uphold everyone’s right to the commons whilst maximizing the commercial and cultural exchange necessary to create peace in the region.

Dan Sullivan explains how LVT would be applicable to extra-national rent sharing in the middle east, comments that are equally applicable to all countries where tensions run high along borders.

“The Jewish National Fund owns 95% of Israel and leases it out (at well below market value, which is why leases sell like deeds, as they do in Arden). The JNF could increase the rents and share those rents with all residents of Israel/Palestine, and this would solve the problem. Palestinians, who tend to hold the least valuable land, would quickly become loyal supporters of Israel.”

-Dan Sullivan (personal correspondence)


4. (2013 May) Opinion: Austerity Is a War on Prosperity

Austerity Is a War on Prosperity
By Fred E. Foldvary (Progress Report)

“Austerity” is a policy of reducing beneficial government spending and raising harmful taxes. The taxes that have been increased in the name of austerity have been on goods, wages, value added, and the profits of entrepreneurs. The spending cuts are often on the infrastructure that make the economy more productive, or on the services that the poor depend on: education, medical services, housing, and food aid.


3. (2013 April) Opinion: How an Anti-Rentier Agenda Might Bring Liberals, Conservatives Together

How an anti-rentier agenda might bring liberals, conservatives together
Throughout the late 19th century, the political economist Henry George argued that a main reason there was so much poverty amidst prosperity was the large presence of people collecting unearned income, or what he called “rents”. His particular focus was on land, and his solution was taxes. [Editor’s note: more accurately than “taxes”, George advocated a “single tax”.] It’s difficult to overstate his influence on turn-of-century reform movements, providing both the theoretical basis for those looking at other problems in the new industrial era and a concrete set of solutions for organizers building new mass political movements.
By Mike Konczal (Washignton Post)


2. (2013 March) Opinion: Why All Progressives Should Support a Land Value Tax

Why all progressives should support a land value tax
Through no effort of their own, landowners reap a £100bn annual windfall. Caroline Lucas’s bill shows the way towards a moral capitalism.
By David Cooper (New Statesman)

Churchill knew that landowners cannot change the value of a plot of land. Its value depends only on location and size. Is it near a station? A park? Good schooling? All of these factors are determined by the community, not the landowner.


3. (2013 March) Opinion: Lower Property Taxes to the Ground to Save Cities & Nature

Lower property taxes to the ground to save cities & nature
By Erich Jacoby-Hawkins (Robert Schalkenbach Foundation)

Taxing land value is fair, because a site’s value stems from the community around it; land rent is higher in the middle of a bustling city than in a quiet village, and higher in a town than in a remote wilderness. When realtors say the three most important things are location, location, and location they are right; the value of a site comes from what you can do there, determined by what is around it. Roads, services, and customers are all vital links for a business, so even though remote land is cheaper than land near a city, smart businesspeople pay more to be where they can easily access inputs and markets.