5. (2014 April) Huffing and Puffing: How to Tax the Rich

“The greatest source of wealth is the ownership of land and yet it is only lightly taxed in the UK. The simplest way to change this would be to revalue council tax bands (we’re still on 1991 values) and add lots of new bands so people with expensive houses pay much more. Better still would be a land value tax, an annual tax on the underlying value of land owned (rather than the value of buildings that occupy it). This is a policy that has been recommended by economists from across the political spectrum, and could wholly replace current taxes like council tax and stamp duty. Done right, it would mean lower bills or equal bills for the vast majority of the population, and substantially increased taxation on the top 10%.”


6. (2014 April) Video: Monopoly’s Origins

“The recent announcement that Hasbro would be conducting an online vote to decidewhich “house rules” to officially incorporate into Monopoly got us thinking about the rules of the venerable board game and what, if anything, they tell us about economics. So we asked Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent Jordan Weissman and local gaming authority Steve Heisler to sit down for a round of the board game and a conversation about economic theory.”


8. (2014 April) Research: Did Georgist economics fail during Reconstruction?

Did Georgist economics fail during Reconstruction? -Cliff Cobb, AJES

Reconstruction is the name given to the period from 1863 to 1876, from the Emancipation Proclamation to the Compromise of 1876, by which Tilden withdrew his candidacy and allowed Hayes to become President of the U.S., in exchange for the withdrawal of federal troops from the South.  During the brief period, we got a glimpse of how states would be governed if former slaves and dispossessed whites were given a chance to participate fully in the political process.

In his 1988 book, Reconstruction, Eric Foner summarized (pp. 375-376) the policies that dealt with land, which had been mostly held by a small planter elite before the Civil War.  In South Carolina alone, a massive land redistribution program took place, with about 14% of the black population gaining title to land that the state sold on long-term credit.  “Rather than emulate South Carolina, Republicans in other states chose to employ taxation as an indirect means of weakening the plantation and promoting black ownership.” The poll tax had dominated the South before the war.  Now an ad valorem tax on real and personal property became the main source of state revenue, although the poll tax was not eliminated.  Prior to the war, the low property tax rates had been self-assessed, but now the state sent officials to make assessments.  “Rising taxes quickly emerged as a rallying cry for Reconstruction’s opponents, but many blacks hoped high levies would make extensive holdings of uncultivated land unprofitable and force real estate onto the market.”  For example, in Louisiana, less than 10% of the farmland was being cultivated after the War.  In Mississippi, 20% of the land was forfeited to the state for non-payment of taxes.  State laws then required that such land be sold in small lots to make it available to poor farmers.  But the experiment largely failed.  Northern speculators bought much of the land that was put up for auction at prices higher than any small farmer could afford.  And title to the land was never secure.  “In Mississippi, 95 percent of the forfeited acreage eventually found its way back to the owner.”  It may have been better than the system before the war, “but as a means of land distribution, it proved singularly ineffective.”

That is Foner’s final judgment: ineffective.  But the system of redistribution through taxation only operated for a few years, five or six at the most.  What this story really reveals is the importance of state power to enforce laws.  The mechanisms of the Georgist tax policy seem to have worked remarkably well in breaking up plantations, but the collapse of state power made it impossible to follow through on the land revolution.  Foner makes clear that the libertarian philosophy of the Republican leadership actually doomed the system from the start.  “Most white Republicans, and many freeborn blacks, while perfectly willing to  guarantee the freedmen their rights as free laborers and equal citizens, opposed using the power of the state to redistribute property.”  Although the labor of slaves had created the economy that gave value to the land of the South, the pristine logic of “free labor” did not admit of any such calculations.  As in the libertarian philosophy of our own day, history counted for nothing.  A more historically equitable solution would have been to combine the South Carolina system of direct land redistribution (with delayed repayments) with the indirect tax system adopted in other states.


9. (2014 April) Obituary: Philadelphia Loses Two Beloved Georgists

On Saturday March 5, two long time Philadelphia Georgists, Jake Himmelstein and Donald Hurford passed away. They both will be greatly missed.

Jacob (Jake) Himmelstein was Husband of Rachel (nee Friedman). Brother of Jerry (Evie) Himmelstein. Father of the late Benjamin Himmelstein. Jake, among many other Georgist endeavors organized the 1989 150th anniversary of Henry George’s birth. Relatives and friends are invited to Graveside Services Sunday 1 P.M. precisely at Har Jehuda Cemetery (sec. S), Upper Darby. Contributions in his memory may be made to Jewish Family Services, 2100 Arch St., 5th Floor, Phila., Pa., 19103, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

- See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/philly/obituary.aspx?n=jacob-jake-himmelstein&pid=170046161&fhid=4366#sthash.dtlaQAox.BQExExTT.dpuf

Donald E. Hurford of West Chester and Phoenixville Dr. Donald E. Hurford, born in 1918; a longtime educator, died in his sleep at Brandywine Hall on March 5, 2013 after a long and predominately healthy life of more than 95 years. Born in Boston, Dr. Hurford lived in Philadelphia and its suburbs since 1958. He grew up during the Great Depression on Cape Cod, where many family and friends remain. He earned a doctorate in educational media in 1976 from Temple Univ., a masters degree in education in 1958 from Bridgewater State College (Mass.), and graduated in 1941 from Boston University’s College of Liberal Arts, majoring in history. After wartime hospital service as a conscientious objector and a postwar period in journalism in 1955 he turned to education. Initially he taught in Falmouth Public Schools and since 1958 he taught in Philadelphia and suburban schools, colleges and universities including, Immaculata, Lincoln and St. Joseph’s Universities. Since his informal retirement in 1986, he had been employed at West Chester University as a student teaching supervisor and at Delaware County Community College as adjunct instructor of psychology and sociology. Don had a great sense of intellectual curiosity regarding religion, history, the origins of man and political and economic systems along with a great sense of humor. He believed in the value of education and used to say…”Education is a lifetime endeavor”. He was open minded, liberal thinking and was an engaging conversationalist, always interested in hearing from others about their ideas. In Chester County he was active in peace and social justice causes, holding memberships in Clergy and Laity Concerned, West Chester Interracial Council, Keystone Alliance, ACLU and other organizations. Since 1978 he had served as instructor and special advisor at the Henry George School of Social Science, Philadelphia. He was a 12 year member and past president of Paoli Express Toastmasters Club, a steadfast Democrat; a founder of the Phoenix and Church Street Book Clubs. Dr. Hurford leaves his daughters, Rebecca J. Hurford, Julie A. Hurford, Laura Wolff and Letitia M. King; and his sons, Donald E. Hurford, Jr. and Timothy J.E. Hurford; and granddaughters, Molly Hurford, Sophia G. King, Cecilia M. King, Addison J. Hurford; grandson Joshua S. Wolff; two daughters-in-law and one son-in-law . He was pre-deceased by his former wife, Jane A. Hurford. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 5th, at the Thomas Paine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 3424 Ridge Pike, Collegeville, PA 19426, where he was a member. In lieu of flowers, friends are invited to contribute to the Henry George Institute, 121 East 30th St., New York, NY 10016; or the Thomas Paine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 3424 Ridge Pike, Collegeville, PA 19426.
-See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dailylocal/obituary.aspx?n=Donald-Hurford&pid=170298772

Have stories to tell about Donald and Jake? Share them in the comments below.

(2014 March) Contents

(2014 March) Contents

Posted on March

- Serving the Earth Sharing Community


1. (2014 March) Conference: Henry George and Mark Twain: Fireside Chat
2. (2014 March) Huffing and Puffing: Ending California’s Water Crisis
3. (2014 March) Video: China’s Great Uprooting
4. (2014 March) Numbers: How Much Real Estate $1 Million Buys
5. (2014 March) Likeable Link: Let to Buy
6. (2014 March) Likeable Link: Tenant Held Out for $17 Million

1. (2014 March) Conference: Henry George and Mark Twain: Fireside Chat

The Council of Georgist Organizations has made contact with both Henry George & Mark Twain, or rather their post mortem representatives here on earth, David Giesen and Dan Sullivan respectively. In honor of Henry George’s 175th birthday, they have agreed to let this year’s CGO attendees listen in on their fireside chat. Keep an eye out for the CGO conference brochure, to be mailed April 15th.

For more information on the conference visit: http://cgocouncil.org/

2. (2014 March) Huffing and Puffing: Ending California’s Water Crisis

Mason Gaffney and Mary Cleveland team up for an article on solving California’s water crisis.

“If you make something free, you will get waste and shortages!”

“The Environmental Defense Fund has proposed a “market” solution to the water problem: transform water licenses into secure and transferable property — and let the market work its wonders! This is equivalent to “cap and trade,” which gives secure “pollution rights” to polluters based on their pollution history… it would invite speculators to grab up water licenses and hold them by wasting water… most owners of water licenses wouldn’t sell, but would rather keep on operating the old inefficient way. “Transferable water licenses” would lock in a system under which every subsidy and giveaway engineered by pork-barrel politics becomes sacrosanct, perpetual property, and taxpayers forever incur ongoing costs.”

Read the full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-manning-cleveland/whose-water-ours-how-to-e_b_4967944.html?utm_hp_ref=green