Archive for November, 2006

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Georgist political cartoons?

November 30, 2006

I haven’t used political cartoons in any Henry George School publication or promotion, because I didn’t want to get involved in any licensing issues.  Certainly cartoonists are entitled to compensation for their products, but I figured what with all the production taxes and other overhead we wouldn’t be able to afford it.

But today I located PoliticalCartoons.com, where we apparently can license a cartoon for our web site or printed use at prices in the range of $10 to $20.  This is affordable even to us.  Now the only problem, and it turns out to be a challenge, is to find a Georgist cartoon.

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Land in the virtual world

November 27, 2006

The Law of Rent predates Henry George, but it was George who first pointed out that with the growth of cities particular lands gain value just because of the surrounding community.

As it turns out, things work pretty much the same way in the “Second Life” virtual world as in the physical one:

Land owners often pay people to hang around their parcel. This increases traffic at their business and consequently increases their rank in Second Life’s search engine.

From Recursive Instruments.

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How Rent Makes Poverty…

November 24, 2006

is the title of a thoughtful essay at Thomas Paine’s Corner.

“Keep in mind, Henry George said, land is inert. So are landlords…”

Couldn’t have said it better.

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Is this why gov’t can’t “solve” the “affordable housing shortage?”

November 20, 2006

All ecosystems, including financial ones, start out simple and become more complex. For governments working in affordable housing this is exasperating; no sooner is one initiative added to the repertoire than another market niche appears, another funding gap arises, another stakeholder group presses a valid claim. Government is constantly hoping or the universal programme that can simply be created and then funded increasingly hereafter, but this is impossible because ecosystemic complexity continuously increases.

So says David Smith, “founder of the American Affordable Housing Institute and a leading expert on international housing markets,” in a paper for the [apparently unrelated] Smith Institute.

The AAHI no longer exists (though there is a sort of successor here.)  So I’m not sure where to ask the question: Have you considered the elimination of taxes on housing, and all other useful products of labor, as a way to address the problem?  Why wouldn’t that provide a permanent solution?

 

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Another sweet deal for farmland owners…

November 19, 2006

…and somehow the Tribune can’t see it. Today’s edition carries Jason George’s article Cashing in on the Hunt, noting that a lot of farmland is valuable for hunting. OK, it’s tough to make a living as a farmer, so farmers are getting from $25 to $50 per acre (in Pike County) for allowing hunters to use their land. So far, so good, this probably isn’t the best farmland anyhow. (George doesn’t clearly explain whether the same land can be farmed during the summer, then used for hunting in the late fall, but I believe that it can.)

A local farmer, who’s also a real estate agent, says that the revenue “really helps pay those real estate taxes.” It would make you think that real estate taxes are more than the hunting revenue. Not so. Correlating 2003 data from the Illinois Department of Revenue and the 2002 U S Census of Agriculture, Pike County farms pay less than $12/acre in real estate taxes, an effective rate of about 2/3 of 1% on value ($1840/acre). I bet Chicago-area homeowners, who pay two to three times this percentage of value (see this report), would love to have such a deal.

The Tribune, who in the past have done a good job of explaining how farmland owners profit from political favors, missed a chance to point it out.

Unfortunately, it is the custom of the Tribune to hide most of their articles behind a paid-subscriber screen after a week or so. I can’t find any other publications who carried this article, but it contains the phrase “whirring wings of pheasants” which might be useful in a future search.

Update on December 6: The Tribune link (above) still works!

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What state spends the most public money on K-12 “education?”

November 18, 2006

According to the Census Bureau’s 2003-4 data, it’s Illinois. $2334 per capita, compared to a national average of $1623. Average salary of secondary school teachers, $61,800, is also the highest, but elementary school teachers struggle along on just $50,900. This is from table A-21 of the Bureau’s newly-released State and Metropolitan Area Data Book (very big pdf).

I’m expecting to spend way too much time browsing around this document, maybe I’ll have some other interesting things to post.

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Privatizing the “War on Terror”

November 17, 2006

Of course it’s already been turned into a bonanza for many corporations, but it could instead be privatized in a costless and, perhaps, effective way.  Here’s Fred Foldvary’s suggestion. (undated, but apparently from several years ago)

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The surprise is that they’re not 99%

November 16, 2006

The Tax Foundation says:

In 1996 the Congressional Budget Office reviewed a number of studies examining the efficiency losses associated with the corporate income tax and found that they probably exceed half of corporate receipts

If any profit-seeking corporation that I owned stock in missed an opportunity to save $1 in taxes by wasting 99c, I’d be a bit upset.

Come on, guys, this corporate income tax makes no sense, nor does any other kind of tax on productive labor.

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Better job by leaving public housing?

November 14, 2006

Can you alleviate poverty by relocating housing-aid recipients away from concentrations of poverty? Georgists know that this can’t solve the problem, but perhaps it could help the individuals who are relocated.

But according to a recent report from Northwestern University  “participants’ income or employment outcomes were not affected” by the move.  Here is an abstract, and here is the full report (pdf).

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More Block 37 news

November 8, 2006

Joseph Freed & Associates has bought the retail and transit portions of Mills’ Block 37 project.  Apparently what they bought is the right to build the retail space and the transit station (How does one make money from building a transit station?  Maybe one gets taxpayers to pay for it?).  Price “undisclosed.” Reports from CrainsTribune, Sun Times.

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