Archive for May, 2007

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Banana Republicanism

May 30, 2007

It’s not what you might think, rather it’s the concern, in Australia, that a persistent current account deficit would lead to the status of being a banana republic. And it’s an old concern, no longer in fashion, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to lead to trouble. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Vicky grows and changes

May 26, 2007

She’s no longer a lab/setter mix,Vicki or Vicky or Vickie apparently, but either a harrier or a treeing walker. Or some mix of one or the other. Too late to change her name to Harry or Walker.

Update May 30: I have no idea why the image above shows only the rear 30% of the dog. If you click it, and click it again, you’ll get the proper picture.  (Update June 3:  It took two clicks using Firefox under XP.  Opera under Mepis requires only one click.  So I really have no idea what clicks anyone else would need.)

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Explaining TIF’s

May 25, 2007

Several weeks ago, Ben Joravsky(?)  mentioned that Mike Quigley had done a report on TIF’s, their impacts and misuse.  Having finally read it, I find it’s a good, clear description of how TIF’s work in Chicago and Cook County, and I recommend it for those who want a good understanding of this.  There are also recommendations for improving the reporting, so the public (if it cares, and/or is aided by journalists) could understand what TIF’s are actually doing.

Unfortunately, Quigley believes that TIF’s are a legitimate development tool, just that they’ve been used inappropriately.  Why local governments cannot simply collect the taxes and build the infrastructure, without designating special zones, is not explained.

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Pre-emptive Capital

May 22, 2007

When I first saw the phrase “pre-emptive capital,” I thought it was some sort of Marxist concept, but actually it seems to originate, at least in its politico-economic sense, with Mason Gaffney’s effort to bring Henry George’s ideas into the modern age.  Pre-emptive capital “serves its owner to preempt common lands. An example is a large, fast, noisy, dangerous, polluting motorboat on a small lake. ” Automobiles, of course, are another example, and Gaffney sees taxing of pre-emptive capital as a way to charge for the pre-emption of commons that such capital enables.

It seems to me that, if we can, we should tax the pre-emptive use rather than the equipment that enables it, but the latter may often be more practical.  And I don’t see that it has to be limited to capital, but could be any kind of wealth.  My use of the commons is lessened by all the cigarette fumes I encounter walking the downtown sidewalks,  but maybe the smokers are paying for this as part of the incredible tax rates imposed on their fuel.

As always, Gaffney’s entire paper is well worth reading, though much of it is a critique of modern Georgists rather than HG, and of the rest much is already standard in our HGS courses.

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The opposite of poverty is not wealth – it is justice

May 8, 2007

So says thelogian Leonardo Boff, today on NPR’s Morning Edition. It’s the sort of thing Henry George would have written, but it seems he never did.

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It is difficult to tax only the rich…

May 2, 2007

…because to a large extent they can pass the taxes on. After all, they are rich because they have some sort of market power, something somebody needs. If we increase the cost of providing whatever it is that rich people provide, they will just charge more for it.

Today’s example involves overpaid corporate executives. They get various perks, such as country club memberships or free use of company airplanes by their spouses. They also get extra-generous severance agreements. Congress has passed special taxes on these things. Do corporate executives pay them? No, most companies make additional payments to cover the taxes, and further additional payments to cover the taxes on the additional payments.

Note these executives and corporations aren’t taking advantage of any special loopholes here.

Source: “Rules shine light on ‘gross-up’ gravy train” Chicago Tribune, May 2 2007. If the Tribune puts this AP article behind a paid archive screen in a few days, versions might still be here or here . Earlier, a similar article appeared here , and some time ago here.

Of course there is a tax that mainly hits the rich, and cannot be passed on.