Archive for November, 2007

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Ending “a sea of indebtedness”

November 21, 2007

Thanks again to Dan Sullivan of Saving Communities for locating Henry George’s advice on preventing excessive debt (government, corporate, individual) without constraining economic growth. George’s straightforward solution: take government out of the business of collecting debts. People could still lend and borrow money, but you can be sure lenders would be careful, relying heavily on the reliability of the borrower. As for public debts, if the government needs money for a defensive war or public improvements, let it levy taxes to collect what’s needed. The logic of this becomes clear when one reflects that in wartime everyone should sacrifice, the rich no less in proportion to their assets than the rest, and that public improvements have the effect of increasing land values and therefore generate their own financing.

The article Sullivan quotes is from The Standard, Feb 11, 1888, and apparently isn’t posted in its entirety anywhere, so I reproduce Sullivan’s extensive extract below. Read the rest of this entry ?

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It might not pay to save

November 19, 2007

That’s the conclusion of a new study by by Laurence J. Kotlikoff and David S. Rapson. Problem is that as you gain more savings you become ineligible for more means-tested assistance programs. Acknowledging that the complexities of the tax code and the programs makes it impossible to perform a complete analysis, they estimate that “A 30-year-old single parent earning $15,000 a year faces an effective marginal tax on saving of 260 percent; for each additional dollar saved, the parent loses $2.60 in additional taxes and foregone government benefits.”

Although the study does not go further than to describe the problem, the next question is what to do. Although one may fiddle with the details, this problem can’t be solved as long as means-tested taxes or subsidies are an important factor in the economy affecting the poor.  But clearly a Georgist reform could alleviate it by increasing wages in general, and perhaps solve it completely if resource rents were distributed equally to everyone thru a citizen’s dividend.

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The Art of Spectrum Lobbying

November 15, 2007

Subtitled ” America’s $480 Billion Spectrum Giveaway, How it Happened, and How to Prevent it from Recurring,” this recent report is from the New America Foundation, by J. H. Snider. The actual amount of the giveaway can be subject to some dispute, but it’s clearly a lot of value.

After describing the method and the limitations of the value estimates, the report outlines some specific strategies used by those who hold, or wish to obtain, licenses for use of some portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, at minimal or no cost. Read the rest of this entry ?

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More on transit delays and funding

November 6, 2007

The good news is that, since October 4, not a single CTA bus has broken down while I was aboard (and yes, I have been riding buses, not every day but often).

The less good news is that this morning a minor fire (or at least smoke) aboard Purple Line Run 503 delayed inbound service 20 minutes during the AM peak.  The problem was aboard a 3200-series car, CTA’s newest.  I don’t know the specific details of the fire, perhaps it was unavoidable, but it doesn’t seem to be due to the age of the equipment.