Archive for February, 2008

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Another Georgist blog

February 28, 2008

Eastern Georgist Wyn Achenbaum has started the lvtfan blog.  Wyn is creator of the massive wealthandwant reference site as well as whatwouldjesustax.

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Access to broadcast spectrum creates jobs

February 25, 2008

Sunday’s Tribune carries a report about Low Power FM– stations licensed for less than 100 watts, on commercial (not “educational”) frequencies. Currently these licenses are virtually unavailable where population density could make them commercially viable– and it seems that they must operate as noncommercial nonprofits anyhow. But there seems no reason, other than protecting existing privilege-holders, why a station that serves a market of 470,000 people (as claimed by WRTE-FM in Chicago) couldn’t provide paid jobs and commercial opportunities.

A report highlighting some of the tricks used to prevent LPFM stations was discussed previously.

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Ricardo’s Law: The Video

February 25, 2008

Fred Harrison now has a youtube video version of his Ricardo’s Law, which explains how a “progressive” income tax actually traps the poor and benefits the rich. Mairead Sullivan, Ben Kettlewell, Ross Ashcroft, Ben Holland, and Megan Campbell are also credited on the project.

If you only have 8 minutes to spend learning about this stuff, or as an introduction, the video is recommended.

update Feb 26: The youtube link is changed above.  Also there is an alternative link.

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Illusion of profit drives wages down?

February 20, 2008

Very good presentation last night at APA by Margaret Garb, historian at Washington U who has researched post-Fire working class housing arrangements and their financing in Chicago. Evidently she did a lot of detailed research, focusing on a single block of the old Harrison/Halsted district (obliterated in the 1960s by the UIC campus), examining who bought and sold property, how they financed, who rented, who boarded, their occupations and incomes, etc.

One striking similarity to more recent times is that workers used the equity Read the rest of this entry ?

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Capital Market Dysfunctionality

February 17, 2008

It’s not the way a Georgist would describe our main economic problems, but it doesn’t fit badly. Paul Woolley, a former (reformed?) investment manager and IMF official, has established his Centre for the Study of Capital Market Dysfunctionality.   One way he states the problem:

By most measures finance has become the dominant industry sector accounting, for example, for between 30% and 40% of the aggregate profits of the quoted corporate sector in the US, UK and globally, compared with only around 10% forty years ago

Not only does this mean a lot of money is being paid for a service which isn’t really central to our economy’s purpose, but also that much of the best talent in many fields is diverted to playing financial games rather than useful work.

Of course, in his talk he did not mention land.  Since his background is in finance, I guess he looks at the problem as a capital market problem rather than a land speculation problem.  As a Georgist, I tend to think that the problem can only be solved by making speculation in natural resources unprofitable.  Woolley however will probably show many ways in which the problem can be reduced, or at least postponed.   His site shows many papers related to the subject, many worth a look I think. (Of course quite a few of the papers are not available free.)

One reason I am inclined to think this is a serious effort to address the issue is that Woolley is apparently funding the work personally.

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Legitimate academic to study transit funding

February 15, 2008

Lincoln Institute reports that they have granted a fellowship for work on Sustaining Mass Transit through Land Value Taxation: A Case Study of Chicago. Lincoln requires registration (free) to read the article that says the project will focus on the South Chicago USX site but will also “estimate the impact of transit accessibility on land values in the Chicago metropolitan area.” MIT Graduate student Shan Jiang will work with Prof. P. Christopher Zegras on the project.

From what I can find, Zegras has done quite a bit of work on transport funding, mainly in Latin America, and doesn’t seem to have any particular interest in land value. Although I have already estimated that RTA-funded rail transit alone generates something over $1.3 billion land rent annually, Zegras will have greater financial and technical resources and should be able to develop a better estimate. We shall see.

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Bundi prospers pleasantly with site value charge

February 14, 2008

All I know, of course, is what I read in the papers, in this case the excellent Aussie journal Progress (which has no on-line presence afaik).

Bundi seems to be a pleasant and well-touristed town in contrast to the general squalor of India, and yes, it has a land tax. Or more precisely, a site rent, based on the area of land and distance from town center. Progress’s Mr. Ed says that this amounts to 1000 Rs/year, 2% of the typical salary, and is sufficient to provide good local services. I for one would be very happy to earn 50 times my real estate tax, an amount which the local governments to which I am subject find entirely inadequate to meet their needs, or at least their desires.

I’d like to verify the Bundi information with some other source, but I can’t find an accessible link in English with any information about Bundi’s tax system. There seems to be some information in Hindi.