Geonomist, #33 — 2002 Winter (Vol. 10, No. 3)
|December 23, 2001||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under The Geonomist|
BEFORE OUR EYES, PHILADELPHIA AWAKES
Rich Mexicans don’t pay up ……..….………….. page 2
Euros count “free” costs ……..…..….…………… page 2
Choose – cancer or poverty ……….……….…… page 2
What goes up? ………………..………………..…..…. page 2
Connect the dots ………..…………..………………… page 3
The oiligarchy scores again …….………….…… page 3
Rent leaves wages behind ……..………….……. page 3
FROM OP-ED PAGES
Philadelphia Inquirer et al ………….……….….. page 3
Builders to de-tax buildings …………………..… page 4
Prof. professes durn good …………………..…… page 4
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Great Americans ….…….……..……………………… page 4
Shoveling Coal on a runaway train …………. page 4
The Problem most bad …………..………..………… page 4
Taxists leap, don’t look ………….………..………… page 5
Clam up Vs World as oyster …..………..………… page 5
Whose taxes? Theirs or?? ……..………..………… page 5
Loopholes for our side? ……..………..……….…… page 5
Radio listener raps tax ………………..…..…..…… page 6
Gentrification, not guilty ……………..…..…..…… page 6
Margaret Mead was right
Jonathan Saidel, comptroller for Philadelphia, held a press conference attended by 150 leaders and cov-ered by all media to release his tax plan to rejuvenate the city. He proposed shifting taxes off wages, business, and buildings, onto locations. The press was pleased. Major green groups were on board. The real estate lobby took out a big display ad, also in favor. This is history happening. While Saidel has long known of the reform, he got active a year or so ago when he hired Swiss Georgist Bruno Moser to sell key players on the idea, from the grassroots to movers-and-shakers. Mar-garet Mead said never doubt the power of a dedicated few to make history, indeed that’s the only way it has ever happened. Before 2002 is over, the City of Broth-erly Love should have adopted rational tax reform, be-coming the biggest city in the US to do so. May other cities be blessed by having even one clear thinking and courageous leader.
Geonomics is …
… a new field of study offered in place of econom-ics, as astronomy replaced astrology and chemistry re-placed alchemy. Conventional economics, in which GNP can do well while people suffer, is a bit too superstitious for my renaissance upbringing. If I’m to propitiate un-seen forces, it won’t be inflation or “the market”; let it be the Egyptian cat goddess. At least then we’d have fewer rats. Meanwhile, believing in reason leads to a new policy, also christened geonomics. That’s the pro-posal to share (a kind of management, the “nomics” part) the worth of Mother Earth (the “geo” part). If our economies are to work right, people need to see prices that tell the truth. Now taxes and subsidies distort prices, tricking people into squandering the planet. Using land dues and rent dividends instead lets prices be precise, guiding people to get more from less and thereby shrink their workweek. More free time ought to make us happy enough to evolve beyond economics, except when nostalgic for superstition.
FROM THIS PEN’S PERCH
Nicas choose progress
Wintering in Nicaragua, I’m finishing my writing projects. One book down (on geonomics), two to go (screenplay on geotopia and computer game teaching geocracy). Work, work, but the living is easy and the Nicas friendly.
You can go into people’s homes and find Ameri-can flags draped on their walls. Nicas show a little bit of bitterness against the US, but much more hero-worship. Nicas are fed up with poverty and actively seek prosperity. Maybe more so than in other tropical countries. The newspapers do a better job of covering the economy than do the US media (they’ve even printed my letters). Elected officials lent me their ears. Each month, 100 Nicas sign up to take the intensive course offered by the Instituto Henry George, plus buy the texts. And an overwhelming majority, poor in-cluded, voted for the party endorsed by the US, the Liberals.
Might these wanna-be Republican clones make a difference? Classical liberals – Smith, George, even Friedman – besides opposing whacky taxes, acknowl-edged the need to collect rent. And for Nicas, land is not invisible as in the urban, industrial North. As I’ve never voted for a candidate who’s won, I spare myself hoping they’ll do what works. But I’m addicted to doing what I see needs getting done, here and back home. Meanwhile, wherever you are, have a merry winter.
Rich Mexicans don’t pay up
Because Mexicans are dedicated to dodging taxes, President Vicente Fox tries to make up the deficit by taxing essentials – food, medicine, and schoolbooks, things even the poor must buy. Meanwhile rich compa-triots avoid paying other taxes, retaining an amount four times greater than how much the sales tax on ba-sics could raise. (La Prensa, nica, Nov 7) That Mexicans are world leaders in tax evasion sits well with liberty lov-ers. However, that Mexicans also lead in “rent-retention” is why Mexico cannot develop, and why the govern-ment turns to taxes. If the Aztec nation were to eliminate taxes (and the evasion that goes with it), that’d reward investment and work, as collecting natural rents would spur both. Plus, since land and its value cannot be hid-den, evasion would be far more difficult; to lead the world, Mexicans would need to dedicate themselves to something else, maybe dodging traffic in Mexico City.
Euros count “free” costs
Researches from all EU member states and the US assessed the environmental and health costs of electric-ity in Europe. At 1-2% of the EU’s Gross Domestic Product, if these costs were charged to those responsi-ble for creating them, then the price of producing elec-tricity from coal, oil, and gas would rise 30%. Re-searchers did not calculate the costs from global warming. The EU Commission report, called the EXTERNE, recommends taxing pollution from electricity production to help cover its cost and to discourage such consumption. The study found wind and hyrdo energy to inflict the lowest external costs to society. (Tax News Update, July 24, Center@SustainableEconomy. org)
The European Environmental Bureau launched Getting the Prices Right, an 18-month campaign to push Europe towards environmental fiscal reform at both the EU and country levels. The campaign will attempt to build broad support for a removal of all environmentally harmful subsidies by 2005 and a minimum 10% revenue-neutral shift from taxing labor to taxing natural resource use by 2010. The campaign website http://www.ecotax.info/ goes live January 1, 2002. (http://www.eeb.org)
Choose – cancer or poverty
Nurses take note. Breast cancer has at least a partial cure – don’t work the night shift. Spending so many hours in strong, artificial light retards production of melatonin, which stimulates production of estrogen, an incubator of cancer. The study which found the link to light did not count prostate cancer. And if working-women live long enough and retire single, they’ll have to enjoy the golden years without much of an income. Having always struggled to get by, they’ll neither have much savings nor qualify for much social security. Most won’t be able to afford the basics, never mind a retire-ment home. (Oregonian, Oct 17) Well, workers, yet two more reasons to lose those chains. Society could do a better of spreading the work around, especially risky work, if it did a better job of spreading the wealth around. Getting a social salary – a fair share of the money we spend on the nature we use – would let those with jobs work less so those without jobs could work more. Upon retirement, everyone would have enough cushion to make the golden years golden.
What goes up?
Bill Gates, the richest person in the world, lost more of that paper wealth. Last year he had $63 billion, this year $54 billion; but by diversifying beyond Micro-soft (even into land), he stayed numero uno for the 8th straight year, says Forbes Magazine. From their list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, 54 hi-tech magnates slid off, replaced by more traditional tycoons in retailing and manufacturing. Billionaires were down from 274 to 236. The poorest of the 400 is worth $600 million, down $125 million from last year. The combined net worth of all 400 fell from $1.2 trillion in 2000 to $946 billion this year, the third time the list has lost since Forbes began compiling it in 1982.
Warren Buffett saw his net worth fall to $33.2 bil-lion, but his Berkshire Hathaway Investments outpaced the Standard & Poor’s 500 last year and he took over 2nd place, followed by the other Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison slid two places to 4th. Except for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the rest of the top 10 were survivors of Wal-Mart foun-der Sam Walton. 149 inherited some or all of their wealth.
Of the 400, 279 are college graduates, with an aver-age net worth of $2.2 billion; 118 never completed col-lege and have an average net worth of $1.9 billion. 92 live in California; 38 in New York City. 46 are women. (Sep 28, Matt Moore, New York)
Connect the dots
While some inherit their wealth, others do it the old fashioned way – they lobby for it. Arianna Huffington (Oct 31) in her column: In this time of national crisis, Congress’ so-called economic stimulus package would dole out $115 billion in tax breaks for the wealthiest tax-payers that are permanent and $14 billion to poor and moderate-income families good for one year. Multina-tional corporations could avoid paying taxes by shifting profits to their offshore subsidiaries; keeping money out of our economy would stimulate our economy? Retro-active repeal of the corporate alternative minimum tax would mean rebating $25 billion to giants like IBM (slated to get $1.4 billion), GM ($833 million), and GE ($671 million). Just 14 corporations would get over $6.3 billion. Over the last 10 years, these 14 have poured almost $15 million in soft money into the national com-mittees of both parties. If the justification for huge in-comes is the risk investors take, investing in politics sure seems to eliminate it.
The Wall Street Journal likened the package to Via-gra, a temporary stimulus that won’t do much for the real economy. Next page, Robert Reich added that even if certain companies go bankrupt, factories and workers won’t disappear; they’ll just await reorganiza-tion and employment by new owners. Subsidies and trade restrictions only delay the day of reckoning. If Congress wants to subsidize somebody, bail out the workers and communities that must transform them-selves. (Oct 16).
The oiligarchy scores again
For more than a century longer than the chipocracy, the oiligarchy, numbering many more peo-ple than the Forbes 400, has been collecting state fa-vors. Instead of collecting natural rent, Congress moves the other way, dishing out to the oil and gas industries tax breaks and subsidies worth more than $21 billion this time. The Wall Street Journal headlined: “Pump-ing Money: Major Oil Companies Struggle to Spend Huge Hoards of Cash.” The story said, “the industry is sitting on nearly $40 billion in cash, and the figure is likely to balloon in coming months.” (July 30). Marginal well owners would get to deduct more than 100% of their profit, meaning we could owe them money. While preaching free market competition to the world, US rulers practice safe corporate welfare at home. For more gory detail, try Friends of the Earth, Sean Moulton, 202/783-7400; email@example.com.
Rent leaves wages behind
The average US worker must earn $13.87 an hour, nearly three times the federal minimum wage, to pay the “rent” on even a modest two-bedroom apart-ment. Out of 3,779 states, counties and metropolitan areas, there is not one where someone working full time at $5.15-an-hour (2.7 million people) can afford an apartment (spend 30% or less of their income on hiring housing). The gap between a minimum-wage salary and the cost of housing grew faster than before and wid-ened virtually everywhere. Workers in California and the mid-Atlantic region of the East Coast needed the most income to afford a modest two-bedroom apart-ment, while those in Puerto Rico and much of the Deep South needed the least. In one third of all jurisdictions, a family needs two full-time minimum wage earners to afford the modest rental housing. The annual “Out of Reach” report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition is at www.nlihc.org/oor2001/ (Christian Science Monitor, Dec 3)
FROM THE OP-ED PAGES
Philadelphia Inquirer et al
Mark Alan Hughes, a weekly contributor to the Daily Views and teacher at Penn’s Fox Leadership Pro-gram (Nov 27): “the Tax Structure Analysis Report by City Controller Jonathan Saidel is the best policy state-ment from any city government in my 20 years of analysis and research.” The city’s business press did the issue justice. The main paper, The Inquirer, printed a favorable essay by Robert Inman, Prof, Finance and Economics, Wharton School, University of Pennsylva-nia (Nov 9). Staff writer Nathan Gorenstein (Oct 22) noted the support of both the Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Realtors for the brainchild of Henry George and the success enjoyed by Allentown (of Billy Joel fame) and Harrisburg in spurring inner-city development and that collecting rent spins off no collateral damage (see our “Where Tax Reform Has Worked”). 1000 Friends of Pennsylvania are also on board (see our “Greens on George: 123 Notables”). The Inq endorsed Saidel, incumbent for comptroller, noting, “Taxing solely the value of land, not of the buildings on it, might promote development on vacant or underused tracts and would stop punishing at tax time those resi-dents who improve their homes.” (Oct 31) The AP helps broadcast the news beyond Philly.
Builders to de-tax buildings
In the past, the National Home Builders have en-dorsed shifting the property tax from buildings to land. Now the Connecticut branch supports a state bill to let localities shift their tax rentward, giving communities a new tool to shape their built environment (CN House Com’t on Planning & Development, Feb Report, in In-centive Taxation, Oct)
Prof. professes durn good
In the anthology, Toward a Steady-state Economy edited by Herman Daly (1973, W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, CA), Prof. Warren A. Johnson contributed an article, “The guaranteed income as an environmental measure” (p 175-189). While 14 pages are more than enough to make the same point the title does, at least some fellow academics read it. Some are even acting upon it.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Since winners write history, and so far rent retainers have won, you may not know America’s greatest ad-dressed sharing natural rent. Among many others, three of the big names in the above cartoon did (see our “101 Famous Thinkers on Owning Earth”). Jefferson and King even spelled out a dividend. Franklin, our prime ambassador, was more diplomatic, or equivocal, also endorsing other taxes, leading the taxman away from land. Franklin also speculated in (then) western land, almost losing his shirt, rescued by his lawmaker friends in Congress.
Shoveling Fuel for a Run-away Train
Subtitled: Errant Economists, Shameful Spenders, and a Plan to Stop Them All, this book by Brian Czech is interesting, important, well written, well argued, and nicely gentle with its adversaries. I share Brian’s love for a pristine world – and probably have less impact on making it less pristine than even he. Czech relies on common sense, which Bertrand Russell (another advo-cate of sharing Rent) called “the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18.”
Shoveling asks us to consume less and lobby our neighbors to consume less. For the good of others, we’d have fewer kids. For more than a decade, Japan has reversed its growth. Have the Japanese reversed their impact on the environment?
Today the big screen TV is a luxury. Yet the tele-phone, too, was once a luxury. Ready to give it up? If Czech’s plan were in force, it might not have spread from the rich to everyone else.
Critiquing consumption is subjective, relying on the green religioso’s judgment in what’s needed and what’s irrationally desired. Critiquing waste in production, on the other hand, is nicely objective – methods that re-quire more inputs for the same output are wasteful. If all the waste in production were eliminated, how bad an impact would upscale consumption have?
Persuading even a majority to liquidate less (Brian’s great phrase) won’t correct an underlying wasteful system. Waste stays in business because we subsidize it. Brian cites key parts of the fundamental solution, shift-ing taxes and paying a social salary. That’d create a system that allows for the differences of us all. Then, instead of monotony in unity, we’d achieve unity in di-versity.
The Problem most bad
Carol Brouillet, Dec 10: Since the US is now so obviously THE PROBLEM, I think I need to spend my time and energy organizing here, rather than going (elsewhere).
JS: There’s the direct approach of faulting others and the indirect way of political jujitsu, turning the mo-mentum of society in the direction it needs to go. If greed motivates our opponents (we should get to know them better), let’s redirect the flow of public revenue that enriches them. Everyone already suffers the time deficit; we don’t have to tell them that – just offer a so-lution. Paying a social salary grants them free time and redirects revenue now funding the wars (two clones with one bud) that we oppose verbally yet support fi-nancially.
Taxists leap, don’t look
Alan Courtright: The purpose of a tax should be to raise revenue for necessary government services.
JS: Should be, but it’s not. It’s to fund unnecessary assaults: sprawl, police brutality, bombing Third World countries, etc. People who’re paying for this (well-equipped soldiers and the brutal cops aren’t volunteers) should own up to the consequences of their actions.
AC: Using the PROCEEDS of taxation, of course, is a different matter.
JS: Or, people who can get away with coercion and confiscation in raising public revenue will try to get away with even murder in spending public revenue.
AC: Taxes should not be used as tools of social en-gineering. A simple tax is the best tax. A Transactions Tax is about as simple as you can get.
JS: Simpler and fairer yet is no tax. People are not guilty. And taxes are not a necessary evil. There’re tons of public revenue, no need to dip into private revenue. Just run government like a business. Charge full-market value for deeds, licenses, franchises, charters, etc. Then divvy up the surplus among the stakeholders, the citi-zenry.
From the discussion list of the Green Party’s taxists.
Clam up Vs World as oyster
Scott Jones: Imports siphon money away.
JS: So? In exchange for what, if not valuable goodies? Plus, locals can always print their own money.
SJ: I am pro local community self-reliance, and as far as I can see so are so many folks in Portland.
JS: That people put their own place first is hardly a huge moral leap forward. Focusing on origin of prod-uct or size of the producer obscures whether labor or land was exploited. Even today, if you lived in LA, you could buy new trousers made from slave labor at a lo-cally owned sweatshop. Want to guess where the slaves came from? Places where land is very, very unavailable.
S: You are forgetting the joy of community that is forming to build locality and place.
J: For me, the joy of community has nothing to do with walling out others or their products.
S: You’ve become too one-issue, Jeff. Presenting geonomics as the only answer to all ills, you run the risk of alienating those who would be your allies.
J: Telling people who’re working their tails off that they’re consuming too much may alienate some, and anti-trade really reinforces bubbaism, which is danger-ous and irresponsible. If I were on the other side, I’d be ecstatic to have my opponents alienate the majority, justify the “patriots”, and ignore the multi-trillion dollar flow of Rents each year. Being on this side, yes, saying, like Lincoln, nothing’s fixed until its’ fixed right, does alienate others. Such is life being ahead of the curve. But like Einstein said, monomaniacs get results. Until peo-ple realize they’re worth a part of Mother Earth, their worldviews stay basically the same. And if transformation is what’s needed, they’re not there for it.
Whose taxes? Theirs or??
A.E. Lewis, Oct 13: What’s “their taxes” mean?
Usually people say “my” taxes, operating out of the worldview of the good and dutiful serf. One doesn’t say “my extortion” or “my confiscation”. People need to feel ripped off that they still pay tribute after all these years of progress. And doubly ripped off that they’re not getting a social salary, their fair share of all the money we spend on the nature we use – a la Alaska’s oil dividend. Getting a Citizens Dividend is what should feel normal, not paying their (the state’s/elite’s) taxes.
AL: GOT it! (duhhh) Yes, the right way to think.
Tony Murnane, Oct 29: Do you mean: Citizens Dividend – a right to share equally in the benefit of the state/ community – by virtue of being a citizen, and therefore having no other claim on the state? Meaning an end to the welfare state? Please advise.
JS: Once you get a share of all natural rents, there’s little else you need from government.
Loopholes for our side?
Richard Reid: Since Oregon assesses land and building separately, can a city or county simply raise the tax rate on location while lowering it on improvements without amending the State Constitution? Also, when a municipality annexes suburbs and its site values rise, legally, can the jurisdiction tax some of that increment? And how do you set up a tax district based on land value taxation? We’re considering something like that in order to motivate absentee landlords to improve their properties in Salem’s newly designated Historic District, which encompasses most of downtown Salem. (“We have a duty to look after each other. Our first priority today, then, is to defeat utterly those forces of greed and corruption that have come between us and our self-governance.” Doris Haddock, alias, “Granny D”)
JS: Ahem. This must be how the Wizard of Oz felt. However, not being a lawyer, but having put similar questions to the State Attorney General’s office, it seems a locality cannot directly tax land and buildings sepa-rately but could try to set up a district to do it. Try to get the Salem city attorney’s opinion. Might need to get the mayor (who’s on our side) or a councilman to ask him for you. Then work with his office as they dredge up the answer, rather than wait for a final answer that may not be complete. Also, modeled after Oregon’s dis-placed rain-runoff fee, a Displaced Development Fee for owners holding good sites out of use might be legal. If your campaign gets cranking, call me, and I’ll come back and lend a hand. (Granny D passed by where I was staying in Pennsylvania this past summer. Everyone went to visit her but me, chained as I was to this screen.)
Radio listener raps tax
John Gear, from the list of the listener-supported Portland radio station, KBOO (20 Oct): A parasitical slumlord sits on a boarded up rat trap for years while paying only a pittance in property taxes that his neigh-bors pay. Thus the property tax rewards decay of ur-ban buildings with lower taxes. We need to shift prop-erty taxes onto the land itself rather than onto the land + buildings. This way, someone who refurbishes a building and adds value to it is not be punished with higher taxes; rather, only the general increase in land values is taxed. See Chapter 6 of “The Return from No-where” by James Howard Kunstler.
Gentrification, not guilty
Gene Denardo: An article in the Portland press, “Bleaching of the northeast”, slammed gentrification. Anyone black, brown, or white who has lived here during the last 20 years would admit that gentrification has improved life, altho’ it has relocated some existing neighbors. Housing costs rose more than income. Taxes don’t help one afford a home – nor do tax breaks.
Contrary to what we might think, the mortgage in-terest deduction, rather than a subsidy to the home-buyer, helps banks secure more loans with higher prin-ciples. The deduction increases prices; the market will absorb any money available. The federal depreciation credit is used by landlords; single family homes do not depreciate, they appreciate. And when local govern-ments entice a corporation into their area by giving away tax breaks, then they raise fees and taxes for the average taxpayer.
Remove all these taxes and tax breaks. Replace them with a ‘land’ tax. Land values are raised by social im-provement. All in all, gentrification is simply all of us placing value on our neighborhoods.
The Oregonian, Portland’s only daily (Oct 15), ran the whole letter in the electronic version and part in the print version, “No need for new taxes”. Nor does the state need other people’s money. What Oregon needs to do is forget about taking the values that individuals create and collect the values that Oregon generates. Together people generate economic values wherever they gather, values that attach to land and resources. The annual “rentable” value of sites, resources, and sinks (using the environment as a dump site by pollut-ers) is many billions. Oregon could lose taxes, raise all the revenue it needs, pay all the teachers and cops we need, with change leftover.
La Prensa, Managua’s main daily (Dec 15), printed this letter by four volunteers of the Instituto Henry George, excerpted here: For building new power plants, the government could exonerate them from taxes, attracting more investment. Repealing taxes from all productive activities would attract investment in gen-eral. An economy attracting more investment would pump up its land values. Collecting this rent, govern-ment would not miss the taxes on sales, salaries, build-ings, and business. Let’s liberate producers from paying taxes and attract investment. Let’s collect land rent and foster national savings. We’d have plenty of money for investing in alternative plants.
Via word of pen
VTPI NEWS by the Victoria Transport Policy Insti-tute (Smr; Vol. 4, No. 2): “New & Updated Reports: ‘Does Public Transit Raise Site Values Around Its Stops Enough To Pay For Itself, Were The Value Captured?’. Summarizes the results of more than 70 studies.” http://www.vtpi.org. VTPI’s Todd Littman: The recent report, “Building Healthier Neighborhoods with Metro-rail: Rethinking Parking Policies” by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation quotes from several reports in your bibliography (they may have used it as a source).” Ac-tually, some of those quotes seem to be lifted from my summaries in my bib (I can write as dull as anybody). But researchers wouldn’t use a source without citing it, would they? www.cbf.org/resources/pubs
Meta Heller (Oct 26): “Great article on sharing peace!” Mary Lehmann (Oct 21): “Thanks so much for “How Sharing Earth Brought Peace”. It is a really good piece of writing, the best I’ve seen from you, and I’ve sent it on to co-workers. I cut a very little off the be-ginning and the end and told them I have used “re-source-rent” instead of “geonomics” to keep the mean-ing clear. I like Geonomics as a field of study, but not as a substitute for a specific meaning.” Hanno Beck (Oct 16): “I’d like to run this article of yours at The Progress Report. So the answer is Yes! This is worth circulating!” John Watkins, (Oct 22): “May I have permission to run your Progress Report article in Simple Solutions and post it to human-empowerment for discussion?” Avail-able at www.progress.org
Via word of mouth
The presentation in Portland (OR) on October 17th drew four people, but none were allowed to leave until they agreed with geonomics and seemed enthused about organizing politically. Four is a bit shy of that critical mass, but the pre-publicity was skimpy, per-formed by one person, and I didn’t follow up with phone calls to the media. All the flyers I put up just in walking distance of the venue. Yet the publicity did generate some citywide buzz and a future invitation. Plus, the event raised $70 in new dues.
Notes < donors & others
Callie Jordan (Oct 15): “I think there’s an audi-ence here in the Columbia River Gorge for this. If you think you’d be able to come out sometime soon, let me know. If you send me the PR info, I’ll see about getting something set up somewhere.” That’s the kind of re-sponse that makes it all worthwhile.
Linda Gail Arrigo: “It may be the time soon to re-new the issue on geonomics in Taiwan, especially given how bad the real estate market is. I have suggested it at a Green Party meeting, but now we are too weak to even run much of an election campaign on the current hot issue of Nuke Power Plant No. 4. Anyway, I haven’t forgotten.”
Dr. Tea Nomman (Oct 10): “Hello Jeff, I am not lost. I completed my project in Center for Policy Studies PRAXIS about Sustainability Indicators for Estonia this summer. Publication in Estonian is on its way. I started working in August in new country, in The Union of Baltic Sea Cities, Env’l Commission, which is located in Turku, Finland. We have 100 member cities around the Baltic Sea from 10 countries which exchange experience and good practice, Local Agenda 21, etc. Concerning LVT or rent on land and using it for financing develop-ment, have you read World Bank publications about National Wealth and Genuine Saving (indic of sustain-ability). I used their methodology in our project to as-sess Estonia’s sustainability. Depreciation of natural re-sources and resource rents issues are there.”
Dick Strong, biologist (Nov 12): “In Ecuador I checked the sustainability of traditional small farms. Schools do not prepare students with defensive living for an economy stacked against them. People must in-debt themselves to provide necessities. Private banks create money; debt is growing unsustainably. I admire the Tobin Tax, debt forgiveness, etc. The real winners are not corporations but FIRE.” Finance, Insurance, & Real Estate were “The Assassins of New York”, wrote Robert Fitch a decade back. Forgive debt, then how soon will it be back? Tobin‘s tax ignores underlying causes. Community currencies help, but they also help raise land values. Can’t avoid sharing the rent.
J.W. Smith, The Institute for Economic Democ-racy: “Our latest book: Economic Democracy: The Po-litical Struggle of the 21st Century, cites Henry George, the world’s leading economic philosopher for equal rights for all. Those who are searching for solutions through the maze which passes for economics will do well to study these Georgist Paradigm webpages. Henry George groups with WebPages include Jeff Smith’s Geonomy Society. Order the book from M.E. Sharpe, 800-541-6563-x145; firstname.lastname@example.org.”
R. Warren Flint and W. L. Houser: “Newly pub-lished, Living a Sustainable Lifestyle for Our Children’s Children, offers alternative, comprehensive points of view in which all scales of economy are just, the in-creasing global environmental degradation is reversed, and ways we can help all people achieve individual, family, and community well-being. The book goes be-yond science, technology, and politics. It discusses day-to-day, moment-to-moment decision-making on how and why we live the way we do. www.iuniverse.com/marketplace/bookstore”
For joining or rejoining, thanks to stalwart Jake Himmelstein, Philly accountant (and soon to be hero), sustainer Mary Jane Aman, Portland rights defenderv supporters Better Cities Com’t of Chicago, and subscrib-ers Kris Nelson and Debra Gianini, Oregon air defend-ers, Brian Beinlich, Oregon computador, Virginia Neidig, Oregon retired librarian, Vernon Saunders, New York state retiree, and Dick Strong, California soils expert.
Anyone else, if so moved, please contribute dues. You’ll not only make our Christmas merry, New Year happy, and winter wonderful, you’ll also water the one vine reaching for the prize, the rent of nature that is the heritage of all humanity. Heap on that money manure; help us spread like weeds – now, in time for the season of planting.
Virginia Neidig in Bend (OR, Oct 9): “Today I re-ceived the new issue of THE GEONOMIST and have just finished reading it. Can’t say that I understand it all; but well enough to know that is something I go for. The small mystery is this: you have written in the space immediately above the box for the address these words (the first of which I cannot make out): “_____ in here, please!” It looks like Nairg or Macrg. Are you asking me for dues? I sent you $15 in August of 2000. Okay, I’ll send $15 to Maryland. That method of reminding subscribers that Rocky Mountain Institute uses – once a year ask everyone to pitch in, no matter when was the last time they pitched in – sounds good. Just pick a time when you will make it a point to include the re-minder/request in your publication and do it each year at that time. You could pick a date, like your birthday or a holiday, like Thanksgiving or Halloween (trick or treat). Stay well and safe.”
JS: OK, then, this being the winter issue and the season of giving, everybody pitch in! BTW, it was “Hang” as in “stay in there”.
Next spring at the conference of environmental tax-ists in Vermont, look for yours truly, moderating the session on, “Can Innovations in Property Taxation Pro-duce Better Land Use?” I intend to spark penetrating discussion and debate among the panelists and with the audience, even while keeping my clothes on. Be there! For more info, contact Janet E. Milne, Assc. Prof.; Di-rector, Environmental Tax Policy Institute, Vermont Law School, Chelsea St., South Royalton, VT 05068 USA; 802/763-8303 ext. 2266; JMILNE@vermontlaw.edu
What you can do
Celebrate the change in seasons with a check to those changing the system at its roots. Visit our website. Order an article or three. Join! Sign up others! Persuade foundations to support us. Come to a meeting. Organize meetings, lobbying, letter-writing campaigns to editors and elected officials. Invite us out to present our show. Get elected and us appointed to your cabinet. Weigh our worth. It is on the wings of donations that aware-ness spreads. And the sooner the word gets out, the sooner the world gets well. Thanks.
bottom line: Secure Earnings, Share Earth