Wealth and Want The URL comes from the subtitle to Progress & Poverty -- and the goal is widely shared prosperity in the 21st century. How do we get there from here? A roadmap and a reference source.
Reforming the Property Tax for the Common Good I'm a tax reform activist who seeks to promote fairness and reduce poverty. Let's start with the enabling legislation and state requirements for the property tax. There are opportunities for great good!
Henry George: Progress and Poverty: An inquiry into the cause of industrial depressions and of increase of want with increase of wealth ... The Remedy This is perhaps the most important book ever written on the subjects of poverty, political economy, how we might live together in a society dedicated to the ideals Americans claim to believe are self-evident. It will provide you new lenses through which to view many of our most serious problems and how we might go about solving them: poverty, sprawl, long commutes, despoilation of the environment, housing affordability, wealth concentration, income concentration, concentration of power, low wages, etc. Read it online, or in hardcopy.
Bob Drake's abridgement of Henry George's original: Progress and Poverty: Why There Are Recessions and Poverty Amid Plenty -- And What To Do About It! This is a very readable thought-by-thought updating of Henry George's longer book, written in the language of a newsweekly. A fine way to get to know Henry George's ideas. Available online at progressandpoverty.org and http://www.henrygeorge.org/pcontents.htm
Progress and Poverty, by Henry George Here are links to online editions of George's landmark book, Progress & Poverty, including audio and a number of abridgments -- the shortest is 30 words! I commend this book to your attention, if you are concerned about economic justice, poverty, sprawl, energy use, pollution, wages, housing affordability. Its observations will change how you approach all these problems. A mind-opening experience!
Recently, four city mayors in Connecticut
proposed that cities ought to be permitted to impose a 1% sales tax if
they chose. Those who spend much time thinking about incentives
recognize this as a poor idea. I particularly liked this pair of
letters to the editor in the New London Day:
“The problem is time,” offered Walter Hurney, a real estate developer.
“There just isn’t enough time. Men won’t spend a whole day away from
their family anymore.”
The five men who met here at the Wind Watch Golf Club a couple of weeks
ago, golf aficionados all, wondered out loud about the reasons. Was it
the economy? Changing family dynamics? A glut of golf courses? A
surfeit of etiquette rules — like not letting people use their
cellphones for the four hours it typically takes to play a round of 18
Or was it just the four hours?
Here on Long Island, where there are more than 100 private courses,
golf course owners have tried various strategies: coupons and trial
memberships, aggressive marketing for corporate and charity
tournaments, and even some forays into the wedding business.
Rodney B. Warnick, a professor of recreation studies and tourism at the
University of Massachusetts, said that the aging population of the
United States was probably a part of the problem, too, and that “there
is a younger generation that is just not as active.”
But golf, a sport of long-term
investors — both those who buy the expensive equipment and those who
build the princely estates on which it is played — has always seemed to
exist in a world above the fray of shifting demographics. Not anymore.
Surveys sponsored by the
foundation have asked players what keeps them away. “The answer is
usually economic,” Mr. Kass said. “No time. Two jobs. Real wages not
going up. Pensions going away. Corporate cutbacks in country club
memberships — all that doom and gloom stuff.”
In many parts of the country, high expectations for a golf bonanza
paralleling baby boomer retirements led to what is now considered a
vast overbuilding of golf courses.
Between 1990 and 2003,
developers built more than 3,000 new golf courses in the United States,
bringing the total to about 16,000. Several hundred have closed
in the last few years, most of them in Arizona, Florida, Michigan and
South Carolina, according to the foundation.
“Years ago, men thought nothing of spending the whole day playing golf
— maybe Saturday and Sunday both,” said Mr. Rocchio, the public
relations consultant, who is also the New York regional director of the
National Golf Course Owners Association. “Today, he is driving his kids
to their soccer games. Maybe he’s playing a round early in the morning.
But he has to get back home in time for lunch.”
This struck me as I thought about one of the things I see in my
town's property tax assessments. The private golf clubs have been
given very generous (low) assessments. Where surrounding land is
selling for $400,000 per acre, the 3 private golf courses are assessed
at $140,000 per acre (that's the 100% figure, not the CT 70%).
What a kind gift to give those who own or benefit from these private
parks! But I've got a real problem with asking the low-income
homeowners of my town to subsidize those who can afford expensive club
memberships. No, more precisely, I've got a problem with all the
non-members -- probably 99% of the property-owners in town -- being
asked to subsidize the club members. [And the golf course assessments aren't the worst assessment gift in my town. I'll post on that one soon.]
It is apparently standard practice for assessors in some places to
value large parcels of land very generously. I'm not talking about
special valuations for farms or forests (even if they are long-fallow
and in areas where land sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars per
acre). Rather, I am talking about valuations which treat the portion
of an owner's land beyond the minimum zoning size as if it were worth
perhaps 10% of its real value.
This happens in fairly dense suburban neighborhoods and in places where much larger lots are the minimum.
Newspapers in New London ("Urban Mayors Push For Local Sales-tax Option") and Stamford ("Malloy: Cities should have sales tax option") had articles today describing 4 Connecticut cities' mayors' aversion to increasing the property tax.
mayors, including Kevin Cavanagh of New London, urged the legislature
Monday to give municipalities the ability to levy a local sales tax of
up to 1 percentage point to raise revenue without resorting to
The articles quote Dannell Malloy of Stamford, Kevin Cavanagh of New London, Bill Finch of Bridgeport, and Dan DeStefano of New Haven as endorsing the idea.
Malloy, along with mayors Bill Finch of Bridgeport, John DeStefano of
New Haven and Kevin Cavanagh of New London, said cities need other
options for raising revenue besides burdening constituents with more