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!
How might we tax ourselves more efficiently and more justly, and avoid the high housing costs that plague our part of the state?
A simple tax reform will go a long way: Land Value Taxation.
its simplest, LVT is a reform of the existing property tax, starting
with reducing the tax burden on buildings, while increasing the tax
load on land (remaining revenue neutral). This will produce more
housing, more commercial space and lower rents and selling prices for
I suspect that we might find its results so desirable that
we might then considering shifting some of our other taxation off of
sales and off of wages.
A recent article in the Stamford Advocate announced the sale of the downtown Stamford property which was, until a few months ago, the home of the newspaper. It began,
A Norwalk developer confirmed yesterday it entered into an agreement to
buy the former Advocate building in Stamford and Greenwich Time
building in Greenwich from Tribune Co. for an undisclosed amount.
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:
STAMFORD - During an appearance yesterday at the Urban Transitway
construction site, U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., called for
major national investment in roads, trains, bridges and other
Dodd came to town to promote his bill that would set up an independent
national bank for such projects. The bank would designate regionally
significant projects for loans, loan guarantees or other financial help
and issue tax-exempt bonds to finance them.
Dodd said the United States needs a national policy and a dedicated
funding stream for maintaining infrastructure, rather than leaving it
to politicians to fight for money for individual projects.
It may be a dry topic, but it's important, he said.
"It normally glazes over the eyes of the most determined listener," Dodd said. "I'm proud to be in a city that cares about it."
The title for this post was prompted by an article in the NYT about
people not raised on farms deciding to become farmers, particularly in
places near large cities. It seems that local food was said to be the
answer to a number of questions. I'm generally in favor of it, but I'm
not sure it is the answer to as many questions as its supporters
claim. That doesn't make "local food" a bad thing; just not the answer
to as many questions as it might seem.
But the title for this post sprang to mind. It seems to me that Land Value Taxation is the answer to a lot of very important questions.
Yes -- there is a Connecticut angle on this ... keep reading!
Link: http://www.cclponline.org/pubfiles/SelfSufficiency08_FinalProof.pdf The
newest Self Sufficiency Standard Study was published recently, for
Colorado. The SSS is a detailing of a no-frills cost of living which
meets all the most simply defined needs but provides no frills. I've
spent a lot of time on most of the 30+ studies (mostly on one state at
a time; a few on a major metropolitan area), and have mixed feelings
about them. On the one hand, they are probably the best assessment
we've got the cost of a the-very-bottom-of-lower-middle-class lifestyle
in various places in the US. They use a consistent and logical
methodology and tailor the findings to various configurations of
families. So far, very good and useful.
By this, I mean fixing the problem of low wages -- wages
insufficient to support an individual or a family in conditions we
consider acceptable on a reasonable number of hours of labor per week.
I don't mean minimum wage legislation, or living wage legislation, both
of which I regard as well-intentioned but ultimately destructive for
the community they intend to help. I don't mean measures like the
Earned Income Tax Credit, either. It appears that people must jump
through high hoops to get those dollars (which often seems to require
professional advice, at a price), and then a significant portion of the
money goes not to the wage earner but to his tax preparer/advisor, in
the form of fees and interest.
One of my standing google alerts took me to an article on Florida
taxes. On the comments pages, some people were proposing the FairTax as
a good alternative to the current federal income tax. I ended up
posting several comments in response to their statements, and thought
I'd cross-post my comments here.