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!
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.
In a recent NYT, there is an article
about the building on the southwest corner of 72nd and Madison in NYC.
Twice in the article and once in the caption to the photos, the
building is referred to as a "taxpayer" or "taxpayer-style building."
The article describes the 2 buildings which have occupied the 48' by
100' lot on the sw corner of 72nd and Madison: the first was a 5-story
mansion built in 1894, which was occupied by an ex-wife of William K.
Vanderbilt II. On the northwest corner stood Louis Tiffany's grand
house, and Gertrude Rhinelander was building her chateau, now the Ralph
Lauren store, on the southeast corner. The mansion remained a private
home until 1951, when it was
... replaced with a two-story-high taxpayer-style building, designed by Boak & Raad with severe simplicity.
Lauren acquired the old Rhinelander mansion for its flagship store in
1986, and seven years later took over the taxpayer on the site of the
Cutting house. It has operated a store there since then.
The Hartford Courant published an editorial yesterday entitled "Let's Redirect Sprawl." The title is taken from a statement by Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell.
The editorial says, in part,
Advocates for smart growth often cite the
need for "infill development." But "redirect sprawl" gets the message
across better. One of the aspects of smart growth that is sometimes
forgotten is — growth. To redirect sprawl is emphatically to keep
growing, but in places that don't waste energy, add to traffic
congestion or ruin the view.
How do we do this? The editorial doesn't say. It does mention the underused land in our cities:
That should be part of a strong and focused effort to redirect sprawl
to the empty and underused sites that pockmark nearly all of our urban
areas. The central part of Hartford, for example, has acres of land that is severely underused as surface parking.
usually does cost more to build in town centers and transit corridors.
But it is the right thing to do. If we rebuild cities to a healthy
urban density, we won't have to drive as much, and thus will save
energy and cause less pollution. Cities will be safer and more
walkable. There will be less pressure to develop the last of our farms.
"People want to live in cities, if you do it right," Mr. Rendell said.
This ought to be the next phase of the smart-growth movement in Connecticut, and Mr. Rendell may have provided the catchphrase.
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
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
I had a call from a polling organization last night; my phone number had been randomly selected, and I was the adult in the family whose birthday occurred next. One of the questions, for classification purposes, was whether I lived in a city, a suburb or a rural area. I puzzled over it a little. Stamford is certainly a city, at 120,000 population. But much of its character comes from its situation as a suburb of NYC. And where I live, the neighborhood association seeks to maintain the "rural character" of the area.