It is an observation of which events repeatedly remind me, that humankind is like the drunkard who falls off the right side of his horse, and then, resolved not to repeat that mistake, proceeds to fall off the left side of his horse. There was a recent article in Slate about cutting down on prescribing opioids, which may have been too widely prescribed in recent years. Now, however, patients with severe and chronic pain are in misery, sometimes committing suicide, and sometimes buying illegal narcotics from drug dealers.

Oh, and last week the Washington Post published an opinion column by Mike deWine, Ohio's attorney general, who is suing the pharmaceutical companies for inflicting the scourge of excessive opioid availability on his fair state. Leaving aside the legal merits the case, has he thought about the likely results of cutting down on the availability of legal narcotics manufactured in carefully monitored conditions?
I got a letter from Mrs. Ava Arpaio yesterday, begging me to contribute to the Sheriff Joe Legal Defense Fund. That's Joe Arpaio, "the toughest sheriff in America," now facing contempt charges. Among other things, he has cost the taxpayers of Maricopa County (Phoenix, Arizona) a small fortune in settlements paid to people whom he and his deputies have wronged. I considered writing a note to tell Mrs. Arpaio that I definitely would not contribute, but decided not to. It would hardly do any good, and whatever a man's misdeeds, it would not be seemly to mock a woman whose husband of many years is facing jail and disgrace.

Nonetheless, the appeal for funds was torn up and deposited in the recycling bin.
I didn't get any amendments this week, and I finished an Office Action on one of the four that I had, so I'm down to three, all paused; two are paused because the patent applicants get a little more time to respond to the Board of Appeals decisions affirming my rejections, and one is paused because another unit in the Patent Office is apparently waiting to take a look and decide whether to agree with me that the currently pending claim is in their area, not mine.

I also did an Office Action on my oldest Regular New case, and I'm searching the prior art for whatever I can find relevant to my next Regular New case.
I just downloaded Lois McMaster Bujold's new novella, Penric's Fox. Sad to say, I have a job that cuts into my reading time, but I hope to settle down and read more than the first few pages soon.
As a Georgist, I believe that I can distinguish between what is properly private (wealth created by human effort) and what is properly public (natural resources), enabling me to sound like a conservative and radical leftist at the same time. I can also see what's wrong with the Left and with the Right. There is a vivid portrayal of what's gone wrong in Venezuela in Reason online, reminding us of why rule by populist strongmen is most undesirable.

And then there are the populist yahoos of the Right, such as Corey Stewart, Virginia's Minnesota-born admirer of Confederate heritage, who has boasted that he was Trump before Trump was Trump. He should sue himself for defamation for saying that, except that the truth is a defense. Mr. Stewart sent me an email, asking me to support his campaign to unseat Senator Tim Kaine. I clicked on the link, hoping for an opportunity to give the gentleman a piece of my mind, but there was no place to send an email or leave comments, only to donate money. I would sooner take up lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills, and I hate tobacco smoke.
On July 28, 2017, I entered the meeting room while Open Mike was already is session, and Dan Sullivan was in the middle of his talk. He said that even great progressive taxes on income don't provide good incentives. Land value taxation does. Presumably, he had been talking about why this is so.

Then I gave the next talk. I said that I had been active on, which is a site where people can post questions about various topics of interest, and other people who know the answers (or think they do) can answer those questions. I had been providing Georgist answers to questions about economics, and while I hadn't made the world Georgist, some people had pivoted my answers, and followed me. Sowing seeds like this might be useful; before I read Progess and Poverty, I had vaguely seen a reference to single-taxers and come across a newspaper column somewhere advocating a land-only property tax.

Then Mike Curtis spoke. A hundred years or so ago, the income tax had been a (partial) replacement for tariffs, a good idea, which Georgists supported, but -- he referred to Alexandra Wagner Lough, a historian who had spoken at earlier conferences, and talked about how Georgism had sunk into obscurity in the early twentieth century. He also talked about the minimum wage. Higher minimum wages could result in higher rents, since poor people would have more money to spend on places to live. Raising the minimum wage too high could produce unemployment, so it might be best to index the minimum wage to inflation, so as not to raise unemployment.

Alanna Hartzok, a Democrat and progressive, said that typical Bernie Sanders people don't understand land rents. Talk to them about removing the tax burden instead. Especially the tax burdens on those who aren't making much money.

To be continued.
This week, I got one new amendment, which I worked on Friday, but without starting an Office Action, still less finishing one. I hope to finish one by Monday at 3:00 PM, and in the meantime, I have two regular amendments and two Board of Appeals decisions on my Special Amended docket; three of the four are paused.

I also did Office Actions on the Regular New case I had been working on last week, then on my oldest non-RCE Regular New, and then on my oldest Request for Continued Examination case, so it's been a productive three and a half days.
I was looking at The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation, and came across Alan Jenkins's translation of "Vainglory" into modern English. If I didn't know that the book had been published when "President Donald Trump" was a punchline, and that the poem itself was from a thousand years or so ago, I would think that the description of "vainglory's victim" had been based on you-know-who.
You may want to refer to my post on July 18, where I promised to match donations to Global Emergency Response, up to a limit of $250. Someone has made a $20 donation, and more are welcome; at the end of this week, I will match whatever donations I have been notified of before that time. If that's less than $250, I will be open to matching further donations.
I will continue with last year's conference, but for now, here's what happened on July 27, 2017. Our conference in O'Fallon, Illinois, began with an opening reception in the evening, and at least one speech, which I missed, because I took my shoes off, and lay down across one of the double beds in my room. I did get downstairs eventually, and join my friends for some informal chat.

One Georgist cut open a dragon fruit from his California orchard, and gave me a piece. This was the first time that I had eaten dragon fruit, and I liked it, but not enough to try to find and buy it regularly.

The theme of the conference was "Bridging the Left-Right Divide."
I'm posting from the Saint Louis Airport, having spent the last few days at the 2017 North American Georgist Conference, about which I will post in detail later. Among other things, we held a book launch for the annotated critical edition of Progress and Poverty, the second volume in what is to be the annotated complete works, and I bough a copy, even though I already own another copy edition of the book. By next year, there should be an annotated edition of Social Problems.

Meanwhile, I should be able to board the plane within half an hour, and head home.
This is an early end to my workweek, because I'm flying to Saint Louis tomorrow, and attending the Georgist conference, even though I haven't finished blogging last year's.

I didn't get any amendments this week, and I didn't work on any, so I still have three, all in paused status. I've been working on a Regular New case, but without finishing it. This is not my oldest Regular New, although I expected it to be; however, when I started work Tuesday morning, I found that a new case had been docketed to me which was older than my other cases, and had become my oldest non-RCE Regular New. I sent a Rush request to the Electronic Information Center to have them search it; I will at some point do my own searching and then examine the case. Meanwhile, I'm working on something else.
Last night, I woke up at about 4:00 AM, drank some water, used the plumbing, and went back to bed, only it seemed that I couldn't sleep, so I left the house (I think I was staying in somebody's house), and took a walk down the street. There were several cars with stereo systems playing music I didn't like, so it wasn't very calming. I went back to the house, and one attempt to open the door just led to a coat closet, not a proper entry.

Someone else outside the house talked with me, and this person seemed at first rather androgynous, but then seemed to be a middle-aged women with shortish hair (for a woman). Then it became clear to me that the person was actually a blond teenage boy with longish hair (for a boy).

I think that it was around then that I woke up, and found that it was a bit before 5:00 AM. Fortunately, I was able to sleep a bit more before it was time to get up and go to work.
In the evening of August 18, we held a Center for the Study of Economics Board meeting, which was not strictly speaking part of the Georgist Conference, but with a number of CSE Board members present, it was a convenient time and place for a meeting. Alodia Arnold proposed a BIL talk (an informal alternative to a TED talk) in Fairhope, Alabama, on October 22, 2016. I'm not sure what came of that.

Then there was a Henry George Institute membership meeting; again, this wasn't formally a part of the conference as such. Our program director reported that we have many enrollments, but few people following through and completing the course. Some people (mostly prisoners) still complete the basic course by mail (rather than over the Internet), and two are to receive transcripts from Excelsior College.

Can we get more people by advertising?

The Robert Schalkenbach Foundation is now helping to support publication of the Georgist Journal, at $5000 per year.

We need money, and some day, we will need a successor to Lindy Davies, our Program Director. I'm president, but I have a full time job elsewhere.
To continue with the panel discussion on August 18, Joshua Vincent talked about splitting the opposition. The Connecticut Business and Industry Association used to oppose land value taxation. Here's the twentieth story if their building, looking down on a parking lot, formerly a Hilton. They will no longer oppose LVT, although they don't support it. Presumably, Josh pointed out to them that LVT would cut their property taxes, and raise those of the parking lot owner.

Bill Batt mentioned Costa Rica as having the best land maps. Thailand has introduced a property tax; would it be land-only or land and buildings? They went with land and buildings, but there are problems, and this may change. In Korea, the Georgists are closely linked with the Christians, now one third of the population. We should support them.

And that is the end of my notes on that discussion.
To continue with the afternoon of Thursday, August 18, there various comments at the Tactical Response Panel. Ted Gwartney said that we should go after the low-hanging fruit first. Simply obeying the law, and accurately assessing land would be substantial progress. Years ago, he was in Russia, trying to push Georgism. Russian politicians liked the idea, but the opposition got to them.

Dr. Herbert Barry said that the Sixteenth Amendment (authorizing the income tax) is bad, and he repeated his proposed alternative.

Lindy Davies said that some taxes are less bad than others, and we should have our answers ready, for example, say, "The property tax is not regressive," and be able to explain and defend that view.

Dan Sullivan said that Steven Cord was not a very good salesman, but he persisted, which is how he got real-world victories. Joshua Vincent commented that Dr. Cord kept coming back. 90% is just showing up.

Alan Riddley said that to make housing in California affordable, it is necessary to repeal Proposition Thirteen, but not this election cycle. Joshua Vincent said that the left has inadvertently supported Proposition 13, and mentioned libertarians and others, who, he said, have done more harm than Howard Jarvis.

Brendan Hennigan said something about a follow-up on Catholics.

To be continued.
I got one regular amendment this week, and took quick action on it, so I'm back to two Special Amended cases (actually Board of Appeals affirmances) and one regular Amended case, all three of them paused for now.

I also did a first action on my oldest non-RCE new case, and an action on my oldest Request for Continued Examination case, so it was a pretty productive week.
To continue with the afternoon of Thursday, August 18, we next had a panel discussion, the Tactical Focus Panel, with Lindy Davies. Joshua Vincent, and Professor Frank Peddle. There was a handout from Josh, on the Unconference, with some advice: Find allies! Maybe a newspaper, Google Alerts, find Georgist solutions to local problems. Hartford and Philadelphia. Get Altoona to keep its land tax. Affect good assessments, as Ted Gwartney did in Greenwich, Connecticut, and elsewhere. Philadelphia has a new mayor and staff, and they're interested in fixing assessments.

As a postscript on that, Altoona went back to taxing both land and buildings, after taxing only land for a few years.

At the national level, grazing fees and other charges for the use of land. Testimony in tax committees. Regulatory agencies can be nudged to support land value taxation, HUD, for example.

Then Frank Peddle talked about the Panama Papers, showing international tax dodging. Governments try to tax mobile factors, not land. It's hard to untangle things and get money from tax havens, although politicians want to try. LVT makes it all so much easier.

Lindy Davies said that he didn't have much to add. He mentioned a carbon dioxide tax accompanied by a citizens' dividend. We're a radical movement seeking fundamental reform. Our efforts should inform each other.

To be continued.
At the farmers' market two days ago, I found a stand that had some sweet plums, and eagerly bought a quart. They're much better than the plums you can find in the supermarket, and I eagerly packed some in my lunch bags yesterday and this morning.

In Yemen, and in South Sudan, Somalia, Niger, and other parts of Africa, millions of people face starvation, and a number of charitable groups have united to solicit donations as, and some major corporations are matching donations. I offer to do the same: If you leave a reply to this post that you have donated, or pledge to do so, I will match your pledge or pledges, up to a total of $250.
I saw an obituary in the paper the other day; the mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani has died of breast cancer. I hadn't known she was ill, and now I feel that the world is diminished by the loss of a thinker whom I never met and whose work I am not qualified to appreciate.

Her death may not ultimately matter more than the similar death of a sales clerk in Tulsa or a peasant in Bangladesh, but it troubles me that the first woman to win the Fields medal is no longer with us. It seems a sad commentary on humankind that vast numbers of people read tabloids about shallow people famous for being famous, and probably not one American in a thousand could have identified this great mathematician. Most likely, Professor Mirzakhani would not have wanted to be followed by paparazzi, or to have her illness extensively and inaccurately reported in the yellow press; still, I could wish for some dignified acknowledgment of a person of true accomplishment.



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