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.
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.
To continue with Thursday, August 18, there was a Council of Georgist Organizations business meeting in the afternoon, and as president of two Georgist organizations, I was there. There was a problem with one hotel in Saint Louis, Missouri, so we authorized our conference organizer to cancel with them, and find another hotel. We will meet in the St. Louis area in 2017 (not too long from now), and our 2018 meeting is expected to be in Baltimore.

Discussion went on and on, partly about matters like CGO finances, partly about things we might do aside from the annual formal conference (hold an unconference?), and partly about what to call ourselves. Ideas include Georgists, Geoists, and Earthsharers. I'm willing to use any of those terms, or the phrase "single taxers", if the rebranding would just have the practical effect of making our ideas well known and widely accepted. It seems, though, that things are more difficult than that.
On the morning of Thursday, August 18, we went on a bus tour, and saw the Osceola County Historical Society's Pioneer Village. There was a small -- very small -- house which had been the home (or was a reconstruction of the home; I forget which) of a whole large family of crackers. There are different derivations of the term "cracker" for Southern whites, but the story were told then was because they were cattlemen who cracked their whips. Yes, there were cowboys in Florida.

Later, orange groves become more important, and we saw the larger house of the Cadmans, an English family who came to Florida in the late nineteenth century, and grew oranges for export to Britain; we learned a bit about how oranges were waxed and packed for shipment. Oh, and the family brought along a couple of their servants as well multiple children.

Then there was a museum tour, where I saw the only alligators I actually saw during my visit to Florida; they were small ones in a terrarium, and the museum guide explained that if you keep alligators on short rations, they don't grow big. We went to lunch, at a restaurant that will never make the Guide Michelin, but did provide some edible food; after that, we toured Disney's model intentional community of Celebration.
On Friday, the Washington Post published a letter from my friend Walter Rybeck, who served in the Army in World War Two, and must be well into his tenth decade, but still has all his marbles. Here is the letter:

It's the land, not the houses

The July 2 Metro article "Poll: District gentrifiers blame themselves for driving up costs" implied that gentrification is the cause of the shortage of affordable housing. People thinking that doesn't make it so.

The first error was calling it a "housing" crisis. Similar to cars that lose value from the moment buyers drive away from the dealer, houses also decline in value over time, even when they're well taken care of. Of course, escalating prices and rents are genuine and serious. This is not because of the cost of the house but rather the cost of what the house sits on: the land. Land prices keep rising because of pressure from population growth. People also pay extra for locations that are made more desirable by improved public facilities and services.

However, a major cause of escalating prices is land speculation that creates artificial shortages of building sites. The crisis will persist until we stop fixating on housing and address ways to attain affordable housing sites.

Two hints to policymakers: Land speculation is fostered when land values are assessed and taxed too lightly. Land prices are deflated when robust land taxes are imposed.

Walter Rybeck, Silver Spring
To continue with the late afternoon of Wednesday, August 17, we heard from Jacob Shwartz-Lucas and maybe Mark Sullivan (I remember Jacob speaking; Mark is also listed in the program, but I don't remember whether he actually spoke at this session or not).

Mr. Shwartz-Lucas said that he's a microbiologist by training, and was interested in bacteria to help clean polluted rivers like the Ganges. He saw that it was necessary to change the rules, not just apply technology. He emailed a thousand people asking what to do, how to solve poverty, and the Henry George solution seemed best.

Now the Georgist movement has a bunch of young people. Recession Generation was a young Georgist event, a skill-sharing conference. 70% of those attending were under forty-five years old.

He described his marketing campaign, with 14,000 subscribers and growing. It gets free advertising from Google. There's lots of date from people who take our surveys. He mentioned Kaiser Fung, the survey consultant for Earthsharing.

There are socialist Georgists, anarchist Georgists, and libertarian Georgists, with the percentages varying by age. The people in this room, he said, were mostly older people, since younger people are mostly poor, and can't afford to fly to conferences and pay for hotels. He presented more survey results.

Christine Peterson, who coined the term "open source," was at the latest conference (I presume that that means at the Georgist youth gathering in California).

Michael Burton, Ph.D., a political strategist at the office of VP Al Gore (1993-1998), said, "You're doing all of the right things, Jake: building a large newsletter, surveys, and statistical analysis."

Then Alodia Arnold, another young Georgist, spoke up to recommend going into real estate appraising. Most appraisers are fiftyish or older. It's a well-paying career, a long career, and can advance Georgism.

After that, we had the evening off for informal socializing and dinner on our own. My next installment will be about Thursday the 18th.
At around 3:00 PM on Wednesday, August 17, the panel discussion resumed.

Brendan Hennigan talked about George's The Irish Land Question, later published as The Land Question, with other works included. Hennigan has an Irish background, and said that the Potato Famine was not a real famine: enough food was produced, but it was exported. He discussed the Irish Land League, some of whose members were Georgists.

Fred Foldvary talked about the Duke of Argyll, author of The Reign of Law, and of "The Prophet of San Francisco," an attack on Henry George, who replied with "The Reduction to Iniquity." Dr. Foldvary said that the Duke misunderstood George. Dr. Foldvary said that we should say, "The land rent belongs to all equally." We support individual possession of land, with payment to the community.

Then Bill Peirce, a retired professor of economics, talked about Progress and Poverty. A short biography gave the impression that Henry George didn't know much about economics, but in fact he had read Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill. Would that economists today knew Smith, Ricardo, and Mill.

Around 1870, Walras in France, Menger in Austria, and Jevons in England began the Marginal Revolution. (George's Progress and Poverty dates to 1879.) The marginal revolution meant that economics provided much more precise and rigorous answers to much less important questions than the classical political economists. George was not really behind the times, because in 1879, most other economists were not up on the marginal revolution.

George saw the power of human ingenuity and cooperation. He was an anti-Malthusian, which was needed at the time. There was biological Darwinism, and there was Social Darwinism, the latter of which, at least, George rejected. Reviewers of his work criticized him for this, e.g., William Graham Sumner. George was called a preacher, a poet, and worse things, but he was in fact a real economist.

Progress and Poverty reads better today than it did in 1900 or 1920. Henry George wasn't just a mathematician; he understood the real world, how real firms, real bureaucrats, and real lobbyists influencing government operate. He was a public choice economist avant la lettre.

Early marginalists (not so much Alfred Marshall, who had it in the footnotes) sometimes just used math, and didn't properly grasp the real world.
To continue with the book launch on Wednesday, August 17, Frank Peddle spoke after Fred Foldvary. Professor Peddle said Volume II of the Collected Works, Progress and Poverty, would be out in the fall. The annotated critical edition was aimed at libraries and institutions, and would be available for scholarly work. Why bother, since George's works were in the public domain?

There had been no annotated critical edition before. Now-obscure economists are quoted, and there are words unfamiliar to most people today. The critical edition will have explanations, annotations, corrections, and a new index.

He mentioned the electronic future, and publishing constraints.

Then there was a break until 3:00 PM.
To continue with the book launch on Wednesday, August 17, and specifically with what Fred Foldvary was saying: There was a crash in 1873. There was land fraud in California. The federal government ran huge deficits during the 1800's, not in money, but in land. The public lands were being given away or sold cheaply.

He also spoke of the "discovery" doctrine. In 1455, Pope Nicholas V decreed in Romanus Pontifex that the first Christians to discover non-Christian land owned it. American land law incorporated this doctrine, which did not come from English common law. The mostly Protestant U.S. took this from the Vatican.

The American revolutionaries were land speculators, and therefore the revolution. It's more complicated than that, but the economic motives of the revolutionary leaders did matter.

Land policy today involves subsidies for the rich. The government taxes people for civic improvements, and it's the mostly rich owners of land who benefit.

Then there was another Alexandra Wagner Lough film clip.
The Financial Times printed a letter of mine today, and here it is:

Encourage the more efficient use of land

Sir, Diane Coyle writes that the market is not going to fix the housing problem, which is true in a sense, but states that private developers will not want to increase housing supply enough to bring prices down ("Grenfell Tower tragedy offers a chance to fix housing policy", June 22). Private developers may not want that result, but each developer stands to profit by increasing the housing supply a bit, and the total effect should be a large increase in that supply.

The real market failure is that private developers cannot increase the supply of land. It would be possible, however, to reconsider land use regulations, and to tax land more while cutting taxes on buildings, wages, and value added. This would encourage efficient use of land, while rendering land speculation unprofitable, and thus reducing land prices.

Nicholas D Rosen
Arlington, VA, US
To continue with Wednesday, August 17, after lunch we had the book launch for The Annotated Works of Henry George, Volume One. A few years ago, I had my doubts, as a Schalkenbach trustee, about spending tens of thousands of dollars on this, but Ted Gwartney made the argument that having scholarly, annotated printings would help get Georgism taken seriously by more academics (some academics already do take it seriously). Anyway, the event began with a video clip of Dr. Alexandra Wagner Lough speaking about American economic history.

Brendan Hennigan spoke (giving an introduction, I presume), followed by Dr. Fred Foldvary, Professor Frank Peddle, and Professor Bill Peirce.

Dr. Foldvary spoke about "Our Land and Land Policy," the first (short) book by Henry George, then thirty-one years old. He already understood about land and rent, and gave a brief history of massive land giveaways by the U.S. government to railroads, veterans, colleges, etc.

Land "monopoly" doesn't mean that there's a single seller, but that the supply cannot be increased.

Only one seventh of the land was transferred to homesteaders.

The Southern States had blocked Western expansion. During the Civil War, the Homestead Act was passed, with no Southern Congressmen to oppose it.

Speculators used "dummy entrymen" to obtain lands supposedly set aside for homesteaders.

There was an 1868 article by Henry George, "What the Railroad Will Bring Us." He was concerned that when the raw new city of San Francisco was connected to the Eastern U.S. by railroad, and became as great and rich as New York City, there would be hungry, ragged children in the streets of San Francisco, just as there were in New York.

To be continued.
To continue with the morning of Wednesday, August 17, there was a question and answer session after Professor Clark's talk.

Someone mentioned cow-leasing. If you have at least one cow per ten acres, you're a farmer or rancher, not just a land speculator, so there's supposedly a company in Florida that leases cows. You pay the company money, you get a tax break in your property, and the company provides both the cows and the service of taking care of them.

Someone else -- it may have been Professor Clark, I don't know -- said that Walt Disney's father built the first tourist hotel in Florida, near Daytona Beach, and it failed. The Disneys failed in Florida, went to Chicago, and later to Missouri. Walt Disney's grandfather for the 1893 World Fair in Chicago, the "White City," which helped inspire Walt.

After this, we had lunch, with CGO memeber organization reports.
To continue with Professor Clark's talk on how Disney World got started, there was a chicken ranch, with a diner, offering chicken dinners and plumbing. Disney executives went there to eat. When an agent secretly representing Disney tried to buy out the owners, they said that they had been praying for someone to offer them good money for their swampy land, "But lately, business has been so good." So they didn't sell, and now the Hyatt Regency is on the site of their ranch. I guess their family still owns the land.

12,000 acres were acquired from the Dimitri family, who sold Disney the land, and donated the mineral rights to Tuft University. Disney bought the mineral rights from Tuft U.

Mostly, the Walt Disney Corporation managed to keep its land-buying confidential, but one charter airplane pilot overheard, and spent $25,000 to buy an option on some land; he made a million dollars in profit.

Disney demanded legislation creating the Reedy Creek Improvement District, to protect the Disney World park from local politicians.

Walt Disney died, and the ideas he had had for a City of Tomorrow were not brought to fruition. His brother Roy said, "Walt's dead," and just built an amusement park.

A carnie had told Walt Disney that free parking was a bad idea.

Also, before he died, Walt asked Roy, "Don't you wish we had bought 27,000 acres in Anaheim?"

This was followed by a Q&A session. Watch this space.
To continue with Wednesday, August 17, the second part of "Disney World as an Intentional Community" was a talk by Jim Clark, a historian, a professor at the University of Central Florida, and also a journalist. His aunt sold her twenty acres for $1000 per acre.

Walt Disney couldn't get financing for Disney World, so he mortgaged his television program to ABC. Ultimately, Disney Corporation ended up buying ABC.

In the late 1950's and 1960's, 98% of visitors to Disney Land in California were from west of the Mississippi; it would be nice to get money from people in the East as well. Walt Disney talked with Angie Busch, who owned Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida. There are exotic birds and gardens at Busch Gardens.

Walt Disney's parents were the first couple married in new Lake County, Florida. Young Walt didn't grow up in Florida, but did visit as a child. He saw the future site of Disney World from an airplane, and chose the land. It was swampland, with 16 feet of filter on top of the swamps. There is a lake near Disney World, which was dredged out to get soil to put on top of the land elsewhere.

Disney hired a CIA agent to buy up land for Disney World, and he conducted it like a CIA operation. The tipster was "Ford Mustangs," and the second telegraph said "Hay for the mustangs."

Walt Disney (present as "Mr. Brown") was eating with some Disney executives, when the waitress asked whether he was Walt Disney. Someone hastened to say no, that Walt Disney was better looking. Walt Disney said that he was, indeed, Walt Disney, and one of his executives made a "he's crazy" gesture.

A female journalist asked Mr. Disney whether it was true that he was planning to build a theme park near Orlando. He denied it, saying that it was a terrible place for a theme park, with 42.8 inched of rainfall per year, and he also pronounced Kissimmee correctly, with the accent on the second syllable. The reporter figured out that if he knew that much about the local rainfall and pronunciation, he was planning a theme park there, and was behind the mysterious land purchases. The headline read, "Girl reporter says it's Disney."

To be continued.
To proceed with the Q&A session after Dr. Fred Foldvary's talk on "Disney World as a Proprietary Rent-Funded Community," someone said that Florida lands are sinking; people are not being charged market rates to extract water from the aquifer.

Dr. Polly Cleveland described Disney World as a benevolent dictatorship, which she doesn't like very much. She went back and forth in is with Dr. Foldvary.

Lindrith Davies asked whether Disney was truly creating land value, saying that the highways and airports also contribute. But then, Disney does pay taxes.

Scot Walton said tha old town Orlando was pretty decrepit, and not benefiting much from Disney, it seemed.

Ed Dodson asked about employee housing. David Wetzel mentioned gated communities in South Africa, with pricpvate armed guards protecting them. Fred Foldvary noted that this turns public goods theory on its head. The government in South Africa doesn't provide much security, but private companies and associations do.

There was various other discussion.

Joan Moylan said that she had visited the Magic Kingdom in 1973, when Walt Disney was in charge, and it cost $6 for adults, $4 for children. Now the corporate mentality has taken over, and it costs much more.

Frank deJong referred to the Jane Jacobs book, Systems of Survival. It's important to distinguish the Traders from the Guardians. In Italy, private businesses, the Mafia, have gained coercive power. In the Soviet Union, the Guardians took over the whole economy. We need to make a sharp distinction.

Polly Cleveland said that her 96 year old mother is in an assisted living facility. It seems nice, but it's a trap. They provide poor nursing care, and just dial 911 in an emergency. But she can't move her mother.
On Wednesday, August 19, Dr. Fred Foldvary spoke about Walt Disney World as a Proprietary Rent-Funded Community. You can click on the link and read what he himself wrote about the matter.

There are other examples of proprietary rent-funded communities, like shopping malls, hotels, the private neighborhoods of St. Louis, Missouri, a condominium in Alexandria, Virginia, etc. You don't pay a fee to use the elevator in a hotel; you pay rent on your room, which finances services Ike the elevator.

WDW is like that on a bigger scale; it occupies forty square miles in Orange and Osceola counties (mostly Orange), and has 70,000 "cast members." The land assembly was done through dummy corporations, with $5 million paid for 28,000 acres, and the price around $180 per acre by 1964. When it was learned that it was Disney buying the land, the price climbed to $1000 per acre. There is something called the Reedy Creek Improvement District, 98% of which is owned by Disney, which enabled to use innovative methods. This is not like Disney Land in California, where the hotels and such outside the theme park are privately owned. Disney World mostly does not enrich privat land speculators. Disney Land does, and the frenzy of land speculation raised land prices, and made it hard to actually build the hotels required to make the theme park viable.
To continue with the book launch on Tuesday, August 16, Frank Peddle and then Bill Batt spoke about Mason Gaffney. There was a Q&A session, and reminiscences about Mason Gaffney.

Someone suggested that instead of "land," we might do better to say "natural resources."

Lindy Davies, himself a Friend, spoke about John Woolman, the 18th century Friend (Quaker) who opposed slavery. Supposedly, Woolman said something about the ethics of landowning, and said that people should pay the community for the land they held. Lindy doesn't recall the exact quote.

I spoke up to say that I had been a Georgist for many years before I learned just how land speculation leads to recessions. I learned from a talk by Polly Cleveland, with Mason Gaffney sitting beside me, while she presented his model, and improvement over Henry George's own account.

Ed Dodson described a Georgist forecasting service to Mason Gaffney, who should have been the leader of it. Phil Anderson has done something along those lines.

There were other questions and comments, and then basically the end for the day, with the evening devoted to informal socializing. We heard more take the next day.
I'm on the train, coming home from New York City. We, the trustees and employees of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, went out to dinner last night at Da Noi, an Italian restaurant a few blocks from the Courtyard Marriott, together with our respective spouses, or at least those who had come to New York. We also had as our guests David Triggs, the president of the Henry George Foundation of Great Britain, and his charming wife Gay. We drank quite a number of toasts (I mostly just touched the wine to my lips), to the memories of Henry George, Robert Schalkenbach, the twenty-one original trustees of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, past presidents, and others. Our new president-elect, Gib Halverson, praised, thanked, and toasted, the man whom he was replacing, Ted Gwartney, and Mr. Gwartney returned the compliment.

Mr. Triggs gave a fine after-dinner speech, touching on populism, Trump, and Brexit (he voted for Brexit, although not for the reasons that some people did). He recounted his visit to Trump Tower, and his talk with some Italian-Americans from Boston. One reason why some of them had voted for Trump was that they saw him as a businessman, and not a lawyer; the legal system seemed to them to be corrupt and beyond their control. Many people have legitimate grievances, and think that something ought to be done, but don't understand what. In Britain, local property taxes (rates, they're called) are pretty minor, and most taxation is centralized. It's not like the U.S., where buying a newspaper reminded David Triggs of New York state's property tax, and Georgists can lobby state legislatures, local mayors, and city councilmen. In Great Britain, there's a Value Added Tax -- the European Union requires all members to have at least a 15% VAT -- but it's part of the price people pay for whatever they buy, not made visible as an add-on.

Mrs. May wants free trade, and expresses concern for those who are just barely making it, but he would advise her that real free trade doesn't just mean breaking loose from the E.U., but getting rid of the VAT, income tax, etc., and going to LVT. In Britain, pretty much across income levels, hiring someone costs about twice what the employee actually receives after taxes.

This morning, and this early afternoon, we finished our Board meeting, approved the committee assignments made by our new president (I'm now the chairman of the Audit Committee, and on the ad hoc Assessment Committee).
To continue with the book launch for RENT UNMASKED: Essays in Honor of Mason Gaffney, Ted Gwartney spoke of how he became a Georgist. Gwartney's "Assessing Public Values" is Chapter Seven in the book, and according to Chapter Six, by Fred Harrison, it would be a $14 trillion boost if governments practiced land value taxation.

In 1960, House and Home had Mason Gaffney as a guest editor. This led to Ted Gwartney's career as a real estate appraiser and then assessor; he could make a career out of doing good. Gaffney believes, if I understand correctly, in ATCOR -- All Taxes Come Out of Rent.

Then Gwartney spoke about what he learned as an assessor: Land is usually underassessed. Reassessment can be done annually. Assess at the selling price. Show land and building values separately.

In 2011, there was an initiative in California to replace Proposition Thirteen, and abolish sales and income taxes. Ted Gaffney analyzed it, using Board of Equalization figures, and making estimates. He figured that real estate values in California are about 50% land, 50% buildings. A 75% tax on land values would raise $159 billion; current state and local revenues in California were lower than that, $139 billion.

Unfortunately, they needed $7 million to gather signatures, etc., so the initiative was not placed in the ballot.

British Columbia was a success story. Ted Gwartney led a reassessment, made assessments uniform, and created a province-wide Assessment Authority. In forty-one years, total property values rose by a factor of 29, and land values went up by a factor of 37.



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