The Public Financiers:

Ricardo, George, Clark, Ramsey, Mirrlees, Vickrey, Wicksell, Musgrave, Buchanan, Tiebout, and Stiglitz, by Colin Read, Palgrave-MacMillan, 2016. Review by Bill Batt

Professor Read gives us an eminently readable book about the leading economists responsible for developing the sub-discipline of public finance. It is part of the author’s “Great Minds Series.” Continue reading

What Trump (Doesn’t Get) Right on Trade

by Lindy Davies

Alan Tonelson is a Research Fellow at the US Business and Industry Council Educational Foundation, an organization that seeks to shore up US “sovereignty” by means of protectionist trade policy. On March 2nd, he contributed an op-ed piece to the New York Times praising Donald Trump’s ideas on international trade. Continue reading

A Few Questions for Mason Gaffney

We thought this might be an opportune time to check in with the eminently sane Prof. Mason Gaffney at his home in Redlands, California. The author of The Corruption of Economics, After the Crash: Designing a Depression-Free Economy and The Mason Gaffney Reader (as well as hundreds of published papers and articles: see masongaffney.org )has slowed down a little, perhaps, but not awfully much. Continue reading

Charting the Costs of Land Speculation

by Lindy Davies

The familiar “Law of Rent Chart” first appeared in print in the 1915 book by Louis F. Post, The Taxation of Land Values. The chart shows the simple fact that different locations offer different productive potentials — and that the wealth the average producer can create, and keep, on the free land represents the alternative return for producers everywhere. Continue reading

On Fictitious Commodities, and Sacred Land

by Lindy Davies

It’s very likely that we Georgists will keep trying to “diagnose our failure” until society finally adopts the Georgist remedy. One chestnut that’s resurfaced recently is the notion that our focus on the land monopoly, while OK as far as it goes, naively ignores other modern evils that do just as much damage. Continue reading

Did You Know?

15cpwby Polly Cleveland

One of New York City’s priciest and poshest addresses is 15 Central Park West, home of elegant twin limestone towers, and many celebrities. The 36-story, 202-unit building was was completed in 2008, at a cost of $950 million. Before that, this lot, on the Central Park side, had been vacant for many decades. It had been owned by a Greek shipping family, but was finally pried loose for $401 million in 2004.

On the Broadway side of the lot stood the old Mayflower Hotel. Its last resident, a 73-year old rent-controlled tenant, was paid $17 million to give up his lease.

Condos in this building have been owned by the likes of Robert DeNiro, Alex Rodriguez and various cash-loaded Russian oligarchs. Sales to date stand at $2.5 billion. Units in this building are notably good investments; apartments purchased for $5-7 million are now flipping for $30 million and up.

niceviewNew York City’s property tax system offers a sweet deal to condominium owners. Units are assessed as though they were rental apartments; their often gigantic asset value does not enter into the property tax picture at all. This has created a gigantic speculative market in luxury condos, which has spurred the recent trend toward “supertall” luxury buildings.

supertall

Confusions Concerning Money and Land

by Shirley-Anne Hardy

It is not generally understood that the vexed role of money in our society is due entirely to its underpinning by the great vexed, unresolved and ultimately all-underlying land question.

The best key to understanding this is undoubtedly the pictorial presentation of a great natural law: the Law of Rent. But it can perhaps also be quite well understood if I quote from the introductory passages to its classic version: The Iron Law of Wages — The return to labor, however great the potential of the land that is worked, and however great the individual effort put into the work, will never be greater than the return available from the most marginal land in use.

qorkitFrom the foregoing it is clear that money’s power to exploit, in our society, is bedded in its power to grant to such a society’s “landowners” the power to possess stolen goods.

Where, under the natural Law of Rent, stolen goods are ruled out, when phony landownership is abolished, there money reverts to its original, and solely beneficial, role: as a measuring device which simplifies fair exchange, in people’s desire to trade goods with one another. I place the word “landowners” in quotes, in view of Thomas Paine’s famous words that so brilliantly pinpoint our all-underlying trouble: “I never heard that the Creator opened an estate-office to issue title-deeds to land.” The human-devised deed of land-entitlement is the institutor of robbery in our society — and the creator and originator of today’s entire “money problem.”

For these entitlement-to-land deeds then proceed falsely to co-opt land into the role of capital (land may be God’s capital; it’s not ours) and thus land comes falsely to assume a monetary value, fixed according to its exchangeability with true items of capital value: things brought into being by human labor.

The total madness of co-opting land into a capital role is that land, gifted to us by a mysterious Creator, cannot be made by man. Therefore the buying and selling of land in the market, as if it were a form of capital, invites its hoarding and monopolizing. This allows the ultimate horror to operate in our society: that of an all-underlying monopoly, for nothing can be produced, no labor can be exerted, without access to land.

Advocates of political decentralization such as Kathleen Janaway are entirely lost in advocating that money should be used to buy land. In this urging such folk are “doing the Devil’s work for him!” As we have seen, it is precisely the marketing of land that the false face of money, in our society, arises out of!

Let it be repeated: the original and true role of money in our society is entirely friendly, facilitating the exchange of goods among people by a simple device of measurement. Money’s role in accumulating an unjust quantity of goods in the hands of some depends on those goods being stolen goods!

Let it further be noted that, even were money in today’s society to be done away with, we would rapidly discover who still “held all the chips” — those who hold our society’s false deeds of entitlement to land! And let us note in passing that those deeds permeate equally the entire global stock market, and all those phony mortgages (roughly 80% of which are based on the land component) which have cruelly dispossessed people from their homes and caused the banking crash.

In welcome contrast to these confusions (the Law of Rent having been strictly excluded from our educational systems, from bottom to top!) let me acknowledge Kathleen Janaway’s profound insight (In New Leaves, the journal of the Movement for Compassionate Living):

There is overwhelming evidence that true democracy cannot function on this scale of the large modern state with central government. In the so-called democracies of today, the good of all the people is certainly not achieved. On the contrary the gap between the rich and poor grows ever greater.

Society’s acute need for radical political decentralization is, in fact, responded to by the Natural Law of Rent itself, which in sorting out economic problems carries with it the radical decentralization of political power!

Fortunately, as more and more people are coming today to see, radical political decentralization is not just the only sane way for society to operate, but is also the only happy way — as is so excellently expressed in the Irish Celtic saying, “It is in the shelter of each other that people live.”