Nice comparison chart from Jo Jorgensen campaign (via reddit):
Of course she says nothing sensible about land rent and who’s entitled to collect it, but I’m gonna support her until I find a candidate who does.
I was only a bit surprised to find that Chicago’s 2020 police budget is $1,778,002,408, or $660 for each of the 2,693,976 folks that DJ Trump’s Census Bureau estimates live in Chicago. This doesn’t include $737.5 million for the police pension fund, nor $204,867,834 for the Office of Emergency Mgt and Communications, nor $135 million for “judgments and settlements against the City,” (including but not limited to police misbehavior), nor the police-related portion of the City’s capital budget, which seems to include the “joint public safety training academy” ($85 million, but just $15.75 million in the current year), and some other facilities. All told, and without doing the detailed analysis
which I wish the Civic Federation would do, it seems the the City spends something like $1000/person/year for police. That doesn’t necessarily mean that police should be defunded in whole or in part; after all, reported crime has for the most part been declining, so perhaps we are getting something for our money. But it gives some idea of the dollars involved. (And it turns out that, as I was writing this, the Civic Federation produced a post covering much the same ground, with better context and detail and colorful charts, and noting that I failed to include some undetermined but substantial benefit costs among the cost of police.)
Compare police costs to Chicago Public Schools. CPS is a separate unit of government, but controlled by the Mayor and funded mainly by Chicago property tax payers. For the current year, it’s planning to spend $7.84 billion, or $2910 per Chicago resident. Enrollment continues to decline, 13% in ten years (roughly the same amount as reported crime, but that might just be a coincidence).
Summing the police and school expenses, Chicago spends $3910/person. For the hypothetical family of four, that’s over $15,000. I wonder how many two-worker households would prefer to have one stay home, help educate the children, hiring tutors as needed, and keep an eye on the neighborhood, if their income increased by that amount. Just a thought.
It’s certainly true here, where owner-occupants (of houses or condos) pay less tax than renters occupying units of the same value, with additional discounts for old people, some military veterans, and some poor old people. Some owners also still benefit from deductability of mortgage interest and/or property tax. So why do renters put up with this discrimination?
I have always thought, and some data seems to confirm, that it’s because homeowners vote, and renters don’t. But according to this interview, the problem is similar, perhaps worse, in Australia. Voting in Australia is compulsory, which apparently means one is fined if one fails to at least show up at the polls (the fine is up to $79AU, less for their Federal elections). They also vote on Saturday, and seem to make a party of it, according to various posts such as here and here.
Of course just showing up doesn’t mean that you vote, nor that you pay much attention to candidates and issues, but the problem of low-information voters isn’t unique to Australia. Maybe there’s something about the worldview of people who rent vs. that of people who own….? Dunno.
U S jurisdictions do often provide some protections for tenants, which can disadvantage landlords, but they wouldn’t affect the status of owner occupants.
As Polly Cleveland continues her project posting Mason Gaffney’s works, we find “Chicago’s Growth Spurt, 1890-1900.” It’s not very long, and worth reading today as a contrast to our current stagnation. Most importantly, Gaffney deduces circumstantial evidence that during the era of growth, land values were significantly taxed. As he notes in conclusion, “More research into Chicago’s political history is needed.”
The whole trove contains dozens of working papers, class notes, and publications, in Gaffney’s concise and understandable style. (You’ll find it linked here as well as above; depending on your screen size and magnification you might need to scroll over to the right to see it.)
We hear that corporate tax rates, at 35% (federal), are too high and need to be reduced so U S companies can be competitive. I remain confident that the best way to fund public services is thru a tax on land value and other measures of privilege, but if any kind of corporate tax is to be retained, here are a few things to consider:
I think the hero in all this, and I talk about this in The Code Economy, turns out to be Henry George. I mean, I think he really, you know, the 19th century U.S. economist–and he really anticipated these phenomena more clearly than anybody.
Pleased enough to read Auerswald’s new book. And he does get a lot of what George wrote about.
Auerswald’s main point seems to be that an economy doesn’t just have inputs and outputs, but what’s more important is the methods by which the inputs are used to produce the outputs. That’s “code,” and folks have been using it for 40,000 years. In recent centuries, standardization and automation of various kinds have increased productivity — the amount of stuff which a given amount of inputs could produce.
And, as we see computers and machine-driven processes increasingly capable of replacing human labor, what will humans do? He endorses Henry George’s analysis that, as productivity increases, rents will increase. And he supports the citizens’ dividend (tho he does not use the term), to be funded by a land value tax.
But his concluding pages seem to assume that, of course everyone will have a guaranteed income from land rent, no problem there, but what will people do with their time? To George, the problem was to get a fair distribution (not redistribution, because by right the rent belongs to everybody) of wealth, which he expected would result, over time, in social progress and a more constructive community. When I look at Wikipedia, Flickr, some blogs and a bunch of other internet resources, I tend to agree with George. Auerswald assumes the wealth distribution, but doesn’t assume that people and the community will improve. If I looked at Facebook or some other sites I might agree with him.
Auerswald also makes interesting use of the concept of comparative advantage, applying it to humans exchanging work with machines. Machines can do certain kinds of work millions of times faster than humans, so logically machines should do such work. In other tasks the difference might be much less, so those tasks would remain with humans (tho I would guess at much lower wages than currently.) And then there are some “low-volume, high-price” tasks which might remain human monopolies.
*****If you’re not the editor of Auerswald’s book, stop reading here*****
This book is full of irritating errors. On page 2 is a list of ingredients for chocolate chip cookies, comprising butter, sugar, water, salt, and chocolate chips — but no flour. Page 92 says “slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1807,” while Wikipedia provides various dates, depending on your definition, in the 1830s or 1840s. Page 120 places Ray Kroc’s first McDonalds in “Desplaines, California.” Page 175 calls Zipcar a “ridesharing” platform, corrected on page 213 to “car-sharing.” “As Henry George understood nearly a century ago” on page 232 doesn’t seem likely regarding a man who died in 1897 mentioned in a 2017 book. There are probably more, that historians or various kinds of geeks would notice.
Many of us have long assumed that a strong demand for labor results in less crime. At least, less of the kind of crime people get imprisoned for. And of course we assume this works most strongly for people at the bottom of the economic ladder, a category which includes most of those released after serving time in prison.
Now we have a study (or more precisely, a report on a study because the original source is behind a paywall) which confirms this assumption. Basically, those released into a strong economy are less likely to return to prison than those released in slack times. Because the study was apparently done at the county level, there would be enough cases that it’s not a statistical artifact. From the abstract:
[B]eing released to a county with higher low-skilled wages significantly decreases the risk of recidivism. The impact of higher wages on recidivism is larger for both black offenders and first-time offenders, and in sectors that report being more willing to hire ex-offenders. These results are robust to individual- and county-level controls…
So, since taxing privilege rather than production is an economic development tool, we can also assert that it is an anti-crime measure.
Here’s another assertion that our “civilization” is collapsing. Of course I don’t know that it’s collapsing, maybe it is, but I decided to arbitrarily pick one of the signs identified in the article:
The “misery index” mushrooms, witnessed by increasing rates of homicide, suicide, illness, homelessness, and drug/alcohol abuse;
I haven’t time to look up all of these, so I picked one — homelessness. It happens that the Federal Dept of Housing & Urban Development, while not doing other mischief, runs an annual point-in-time survey of the number of homeless. And look what it shows:
Observed homelessness is declining. That doesn’t mean rent isn’t too high, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t imposing on friends or relatives for temporary shelter, it doesn’t mean that lots of folks don’t lack the opportunity to earn a decent living, and it doesn’t mean that people don’t hide from government officials. But it does mean that one arbitrarily chosen statistic, used to support the ongoing collapse, doesn’t.
No, they aren’t all one and the same.
I personally haven’t had any problem with JP Morgan Chase. I had a CD with a predecessor bank and, when it matured, I retrieved it without difficulty. My real estate tax is paid thru them, and as far as I could tell my payments have been processed as intended. Once upon a time I may have had a credit card with them. But I long assumed JP Morgan Chase is a corrupt organization, because I seem to recall having read various things here and there, and, well, how could an honest bank become so large?
I hadn’t even thought about Morgan Chase’s role in the Madoff affair, but of course it was nontrivial, as documented by Helen Davis Chaitman and Lance Gothoffer on their JP Madoff website (and, one presumes, in their book). They have compiled the information, most of which was floating around the Internet, that “In the past four years alone, JPMorgan Chase has paid out $28,902,150,000 in fines and settlements for fraudulent and illegal practices.” And that, of course, is only the cases where they were caught and unable to avoid prosecution.
“Boycott JP Morgan Chase,” Chaitman and Gothoffer urge. Great idea, and I have done so as best I can. But I need to pay real estate tax, and as long as I live in Cook County it seems I must pay it to JP Morgan Chase. So I wrote Maria Pappas, the County Treasurer, saying
I see from the check with which I paid my most recent real estate tax bill that you are still using JP Morgan Chase to process the County’s receipts. It’s pretty clear that JP Morgan Chase is a criminal enterprise, having paid over $28.9 billion in fines and settlements for fraudulent and illegal practices during the past four years. Why is the County unable to use any less dishonest bank to process payments? Thanks in advance for your response.
And just a couple of [business] days later, I received a response from “Customer Service Department:”
Thank you for contacting the Office of Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.
Cook County aims to provide efficient payment processing to the greatest number of taxpayers at the least cost to those taxpayers. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that additional considerations are relevant in the County’s choice of vendors, and we take your concern under advisement.
We hope this information is helpful and thank you for the opportunity to be of assistance.
So, they didn’t exactly say “we are going to boycott JP Morgan Chase because they’re crooks,” but it at least it appears that somebody read and understood my message.
My other recent check processed by JP Morgan Chase was used to pay Illinois State income tax. I suppose I should write somebody (Governor? Treasurer? Comptroller?) with a similar message, but I just assume that anyone responsible for administering a tax on earned income is already beyond hope. Maybe someone else will do it.
Writing in Standard Digital, Charles Kanjama proposes that “If government was clever, it would include a value-capture approach in project financing.” He’s writing about big infrastructure projects, which in his time (2014) and place (Kenya) include railway and port improvements. He suggests that perhaps half the cost should come from land value tax, without explaining why it would be appropriate for landowners to receive half the benefit of improvements paid for by the general community. (Kanjama is an attorney and accountant who was rated among the top 100 legal minds in Kenya as well as one of the 100 most influential people in that country.)
The same edition (January 4 2014) carries another article showing a problem resulting from failure of the community to collect all the rent. It seems that the government wanted to remove a large number of squatters who had settled in a protected forest. Ordered to vacate, they each received 400,000 shillings ($4604.67 US, according to Wolfram Alpha) to purchase land elsewhere. Now the time for relocation has expired, and many spent the money on things other than land. Of course I don’t know these people, don’t know what land was available, don’t know their needs, but very clearly if land were nearly free (as results from a high land value tax) they would almost certainly be better off.