Nicholas D. Rosen's Journal|
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
Nicholas D. Rosen's LiveJournal:
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|Sunday, October 4th, 2015|
|Tip from Fred Foldvary
You might want to check out The Progress Report
, where, back on September 13, Dr. Fred Foldvary says we're in the boom phase of the real estate cycle, and prices should go up, although he predicts the next major crash around 2026. Since he went on record in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology
back in 1997, predicting the 2008 recession, he may be worth listening to.
|Georgist Conference in Southfield, Part Thirteen
To continue with Ted Gwartney's talk on "Southfield's 1960's Boom and Other Successful Land Value Assessment Experiences," he moved on to the other experiences.
British Columbia wanted to do an assessment reform, and hired Mr. Gwartney as a consultant. Instead of many cities doing their own assessments, they had it all done by a Crown Corporation, the British Columbia Assessment Authority. British Columbia is a large province in area, with 4.7 million people, and property assessed at 1.2 trillion dollars, half of which is land value.
Later, he put matters in order Greenwich, Connecticut.
He has been a consultant to Russia, Estonia, and Jamaica. The Estonians already knew that they wanted LVT, and just wanted to ask him how to do it.
Then we had a Q&A session. Dr. Polly Cleveland spoke of Joseph Stiglitz as a semi-Georgist. Ted Gwartney said that he had come out as a real Georgist. [In my opinion, not fully and consistently.] When asked what Greece should do, Stiglitz said to tax the oligarchs' land, not their ships, which could be sailed away.
But first they need good assessments, Gwartney said. The cadasters in Greece are lousy. Self-assessment with the right to buy at the assessed price could make people specify just what they own and where the boundaries are.
|Saturday, October 3rd, 2015|
|Georgist Conference in Southfield, Part Twelve
To continue with the afternoon of Wednesday, August 5, after our break, Ted Gwartney spoke on "Southfield's 1960's Boom and Other Successful Land Value Assessment Experiences." Ted was a college Real Estate major; he questioned real estate taxes; then he read Progress and Poverty
, and became a Georgist.
Changing laws to raise more public revenue from land rents is difficult, but assessing land at its full market value is not difficult, so you should become an assessor.
He said that Land value + Building value = Real estate value, and he reviewed the case for taxing land. Land sales (including sales of non-bare land) provide evidence of what land values are.
In 1961, Jim Clarkson, the mayor of Southfield, wanted to update and correct assessments. The current Assessor did not comply, so he brought in 26 year old Ted Gwartney as the new Chief Assessor. Ted Gwartney could assess land, and he revalued all property in town, raising land assessments and decreasing building assessments. He had his office print a brochure explaining what people could do (painting, landscaping, etc.) without raising their assessments.
Southfield boomed. It now has more office space than Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, or Kansas City. It has modern infrastructure and citywide fiber optics. It was rated Metro Detroit's most livable city by Forbes
magazine. Over 100 Fortune 500 corporations have locations in Southfield.
To be continued.
|Friday, October 2nd, 2015|
|The Red Queen's Race
I got one amendment this week, and I dealt with two cases on my docket of amendments, so I'm down from eight amendments to seven. I simply rejected one of the amendments the standard way; the other was actually an Appeal Brief for which I wrote an Examiner's Answer last week. This week, my supervisor and another worthy personage signed off on it, and returned it to me, so I was able to post it, and have it processed for consideration by the Board of Appeals.
I also dealt with my one remaining Request for Continued Examination case earlier this week, and today I confirmed abandonment of one of my rejected cases. I've also been working on my oldest Regular New case, and hope to finish that soon, so the new fiscal year is off to a good start.
|Wednesday, September 30th, 2015|
|Fiscal Year Ends
This is the last evening of the Fiscal Year, although we can still turn in cases until 3:00 PM on October 1. I'm already at an adequate level of production for the quarter and the fiscal year, and hope to turn in more cases after the deadline, to count for the new Fiscal Year.
|Tuesday, September 29th, 2015|
|Georgist Conference in Southfield, Part Eleven
Lindy Davies, filling in for Professor Mason Gaffney, continued with "How Moving Away from the Property Tax Hindered Detroit's Development." In Southfield, Ted Gwartney, one of our Georgist stalwarts, was Assessor under Mayor Jim Clarkson. He modernized and updated assessments, which helped Southfield to flourish in the 1960's.
In 1975, Michigan went to the Single Business Tax, or SBT, a kind of value-added tax. Land purchases were deductible under this, which was just the wrong way to go.
Someone may have confused Single Business Tax with Single Tax -- the Georgist single tax on the value of land -- to result in Mason Gaffney being invited to a 1995 tax conference in Michigan, where he warned Governor Engler's advisors about the consequences of Proposition 13 in California, but to no avail. In 1995, schools were taken off the property tax, and funded by a sales tax.
Michigan lost 300,000 jobs from 2000 to 2008. In 2000, the state's per capita income fell below the national per capita income, and has stayed below.
After a little discussion, we had our mid-afternoon break.
|Monday, September 28th, 2015|
|Cartoon of the Day
One of my friends at the Patent Office is an Appeal Specialist, and has a page-a-day book of New Yorker
cartoons on his desk. Last week, my supervisor and I were in his office to discuss an appealed case, and he passed out a bunch of the cartoons, one of which he gave me. It was the one for September 28, and shows a middle-aged man tinkering one sealable capsule in his basement. His wife is standing on the stairs with folded arms, and asking, "And just what are you planning to do with your stupid trans-dimensional one-way escape pod?"
It's good for a smile and the spirit of technological innovations suits my workplace.
|Saturday, September 26th, 2015|
|Georgist Conference in Southfield, Part Ten
Our second presentation on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 8, was "How Moving Away from Property Taxes Hindered Detroit's Development," presented by Lindy Davies, filling in for Mason Gaffney; Professor Gaffney was with his brother, who had health problems.
Lindy said that there are many essays by Mason Gaffney -- and I say that you can check out some of them at www.MasonGaffney.org
. Among other things, he has written about Detroit, and about Hazen Pingree, who was mayor of Detroit from 1889 to 1897, and Governor Of Michigan from 1897 until 1901. Why did the auto industry get a big start in Detroit?
Mayor Pingree relied on property taxes, and when a financial panic hit, let the unemployed cultivate vacant lots ("Pingree's potato patches"). Later, as Governor, he centralized property tax assessments with a State Board of Tax Assessments.
Detroit's population rose and then fell, peaking in 1950; this correlates with how public revenue was raised. During the 1930's, the population of Detroit rose 3.4%, and the population of New York City rose 7.8%, while the populations of Pittsburgh and Cleveland fell. New York City exempted new buildings from property tax at the time.
During the 1930's and 1940's, Michigan continued to rely on property taxes. The 1950's were the golden age of the American automobile industry, but not really for Detroit, which flirted with other policies.
The Business Activities Tax or BAT, somewhat like a VAT, was pushed by Governor Mennen "Soapy" Williams.
In the 1960's, Governor George Romney introduced a personal income tax.
To be continued.
|The Red Queen's Race
I got three new amendments this week, and dealt with two older ones, so I'm up to a total of eight on my docket of amendments. Actually, I also dealt with an Appeal Brief on my Amended docket by writing an Examiner's Answer, but now it has to be approved by my supervisor and the appeal specialist before it will be removed from my Amended docket and sent to the Board of Appeals.
I did a quick action on a Request for Continued Examination that dropped into my lap this week, and now I'm working on my oldest RCE.
|Thursday, September 24th, 2015|
I have a new neighbor, also named Nicholas, in the apartment next to mine, and he has two Australian Shepherds. I've tried to make friends with them, but one of them seems convinced that I'm an Australian sheep rustler. Perhaps he'll mellow over time, as he gets used to his new territory.
|Monday, September 21st, 2015|
Well, I'm home with a sore throat and other symptoms. These illnesses happen now and then.
|Sunday, September 20th, 2015|
I have a bit of a sore throat and general blahs; I've been sucking zinc gluconate lozenges and drinking peppermint tea. Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow, or maybe I had best stay home for a couple of days. With the end of the fiscal year approaching, this isn't a good time to be ill, but viruses are not noted for consulting their hosts' convenience.
|Saturday, September 19th, 2015|
|The Red Queen's Race
I got a total of four amendments this weeks, one of which went to my Expedited docket, while the other three were regular amendments. I dealt with my Expedited amendment, and with one of my older regular amendments, so I'm now down to a total of seven amendments, all on my regular Amended docket.
I have started work on an Office Action on one of those amendments, and I completed a first action on my oldest Regular New case earlier this week. One shortened biweek remains until the end of he fiscal year.
|Friday, September 18th, 2015|
|Georgist Conference in Southfield, Part Nine
To recap, on Wednesday, August fifth, we heard a lecture from a historian named Christopher England, after which came a Q&A session.
Alexandra Lough, a fellow historian, spoke about how Tom Johnson (mayor of Cleveland) took on the state of Ohio. England said that .johnson and others wanted city autonomy. He further said that in that era, single taxers were very politically expedient. They did various things to sneak in provisions that would later let them enact Georgist or semi-Georgist policies.
Alanna Hartzok asked about William Wilson, Secretary of Labor under Woodrow Wilson. Was he a Georgist? Christopher England replied that he was at least Georgist-influenced. He fought for Louis Post as Assistant Secretary of Labor, and Post was a strong Georgist.
Where do we find the next Tom Johnson? Someone suggested talking to tech people. Maybe someone who has made money in Silicon Valley would be willing to spend some of it supporting the Georgist movement.
|Tuesday, September 15th, 2015|
|Amplifying an Appeal for Help
posted yesterday appealing for people to speak up for Xin Lijian, a Chinese educator and benefactor of an orphanage, who has been arrested, and whose lawyer has not been allowed to see him. From what Mr. Wright has posted, Mr. Xin certainly sounds like an extraordinarily fine and courageous man, which under a regime like Communist China's is not always conducive to living a quiet and undisturbed life. There are articles about him and his arrest here
and also here
Mr. Wright urged his readers to pray, and
to email their Congressmen to appeal to the Chinese government on behalf of Mr. Xin
, both of which I did last night. I also tried calling the Chinese Embassy at 1-202-495-2266 earlier today; the Chinese lady who answered treated me with minimal courtesy but no great warmth. Still, let's do what we can.
UPDATE: Mr. Wright has updated his blog, asking people to pray, but not to draw attention to the situation. So far now, at least, don't write to your Congressman.
|Monday, September 14th, 2015|
|Georgist Conference in Southfield, Part Eight
On Wednesday, August 5, we ate lunch (accompanied, if I recall correctly, by brief reports from member organizations of the Council of Georgist Organizations), and then we began our first afternoon session, where a historian named Christopher England spoke on, "The Single Tax and Water Power in the Early Twentieth Century."
He said that most historians wouldn't see the connection, since water isn't land, but there is a connection. (Also, water, in such forms as water rights in an arid country, or rivers suitable for powering turbines, is a form of land in classical political economy, rather than being labor or capital, but he didn't say that.)
He talked about Tom Johnson, Henry George's disciple, who worked to reform assessments when mayor of Cleveland. Assessment, valuation, site valuation, access to a site -- hydropower. (Pardon me, I was taking notes too quickly to be grammatical.)
Other progressives agreed, not just orthodox Georgists. The question was how much the government would pay, especially whether landowners could charge for expected increments in land value.
The Wilson administration finally got legislation passed saying that the government would not pay extra. Newton baker carried on Tom Johnson's work as mayor Cleveland, and became Secretary of War in the Wilson administration.
Mussel Shoals -- Baker refused to develop except with public ownership, and he won; the project became the Wilson Dam. This later led to the Tennessee Valley Authority, which Congress wouldn't approve after the end of WW I.
Various names, dates, bills and projects -- this all went by a bit fast for me. Anyway, George Norris was a Republican Senator, and not a Georgist, but he opposed the privatization of Mussel Shoals.
Public electric power in Cleveland drove the private power company to drastically slash rates. It provided a public yardstick.
FDR later put [Mussel Shoals and more, I think] under public operatin as TVA. FDR as Governor of New York had supported a public yardstick for power generation.
People who weren't actual Georgists were influenced by and willing to support Georgist ideas.
That, in brief, was the lecture, and then we had a Q&A session, to be posted as the next in this series.
|Saturday, September 12th, 2015|
Will this come out as one paragraph?
There were supposed to be paragraph breaks in my last two posts. LiveJournal seems to be acting up again.
|The Victimhood Culture
There is a piece at the Reason magazine blog
arguing that we have gone from an honor culture, where men are admired for being fierce and ready to fight in response to any affront, since they cannot rely on the police to keep them safe, to a dignity culture, where citizens are supposed to enjoy equal protection of the law, and therefore to be thick-skinned and largely refrain from personal violence, to a victimhood culture.
In our developing victimhood culture, people are encouraged to be as exquisitely sensitive to disrespect as a gunman of the Wild West or a modern gangbanger, but instead of resorting to personal violence, they are expected to whine for university administrators or other authorities to punish those who have offended them, and not only when the offense is actual criminal mayhem, robbery, or fraud.
Whether or not you agree with every word, the article makes some good points, to my regret. There seems to be at least some truth in it, and people raised in the culture of victimhood seem unlikely to be either brave soldiers at need nor sound citizens respectful of the rights of other people to speak their minds.
|The Red Queen's Race
I didn't get any amendments this week, and I wrote a Final Rejection in response to one of my existing amendments, so I'm down to five amendments.
I also finished a first action rejection on my oldest Regular New case before 3:00 PM Tuesday, and then I did a new non-final rejection on a Request for Continued Examination case, and I've been working on my new oldest Regular New case, to put it a little confusingly (and that doesn't even get into all the complexities of what is meant by "oldest").