Nicholas D. Rosen's Journal|
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|Tuesday, May 21st, 2013|
|Weekend Schalkenbach Board Meeting
I went to New York City this weekend to attend a meeting of the Board of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation. I was re-elected as a director, and other business was transacted and discussed. This why the last edition of the Red Queen's Race was Thursday rather than Friday.
|Thursday, May 16th, 2013|
|The Red Queen's Race
No amendments showed up this week, and I didn't have any to do, so I'm still at zero.
I finished a first action on my oldest Regular New case, a first action on a Continuing New case, and a technical first action (first action after a Request for Continued Examination) on my oldest Continuing New case. This was quite productive for a four day week. Unfortunately, not every week is like this.
|Wednesday, May 15th, 2013|
|A Small Business Owner on Obamacare
I hadn't planned to post tonight, but this letter from a small business owner to his employees
really ought to be read.
Not everyone who reads my blog shares my opinions on everything, or needs to, but even if you voted for Obama and read my blog for the Georgism, or the occasional book reviews, or the view of work at the Patent Office, and think my politics are benighted, please read this. It explains just how Obamacare is having perverse effects (partly explains, at least -- a full explanation would probably take a three volume set of thick books). "We have to pass it so you can find out what's in it."
Even if you disagree with me, and think we should have a single-payer system, or some other kind of government program to provide health care, this should make it clear why we should not
have Obamacare, and what a better solution might look like.
|Sunday, May 12th, 2013|
|Stanley Rosen's Essays in Philosophy Ancient
I just got my father's
latest book, Essays in Philosophy ANCIENT
, a collection of papers and lectures spanning several decades. I presume that the second volume will be titled Essays in Philosophy MODERN
. Anyway, I haven't read the book, although I've started on the first essay, about young Stanley Rosen's student days at the University of Chicago. Some of the others look to require serious thought and attention to read, even if they may be understandable to educated people who don't have doctoral degrees in philosophy.
It seems a work worth announcing, and someone on my friends' list might even be interested in reading it.
|Saturday, May 11th, 2013|
|A Friend Is Reading a Classic
A friend of mine has started Reading Henry George's Progress and Poverty
, and this is what he has to say:
"I did jump to the Malthus chapter first, and as you can surmise I already find little of positive use in Malthus and much negative. I think Henry George effectively and ahead of his time used the full range of argumentation and data against M’s assumptions. And the original prose has great style.
"It is amazing that Marx emerged as the revolutionary of the 19th century when he had little accurate to offer compared to Henry George, though I remain to be convinced of the core land value theory. But I haven’t gone into the book far. Anyway it seems that Marx was right about little, maybe some insights here or there. Henry George seems right and insightful about much.
"I had done some background and one thing that also impressed me is how much Henry George, unlike others with impact, like say Rousseau or perhaps Marx, was a genuinely nice human being and character. While a good idea stands on its own merits, or a bad one fails the same way, the good character is suggestive of an honest analysis." Current Mood: hopeful
|The Red Queen's Race
Well, I'm awake and online after a major postprandial nap. I didn't get any amendments this week, and I dealt with both of the amendments I had (one Regular and one Special), bringing me down to zero. I've caught the Red Queen.
I've been working at searching and stuff for my oldest Regular New case, which I hope to complete next week, with some week left over for other cases. Current Mood: awake
|Wednesday, May 8th, 2013|
|Againt Online Sales Taxes
Here's a letter I've sent to my Congressman:
I am writing to urge you to oppose legislation requiring online sellers to collect sales taxes imposed by states in which the sellers do not have a physical presence.
Whatever your own opinions, you are no doubt familiar with the standard arguments: "tax fairness" vis a vis brick and mortar retailers on the one side; on the other hand, the unfairness of requiring online merchants to pay taxes where they don't receive police and fire protection, schools for their children, and other public services. Also, different states and localities have different sales tax rates, and apply them to different categories of goods, so it's hard for someone who sells online to know what he may be required to pay.
I would like to make an additional argument which is not usually heard. The sales tax is a bad tax; it can be regressive, and it is economically destructive. We should therefore undermine it, not extend it.
If Mr. Smith has an income of millions from his stock portfolio and real estate holdings, while Mr. Jones is trying to support his family on a poorly paid job, they pay the same sales tax on a tube of toothpaste.
Also, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Oregon thrive without sales taxes, while states that rely heavily on sales taxes tend to be poorer. Sales taxes first caught on mostly in the Jim Crow states during the Great Depression, as a way to assure that taxes did not fall only on the folks who owned most of the property and received most of the income.
Today, Pennsylvania has a strip of blight along its border with Delaware. If you live close to the border, on either side, you will be tempted to do your shopping in Delaware, where there's no sales tax. In consequence, there's a lack of shops on the Pennsylvania side.
This is part of why I do not want online retailers forced to collect sales taxes. The next time someone proposes to raise a state sales tax, I want merchants lobbying against it, saying, "But we'll lose business to retailers on the other side of our state's borders, and also to online sellers." I want economists testifying that the higher sales tax won't raise much revenue, because people will go elsewhere instead of paying it. I want advocates for social justice to oppose this latest attempt to soak the poor.
But, you may say, governments genuinely need revenue, and public services must be paid for. What tax do I prefer?
I prefer taxing the value of land. This is a progressive tax, because the poor do not normally own much valuable land. It is also an efficient tax, because people do not produce any less land, or carry their land elsewhere, in response to being taxed. It is a just tax, because the value of land depends largely on government services (police, schools, streetlights, etc.). One reason, I repeat, not to let states collect sales taxes from merchant outside their borders is to discourage the imposition of sales taxes altogether, and encourage state and local governments to tax land values instead.
|Sunday, May 5th, 2013|
|Georgist Conference in Harrisburg, Part Twenty-Five
To continue with the session on "Using the Internet," Erich Jacoby-Hawkins spoke about Wikipedia, the new home for Henry George (Thursday morning, August 2, 2012). Wikipedia is very popular, he said, and Georgist information should be up there.
- No original research.
- Verifiability -- published sources.
- Neutral point of view.
People use Wikipedia to find sources, and they use it for an unbiased or all-sided viewpoint.
Three things we can do are to: (1) add more sources and articles to good Georgist texts (and test or improve existing citations); (2) add more articles or details about Georgist topics (people, places, organizations, theories); and (3) connect, connect, connect, so that readers will end up on Georgist pages or sources.
That way, more people will hear of Georgism, and people who are already interested will be drawn to good sources.
The goal is not to subvert the encyclopedia. The goal is to provide genuine information.
He showed how to go into Wikipedia, add links, etc.
|Saturday, May 4th, 2013|
|Don't Write This Letter to the Patent Office
posted a link to this letter from a patent attorney to an examiner, http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2013/04/dont-write-this-letter-to-the-patent-office.html
, which has a certain humor value, if you don't mind a little vulgarity. I express no opinion on the merits of the application, or the quality of the examiner's work.
I do note that while patent attorneys have accused me of getting things wrong, I have never received official remarks in that style. Also, the attorney writes, "It is manifestly clear that this Examiner has a huge financial incentive to reject patent applications so he gets a nice Christmas bonus at the end of the year. When in doubt, reject right?" No. An examiner who wanted to boost his production would quickly allow applications right and left, without properly searching them or determining whether they were actually useful, novel, and non-obvious, at least until that examiner's supervisor or Quality Review caught him at it.
|Friday, May 3rd, 2013|
|The Red Queen's Race
No new amendments this week. I finished an Office action on my oldest Regular New case, and then did an Office action on my oldest amendment, bringing me down to two amendments.
It might have been down to one, but I didn't finish today. I expect to finish an Office action on another of my amendments, probably Saturday and surely before Monday at 3:00 PM. Then I expect to work on the one remaining amendment. Then I'll work on my oldest Regular New and Continuing New cases, and so it goes. Current Mood: working
|Thursday, May 2nd, 2013|
|Barbara Hambly Again
Remember my post praising Barbara Hambly?
Now that I've read more of her books, I'm all the more impressed. I was talking about a couple of her fantasy novels today, and a friend of mine asked to borrow them once she's done with her current reading matter. Current Mood: enthralled
|Wednesday, May 1st, 2013|
|Cost of Living up Another Dollar a Quart
Well, not exactly, but my morning coffee now costs an extra twenty cents. Also, the Concessions shop in the USPTO used to have a program where after nine cups, you got the tenth free, but that was discontinued some time ago. Officially, inflation is low, but I spot things like this, and sometimes I wonder. Current Mood: annoyed
|Saturday, April 27th, 2013|
I met several dogs today. In particular, on my way back from the supermarket, I met a man walking with a cute near-beagle (part beagle and part coonhound, he informed me). The hound licked my hand, jumped up on me, and let me pet him (I transferred both my grocery bags to one hand). It's a pleasure to meet such an amiable canine. Current Mood: mellow
|Friday, April 26th, 2013|
|The Red Queen's Race
I got one amendment this week, a Special Amendment, and I dealt with two amendments which I already had, bringing me down from a total of four amendments to a total of three.
I'm working on my oldest Regular New case, and hope to get out an Office action Monday. Then I can work on my amendments, or my oldest Continuing New case, if I can get my hands on certain papers, or maybe other stuff.
|Harrisburg Georgist Conference, Part Twenty-Four
Then came the second set of concurrent morning sessions on Thursday, August 2. I chose "Using the Internet," instead of "Toastmaster Style Speeches" and Mike Curtis's "LVT Seminar."
There were several people making presentations on different aspects of using the Internet. Jacob Schwarz-Lucas spoke about http://www.geogebratube.org/student
, which shows illustrations of rent/wages/interest diagrams, and then shows various photos and captions (or it did last summer; I didn't have much luck with it this week).
Then Edmund Miller talked about Facebook and security, in particular a https everywhere program which encrypts, and which can be obtained, if I understand my notes correctly, from The Electronic Frontier Foundation
. You can put it on Firefox.
He talked about RSS feeds. You can personalize Google News, and use it to find anything which anyone has posted anywhere about LVT or Henry George.
|Monday, April 22nd, 2013|
|Georgist Conference in Harrisburg, Part Twenty-Three
After Open Mike, we again had concurrent sessions, beginning at 8:30 in the morning. (This was Thursday, August 2.) I skipped "Real Estate for Ransom" to attend the Council of Georgist Organizations Business Meeting. Joshua Vincent was in town, but not present, so I represented the Center for the Study of Economics.
In 2013, we'll be meeting in Pittsburgh (actually, the hotel is in a suburb, near the airport). Dan Sullivan will be our local host. Pittsburgh taxed land at a higher rate than buildings from 1913 to 2000, and helped the idea spread to other cities, including Aliquippa, which has such a property tax, and is close to the Airport Holiday Inn.
We lost Pittsburgh in 2000 partly because of Allegheny County's very bad reassessment, which gave neighboring lots of the same size very different supposed land values. This may have been partly incompetence, but was partly, I believe, a deliberate effort to sabotage Pittsburgh's two-rate tax. Assessments aren't that bad elsewhere in Allegheny County, including Clairton, another town with a two-rate tax.
This will be an outreach conference. What resources to devote? Pre-conference outreach and PR.
For 2014, we're planning to go to Anaheim, California, near Disney World. Dan Sullivan said a few words about Disney and Anaheim. It was expected that hotels would be built near Disney, which drove land prices up, and the land speculation almost prevented the hotels from being built.
For 2015, the Chicagoans would like to host, but the city is expensive. Perhaps we could meet in the suburbs. Scheduling?
And we elected, or had announced (sorry, I don't recall which), Council of Georgist Organizations officers for the year, with Dan Sullivan as President, Ted Gwartney as VP, Paul Justus as Secretary, and Toni Gwartney (Ted's wife) as Treasurer.
|Saturday, April 20th, 2013|
|Georgist Conference in Harrisburg, Part Twenty-Two
The first session on Thursday, August 2, was Open Mike. Several people spoke; I talked about the letters published in the Wall Street Journal
the previous day.
Wayne Luney from Sacramento talked about what's happening in his fair city. Mayor Kevin Johnson has laid off police officers, but wants to mortgage the next fifty years of parking revenue, and give it to the Sacramento Kings to build a new, improved arena.
Mr. Luney spoke against the idea at a public comments session.
|The Red Queen's Race
One new amendment showed up this week, bringing the total up to four. I was hoping to bring it back down to three, but I didn't finish the Office Action I was working on Friday afternoon. I am, however, confident of finishing it by Monday at 3:00 PM.
I also finished a first action on my oldest Regular New case, and I did some work on several other matters this week.
We had Tech Fair Wednesday and Thursday of this week, getting a chance to hear about what's happening out in the real world. In particular, I enjoyed the presentation by Cyrus Massoumi and Dr. Oliver Kharraz of Zocdoc
. Mr. Massoumi described how he was ill, in pain, and across the country from his home, and it took him several days to find a doctor, leading him to invent Zocdoc, a way to make medical appointments online. They ran into problems at first, and were slow to gain acceptance -- several times, he was escorted out of doctors' office by security, when he tried to sell them on his system -- but now Zocdoc has really caught on, and is used to make a large percentage of all medical appointments. And to think that I hadn't heard of it until I signed up to attend Tech Fair a couple of weeks ago. Current Mood: awake
|Wednesday, April 17th, 2013|
|Georgist Conference in Harrisburg, Part Twenty-One
Gentle Readers, I have posted my notes about the panel on fracking, held in the evening of Wednesday, August 1, 2012. After that, I went to my hotel room, and did some newspaper reading. The Wall Street Journal
for Wednesday, August 1 had two letters on the topic of fracking, and the taxation thereof, from Jack E. Gerard, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, and Thomas E. Stewart, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.
Mr. Stewart's letter began, "I'm shocked by your editorial supporting the severance tax increase Governor Kasich has proposed for oil and gas production in Ohio. What you editors call creative, I call risky to the state's growing energy-based economy."
|Monday, April 15th, 2013|
|Georgist Conference in Harrisburg, Part Twenty
And here's yet a further installment from the panel on fracking, Wednesday August 1, 2012.
Alanna Hartzok, a Georgist, spoke about what we think should be done (not all Georgists are in complete agreement with her "we"). She spoke of fees for use, "first do no harm'" and the precautionary principle. That's not what's happening, and we should switch to renewables.
She said that there probably wouldn't be any fracking if the frackers were fully charged for real damages, and given no special tax breaks. One should take into account damage to farms, loss of tourism, etc.
A member of the audience asked a question. He wasn't a Georgist convention attendee; he had heard about the panel discussion, and come here from Lancaster. He had a question about Act 13.
The answer (I think from Michael Wood) was that Act 13 established an impact fee, provided some
environmental protections, and preempted local zoning. A court decision overturned part of this, and we'll find out what the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has to say.
Under Act 13, doctors have to sign confidentiality agreements to learn the chemicals used in fracking that their patients may have been exposed to.