Friday, December 29, 2006

Ups and Downs: Land Values in New York City

Taxing land values (LVT) is supposed to make the earth accessible to all. Big idea. Real world, what does that mean?

Well, it means that in the richest city of all, some people can't get housing without government stepping in (actually, stomping in). Land values are so high, they require high-end condos, with high-end price tags. In addition to building taxes, there are the unofficial taxes of high construction costs due to the mob, official corruption by assessors, and the mind-bending permit and inspection process. and passing laws that require cheap housing, as a set aside.

Of course, most of THIS government action (fixing an exemption program to include affordable housing) has been jimmied into the body politic to redress the distortions cause by THAT government action. "So it goes", as Kurt Vonnegut as always hiccoughs

Example: The heap big New York Sun real estate writer tells us that land values are set to take a tumble in 2007. In itself, not a surprise but the peculiar institution that is New York City has a lot to do with it.

Everyday, I bless the fact that believing in the economics of land rent liberates me from belonging to the camps (or gulags) of damnable redistributionists or contemptible rent-seeking pirates.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Just chatted with a Mayor...

...And he suggested I blog my trips when I travel to speak about LVT. That's why he's the Mayor, I guess. Alas, I can't identify him. Here's a news article about one such expedition to Titusville, Pa. where I presented a study to the city outlining the awful property assessments provided by Crawford County.

Although LVT has cut taxes for most homeowners, the commercial and industrial values are so out of whack that the city could tax land values 100% and still not move a vacant land owner to dump his land (or build on it). We have more work to do in that charming little town.

Titusville also has a nice new brewpub downtown and a clean little Comfort Inn to rest my weary head. The modern oil industry started in Titusville, but it peaked in about 1890. Oops.

Anyway, Jeannie Seeley comes from Titusville, and that's cool.

Politics and Taxes

Here's the start. I run a non-profit foundation that researches alternatives to our current systems of taxation. Dull? Sometimes. Yet, the collision between what I think is a way-cool economic policy and politics can be interesting. I hope you'll think so too.

I hear from dozens of people a month frustrated by their inability to be heard by their elected leaders and the wonks that advise them. This space will report on news about saving cities, taxes and all the self serving that prevents real reform. I'll comment on that news.

I always thought about a blog to comment on what I run into, and think there may be some sympaticos out there.

The reason this is getting launched is that I believe land value taxation is the way governments ought to tax. Knowing you're likely saying "Say, what?" here's a quick and dirty:

Now that's out of the way, I can say that this blogspiration came from
Jonathan Saidel, a good man who got waylaid by a bad system. He believes in LVT, and was willing to go the mat for it.
He used to be the City Controller of Philadelphia and had a better than good chance to be the next Mayor.

Philadelphia is a funny kind of a city. It's where my mentor, as it were, Henry George was born. It's a place where the people are are bluntly realistic, almost downbeat, but the leaders are generally delusional about the state of the city and have been for about a hundred years.

One reason why the city is in such trouble is the tax system. That's the hook I hang my hat on.