Monday, January 8, 2007

Tell Me What's the Word? Johannesburg

One City, One Choice, One Cock Up: Decay or Hope
One Upon a Time, Johannesburg (Jo-Burg in cool talk) had a land value tax that was the envy of - if not the world - me. A city with little natural wealth or locational advantages became an economic and finance powerhouse, while sweet and sylvan Cape Town had always languished.

As Professor Mason Gaffney wrote, Jo-Burg by any objective measure prospered under LVT.

Now, after the adoption of morally essential political change, South Africa is seeking to transform its economy to an inclusive and open one. Yet, with government tax and finance policy they really screwed it up big time.

Of course, it took foreign experts to really put a truncheon to Jo-burg's opportunity. The South African government now proudly mandates taxes on land and buildings, just like the Americans and Europeans told them to, so the introduction of the "new" property tax has taxpayers of all stripes nervous and scared, as the article indicates

In a classic case of officials worried about taxpayer backlash (you can almost smell the sweat of fear in the article), they are shovelling platitudes very quickly indeed:

Said Council spokesman Virgil James: “It would be unfair and incorrect to speculate on what it will cost ratepayers before the city has even determined the tax base and tax rate,” he said.

Well, call me unfair, but I bet I'm not incorrect: By taxing their houses for the first time in 100 years, the Jo-Burg government are going to tax the poor and working class citizens of Jo-burg heavily and unfairly. Land speculators and the rich will be very happy. Land ownership will again concentrate to the few.

Jo-Burg will start to empty,start to decay and become impoverished, just as South Africa got a handle on their crime problem and after the promise of a new day after apartheid. Sad.


Anonymous said...

would you mind letting us know where the second picture was taken? Is that the Klip River?

Joshua Vincent said...

I asked someone at ANUMI; and they believe it is a water course through Soweto

Anonymous said...

hey, thanks! That must be the Klip or a tributary though I don't recognize the spot yet.
since we are writing :) Exactly what/ where is the Henry George Foundation/USA and the Center for the Study of Economics?

Joshua Vincent said... and We work to enact just, fair and efficient taxation.