12    Extracts from The Georgist News, Volume Nine, Number Eleven, May 1, 2007

3g. Good Press: Gore goes for carbon tax shift – By Robert Walker, The San Francisco Chronicle, March 23, 2007 (via Paul Martin)

Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on global warming, former vice president and now climate-change evangelist, Al Gore, urged Congress "to reduce taxes on employment and production and make up the difference with pollution taxes," principally on carbon dioxide emissions.

3h. Good Press: Public radio airs carbon tax shift – Daniel Rosenblum, an environmental attorney and cofounder of the Carbon Tax Center in New York City, interviewed by Ray Suarez on PBS NewsHour, April 11, 2007 (via Paul Martin, and Heather Remoff)

"So whenever the refiners or the oil companies sell oil into the pipeline, there will be a tax imposed there. When you take coal out of the ground, it will be taxed as it goes into commerce… Raise one tax, reduce another. You tax the bad, you tax pollution instead of productive work… We're proposing that all the monies that are received from the carbon tax go back to all Americans, either by offsetting the payroll tax or through a rebate to all Americans, kind of like the Alaska Permanent Fund. Alaska rebates all of the oil royalties they get."

Editor's note: Such talk gets us closer to the ideal of taxing even earlier in process of using Earth: at the point of ownership.

3i. Good Press: Berkeley newspaper article advocates complete tax shift – By Dr. Fred Foldvary, Santa Clara University, The Berkeley Daily Planet, April 13, 2007

If governments at all levels levy swiftly escalating charges on pollution while simultaneously reducing taxes on income, sales, and buildings, this revenue-neutral shift would efficiently reduce pollution while also reducing the deadweight loss of taxes on labor and enterprise. Pollution charges would not be able to replace all the taxes on income, sales, and buildings, so a complete green tax shift would also require a tax on land value or land rent.

3j. Good Press: Mountaineers read of complete tax shift – By Alanna Hartzok, Earth Rights Institute, The Charleston Gazette, April 16, 2007

The money that the paper-title-holding companies demand and receive from the working companies is entirely "resource rent" and rightly belongs to the people of West Virginia. If West Virginians were to capture resource rent, the unearned income now going to outsider paper-title-holding, non-working companies, then taxes on both workers' wages and on the rightful profits of working business owners could and should be substantially reduced.

3k. Good Press: Hard truth for hard times on rent shares – By Richard C. Cook, Atlantic Free Press, March 24, 2007

Before he worked at NASA in the mid-1980s, where he was the expert on the Challenger disaster, Cook was a policy analyst at the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and a special assistant for consumer affairs in the Jimmy Carter White House. After NASA, he spent twenty-one years with the U.S. Treasury Department. His talk at the Eastern Economic Association to the Basic Income Group was posted at the AFP site.

He wrote, "Of course there are potential tax sources that could pay for at least a partial Basic Income Guarantee. Obviously, one would be to roll back the Bush tax cuts altogether. Another would be to slash defense spending a couple of hundred billion dollars a year. Another could be to shut down all offshore tax havens, as suggested by economist Michael Hudson, the ones that effectively reduce or eliminate taxes paid by corporations, the wealthy, or organized crime. Another would be a universal land use tax as advocated by the Henry George movement. Yet another would be to raise taxes on capital gains and interest income."

Editor's note: Make that land gains and monopoly interest income, and Cook has a pretty geoist list.

4a. News: Income Gap Is Widening – By David Cay Johnston, NY Times, March 29, 2007 (via Gil Herman)

Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928. Their incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent. The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression. Average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent. The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.

4b. News: More lenders losing on mortgages – AP, MSNBC, April 11, 2007

Rising delinquencies and defaults among subprime borrowers – those with blemished credit histories – have resulted in more than two dozen lenders going out of business, moving into bankruptcy protection or putting themselves up for sale. Now the so-called Alternative-A mortgage sector, which lends money to borrowers with better credit than subprime borrowers but not quite prime, is starting to hurt. Alt-A mortgages made up a small share of the U.S. market at about 6% of outstanding loans. Loans to prime customers, who are the most creditworthy, make up 74%; those to subprime borrowers are about 11%, and government-backed loans about 9%. The late-payment figures for Alt-A loans was 2.6% in January, up from 1.3% a year earlier.

5b. Numbers for March: More borrowers losing their homes – Reuters, April 18, 2007

U.S. home foreclosures rose 7 percent in March from February to 149,150. The figure, which comprises default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions, was 47 percent higher than a year ago. Default rates in the subprime segment of the U.S. mortgage market have jumped in recent months as the housing industry has slowed and prices have fallen. At least 20 lenders in the subprime mortgage sector, which serves borrowers with poor credit histories at high interest rates, have gone out of business as a result. While foreclosures are causing a major disruption in the subprime sector of the lending industry and saturating pockets of some local markets, it's important to note that U.S. foreclosure activity overall is not far above historical norms – yet.

5c. Numbers for March: Biggest drop in 18 years (length of the land-price cycle) – Existing home sales nationwide took their biggest monthly plunge in more than 18 years, since 1989, as harsh winter weather and the implosion of the subprime mortgage business undermined the housing market. – Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2007, By Jesus Sanchez, Staff Writer

In February, new home sales had plunged to the lowest level in nearly seven years. Sales of new homes rose 2.6% in March. The March improvement was just half what analysts had expected and still left the sales pace 23.5% lower than a year. In March, the median sales price of a new home (15% of the market) rose $2,200 to $254,000 from $251,800 in February. – Reuters, USA Today, April 25, 2007

Prices of existing homes (85% of the market) continued to dip down, with the national median sales price in March slipping 0.3% from the same month last year to $217,000 in March. On a regional basis, existing homes sales in the West fell 9.1%; 10.9% in the Midwest; 6.2% in the South and 8.2% in the Northeast. The pace of existing home and condominium sales in March fell 8.4% from the previous month. – Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2007, By Jesus Sanchez, Staff Writer

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index in February was down 1% from a year earlier. The metro-area price changes ranged from drops of 7.8% in Detroit and 5% in San Diego to rises of 10.6% in Seattle and 7.7% in Portland, Ore. In 15 of the 20 cities, March prices were down from a month before… Some of the strongest markets have recently shown signs of modest cooling. In the Portland, Ore., area, listings in March totaled 10,557, up 87% from a year earlier. – The Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2007, By James R. Hagerty

5g. Numbers for what's next: Last step forward? – By Fred Harrison, April 11, 2007

A report out this week revealed that house builders were paying astonishingly high – record – prices for land; in desperation, it seems, and evidently in the belief that they will be able to recover their money through the sale of homes. This is the final straw for which I have been waiting; it's all up for the UK housing market... only a matter of time before it stalls, in the wake of the U.S. housing downturn... I stick with my original prediction: end of '07/early '08.

9f. Likable link: No fear, ask Henry – By Hanno T. Beck Banneker Center for Economic Justice

Are you familiar with Ask Henry, the specialized search engine? It indexes the world of Georgist online resources. A search on, say, "max hirsch" brings up a number of options. The Ask Henry search engine was launched in November 1997 as a simple utility for Georgists. Plus it provides a good starting place to recommend to non-Georgists whenever we aren't sure of their particular individual subject interests -- they can choose their own search terms. Try it at

11. At the Margin: Quips and Quotes

"Micro-economists are wrong about specific things, and macro-economists are wrong about things in general."

– blog of Greg Mankiw of Harvard, Bush's ex-chief economist, via Dan Sullivan;
complete funny video at

The Georgist News is available online at