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Not sure if promotion is allowed here but super interested what people think of this article: https://atis.substack.com/p/on-income-and-happiness, think it’s in the style of an SSC post, would love some feedback.

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Nice, succint, survey and analysis of the issue! I'd love to have an entire book's worth of these for commonly cited things I think I know because I heard them on the internet once

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Thanks!

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I found it very interesting, a good clarification on a messy subject!

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Very good essay.

There should be more than one study of such an important subject.

I also wonder about the effects of relative income. The classic "we didn't know we were poor" vs. "when you make your first million, you find out how many people have two million".

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The top graph is great, took me a bit to figure out the two x axes. Don't want to discourage you, but I dont feel like your commentary added much, idle statistical whinging is lazy even when scott does it. Id be much more interested in personal experience, trying to tie in a related concept, or diving into one of those interesting looking thresholds (positive affect? Stress reaches a mininum at 80k?!)

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Some good points, but you didn't recognize the biggest flaw in the Kahnemann paper. There's a ceiling effect in their well-being measure, so the function HAS to level off. But of course their need not be a ceiling on well-being, e.g. I have never known the happiness that apparently comes from having a car whose doors go "like this" (sorry).

Jebb, Tay, Diener, & Oishi (2018) suffers from the same problem, but still good to know.

Killingsworth 2021 addresses the ceiling effect problem and finds no levelling of on the log scale. I can send you my seminar slides that discuss this and the logging question and the causality question with respect to the question of the anticipated happiness effects of redistribution. I'll message you on Twitter.

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Are your slides available somewhere? I would love to see them.

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Sorry, no, and some of them are in German.. There is a nice treatment in a footnote of the first chapter in Harden's book The Genetic Lottery, but of course happiness economics is no small literature. And I can recommend reading the Killingsworth paper. Regrettably, neither cites https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oV4IVy8tvE

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Thank you, I will check the Killingsworth paper. I've read quite a few studies using happiness measures, but I hadn't realized this ceiling problem at all, which seems obvious in retrospect...- and the clip is wonderful indeed!

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I don't know where I read this, but it has sort of stuck with me that happiness/life-satisfaction goes up until a net worth of $4 million. If your net worth is above $4 million, it goes down, presumably because you spend a lot of time worrying about protecting your money, what to do with it, how to pass it on after you die, and so on. Of course, this figure should be adjusted for inflation.

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I dub this the "Scrooge McDuck" effect

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I'm starting the "by-George Society" for those who wish Georgism were true. "We're not with George, but we're by him."

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The first members of the by-George Society were Anna George de Mille and Henry George Jr.

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I'm starting the "bye-George society" for people who were initially enamored with Georgism but have grown disillusioned, the "bi-George society" for greater representation of sexual minorities in debates about land taxes, and the "buy-George society" for strawman libertarians who take the idea of freedom of contract way too far.

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Can I join all three societies?

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That would be the tri-George bundle.

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To sign up for it, you have to go to their secret headquarters by the three-Georges dam.

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founding

Damming Gorge I and Gorge II made some sense, but Gorge III was just crazy.

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founding

The strawman libertarians have all gone off to colonize other planets, buy Jove.

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If they are by Jove, then they would be moons, right?

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The cat link is confusing. Is the old-timey image on that page supposed to be the landscape painting in question? If so, I have to confess that I can't see the cat either. If not, maybe they should fix that, it's horribly misleading if not.

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The can is highlighted in yellow when you hover your cursor over it on the landscape painting.

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Ah. I had Noscript on, of course, not that it would've occurred to me to hover over the top third of the image in the first place... (I thought the deformed little critters on the ground were the cats. They look more like cats than many cats I've seen in, say, medieval artwork.)

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They really do! I initially thought they were the cats too. I could probably have stared at the painting forever without seeing the cat, but I see it clearly after having seen it highlighted, which is of course what they were going for (even if it may not be the original painting). I wonder if I will see Georgism like that after I have finally read up on it. It's hard to imagine, but who knows?

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I definitely thought that was a bear.

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You know, we have the same problem with the logo for the Minnesota NHL team, The Wild. What is that critter:

http://www.stickpng.com/img/sports/ice-hockey/national-hockey-league/minnesota-wild-official-logo

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The cat is there, but it's not the case that "the picture is all cat", as advertised. So I'm guessing it's not the same landscape painting.

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Yeah I think the original picture from the story has been lost. Fun fact I had no clue what this phrase meant until like a month ago

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What happened to the shill threads? There haven't been ones since October, or have they been paying-subscribers only?

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Send me $10 and I'll tell you.....

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We're about due another one, there hasn't been one that's subscriber-only.

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Well, there was, but it was an accident.

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I'm interested in building a list of learning resources, ideally free, for something like a "learn by doing" approach to math and statistics. (I have in mind primarily programming as "doing" but also opened to eg. games, spreadsheets, etc).

For example these are great and fit what I have in mind:

- [Think Stats](http://greenteapress.com/thinkstats2/index.html)

- [Think Bayes](http://greenteapress.com/wp/think-bayes/)

- [Advanced Data Analysis from an Elementary Point of View](http://stat.cmu.edu/~cshalizi/ADAfaEPoV/)

- [Computer Age Statistical Inference](https://hastie.su.domains/CASI/)

...Green Tea Press in particular has the philosophy of "if you can program you can learn the discrete version of many concepts, then the continuous version", which is most in line with what I have in mind.

I have this idea that very practical math and stats thinking can be taught to a very wide range of on people if we used discretization to teach the basics first, then followed it with analytics optionally.

I'd love to find more resources like these, if you know of any, please share!

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I've gone through Think Stats and don't think it's very good. Most of the people that I've seen recommend it either already knew stats and thought it was the sort of book that somebody who wants to learn stats, but was intimidated by stats, would use to learn stats, or was somebody who aspired to learn, saw that it looked friendly, and then decided it was a good book without every really learning stats.

Statistics in Plain English is a much better book for looking statistics. It's very noob friendly and builds a stronger intuition. It's not free, it's not programming, but I've now either taught or mentored a lot of new data analysts/aspiring data scientists in multiple programs and found that it just gets better results.

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Yeah maybe I'm reflecting my warm feeling from "think bayes" back onto "think stats," will go back and reconsider it with that in mind.

Thanks for the "Stats in Plain English" recommendation!

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I'm a traditional horary astrologer and I'd like to practice my art: I invite anyone who would care to have a query answered through the toolkit of astrological divination to drop me a line at FlexOnMaterialists@protonmail.com. (The email address is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, of course materialists and even--dare I dream?--atheists are quite welcome.) I look forward to hearing from you!

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If this is for serious, I'll bet you $50 that you can't guess my birthdate through astrological methods after asking me twenty questions. (If astrology makes predictions about the future, you could make the predictions, wait for the answers, and then extract the birth date which would make those predictions true.)

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I see that Horary astrology (https://wikiless.org/wiki/Horary_astrology?lang=en) is different, but one should still be able to devise a method to falsify it, e.g., by going toe to toe with Metaculus questions.

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I also will offer that bet.

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I am certainly willing to wager money on event-based challenges, though, as I wrote above, it might take a few tries to land on a situation where you predict X with high confidence and horary predicts Y with high confidence.

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I mean, if you try long enough, discarding any potential misses, eventually you're bound to land a hit just by chance.

I'll offer the $50 bet, but only if you commit to a prediction ahead of time. For example, you could predict what I will have for lunch on Friday, then encrypt the prediction and send it to me. On Friday, I have lunch, then you send me the decryption key. If had a Denver omelette, and the prediction says "Denver omelette", then you win. If the prediction says "anything but ostrich eggs", then you still don't win, because predictions have to be specific and non-obvious.

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Let's say you interview for a job and assign 75% confidence you'll get an offer; if the astrology says yes, you'll get the offer, that would be a prediction we'd need to discard in this hypothetical proving attempt. By "try a few times", I mean myself and whoever else would need to keep going until we hit on a circumstance where our respective high-confidence predictions disagree with each other.

As regards lunch, I'm afraid your entrée choice is too obscure for even astrology to ascertain. Do keep in mind we're working with seven planets, twelve signs, and five aspects; while the art contains a great deal of subtlety, astrology is not mechanistic to the extent that we can pull the level and get a result. Some of the biggest limitations in horary are situations involving things we don't care about or in which we have no personal stake (same thing as in re: your dice example).

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Fair enough, but as I said in my other comment, vague predictions without actionable results or specific timeframes are not terribly interesting -- anyone can make them, you don't need astrology for that. So, what can horary astrology do that I, as a layman, cannot ?

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You've actually hit pretty close to a method from natal astrology called "rectification", where true birth time is ascertained by examining life events from a number of progressed charts; to put it mildly, this is a lot of work. A better use of horary would be if you have high confidence about some upcoming event(s), I'd be willing to delineate charts for such questions as a test (though this might take a few tries if e.g. the horary agrees with your assessment).

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I am a gamer, so I have a lot of dice in my house. If I rolled 10 differently-colored dice, could you predict which color die would show which number ?

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Surely you must have realized that even with just binary-valued answers, 20 questions is enough to identify an object in a search space of 2^20 possibilities, which covers over 2 millennia of dates. Are you imposing other stipulations, such as none of the questions being allowed to be directly about your birthdate?

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I'm guessing questions like "were you born in the first six months of the year" don't count as guessing a birthdate through astrological methods, so that would not technically win the bet.

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If one is allowed to do a simple bisection search on the calendar, your birthdate can be found in less than 9 yes/no questions, since log_2(365) ~ 8.5

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This seems fun. But it should be public, right? Like, let's test this?

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With the caveat that world events are beyond my capacity at the moment (that would be mundane astrology, which takes pride of place above elections, horary, and natal as the most difficult and complex form of astrology), I'm perfectly willing to use horary out in public. Most people don't ask questions they'd be comfortable sharing over the open internet, of course, which is why astrologer-client privilege is a thing.

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Can you help us out with some possible examples?

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Most horaries I have seen are aimed at events ("will this thing happen in the next three months?"), timing ("when will the package arrive?"), choice ("should I take this offer or stay at my current job?"), or analysis ("how does this person view our partnership?"). Any binary question is generally better suited to outright true/false judgment (wrt astrology itself) than others.

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OK. What about if/when someone will get COVID? I'd be happy to be predicted on that. If you predict a date I can commit to getting tested then.

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Sure. I'd ask for an email just so we don't clutter the thread working out the specific query and my delineation, but plague is a classic topic.

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If anyone is reading this, I decided this was closer to divination/magic than I was comfortable being directly involved in, but I hope someone else tries it out.

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How is it like magic? I might be willing to pick up the torch of

"When will souleater get covid"

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I'm not trying to be cagey, but I'm not sure I should say? Definitely get in touch with him -- I think my issues with this are probably not going to be anyone else's issues.

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Ditto on the COVID prediction

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I suggest that you avoid anything that might be deemed to be investment advice.

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An excellent point. It's a recurring fantasy of mine to one day meet and impress a real market devotee; he'd ask for a divination out of amused curiosity at first, but after a number of accurate and insightful prognostications, we'd begin working on market prediction via financial astrology. A guy can dream...

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Why don't you just get rich yourself? A very small amount can grow very quickly if you have a way of accurately predicting future events.

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It's a long-term goal. Trouble is I am entirely ignorant re: the market, and figure it would take some time before I know enough not to make novice-level errors. It is like if you have a magic amulet that gives you +2% chance of winning at cards, you want to make sure you know when to hit on 17 outside of just showing up and expecting get rich.

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I am not sure I understand how your astrological method works (I'm only familiar with the more conventional astrology). Are you saying that it's only about 2% more accurate than guessing ? Or is it the case that you cannot answer straightforward questions such as "what will be the price of BTC at noon tomorrow" ? But if so, what *can* you answer ?

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I am not a gambler, but it's my understanding that in some games, the house wins based on very narrow probabilities, such that those who can count cards or otherwise favorably shift the winning percentages a mere degree or two can reliably profit over time. In much the same way, financial astrology isn't looking for a single massive completely-certain lottery win, into which you dump your life savings (and I trust everyone here would recognize such rank charlatanry for what it is). Rather, it's meant to be an additional source of information ignored by nearly everyone else; I'm sure you can see the value in having a more complete picture of reality than your competitors (even if the competition is vague "market forces").

Re: BTC price, that's heading in the right direction. Without going into too much detail publicly, and keeping in mind the limitations of horary with respect to personal interest, you'd want to ask whether you, personally, would profit from doing such-and-such with your investment.

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Came here to link this:

https://xkcd.com/808/

and comment that wouldn't it be fun if this is the thread that ends up putting one more checkmark in that right-most column?

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Delbert_Gann

Considering the rug-sweeping that occurs in modern biographies of Kepler, Brahe, Cardano, Jean-Baptiste Morin, Jung (et very much cetera), I can't really blame Munroe for missing this one...

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It's easy to find which companies are making hundreds of millions of dollars on GPS technology. Like, Qualcomm manufactures the GPS chip used in the iPhone, and they're gigantic. Lift the rug for me; what huge companies are using Gann's astrological techniques as part of their business? It's not as easy to find on Google as GPS was.

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C'mon, if you had a reliable method for divining price fluctuations and deceiving your competition, would you publicize it? And not to abstract from fictional examples, but the movie Pi is enough to scare anyone off being indiscreet in such cases.

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I remember some sci-fi story where someone gets super-powers and one of the first things they do is claim the Randi Foundation's prize for proving the supernatural.

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There is a decent market for homeopathic products in many countries.

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You can also go to prison for doing so in many countries; in the US, it's often called "practicing medicine without a license".

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I'm curious about this project, but took awhile to come up with a good question. Would this work? I play in a band whose gigs have been decimated by the pandemic. Can you predict when we will get to play out again?

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Sure. Would you like the reply here (in which case I'll have to pastebin it) or via email?

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Glad I came up with something workable, and that we can run this experiment. Reply here, when the predicted moment arrives (and if this site still is going) we can check in and see if it's accurate. Could you specify your answer publicly here? or do I have to remain "double-blind" so I can't influence the outcome?

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https://pastebin.com/raw/PXp5DpSy

I hope this helps.

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OK, now we're on. For those of you keeping score at home, the short answer is 27 time units. Doc Abramelin thinks the time units are more likely months than weeks, but I find both plausible, and would call it a hit if it's 27 weeks. So we'll check back at the end of June 2022, and/or end of March 2024.

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1. I thought the Georgism articles were very well written and informative, especially the first one.

2. Going into them I was vaguely familar with the concept, having seen it in some econ undergrad classes briefly and having read the book review. Afterwards, I'm firmly anti-Georgist.

Firstly, as far as I can tell by reading the articles, discussing them in the comments, and being responded to by the author in the comments, it doesn't seem like there's really any answer available for how it could be implemented. At best I got some waffly 'maybe if we phase it in slowly over a century' responses which were unencouraging, but at least the author just left implementing the whole theory as an exercise to the reader. I would be interested in a follow-up to address this, if there is interest.

Secondly, while the author did a reasonable job of arguing his theses, that Land Matters, Land Value Tax can be Effective, and Assessment of Unimproved Land can Work, I never picked up on any moral or ethical argument for why Georgism is good.

I like the ability of people to own their own land, and the American public as a whole seems to agree with me, at least the 64.8% owning their own homes. The Georgist worldview that was laid out appeared to me to be so profit focused and hypercapitalistic, with everybody forced to use their land in a maximally profit-efficient way just to not be evicted, was so disturbing that it made me assess my own opinions and realize I wasn't as much of a capitalist as I thought I was, and certainly not enough to be a Georgist. Implementation, as I mentioned above, also appears more or less impossible or at least incredibly inequitable to current landholders.

As a whole, I am still not convinced that Georgism is a good thing. I can see why it would have made sense a century ago with robber barons, high poverty, and high inequality. At present, though, I still don't see any point to it aside from in theory being a revenue-neutral alternative to income tax which punishes rural and suburban homeowners and rewards urban renters with higher incomes.

Can somebody, in plain English, justify why Georgism is a good thing and something I should want?

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The right to own land is not the right to own land; absent the existence of ownership of land, you can do anything you could do once the concept of ownership of land is added. What is changed by the ownership of land is that the ability of anyone except the owner to do those things.

That is, the "right" of land ownership is purely one of exclusion of other people's rights to do things.

Georgism's ethical grounding therefore comes from the idea that this exclusive right, being an infringement on the freedoms of everybody except the owner, is not a valid wellspring of wealth; Georgism grants you the value that you deserve, being the value you create, in the land. It subtracts out the value that you do not deserve, that value which is created entirely by the destruction of the rights of all others; it subtracts out the value of the exclusive right to the land, that exclusivity itself is not profitable, but instead is treated properly as an unfortunate necessity.

And if you think the agreements of ancestors about how land should be allocated somehow justify the current state of affairs, ask what right any generation has ever had any real right to sell, trade, or vote the rights of their children away? If it seems injust to take some aspect of property away from those who now own it, why is it just that every child born has had these right stripped from them already?

Thus, the citizen's dividend, because land ownership is in fact important, and powerful, and useful. And Georgist taxes, because the exclusive right to land is, in addition to all of those things, fundamentally unjust.

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In that case I just have fundamental differences with Mr. George. I don't think exclusive ownership of land is unjust. I think that the exclusive right to use land comes from (in America) the State seizing the lands through treaty, purchase or conquest and selling it to its citizens, who sell it between themselves. As for prior generations, their actions in every way directly lead to every aspect of our current society, economy, and wealth distribution, and I don't see why land is anything more than just another asset.

The citizens dividend, or UBI, is an entirely separate policy from LVT and I don't see what it has to do with the rest of Georgism (which seems to really be the primary focus of Georgism) outside of being a general suggestion for how to spend tax revenue to fight inequality. Given that we could just implement UBI under any tax regime, including the current one, I don't think that the merits of UBI as a spending strategy in any way support or relate to LVT as a revenue strategy. I'm fine with revising to say that I disagree with just the land part of Georgism, though that does seem to be much of the point of it.

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What is your ethical theory of property? Is it the labor theory of property? If so, why does one's exclusive rights extend to property with which one has mixed no labor?

And if the exclusive right to land comes ultimately from the state, then Georgism needs no moral justification - it cannot be just or unjust, it can only be part of the state schema or not. That is, in the sense in which ownership of property is just historical-political fact rather than moral fact, a vote to enact Georgism is equally just historical-political action, and has no bearing on morality at all.

So if ownership of property in this sense isn't unjust, applying Georgism is equally not-unjust; it's just another treaty/purchase/conquest/sale. Remember that "The population of the world less one" didn't agree to the sale of their rights, nor did any of their descendants.

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The government is not an entity separate from the people. If the people reject a particular mode of taxes, for instance an LVT, then regardless of whether they consider it unjust or not, it doesn't get implemented. I think we all agree that Georgism is not generally popular now. In order for it to gain popularity, I think you will need a better slogan than "Georgism - It's equally not-unjust!" A positive ethical argument would be a big step that way, but you will run right into the ~65% of Americans who own their home. Disrupting 65% of a population just doesn't seem very useful or practical in any system. Georgists seem entirely fixated on the people who live in growing urban areas, who far more often rent, at the expense of a large majority of other people.

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Currently, if you have a $300,000 house built on land worth $100,000, this is taxed the same as a $100,000 house built on land worth $300,000. Relative to Georgist taxes, the current property tax scheme in fact rewards people who live in growing urban areas, and penalizes rural and suburban lots.

The current tax scheme is the disruptive one, it's just we don't connect intrusive and right-violating permitting processes intended to let a city know when to raise assessed values of individual properties, and punish those who try to avoid such assessments, to extract additional property taxes to the property tax scheme we live under.

Like, when a home owner is forced to destroy unpermitted work (and pay for the demolition, in addition to their own costs in doing the work in the first place), is that really about safety, or punishing a tax-avoidance strategy?

Georgism won't destroy home ownership. Judging by the trends I've personally observed, it's possibly the only way to save it.

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I have no issue switching property taxes from taxing the buildings to taxing the land, while keeping revenues the same. I think that's a fine change. Please don't pretend that is the end of Georgism. Without significantly higher tax *rates* an LVT achieves none of the envisioned systematic goals of Georgism. I'm fine with that, but I feel like your response is a rhetorical sleight of hand trying to imply otherwise.

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founding

Most of the things I own are things with which I've mixed no labor; I own them because I've paid for them. I think the problem most of us have with Georgism, on a moral level, is its insistence on treating something *we've paid for* as if it were some sort of windfall.

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The labor theory of property covers things you've purchased. Somebody else mixed labor with them, you traded your own labor, or things you mixed with your labor, for them; it's not -your- labor, but you exchanged something like an equivalent amount of labor (adjusting for the value of said labor) for them.

An increase in land value isn't something you paid for. You buy a piece of property in 1967; you paid for the property as it existed in 1967. Somebody builds a factory down the road, and your property triples in value, as suddenly everybody wants to live there; you didn't pay for that.

That's a basic kind of argument, but it doesn't quite get into it.

Elsewhere, I use the example of a pair of islands. You live on Rich Island, and your ancestors bought Poor Island; the ownership is now held by a corporation which you own shares in. Let's even suppose you bought those shares.

On Poor Island, everybody has to pay rent, because their ancestors sold the island; everybody there is very poor, and barely makes enough to get by, and certainly not enough, after they pay rent, to improve things.

Now, you can say you're entitled to your portion of the rent, because you bought those shares in the corporation that collectively owns Poor Island. However, the inhabitants of Poor Island didn't sell you anything, and yet they're the ones whose livelihoods you own.

Okay, their ancestors sold it - but did they have any right to sell their descendants' livelihood in this fashion?

I'm analogizing to slavery here, in case that isn't clear, and to be clear, the fact that a slave owner has paid for a slave does not, in fact, represent a moral claim.

The mere act of paying for something is not, in and of itself, sufficient justification for ownership; it must be something that can be morally owned. There is good moral theory for why you can own a car, why you can own a computer, why you can own your house.

The land that your house sits on doesn't have good moral theory for ownership, and as I hope the island example might demonstrate, there are actually some pretty good reasons to be suspicious of the moral validity of the ownership of land; in our modern society, we have a chain of transactions obscuring the origins of that ownership, but it ultimately comes down to "Somebody else said that other people can't use this land anymore", without any compensation or consent from the people thus deprived, including in particular those in the future.

But the thing is, ownership of land is, in fact, pretty damned important. Without it, society doesn't function.

Georgism is an attempt to square the moral issues of land ownership with the practical necessity of the same; there still isn't consent, but it does its best to at least compensate those thus deprived.

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founding

You're clearly alert to the danger of the Georgist critique devolving into a fully general argument against property-- but I don't think you've succeeded so far in averting it. The example of Poor Island doesn't satisfy, because it's not clear why they should be poor simply because they've traded one thing of value for another. (There are plenty of businesses making good profits while operating out of leased quarters.) I suppose if they spent the proceeds of the land sale on a big party-- but they didn't have to do that. How does this differ from the case where they sell their steel mill instead of their land, and then blow all the money?

To the extent that the increase in the value of my land since I bought it was foreseeable, I certainly did pay for it; it's not the sort of thing a seller would throw in as a freebie. A surprise increase would be a stroke of luck, though no different in principle from, say, buying Pfizer stock just before they discover Viagra. I can see where a general claim of justice could lie against someone who first appropriates a piece of land from nature, but that's almost never going to be the present owner.

If the people of Rich Island are really savvy, they'll sell Poor Island back to the inhabitants along with their own island-- and then impose a LVT on them.

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I think Thegnskald made an exceptionally clear case but let me add a couple of things and respond to your specific questions.

> The Georgist worldview that was laid out appeared to me to be so profit focused and hypercapitalistic, with everybody forced to use their land in a maximally profit-efficient way just to not be evicted

This is literally what being part of the renting class is like except with your entire life. If you don't produce enough value from your labor you are kicked out of the house you rent and onto the street. If it sounds horrible to wealthy capitalists who inherited a lot of property-- they can take solace in that it's the faintest shadow of a fraction of what their tenants have to deal with.

Let me try to give you another "moral picture" of where Georgism comes from. One of the principle questions of Georgism is, "Who deserves to benefit from improving society?"

If you rent a loft and convert it to an art gallery in my spare time and fill it with beautiful things, here is what happens. You've improved the neighborhood, but the (vast?) majority of the value I've created is collected by the land-owners. They will raise the rent on the art gallery until you can no longer afford to do it. You are literally being punished for creating value.

This isn't some trivial hypothetical. If you're a certain age, you have lived through the mass erosion of public spaces.

There are a lot of moral values- I'd say the strongest one for Georgism is "fairness". It seems "unfair" that someone who wants to become a professional should have the vast majority of their earnings taken from them in the form of rent, healthcare, taxes, and education.

A lot of this is going to come down to whether you see the individual or society first, how much you value the present versus the past, how much you care about efficiency, just a lot of stuff. I can see someone who is more religious being furious with Georgism's ultra-presentism. Religious institutions are thousands of years old. Haven't they earned a *little* goodwill in that time?

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I'm a renter and am not religious.

Some day I'd like to own my own property. I'm well on track to doing so and don't want land ownership to be abolished just because I don't currently participate in it.

I've had good experiences with my landlords and know that if I run on hard times I have tenant protections and can always downgrade if need be. I absolutely do not trust the government to do a better job at landlording than private industry.

Further you seem focused with owning the rich capitalists, but the truly rich own stocks and other securities in addition to land, while the majority of American households own their own home and it's often a significant portion of net worth.

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That's all fine. I'm not (and Georgism certainly isn't) concerned with "owning rich capitalists." It has to do with fairness and incentives.

I didn't focus on this because Thegnskald's comment already covered it. It has to do with how people obtain their wealth. If you invent something, build something, or whatever, Georgism wants you to get the proceeds for that innovation. And generally that kind of work *enriches the world*.

If you obtained your wealth from basically *stopping everyone else from obtaining opportunity*, then Georgism wants that money back.

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Georgism is not about abolishing land ownership. It is, in fact, a major advancement in ownership rights over the existing property tax schema.

If you own land in the current schema, you are taxed on the value. If you improve the land - say, by planting trees, or building a house, or building a shopping mall, or building a skyscraper - you are then taxed on the value of the improvements.

So, insofar as Georgism taxing you for the land says "You don't own this", the current tax scheme is saying, about every improvement to the property, "You don't own this either." So insofar as you think taxing the land is saying you don't own it, Georgism is actually granting you ownership over at least the improvements to the land, which is more than you currently own, under this perspective.

Also, as a homeowner, I'd love it if housing prices collapse. That would mean I could sell my current home (at a loss), and buy a nicer home (much cheaper), and end up better off than I am right now.

The idea that perpetually increasing housing prices is good is, frankly, insane, and born of the idea of housing as investment, as opposed to housing as a place to live; it's antithetical to home ownership, and turns us into a nation of renters.

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The current tax scheme has fairly low rates, I don't think all taxes mean 'you don't own this', but an 100% tax rate does.

I don't see why perpetually increasing housing prices are bad. Further, as I've said repeatedly, we are not in fact a nation of renters and the majority of households do not rent. Under Georgism, however, it seems like the goal is for all of us to have to rent our land from the state at market rates (which current property taxes don't come close to).

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That's an excellent point, because improving your tented home is not something renters do, except trivially. Because if they get evicted, they will lose their improvements, an investment in term of time and money... At least those they can not move.

Sale reason building on rented land is so uncommon. It also happen, but comes with securities (like 99y rents) or often ends badly.

so if you accept Georgism means renting land from the government (which i did, thanks to the great articles), why would you build on this land? Private builder should be a minority under Georgism, while mobile home, renting state homes and maybe big Corp homes (big corps will have a bargaining power with gouvernement that no individual will have. So they may trust the rent being stable and factor everything into a business plan)... Plus they will control multiple adjacent pacels so also control cross effects that change the lvt...

My impression is that Georgism was a socialist reaction to land Barrons, probably justified at some time and places... But in places without land barrons, it become a push to a rent only future that is ongoing on multiple fronts. Private property being something for states and big corps, not people. I oppose this on moral principle, as anti natural, so I oppose Georgism now that the articles (and discussion) helped me to understand what it means. Certainly if applied on small parcels for individual home. BTW, owning land seems moral to me, like all private property. It's basic security against confiscation, and the only way i see apart children to prepare the future (aka invest). I feel opposition to land being privately owned would be natural in two cases: a general opposition to private property (communism) or being a nomad.

BTW, property taxes, especially those on your own house, always made me angry, even before i bought my home. They break the feeling you own the place you live in, part of the drive toward having your home instead of renting it. It's mostly an illusion, but I feel it's a powerful natural feeling. Maybe also why many people are into self home improvements, if they have the capacity for it.

you will see on the comment many critics of Georgism are "traditional" home owners

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>That's an excellent point, because improving your tented home is not something renters do, except trivially. Because if they get evicted, they will lose their improvements, an investment in term of time and money... At least those they can not move.

>Sale reason building on rented land is so uncommon. It also happen, but comes with securities (like 99y rents) or often ends badly.

>so if you accept Georgism means renting land from the government (which i did, thanks to the great articles), why would you build on this land?

The difference between a renter in a privately-owned building and an owner-occupier under LVT is that the renter can't sell the improvement; it only profits the landlord (including via the landlord potentially raising the renter's own rent!). Under LVT improvements are *not* taxed, which means the sale value of real estate with improvements on it does not collapse to 0 but merely to the value of the improvements in a vacuum. This means that, assuming your improvements add more value to the property than it cost you to build them, you can profit by improving a property and selling it, or by improving a property and then renting it out for more money as landlords currently do.

>Plus they will control multiple adjacent pacels so also control cross effects that change the lvt...

This can't disincentivise land development below the incentive individual owner-occupiers would have (unless LVT exceeds 100%). It removes the extra incentive for a capitalist of speculating on land and then developing other nearby land, but that's all.

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Week in theory yes, and that's also the case in current regime where you build your home on rented land. In principle you can sell it, and often indeed can, but still peuple are reluctant to do it... Because the value of the home itself will tremendously depend on the rent the land it's built on. A d when building your home, you don't control the rent. This situation require a huge trust in the landlord not to abuse his position for you too stay building, something that happen but is extremely uncommon. Is my local governement trustful enough to build on a land i rent from it? In my case, no. And i live in western Europe...

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Yes improvements do wind up raising the tax, because the value of the land is not just "how much is this dirt worth," it's also "what is the value of being in this particular location, where this dirt is." The more nice things around the dirt, the more valuable having that particular patch of dirt, as opposed to some other dirt somewhere else, is. Also, if the improvement is major (i.e., finding a way to put 2n lovely apartments on the plot instead of n crappy apartments), suddenly everyone else around the plot has a new "highest and best use" which they must immediately conform to or else get taxed out the wazoo.

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That sounds like an argument against land ownership in general, but Georgism (by my limited understanding) seem to advocate for the centralization of land ownership into the hands of one (or a few) organizations.

I don't think ownership of land or other natural resources in their unaltered state is legitimate, but if it's to exist, I would much rather have it distributed among may different owners than to have it centralized to a single owner (e.g. a state) that can charge everyone rent. I don't see why a state would have any more moral right to own land.

To me, a better solution would be to only recognize ownership in that which is the product of somebody's labor. That would naturally mean that if you put a house on a piece of land, a satellite in an orbital position, or generate radio waves at a particular wavelength, you are depriving others of simultaneously doing the same and thereby of the use of something that you don't own and that they could have used if it was not for your activities, but the same is true if you e.g. stand in particular place. I think that's just a fact of nature and doesn't require a centrally planned and imposed solution, which is how I (again, in my limited understanding) view Georgism.

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You refer to the labor theory of property; Georgism also is based on the labor theory of property, but where the theory generally concerns itself with the portion of the land with which labor was mixed, Georgism asks after all the rest of the land. This is why it is critical to Georgism that it is -land- that is taxed, and not improvements.

Compare the existing land tax schemes, in which a skyscraper is taxed for the value of the skyscraper and the land, versus Georgism, where the value of the skyscraper is not taxed, but the land underneath it is, and ask which is more just; is it more just to tax people based on what the create and produce, or is it more just to tax for the opportunity costs thus imposed on everybody else?

The Citizen's Dividend exists because the state does -not- own the land, and is acting only as an imperfect proxy for society as a whole, who are compensated, not as owners of the land, but for the loss of their natural rights to do something with the land other than what is being done with it.

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This has seduced me before I read the comments and thought more. But the big question Georgidt have to answer : if you do not own the land itself (and i realized that is really what Georgism means with the LVT), how can you own non - movable things you build on this land. My current opinion is that you can't. Very few people currently build on rented land (rented to private owner or the state), so apparently i am not alone in thinking that...

If there is one addition old like to see to the great serie of articles it's this: how can you own your home if you don't own the land it's built on, and can not move it? Owning the home meaning it's value is not subject to the whim of the land owner?

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It seems to me that the same argument applies to places that already have a "property tax". In its simplest implementation, Georgism would simply involve adjustments to the property-tax assessment procedure to more heavily weight land value in relation to the value of structures build upon this land. This is not radical, not difficult to implement, and doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. In places that already have the infrastructure to levy property taxes, it is trivial to, say, make 5% of the assessed value pinned to the LVT assessment. This fraction could increase gradually, 5% per-decade, say. This gives ample time to weigh pros and cons, economically, on short and medium timescales.

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You’re missing the point of Georgism.

You retain exclusive ownership of the land. The difference, however is that the “rent,” which is the benefit you derive solely from occupying land to the exclusion of others, is fully taxed from you and out to the public benefit.

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But what I get is if you tax 100% of the generated value, and estimate this estimated value properly, it automatically follow that the price of what is taxed, which in fact represent the accumulated benefits - taxes (with some time preference function), becomes 0 -almost by definition of correctly estimating the LVT and fully taxing it. So full Georgism result in buying land for nothing. Same as a rental change: you do not pay anything to the former renter, nor to the owner.

Or is there something I do not get from Georgism (because this is the main info I extracted from the serie of articles).

What you seem to point to is partial Georgism, where LVT is not the full land rent but a portion of it, meaning the land still have a non zero price and you can (partially) own it and sell it, like anything else. Then I do not have the same objection of course, it all depends on how much the LVT is exactly, compared to current habitation tax. But that is a very different story from what was exposed....

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"You retain exclusive ownership of the land"

But if you can't afford to pay the tax because you are land rich and cash poor, then you'll be forced off the land. That doesn't seem like ownership to me.

And yes, this is true of current property taxes, and I'm not a big fan of them, either.

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You own it. If it non-severable (like planted trees or amended soil) then you should be paid a severance fee, obviously if its a house you can move it, if you want, or sell it to the new owner of that land, in fact many advocate that he would be required to compensate the person who can't sever their improvements from the land.

It would actually be more forgiving than today, in many cases, since houses would be much cheaper and homeowner would be more likely for people, and therefore you don't lose everything in a foreclosure or tax sale.

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The state has a moral right to the land to the extent that it acts by the consent of and in the best interests of the people as a whole. That's why Georgism is often connected to a UBI: the idea is that the individual landowners pay the LVT to compensate everyone else for the loss of access to the land, and the state pays that out as the Citizens' Dividend.

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This is one thing that I don't get. Why does any state have any more moral right to the land than an individual or smaller group of individuals or another state or all of humanity?

It seems to me that all arguments about the rights to land apply equally to the state. The United States of America also got the existing land through conquest, purchase etc.

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It's a little tricky since any plausible configuration can only be an approximation of the ideal. I would say that whatever entity best represents the interests of the largest number of people has the strongest claim. The "rightful owner" is every person who exists, so it's a question of who can most closely approximate acting in their interest.

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This, and additionally, locality matters.

It is not "Every person owns land", it is "The income stream derived from land arising entirely from the exclusion of other party's rights is injust" - Georgist taxes do not reflect the fact that everybody owns land, that is, but rather the fact that the very concept of ownership of land is the limitation of the rights of others to employ that land to their own purposes.

My next door neighbor is harmed more by my exclusive ownership of land than somebody living in Tokyo; the harm to the person in Tokyo is, basically, negligible.

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They don't. No one has any inherent right to a specific location, but I think its pretty clear we all have a right to SOME location.

If that's true we have to figure out how to manage who gets the rights to a given location.

Central governments just happen to the be the major form of government for most of civilization, so that's what we go with. But there are Geo-Anarchists, Geo-Mutualists, Geo-Syndicalists, etc, etc, etc.

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If you own a house, why do YOU have a right to it instead of me? Probably because some group a couple hundred years ago were more successful murderers than another group.

When it comes down to it, the only justification for ownership of land is violence or the threat of violence. Every inch of ground on the planet is soaked in blood; that's why fairness is in all our interests.

'cause the only thing that restrains the proles from wheeling out the peoples razor and taking a little off the top is practical considerations.

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There is another consideration beyond "how did these specific people come to have ownership" and that's the question of allowing ownership or not. Even if ownership is illegitimate, it may be preferable to a society where ownership is not allowed. The argument for that is long and involved, but I happen to believe that a system where ownership is allowed is better than one where it is not. Given that, the more important question becomes one of how property is handled going forward.

I happen to think that there is actually good bit of land that is held legitimately (though I agree much of it is not). To me, though, that really isn't the important distinction. Given where we are now, taking land away may in fact be worse for society than leaving it in place and nudging the system in better directions for future ownership arrangements.

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Georgism is not prescriptive in regards to collection mechanism. There are Geo-Anarchists, Geo-Mutualists, etc, etc.

The important point is that rent is collected and ideally somehow made to equally benefit all members of that community, whether through public investment or handled out via a Citizen's Dividend.

If that happens through community land trusts or mutual societies or whatever other conception you could imagine, that would be okay with us.

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I mean, basically any good and thing you own consume or benefit from is excluding everyone else from it. It's hard for me to sign onto that as a basis for ethics.

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First, one difference comes from where the value comes from; the value of a carrot does not depend on nobody else having a carrot, after all; otherwise the industrial revolution represented no change to society at all, since the gain in value from having more goods was offset by the goods ceasing to be scarce.

Land shares the quality of having a value arising entirely from the exclusion of other people's rights in common with a few other things, perhaps most contentiously intellectual property.

Land feels more like a thing than intellectual property, perhaps, but what exactly do you own, when you own land? If you were to remove every physical object, every speck of dust, every grain of sand, from the borders of your property - does it cease to be your property? What about air moving through it, or water? What about abstractions, like airwave "space"?

These aren't theoretical problems, we've had to deal with them over time, and repeatedly modified in the process what it means to own land.

What exactly ownership of land is, and where it comes from, are both important questions. If you choose as your default referent a state of nature, it should become apparent that the ownership of land has its roots in violence; it is not a claim of rights to the land, but rather, a refusal of those same rights to anybody else. This becomes quite apparent in the case of owning land with no intent to do anything with it, such as in the case of speculation, which is effectively a form of extortion.

Which isn't to say it isn't important, indeed crucially so. Land ownership is necessary for society to function.

But here's the thing: The ownership of land is not a finite thing. The extent is limited in three dimensions, but not the fourth.

Imagine, for a moment, two societies, which occupy an island each. One island is rich, the other poor. One day, the society on the rich island offer to buy the island from the poor society, for enough money for everybody on the poor island to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. They agree, and sell their island. They never leave; they just sell it, and pay rent. But it's fine, because they have money.

The children's children's children of the poor society later live in even more abject poverty, for in addition to everything else, now they are paying rents to the children's children's children of the rich island. What right did their ancestors have to sell the island? In specific, what right did their ancestors have to sell some portion of their descendant's wages forevermore?

That is land ownership. Georgism is about recognizing that nobody ever had the right to sell that portion of any descendant's wages - that portion that goes towards rent - and the fact that somebody now "owns" that portion of somebody's work into perpetuity, the fact that it has been bought and sold many times, grants no additional validity to the situation.

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Some stuff have value mostly indepent from others having access to the fame thing... A carot for example. Some things have more value the more they are used. Stuff showing interaction usually, like an os system or electrical standard. It leads to monopolies and are well suited to state defined standards and strongly capping benefits. That were you get rent abuse imho, and where i would think state intervention is the most welcome. Some things are more valuable if other do not have it. Art pieces. Expertise. Rare sellable talent. It seems georgism try to prevent making land part of the last category by organising artificial scarcity.

Is it a real problem? I don't think so, not at my place and time. Was it a real problem before or at some other place? I guess so, land barrons or companies securing huge amount of previously state owned land (forest often) come to mind. But when the land is really scarce, it will advantage the rich against the first mover, which is nice from some economic point of view but promote insecurity. And when the land is not scarce, it seems to promote exploitation, maybe over exploitation.

But maybe i dont fully get it. In particular i do not understand how you can have a full lvt, which tax lands value at 100%, and the fact that you can own land instead of simply renting it (i.e sale pure land, or (of its too theoretical because no land is left unexploited under georgism)) sell your old home if the lvt has increased enough to be unpayable by people interested in this type of home, knowing the potential new land use will imply destroying it to build something more productive instead, like an hotel or service center...

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Lots of land is left unexploited under Georgism. The tax is, basically, on the opportunity cost of the land; the huge tracts of land nobody wants in New Mexico or Arizona or Nevada don't suddenly become more appealing because of a LVT, and the people owning the land, which isn't worth much regardless, aren't suddenly going to decide they don't want to own it because now they're paying $100 in a LVT instead of $100 of a more conventional land tax. (It's not worth much now, and it won't be worth much after a LVT either, so in either cases the taxes are basically negligible).

As for ownership, I think you need to ask yourself what ownership even means, because if the only thing that matters to ownership is revenue streams, then people who live in homes they own must be doing things wrong. The purpose of owning your own home is not to rent it out, it's to live in it, and the ownership grants you rights over your house that are desirable in and of themselves.

The effect of the taxes themselves will largely be negligible in more rural communities, increasing as you move into increasing urban environments; mostly they will fall on commercial developments, and the average homeowner likely will not see much of a personal change in their taxes.

As for destroying homes to put something productive in its place, this already happens, and the kludgy, corrupt, and frequently racist way my own government currently goes about doing this is, if you're familiar with the history of it, kind of horrifying. The Georgist alternative isn't replacing a utopian situation with a dystopian one, it's replacing a dystopian situation with something that is merely good on average, and sometimes individually bad.

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I don't get your explanation. Under the current regime, if my place become interesting for some development, i can be forced to sale through expropriation by the state, or indirectly by increase of local prices (good and services, and maybe local taxes although it often goes the other way around) in case of gentrification. In this case, if it goes to the point i am forced to move, it will be with a nice plus value when i sell my home and land (yes, land speculation at work ;-)... Maybe i would choose to leave in that case, even if i could afford higher prices on my gentrified neighborhood. In most case, i must be convinced to sale, which can be done if the price offered makes me better off (buy a better land+home (better for me) somewhere else....

With Georgism, if a new possible valorisation of my land happen (I discover a petrol field in my backyard, or, more likely, city spread, some infrastructure development or some tourism fashion suddenly makes the place more interesting to richer people), my lvt increase and put me in trouble, maybe to the point i have to sell my land (priced 0, that's my understanding of having a 100% lvt on well evaluated land) and my home (at much reduced price compared to what it would have sold before lvt increase (because, as I said before, the kind of house of a guy unable to pay the new lvt is probably of very little interest to people willing to pay this new increased lvt - they have other type of house (or non house infrastructure) in mind).

So Georgism out me similar to the worse kind of expropriation (one that under evaluate the compensation by a lot). And i already dislike expropriation except with super generous compensations. Where is my analysis wrong?

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That's an interesting example, because a huge part of agricultural land value in New Mexico is the water rights that may or may not be attached to that land. Water rights are required for using surface water, like rivers, but are also required for pumping gound water.

Water rights have been gained and lost not by labor but through a long and complicated history, that makes sense in about the same way as land ownership itself. Most water use currently is agricultural, which might not be the optimal use. I suppose desert Georgists would advocate a water tax?

One tricky thing about water is that the supply varies from year to year, and can depend on sources in other countries, which must be negotiated for. It's much harder to defend one's water source from downstream than it is to defend a plot of land.

Another tricky thing is that arguments over water use, where it matters, are a good deal more contentious than the pleasant discussions on land use.

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founding

Georgism is good because 'deadweight loss' is bad, and this is the way to minimize deadweight loss for taxation.

"Deadweight loss" is what economists call the loss of transactions between people that could have happened, which both of them would have appreciated, which don't happen because of some obstacle that makes it less worthwhile. [For example, travel time is generally a deadweight loss; if people could teleport to restaurants (instead of having to live nearby them), both restaurant owners and restaurant-goers would probably be happier. Similarly, a tax on restaurant meals means that the marginal restaurant meal doesn't happen, and also every meal that does happen is slightly worse for both sides than it could have been.]

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>and also every meal that does happen is slightly worse for both sides than it could have been

This last part's not deadweight loss because the government collects the money, right? The DWL is entirely to be found in the meals that don't happen, never in the ones that did.

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I think they're talking about meals that did happen, but where the people didn't order dessert, or didn't order drinks, or otherwise left out some feature that would have been a net win-win if it hadn't been taxed, but isn't with the tax, so it doesn't happen at all.

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founding

Yeah, agreed that's normally counted as 'tax revenue' instead of deadweight loss; my "also" probably wasn't enough signposting of "and here's a different thing that's bad about taxes."

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So is the lack of deadweight loss the only redeeming quality of Georgism? I can accept that as a benefit from an economy sense but I don't think that redeems the inability to privately own land, the inability to use land for purposes that aren't maximally profitable etc.

Seems like a very dreary world to live in if the state owns everything and if you don't put all of your efforts towards generating income you lose your home.

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According to a utilitarian capitalist, lack of deadweight loss is the only redeeming quality *any* social organization can have. "Deadweight loss" is any time that two people could both be happier by engaging in some mutually beneficial interaction. When you say "if you don't put all your efforts towards generating income you lose your home", they say "if you don't keep making the world a better place for people, then the scarce resources you have claimed are repurposed by someone who *is* making the world a better place for people".

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But it seems like the reason Georgism is achieving this is by forcing everybody to be maximally economically productive, which is obviously a good way to avoid deadweight economic loss but seems awful for utility. A lot of people derive plenty of utils from owning their own home but under LVT they'd have to pay very steep LVT in cash, not utils, and be evicted. Further if it turns out the best way to maximize profit from land is to set up strip malls and plaster them with billboards, and LVT rises to reflect the income the state expects you to generate, doesn't overall utility go down despite revenue to the state going up?

It seems like in the current system people are able to buy land and derive utility however they see fit, even if it doesn't generate income directly, however under Georgism they are forced to do whatever the state thinks can generate the most cash and then uses as a basis for calculating LVT. Am I wrong?

Again I think we've landed in the hypercapitalist dystopia

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Well, we would contend that strip malls and billboards are a really bad way to maximize profit if you sufficiently tax the land rent away that lets people get away with such wasteful activities.

It might help to look up Strong Towns' view of things:

https://www.strongtowns.org/landvaluetax

I think a lot of people get the view that Georgists want everyone to build Isaac Asimov style "Caves of Steel", covering every inch of the earth with concrete and super skyscrapers to maximize utility uber alles, but really we want to get rid of the wasteful uses of land in the most valuable areas, which we think will lead to the creation of more walkable, dense neighborhoods with nice things like bodegas, rather than sprawling suburbs for miles and miles.

The hyper over densification comes from the "playdough squeezed through the colander" effect and is part of the status quo's malincentives. Because so much land is held out of best use in the city centers, the land that remains in the hands of those that want to put it to use tend to put it to REALLY dense use, and then you get sprawl and sprawl and sprawl out on the edges.

The idea is if you even things out you get more like the "missing middle" of development.

https://missingmiddlehousing.com

This is the stated Goal of the Georgists who educated me, for the record. We can certainly continue to debate about whether the policies of Georgism will achieve this in practice or not, but it can help to be clear on what the movement's own goals are.

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A Skyscraper on every Corner is definitely the impression I got of Georgia's goals, and my expectation of what the Georgist policies would encourage. I am still not sure how you avoid that; any area with a widely attended open natural space could be a widely attended Walmart, don't we have to tax the park owner as if he was Sam Walton to even out the revenue? Or am I missing something

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"more walkable, dense neighborhoods with nice things like bodegas"

If I knew what a bodega was, I might want one on the street corner. But for the love of God, this phrase extracted on its own sounds exactly like some 25 year old hipster with no kids or responsibility towards aging parents, who never needs to carry anything heavier than a paper bag full of groceries, and certainly not in the pouring horizontal rain, and earns a living by doing something vaguely in 'design' related work which they can carry out on their laptop in the local artisan coffee shop. They really appreciate the vibrant urban lifestyle where they get to hear the latest indie breakout artist in the brewpub every Saturday night.

Which is lovely for them, but what about the rest of us?

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I also really like the NY neighborhood (when it's nice and not crime-ridden). BUT for those romanticizing bodegas and little shops, which I also love in NY, I think there are substantial regulatory structures in place in NYC specifically to prop those up - and the popularity of places like Costco and IKEA in Brooklyn itself attests to the fact that people's preferences, for efficiency at the very least, certainly lay that way.

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If something avoids deadweight "economic loss" but is bad for utility, then you haven't properly measured economic loss. Economic loss *should* include all forms of utility.

People don't derive utility from owning their home - they derive actual utility from having a place to stay, and having certainty about the continued ability to stay there enables them to make some risky decisions that on net tend to increase utility in other ways as well.

If the income the state expects the user of a given piece of land to generate is going up, it's only because the users of this land are able to increase the utility for more people by enough to collect payments from those people that allow them to pay the higher income the state expects. If 100 people could live a happy life on this land, but 1 person currently is, and refuses to allow any of these others to partake in such a happy life, then it definitely doesn't increase utility to keep those 99 people homeless in order to avoid evicting that one. (Especially since the extra land rent generated by these people will enable greater "citizens dividend" payments to everyone, including the one who was evicted, who should be able to find an ok place, either as one of the 100 who now occupies the same land, or on some other piece of land that is opening up more spaces for people.)

But yes, Georgism is this weird combination of hypercapitalist and hypercommunist, which can easily go dystopian if you aren't properly measuring everyone's desires in the economic values that are being maximized. But if you are in fact enabling everyone's desires to express themselves in the market, then the dystopian harms you are causing are just a large number of trolley problems where you kill one to save five (or perhaps better, evict one to house five, or stub one toe to prevent five stubbings, or any number of other transactions where most people are being made better off even though some are in fact made worse off).

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> But yes, Georgism is this weird combination of hypercapitalist and hypercommunist, which can easily go dystopian if you aren't properly measuring everyone's desires in the economic values that are being maximized.

This strikes me as a pretty fatal flaw, because if we've learned anything from the past century, it's that trying to measure what people value is not at all straightforward, even in economic terms.

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"People don't derive utility from owning their home - they derive actual utility from having a place to stay, and having certainty about the continued ability to stay there enables them to make some risky decisions that on net tend to increase utility in other ways as well."

I agree, under perfect economy assumptions. But you should consider owning your home precisely allows to be non-measured, economically speaking. I do a lot of home improvement myself, because I physically and technically can, because I (sometimes, it depend on the actual task) enjoy it, but mostly because it's unofficial work, something that would cost me more that doing it myself. And this even while the hour-price of the guy that would do the work is much less than mine, he can get raw material at a better price than I do and he already have all the tools, that I may need to buy.

But if he work for a company, the company will takes it's (much too large) share, and the state also (and, in my country tax system, it's even worse).

Add to that some interaction effect: when you do the work yourself, you know what you did and learn some new stuff, which will make new works much easier/less costly. Basically, it's a negation of the economic principle of specialisation allowing net wealth creation. This is true, some times, provided there are not too many exchange frictions. But there is frictions. Often too much friction imho. Owning a house and land allows to to escape the all-is-economy game, when it makes sense. Even more if you own a large land and become energetically self-sufficient, more or less. In perfect economy without friction, it should never make sense. In practice, it does, and the more you can't escape the game, the more I feel it will makes sense (playing the economic exchange game is a net loss for the small player), because tuning out is the ultimate thing that keep exchange mutually profitable, in case of inherent power asymmetry (which is never bigger than when one of the 2 players is the state)

And as I said in another thread, the homelessness due to land overuse by a few was maybe a problem in the past, but I really don't think it is now, at least where I live (western europe), and I doubt it is in the US (although there was the subprime stuff and welfare is much lower in the US...so maybe, I am not well placed to know).

But reaching a Demographic plateau and probably down trend, I do not see it becoming more of a problem, if anything, it would become a complete non-issue....

In fact, instead of the homeless having a chance to finally be out of the cold rain, the practical Georgist trolley, as I see it, would more be like eviction a farmer couple and children living their old family farm, to transform the farm into 5 joined habitations (I live in such one, I know it's nice ;-) ) to welcome 5 urban families...Because 2 years of covid lockdowns suddenly makes living in nice vibrant city centers not so fun, even for those who enjoyed it before.

Which can happen today (the couple or their inheritants want to sell this old farm, or are forced to do so because grocery price has inflated due to all those google employees living in the sold and splited farms around). Georgism will be a little like the later, but worser, stronger, faster.

And I am not utilitarian enough to find this a nice outcome (well, to be honest, I am not utilitarian at all ;-p )

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"Further if it turns out the best way to maximize profit from land is to set up strip malls and plaster them with billboards, and LVT rises to reflect the income the state expects you to generate, doesn't overall utility go down despite revenue to the state going up?"

To the extent that this is true, we would expect it to be impossible under the current system for anyone to buy land for personal use because they have to compete with companies buying it up to fill with strip malls and billboards. We observe that this has not happened.

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To expand on this, given that as you observe people like owning land and using it for the personal purposes, and many of those people have money, it seems likely that these personal purposes will continue to be a very "profitable" use of land under a Georgist system.

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By that logic we don't need to worry about efficient land usage at all because if it could be used more efficiently it would already be being done and we can observe this has not happened

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>the inability to use land for purposes that aren't maximally profitable

You can, but you must pay for the privilege. How is it different from the status quo, where if you buy valuable land and don’t derive much profit from it, you’re in the red? How is it different from the pressure to have a maximally profitable job if you want to occupy a nice house on nice land?

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Now you need to be willing to sell before a richer guy can buy your land. With Georgism, once richer guys, or a guys with better land plans, comes and lvt automatically increase (as it should, if i understand Georgism : the land has indeed become more profitable because it could be rented higher) , your are forced to sell your home (at a likely very low price, because it is certainly not what the richer / better plan guys have in mind for this land parcel - so the home value to potential buyers is low if not zero) because you have been out-lvted. This is in fact very like the current outing of former inhabitants of places that turned touristic. Local services becomes progressively more expensive until it force all locals to move away if their income is not tourism related. This happen all the time, unlike the hypothetical too big for one family land seized to house 10 homeless families.

And, contrary to Georgism, at least the local forced to move by (sort of) gentrification can sell their land with a large plus value (er... Large appreciation? A great deal? Not sure about the English word) to start elsewhere with a nice money pot...

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Georgism does remove this feeling of security, but the real question is, is anyone entitled to perpetual ownership of increasingly more valuable land by paying a lump sum once? George claims this is _both_ immoral and detrimental to economy.

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I claim it's moral up to a point, and entirely indirect mechanism (priced out by gentrification, death and inheritance taxes) is already more tax enough to stop most of the problematic cases. The immorality is not small or large individual owner, even if multiple properties. It's companies buying square kilometers of forest and making the surrounding villages support the externalities while destroying the country future assets at the same time.

Sometimes, instead of big companies, it's the country own doing. Given that Georgism put land ownership back in countries hand, exclusively, not sure it solve those large scale issues. Georgism seems tailored to address issues when noble families owned large amount of land, while democratic countries were emerging together with industrialisation. And still we use examples of inner cities housing bubbles and countries family homes. I am getting more confused than after i finished part 3 about what exactly georgism will practically change for private home owner? It seems it goes from nothing at all to renting will be the norm, as soon as there is increasing demand at some place...

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Upon what does George base his claim of immorality?

"It is possible to own land in perpetuity" has been a pretty consistent thread in most societies for millennia; the fact that it has recently become possible for people other than literal nobility to do so, is normally seen as a moral good.

If anything it seems like Georgism would reverse this trend -- someone who bought a crumbling Victorian in the Mission fifty years ago, then fixed it up and retired would be forced to sell it alright -- but it seems more likely that the buyer would be a rich techbro who can afford the LVT as an altruistic developer of low-cost housing.

This does not seem very moral to me -- hopefully there is more to it than "owning land is immoral because I say so";.

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I’m not really sure where you’re getting this idea that the state owns everything in Georgism.

Private landownership is still allowed—encouraged even. However, the benefits of exclusive ownership of the land itself (though not the structures upon it) are taxed away.

This results in higher taxes for those wanting to live in the dense urban core and occupy a significant amount of land, but will make renting an apartment or living in the exurbs much cheaper.

As for whether you lose your home if you do not generate income, how exactly is this different from today? If you fail to pay taxes, whether on your income or your property, your stuff can be taken and sold. Georgism just has a particularly high and focused form property tax (LVT).

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How can you own something if you lose all right to the income from it? I don't consider it ownership if by definition all economic value realized must flow through to the state.

Currently our taxes are fairly low across a broad range of activities, a 100% LVT would be very different

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There are many things from which you aren’t allowed to derive a profit. For example, certain drugs in certain jurisdictions. Does that mean you somehow no longer own the drugs?

Ownership simply means you decide what happens to your property, who gets to interact with it and who doesn’t, etc.

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Well, in my country at least, when you rent a home you partially control what happen in your rented place. You can do whatever you want as long as it does not degrade (more than usual occupation) what you rent, and your owner can not even enter the property except under some very specific circumstances.

but you get evicted of you don't pay the rent and the rent can be increased (with limited rate). Property taxes can be seen indeed as a partial rent from the state, but, as they are much lower than an actual rent, if are much less at risk of being evicted and if you are, home plus land price usually helps a lot restarting elsewhere. If it was not the case, nobody would own any home, it will be rented obviously. Full georgism is not clear in how much it will be different from a full rent, but owning a home on a fully rented land seems especially dangerous and unstable, needing that the land owner can be super trusted because he have power to confisc your accumulated wealth on a whim. In a sense, state already have this power but georgism seems to make that easier instead of harder. Current reluctance of building home in place where land can not be bought (some countries prevent foreigners to buy land, but they can rent it and build... If they dare :-)) makes me believe i am not alone thinking like that...

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Speaking for my own situation (not in the US), under the current tax system a whole bunch of things would have to go wrong for my property to be taken and sold off. I have made a lot of sacrifices to place myself in a situation where I'm able to own property and likely be able to pay the (currently negligible) property taxes until I die - even if I lose most of my income. Under Georgism, having the surrounding area developed can push the economic value of the land high enough to force me (and most of my neighbors, most of whom own their properties) out.

To put it politely, that's just not cool.

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founding

Almost everywhere in the USA *already* has LVT- it just has it as a minority portion of the property tax. So, in the US, the exact effect you're worried about can (and does) already occur.

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I don't know if this is a motte and bailey thing or what, but it's something like that! Which is it? Is the Georgist LVT going to replace all other taxes and bring us a UBI utopia, or will it look like now except instead of paying $X dollars in property tax you'll pay the same number of dollars in land tax?

The actual numbers themselves matter. To someone who owns property to live on it and not to profit, a $100 property tax turning into $1000 over a number of years is less of a problem than a $10 000 LVT turning into $100 000.

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Georgism is often thought of with a private owner, and the state merely taxing the proceeds of the land. But when you get close to 100% taxation of the proceeds, so that the price of the land gets down to zero, it does become very similar to the situation of the state as landowner collecting rents. Methodologically, it's certainly often useful to think of it that way, even if it's also important to distinguish the two situations in some contexts.

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I see no fundamental difference between land ownership under Georgism and someone leasing land from the state. If the land value taxes are high enough such that the value of the land is 0, then it doesn't matter whether I own the land, or whether I sell it to someone who leases it to me for the amount of the LVT. If capital gains taxes were raised to 100%, would you really argue with someone who claimed that they couldn't own stock anymore?

> As for whether you lose your home if you do not generate income, how exactly is this different from today?

Because today, the amount of income you need to generate is low relative to your property value - so for people who are buying property within their means, the property taxes are basically never unaffordable - and also more predictable than under Georgism (as the total amount of tax fluctuates less with changes in land value since the taxes are a lower percentage of property value to begin with).

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This point was much debated in the comments to Lars' posts about just how to think about and calculate the "value of unimproved land".

It's an argument that follows from a framework where the value of land is just determined by "bare piece of dirt and nearby publicly-funded infrastructure". And the publicly-funded infrastructure piece has room for debate if we apply public choice theory to assess the political reality of whether or not that infrastructure will be built.

The argument against that framework is the observation that the value of land is heavily influenced by positive externalities from nearby private development. For example, land used for housing is worth more if it's convenient to reach workplaces, restaurants, stores, etc. Similarly, land used for workplaces, restaurants, stores. etc. is worth more if it's convenient for customers and employees to get to these businesses.

Based on observed development patterns, these positive externalities are more than hypothetical as incentives to build on land. A developer of a master-planned community or a housing subdivision internalizes some of these positive externalities. Feedback loops as development occurs in an area - even with different owners of individual parcels - also internalize some of these externalities.

So it's not intuitive that really high taxes on a narrow portion of potential tax base (land rents) minimize deadweight loss compared to other possible tax structures.

Alex Godofsky makes a very good (and more detailed) argument for this point in the comments at this post - https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/does-georgism-work-part-2-can-landlords .

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A better example of dead weight loss would be to use a tax or a price control. One very real one: I would in theory like to hire a nanny for my kids; but I can only afford, say $15/hr. I can pay illegally, thus risking legal penalties, especially if I work for the government (and depriving her of medicare/social security employment "credit") - but she gets $15. Or I can do it legally, but this time for her to get the same $15 I might need to pay $20, to compensate for my and her share of the social security taxes. For those unwilling to go the black market route, less childcare (if any) will be purchased, less hours will be available, for less money effectively, than if that tax were not there.

NOW, I get why the taxes are there, but they do generate this loss of mutually beneficial commercial activity.

I think using physical realities as examples of dead weight loss isn't quite the thing. You can do similar things for "what if people never had to sleep" and "what if stuff could just be teleported to your doorstep and didn't have to travel". I think these innovations would cause so many changes to the economy that - while laws like supply and demand would still apply - the impact to EVERYTHING, including restaurant meals, would be unrecognizable.

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To be clear DWL is this:

I want to buy oil at 10 dollars/barrel. You produce oil at 9 dollars a barrel and would be happy to sell my oil at 10 dollars/barrel.

The government taxes oil at 3 dollars per/barrel, so now the cost your oil is 12 dollars per barrel, meaning I don't purchase your oil.

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A few points:

Firstly, and I feel like this quote needs to be posted in bold at the top of every georgism article:

"It is not necessary to confiscate land, it is only necessary to confiscate rent."

Private citizens still hold ownership of their land, in that they can exclude its use from others, use it however they like, decide whether or not to keep or sell it, etc. Only the _rents_ of the land are "confiscated" (taxed) by the government. The only piece that georgism adds is that if you want to keep your land you need to pay that tax - but that doesnt mean you don't own it, anymore than you don't currently own your house because you have to pay property tax.

Still! I would personally advocate for a modified Georgism, where LVT was substantially reduced on property that _the owner is actively living on_ and isnt being used for commercial purposes. This throws a bone to everyone who wants to own more easily their family land and doesnt really add much disruption. The problem of land rents really come from commercial land usage. Theres just so much more of it.

As far as the moral stance.... It seems plainly unjust for anyone to be able to own some part of "natures bounty" forever in perpetuity just because. Especially considering that this land was not justly acquired in the first place. I understand theres a bias for anyone who currently owns land, but I find the philosophy that natures bounty is the collective and equal inheritance of all man kind both immediately sensible, fair, beautiful, and its the only land rights philosophy thats at all coherent other than literal might makes right.

Why should you want Georgism?

1. The way things are currently set up, (nearly) all productivity gains from both labor and capital can (and in practice mostly are) eaten up by landlords, without those landlords adding any value anywhere. This is bad for everyone but landlords.

2. Georgism would create a much more efficient economy by both removing a ton of deadweight loss, removing a lot of distortive market effects, and potentially by in part replacing much more distortive taxes with one thats non-distortive

2A. Which would mean cheaper rents, and products, etc.

3. Georgism means that not all land and resource ownership can be swallowed up by a small handful of people and corporations who are then able to lord it over the rest of the human race forever. Whether or not that is ACTUALLY what is happening, your land morality would permit it, which should be a strong signal.

4. You won't meaningfully lose ownership of your land. The title remains yours. You can still do with it as you choose. You just have to pay the tax. Like any other property.

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On 2, see Pete's comment on Lars' 3rd post on assessment, or my comment. The additional uncertainty and negative externalities introduced by the LVT is a significant disincentive to invest in improvement of land. And I think it's quite clear that land is inherently close to worthless. So the whole thing kind of falls apart there.

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> The additional uncertainty and negative externalities introduced by the LVT is a significant disincentive to invest in improvement of land.

Just checking, is this based on the assumption that assessments to separate improvements from base land are epistemologically (or pragmatically) impossible?

And would you agree or disagree that this assertion could be tested by seeing if increases in LVT with all else held equal, would NOT lead to increased building permits and density, but even decreased building permits and density?

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I think I'm being a little more radical. I'm saying that the value of base land is close to zero, especially if you stretch out time horizons a little(decades in some places, centuries in others). And given that we start with very low/zero base value, almost all of the value comes from human activity and improvements, either to the land itself, or via agglomeration effects to the land near it. And that an LVT would lead to significant distortions in the incentives to use land productively.

Let's say you implement an LVT system when the value of base land is close to zero, in an area that may make for a good city if someone were to put in enough money to create enough improvements to induce enough people to move and do things there. I think the LVT would significantly reduce the incentive for large scale investment to take place, because a significant part of the return to the large scale investment happens via capturing the spillovers from agglomeration. An LVT almost by definition makes capturing those spillovers either impossible, or reduces their size. This is a large deadweight loss, and I don't see a significant offsetting positive incentive.

I'll give you an example that I know well. In the early 1990's, Gurgaon, a suburb of Delhi, India, basically did not exist. Most of the land prices there were very low. A large real estate developer bought up huge (non-contiguous) parcels of land, invested in putting up office complexes, housing and infrastructure in ~50% of those parcels that by themselves were unlikely to provide attractive risk adjusted returns. But they also had the remaining parcels that appreciated in value when the investment did pay off, allowing further building and significantly greater returns. Today Gurgaon is an enormous generator of economic activity. My understanding is that under an LVT, it would be very unlikely for something like this to happen. And at least from the comments it appears that this is not an uncommon story.

The uncertainty issues are actually even stronger problems I think, even if you and I don't agree on the base value of land being almost zero. Investments are already a risky proposition. Externalities now make them even riskier, and they also flip the direction of the relationship between externalities and risk(or at least introduce a factor with opposite sign). Positive externalities can now increase the riskiness of your investment, because your land's value and hence the tax you have to pay can go up significantly, and negative externalities can decrease them. But of course, positive externalities also have positive effects, and negative externalities negative ones. How would someone planning an investment factor this in?

I can of course be convinced by empirical evidence, but it would likely have to be extensive. It would need to cover long stretches of time, and point to significantly different outcomes. Like how capitalism >> socialism.

But I would definitely shift the confidence in my priors around with weaker evidence.

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I have to admit that I'm noticing your assertions are very confusing to me, which is typically a sign that I'm either misapprehending or misunderstanding you, or that we're proceeding from some basic differences in definitions and how we use words, or something like that.

So rather than jumping right into an argument and likely talking straight past you, I'm going to think about this for a while and maybe get back to you later, possibly in a future follow up post or something. That alright?

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Sure. It is entirely possible that I'm misunderstanding something about the LVT setup, and using terms in incorrect ways, in which case I would be happy to be corrected and understand things better.

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Also, if you would point out which assertion is confusing, I would be happy to clarify (in some time, busy days at work)

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I think what’s missing is this: someone builds a mall, all land in area appreciates slightly, LVT rises for all plots including the one where the mall stands. It would both be fair and incentivize the right things for the extra LVT to go to the owner of the mall that generated it in the first place.

Likewise, if everyone in a neighborhood agrees to improve their own homes in a way that benefits everyone, they’d only get an LVT increase for their trouble. There should be some way of profiting from your improvements that made surrounding land more valuable similarly to the way you can profit from the improvements directly.

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Exactly what negative externality? LVT exists to _address_ and externality - that of the unearned increase in land value due to the actions of uninvolved proximal-by-chance agents. The tax allows the local government to capture this externality, which gives them an incentive to create policies that promote land improvement.

The individual maintains whatever incentive is in place to improve land based on the profitability of the improvement alone.

Comments like this one have confused me - I was figuring that "we should only be promoting projects which are on their own profitable" and "if an improvement is a actually a good idea, it will be profitable, and the incentive to create the improvement is to capture that profit, and if you cant profit it by it then theres some other better use for the resources" were in-the-water-supply enough in the commentariat - most tend to agree this reasoning holds for all other sorts of projects and products. Why are land improvements different?

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In some ways I'm saying that those externalities which you're calling unearned and believe should be captured by the state are a large and significant part of how and why improvements happen. Capturing (or being able to capture) agglomeration effects makes up a significant part of the incentive structure of land improvement.

Let me see if the following hypothetical will help make this clearer for all of us. We have a bunch of settlers in 17th century England. They are told they have two options to settle in what is now the USA.

One half of the American states, randomly chosen, is Propertyland. In Propertyland, they each get to own land and profit from the improvements they make to their owned land, as well as profit from the improvements other settlers are making to their land.

The other half, also random, is Georgeland. In Georgeland, you will not profit from improvements that the other settlers make, only from those that you make to your own land. Any increases in the value of the base land that comes from agglomeration effects will be taxed away. You will get the returns of this tax as UBI, equally distributed amongst everyone.

Which half do you expect more settlers to settle in (remember settlers/immigrants tend to self-select for risk taking and seeking higher returns)? Which kind of settlers do you think will settle in which half? Which half do you expect to be more prosperous and developed 20 years later? 50? 100?

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"Natures Bounty" does not "just happen". Trees, soil, greenfields, farmable area, walkable paths, hell even just clearly marked geolocation data, are *created*. By human effort. The stories about frontier settlers just throwing seeds and eating well are fables and lies.

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Those would be improvements, then, and would not be part of the LVT.

The iron vein in the ground for hundreds of thousands of years, the virgin redwood forest, a deep aquifer, despoits of shale natural gas, as far as humans are concerned, absolutely "just happened." Prospectors would get subsidized for _finding_ them, the ones who put the labor in to _extracting_ them get the lions share of the profit, but the resources themselves are only coherently partially owned by all.

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They would receive that value by an LVT and a severance tax. Uncomplicated to administer, and a lot of the infrastructure for levying these is already in place.

But if humans had to create it, its an improvement, and not LVT-ed

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founding

I believe the value of improvements of this sort are included in estimates of the total value of "unimproved" land on which Georgists base their claims about how much a LVT would raise. If we're not going to be taxing them, the revenue claims have to be scaled down in proportion.

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The government used (georgist economist) Vikrey's auction techniques to deal with Spectrum - ie, if you use an auction you can 'separate' the value of the 'nature' part of the product (the innate spectrum) from the labor (the company using the spectrum to build cool stuff).

Using the auction, we have an assessment of the land value at a baseline set by the 'market' of everyone participating. Any auctions above that minimum - the difference between the first and second price, indicate the amount that company believes they can make from their labor and capital compared to their competitors.

LVT aims to achieve this for all such instances, using assessment in place of auctions (though some georgists support self-assessed taxes as outlined by posner and weyl for more forms of economic land).

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This is mostly an aside, but spectrum auctions as we know them today are not Vickrey-based. Spectrum auctions as we know them today are simultaneous multi round ascending.

(Design credit was given to Paul Milgrom, Preston McAfee, and several related individuals, though the auction process is not conceptually difficult. Once they found that their auction design was being used in a high-stakes auction, Milgrom and co established a consultancy that advised some of the participants, showed those clients how to break the auction and saving those clients a billion dollars of otherwise taxpayer-destined money.

Suffice to say that this auction mechanism worked out great for Milgrom & company.)

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"You won't meaningfully lose ownership of your car. The title remains yours. You can still do with it as you choose. You just have to pay the tax. Like any other property."

"And we just happened to set the tax to what what uber earns per car in their fleet. So, be rich, or give it to an uber driver."

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If you're upset about taxes which strip people of their rightful property, you must be absolutely outraged by income tax.

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Yeah, not a huge fan. Founded on a lie and a deception.

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But at least its not 100% of the value earned. Unlike what the Georgists want.

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I'd be curious to hear you make the case for a given dollar of tax revenue being collected out of incomes instead of land. Why do you think that's preferable?

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Wealth is not zero sum. What we do all day at work *creates* it. Take a second to appreciate that. Customers get things they desire and wouldn't have, if not for your battle against entropy to make them exist. For various reasons this campaign against entropy is more successful in proximity to a lot of other humans. So we have cities. It is good and correct and cause for celebration that urban workers have high incomes. They create the most value.

Land is zero sum. Owning land doesn't bring any more of what people want into the world. It simply puts you in a position to capture it. Like a tax, except you aren't the government and you aren't putting it towards socially beneficial ends. Quite the opposite: landowners, in particular the suburban middle class surrounding productive cities, use their ownership to put the brakes on productive activities as much as possible (NIMBY policies) while at the same time capturing most of the wealth created by labor as rent (for landlords) and home equity (for both landlords and owner-occupiers).

Georgism is good because it puts remuneration back in line with the value one creates. Obviously this is good news for the value creators. Homeowners can also make money by creating value in their own ways, for example subdividing or adding on units to their properties to offer into the housing crises. They just can't build wealth by sitting there on decaying properties while others do useful work down the street.

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Some wealth is zero sum - that's the only wealth worth taxing

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1. Georgism does not force you to be maximally economically productive. Land value tax (LVT) goes to universal basic income (UBI), so if there are n people, then you get to own 1/n of the land (weighted by value). The UBI exactly pays for the LVT. With that 1/n of the land, you get to do whatever you want, and can be as economically unproductive as you want. If you want to use more land, then you'll pay a bit more for that privilege, and if you don't think you actually need a full 1/n of the land, then you can get a bit of extra money by using less.

2. Georgism is not an all or nothing proposal. It's perfectly possible for some pieces of land to have a 70% LVT, while the rest of the country still continues using the normal system. (And the size of the LVT can vary as well, with 85% generally being the upper end of the scale.) I'd personally be overjoyed to see a 50% LVT tried on a few pieces of land in a single city. (Either land that's already owned by the government, or bought from any existing landowners who are willing to sell for a reasonable price.) A particularly easy policy would be put an LVT on all land that is being sold by the government (crown land sales, etc.). The immediate price fetched would be lower, but the LVT would raise additional funds over time.

3. Why is Georgism good? Two reasons:

a. It discourages speculation, which is harmful. (Because it causes people to buy land and sit on it. So land is going unused that could be used to house people, or used for another productive purpose. Also housing prices randomly spiking all the time isn't great.)

b. Land represents a natural bounty, much like mineral deposits, or the radio spectrum. Given a natural bounty, the best way to divide it up is equally, between all citizens. There's no reason to give any particular person a larger share, because a natural bounty is by definition naturally occurring, and no one did anything to create it in the first place. Mineral deposits are a one-time bounty: Minerals are worth money. Land and the radio spectrum are a recurring bounty: Using a piece of the radio spectrum for a year is worth $X and using it again the next year is worth $X again (plus a bit, because inflation). The same is true of land.

So if land is a natural bounty, how do we divide it equally? Simply dividing up the land equally between everyone, and then letting folks trade between themselves after that point in time has a problem: Most people who will be born in this country aren't born yet, so we don't have a way of giving them their share of the land. Since land is a recurring bounty, that problem has an easy solution: Each year, distribute the bounty of the land for that year equally between all of the citizens who are alive in that year. Do the same the next year and the next. The system that implements this is LVT + UBI.

4. Georgism hurts rural and suburban homeowners less than you think. Land value is highest in the middle of the city. So even though urban dwellers are taking up less land, they are taking up more-valuable land, and would therefore pay proportionally more LVT. Also, see point 2 above about not having a Georgist system everywhere: A lot of the harm in the existing system is from speculation, which isn't as much of a problem in rural and suburban areas. If Georgism is mostly adopted by urban areas, and everywhere else keeps chugging along with the current system, I'd consider that a massive success.

5. This isn't an answer to any of you points, but is something I believe is important to say: It's unfair to suddenly dump a large LVT on existing landowners. There needs to be just compensation for such an action, and I'd only support Georgist proposals that are fair to everyone. There are plenty of improvements to the existing state of things that can be made without screwing people over.

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Tacking UBI onto LVT seems like taking two hipster ideas, neither ready for prime time, and just throwing them together because why the hell not, none of this is going to *actually* happen.

I'd prefer an LVT to actually happen, but that would require the current Georgists to undergo some markcomm training.

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Georgists were very close to succeeding in many parts of the western world, with several constitutional amendments failing on tight margins, some candidates won and made huge reforms using georgist ideals without achieving the 'endgame', and with some pseudo-implementations emerging ad hoc (like Alaska's dividend system). UBI is not a hipster idea, it's been hanging around for a very long time! IMO it always fails because if it isn't funded by a LVT most of the UBI - at least for renters - will just lead to increased rents.

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UBI was linked to LVT by Henry George back in the 19th century (well before UBI was a hipster idea.) It's his answer to the minority of low-earning people who would be significantly injured by implementing Georgism.

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founding

Is the UBI really an integral part of Georgism? Lars' first post in the sequence said: "Georgists assert that if we sufficiently tax land in this manner, we'll not only end the housing crisis but also fix a bunch of misaligned incentives that cause poverty to persist alongside economic progress, while raising a bunch of revenue that can lower or even eliminate other less efficient taxes, such as sales and income taxes." Obviously you can't use the proceeds from the LVT to reduce other taxes if you're also paying it out as a UBI.

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You don't need to attain "current expenses plus UBI", you need to attain "UBI plus the remaining expenses that it doesn't replace once you account for the way fixing misaligned incentives fix lots of things", which is a significantly different number.

Like, getting rid of payroll taxes, which is a disincentive to hiring people, reduces poverty, which reduces the spending on poverty programs, which reduces the amount of taxes you need to raise in the first place.

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founding

You'd have to push Lafferism awfully far in order for the second-order effects of eliminating payroll taxes to amount to more than a fraction of the direct revenue loss. One other tax we'd have to get rid of willy-nilly is existing real-estate taxes: you definitely don't want those piled on top of a LVT.

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Yes, the Citizen's Dividend is an integral part of Georgism. George himself believed in more of a limited government, didn't believe that charity was a very useful tool and that the vast majority of people just wanted an opportunity to use their labor productively, and that the CD would pay for the vast majority of "social services" we now pay for with government spending.

But partly the idea relies on a concept known as "ATCOR" or "All Taxes From Out of Rents" (which I think he briefly touches on), but I think he intentionally didn't try to get into it too much because as you can see just the LVT in itself is a step too far.

But, basically the idea is that all "excess" value in the economy flows into land values, so if you reduces taxes in one area, it would result in an increase in land value and therefore revenue from land value tax would increase. Its theoretically true, but there is less empirical evidence to support it, so lars stayed away from it since he's was trying to be evidentiary.

All that being said, the general view of most Georgists is this:

Let's shift taxes off improvements and onto land as much as possible.

Once that's shown to work, then we can gradually increase the LVT up to 100%

As we do that, if we're getting a surplus of revenue, reduce other forms of tax, especially the onerous local taxes, like sales and excise taxes and all that.

As tax base is shown to be stable, we can phase in a CD as we phase out other forms of bureaucratic and wasteful social spending.

If all of that doesn't get us there, then we'll build onto LVT whatever other least bad taxes are necessarily to fund the government, like pigouvian taxes on things like pollution, there are certain qualities of intellectual property that are land-like, and then we haven't really touched on the digital economy and how parts of that are land-like.

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And your critiques seem like statements of general discomfort about having your worldview challenged, continually thrown against a mountain of evidence.

Land Value Tax is hundreds of years old. Adam Smith advocated for land value tax over property taxes 250 years ago. Its been past ready for prime time.

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The commenter you're replying to says they'd prefer an LVT to happen and you accuse them of being uncomfortable with having their worldview challenged?

To be honest, to me it seems like it's the other way around. Almost without exception (Lars and Andrew are definite exceptions, I'm probably forgetting others), the proponents of Georgism in the comments here act like dangerous fanatics, completely uninterested in examining how their radical proposals can go wrong, unwilling to entertain other value systems and too wrapped up in self-righteousness to even try to be convincing.

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Then please, engage with the data and prove us wrong. Our vociferous defense of Georgism does come from a place of passion, but it also comes from well-reasoned and empirically supported studies and data.

No one is born a Georgist in the same way they're born a neoliberal or a capitalist or a socialist or a communist. We all got here from somewhere, which means we've probably spent more time than the average person thinking about political-economic systems.

Sorry if that makes us sound self-righteous. I think the Georgists have done a fairly decent job at acknowledging valid criticisms and addressing them, but a large chunk of the opposition arguments have simply been inconsistent with broadly accepted economic theory or strawmen.

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What you're missing is that your preferences and value systems might not align with those of "normies". When someone brings up really bad or disastrous potential consequences of Georgism for an individual and the responses are "that's intended - but just think of all the other people who will benefit"... it isn't helping your cause and, frankly, it makes you sound dangerous. You might be able to convince the tiny group of utilitarians who share your value system (who also discount the ever-present unknown, unintended and unexpected consequences of radical change), but that's it.

I don't think spending more time thinking about political-economic systems necessarily makes you better at making political-economic decisions. If your preferences are abnormal (and I certainly think Georgist preferences are) it just means you'll be able to cause harm more efficiently and ruthlessly.

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It takes a lot of gall to show up an established community's comment section and lecture everyone in it like a college professor who already knows all the right answers, but fanatics like these are present in every fringe group.

Mainstream political views have fanatics, too, but they are such a minority they can easily be shoved into a closet by the mainstream thinkers so no one sees them.

Lars is doing yeoman's work to try to persuade people to go to an LVT, but hundreds of hours of his work can be undone in a few seconds by one asshole who won't shut up.

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That's really interesting. My experience is the exact opposite. I've previously heard nothing about Georgism, it nearly perfectly fitted my moral intuition and one of the spectacular advantages of Georgism which I immediately noticed is that it's so easy to implement compared to all the other radical economical and political projects.

No need for violent revolution and chopping the heads of kings, no need for immediate radical paradigm shift and imposing new regime simultaniously across all of the world or even a country, no need to wait for a hundred years before we finally arrive to a glorious future. Just one local goverment requires to change tax policy a bit, implementing somewhat 10% lvt instead of other taxes, reducing the deadweight loss and getting noticeable economical benefits soon enough. Then, if it actually works, iterate for highter values of lvt, slowly adding some ubi and just let the market solve it! And if along the way we arrive to some sudden bad consequence when switching from 75% lvt to 85% lvt - than stay at 75%. What can be easier?

As fo moral arguments. Could you elaborate what you find moral about current economical system? I think it will work better if we start from here. You mentioned that 64.8% americans own their houses and therefore value this ability. But what does it actually mean? Is it just because owning land is economically reasonable under current system? Or is it because owning the land allows you to use it the way you want?

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You should join us over the in Discord! https://discord.gg/twmk8wCx

We're trying to turn talk into action and get some localities to embrace this, although the areas in Pennsylvania have already shown it can be fairly successful.

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I am planning to write a blog post about the normative aspect of Henry George's land tax... I'll post it somewhere when (if?) it's done. People seemed to enjoy my recent book review of Kroptokin's 'The Conquest of Bread' (https://www.awanderingmind.blog/posts/2021-10-30-book-review-conquest-of-bread.html), and I hope to continue entertaining people.

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1) I believe this was addressed in the Book Review (part 0). I was certainly mostly convinced by the moral argument, and I think I've seen the cat. (The gist of the argument being that the reason poverty seems not to decrease with progress despite increased production of resources is that rent sucks up everything you gain. George's thief metaphor was particularly striking as a good piece of rhetoric around this.)

2) Under Georgism, people can still own their homes; just (effectively) not the land on which it lies.

3) Georgism obligates nobody to use their land in a maximum-productivity way (anymore than income tax obligates anyone to work maximum-salaries). In fact, Georgists would argue most people would be better off if they did exactly what they're doing with taxes focusing as much as possible on land (thanks to both other taxes being lowerable as a result and on decreased dead weight loss). It does harshly punish real estate speculation, but that doesn't strike me as a bug as much as as an important feature. (Also, I expect it should be easy to do LVT with some special exemption for one plot of residential land where you live, or up to some reasonable value, if it turns out that there would be an unreasonable burden on homeowners otherwise; which doesn't seem like the case to me.)

4) Note also that George's argument is meant to disincentivise slum lords, but not the sorts of landlords actually providing tenants with good value (as buildings and everything of value in them are improvements, not land).

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