Just over a year ago, I wrote a somewhat invective essay entitled “Georgism is Insane“. If there is any testament to writing controversially or attacking people and ideas, it is that this post received more responses than any other post I have made here. It also appears to be one of the most viewed articles here, and was thoroly fisked by a blog called Blue Republik. I thanked and continue to thank all the responses to this, and I am not sure why Blue Republik was unable to reply here or the comment was deleted. I will check the spam filter.
In light of all this, and further reading into Georgism, an update is required. I should clarify that I write from the perspective of statelessness. In a stateless society, there should be no land tax or any tax. Land ownership is recognized by the general community. This would vary by locale, and even in the same locale. Presumably, there would be private registries that work together where necessary. This is how it works with website domain registration. There are many registries, all private, and they dont overlap each other. There are open questions as to if you can own vacant land forever and never use it. At what point can it be considered abandoned? However, that is not the nature of this post.
Georgism has to be the most ridiculous concept ever contrived. I think communism might even make more sense than this. However, I will say the Georgists are a good deal more polite than mutualists.
The idea here is that anyone who uses space (not necessarily land, water too) deprives others from it, and thus should pay “the community” compensation for that deprivation. Essentially, its a property tax, but its based on the value of the land alone, not the improvement per se. This opens up a whole bunch of questions. Who assesses the value of land? Georgists seem to say that the value of land is not the same as its sale price, which is of course ridiculous. Sale price is value. And value to you might be different than value to me. I may want an acre of woods, and value it very much. A friend might find the same to be near worthless. As we know, value is subjective. They seem to think there is an immutable value of land, and its not entirely clear whether they think the value of land can change. Some seem to say yes, noting that land in cities has more value than in the country.
May the Forced blog post be with you: Its Star Wars day! Sean Malone at the Foundation for Economic Education asks if the Galactic Empire was really so bad, and concludes that there isnt that much indication about the political or state of affairs in Star Wars, but if the Empire is restrictive, then the Rebellion is good. I would have to disagree on all of that. There is a lot of talk about smuggling and farming and commerce here and there. A movie about just economics would likely not interest people very much. Star Wars is actually marketed as a space opera and a fantasy story, NOT science fiction. Its a story with traditional tropes, some real world themes, but not serious.
Despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions intent to recriminalize marijuana usage (rather than focus on what his boss was elected to do: immigration), legalization is going full steam ahead. Proponents are now probably where gay marriage supporters stood around 2008-2010. The outlook seemed good, but its not over yet. As it stands, the entire west coast and Alaska has legalized and life has gone on. They are joined by Colorado, and New England is making moves with Maine and Massachusetts voters having passed referendums to legalize. New Hampshire is a mostly legislative state and the House has passed legalization and decriminalization several times, but either the Senate or the Governor stops it. We finally have a governor willing to sign decrim (a Republican, after twelve years of Democrats who refused). And with states like Arkansas and Florida finally getting medical thru, the land of the free is at a crossroads. Only seven states retain a total prohibition. Now, its only a matter of time.
Libertarians and conservatives often talk about the importance of deregulation in order to free up the economy and create more prosperity. However, regulations often solve very real problems and conflicts that otherwise might be difficult to deal with. For example, how do we incentivize drivers to drive safe? The mere threat of an agorist lawsuit against the perpetrator of an accident is not enough to get a driver to be safe. And what about pollution? Surely, courts could rule a class action lawsuit against a nearby factory belching smoke, but there are a lot of costs on both ends. Insurance solves almost every single one of these issues. In fact, some have claimed that government itself is an insurance program. Already in the hampered market we live in, insurance exists and protects us from each other and acts of God.
We are always told that the gold standard is crazy and caused the Great Depression and could never be reinstituted, or that letting people and banks choose the currency themselves is a recipe for economic disaster. That might come as a surprise to Ecuadorians and residents of dozens of other countries from Canada to Zimbabwe.
In 2000, Ecuadors currency was on its last rocks, and the government just gave up. It opted to endorse the US dollar and made it legal tender. Since then, Ecuador has done well for itself; it certainly has not done bad. The South American nation has proven a great market for the dollar coins that are less popular in the US. Ecuador produces its own coins that are the same sizes as US coins, which are also accepted. And they are not the only country to have done this. Panama does also, as do East Timor, El Salvador, some Caribbean and Pacific islands, and of course, Zimbabwe. Additional countries do the same with the Euro, the Australian dollar, and other currencies.
Remember Casey Anthony? The young woman in Florida who was accused of killing her 2 year old daughter with chloroform and duct tape, but was acquitted. The defense claimed that Caylee drowned in the pool, and someone else disposed of her in the forest. Anthony has been in the news again recently because the judge presiding her case said he believed she killed her daughter by accident, having tried to calm or quiet Caylee down, but went too far. Its not really clear how chloroform became an acceptable way to calm down children, if that theory is true. Casey was acquitted, the jury did not feel there was enough evidence to convict her of murder, but that has not stopped the nation from convicting her.
Its ironic that I am writing this, considering that it was when I read about Agorism* on Wikipedia almost six years ago that I realized free markets were superior to socialism. But there is much more to libertarianism than agorism. Indeed, I take a broad view of the idea to be a bit more inclusive. While I condemn mutualists and many so-called left-libertarians, they are on the right track, unlike communists. Since that time, Ive moved around a bit. I still like Agorism, but my experience shows that it is just not going to be our savior. It might not even play much of a role in rolling back the state.
Parashah Vayeira (Bereishit/Genesis 18:1-22:24) is the story of Abraham and the three messengers, his bargaining with God, Sodom and Gomorrah, the birth of Isaac, the sending off of Hagar and Ishmael, and the binding of Isaac.
Abraham pleaded with God on Sodom’s behalf by Jim Padgett (1984)
Libertarians, with a small minority of exceptions, have an almost universal hatred of the 2016 Donald Trump campaign. Time and time again I will see a random vicious anti-Trump comment, squint at the profile picture, and see that its from a Rand supporter. The two traits seem to go together, even more than the establishment hates Trump. Indeed, the feud emerged in the first debate and second debate, not to mention in between. Perhaps the Rand supporters are just taking cues from their fearless leader (dont get me wrong, I do like him). I am not convinced of this playing any more than a minor role.