National Conference of State Legislatures
[A report on the national conference held in Chicago, Illinois,
6-9 August, 2012. Additional comments provided by Don Killoren and
who also participated. Reprinted from
GroundSwell, July 2012]
The National Conference of State Legislatures program in Chicago was
Build Strong States.
Public Revenue Education Council experienced one good thing after
another in Chicago.
The McCormick Center is huge, composed of four buildings and NCSL
Exhibit Hall was in McCormick West. The building is excellently
designed with a parking garage and easy access for loading and
unloading to the exhibit floor. Our booth was 707, three booths from
the main entrance. We stood out with a gold apron on our display
table. We also had the GIS map Grinch, Connecticut showing land values
that was given to us by Bill Batt. Those who stopped by the booth also
took interest in our Three Pan Economic Justice Scale.
Chuck Metalitz put dirt and a rock in one pan to represent LAND, two
small plastic toy men working for LABOR and some small tools to
represent CAPITAL. We explained that the chains on each
pan represented money and the three crossbars represented the banks,
Wall Street and the Federal Reserve Bank. When we told the public
official they were the straight rod holding everything in balance they
smiled. They quickly understood that a crocked rod would represent
Chicago being so close to Missouri we expected to see people from
Missouri but were told Missouri officials are not allowed to travel
out of state at government expense. There are more and more new faces
at the NCSL summit because of term limits.
The hard right folks were well represented at the conference. We
learned that there are over 30,000 manufactures of guns, gun parts,
gun equipment and supplies. Their booths were richly supplied with
give aways and DVDs.
There was one fellow from Pennsylvania who claimed he wrote the Sales
Tax Law to Tax All Sales and Services in Pennsylvania but it was
defeated by people who wanted to tax real estate. We were nice to him
and gave him a lot of samples of our Georgist literature. He said land
is a commodity and we were trying to steal his private property.
It seemed that half of the booths were related to Health Care in one
form or another. They all claim they were reducing cost and improving
services. We did not know if we should believe them or thank President
Canada, Australia and Nigeria were well represented. Other nations
were represented but very few from Spanish speaking countries. We had
Spanish literature displayed but very little was given out at this
We need Georgists to present an educational workshop at the next NCSL
Summit in Atlanta, GA. We need to sponsor Mayor Steve Reed and others
to present a workshop on LVT to those attending the NCSL annual
meetings. PREC can not carry the ball alone at this very important
annual conference. Please wake up, Georgists. We need to educate these
State policy makers.
Next PREC will be at the second booth from the main entrance. Our
booth selection number was 39 out of over 300 other exhibitors.
The Chicago Henry George School was very helpful thanks to Chuck
Metalitz, Irene Marmi and Bob Jene. They helped PRECs Al
Katzenberger and Don Killoren pass out Georgist literature and explain
the importance of LVT to everyone who stopped by.
Don Killoren and Al Katzenberger stopped by the Haymarket Monument in
the Haymarket area and saw about a dozen plaques on the base of the
monument but none presented by a Georgist organization. Chuck Metalitz
was asked to see out how a Georgist plaque could be added to the
The Chicago NCSL was expensive for PREC and we would appreciate any
financial support you can send to Public Revenue Education Council at
6228 Pershing Ave., St. Louis, MO 63130.
(Alfred Katzenberger may be emailed at
Thoughts on the NCSL Conference
by Don Killoren, St. Louis, MO
Talking with Legislators and other participating vendors and visitors
it became obvious that we Georgists have an opportunity now to sell
Land Value Taxation (or Charges) by showing how much of voters
dollars spent on every retail item, gasoline, rent, hotel bill, and
education goes to pay for the cost of land.
We need research to show precisely what part of every Gross Domestic
Product dollar is paid to LAND SPECULATION interests. If people
understood that rising home values are NOT in their best interests
they would demand a change in their local property taxation systems.
Presently we talk in generalities about the advantages of our ideas.
We need hard facts showing that out of every dollar spent X number of
pennies goes to a totally non-productive function (land speculation).
When they receive this kind of information voters will make new
demands of the legislators who are now yawning at our message (with
some of them even laughing at us as they walk away)
and how they
have been conned into thinking that a FLAT LAND PRICE really served
(Don Killoren may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Public Revenue Education Council helps state officials learn about
smart tax policies
by Chuck Metalitz, Chicago, IL
Whats this? No posts for a month? Actually had several things almost
ready to post, but meanwhile I spent an interesting three days
at the National Council of State Legislators Legislative
Summit, what most of us would call their annual convention.
Since about 1996, the Public Revenue Education Council (Missouri
chapter of Common Ground-USA) has staffed a booth at the NCSL
conference exhibit hall, alerting legislators, their staffs, and other
attendees to the existence of a tax option which generates revenue
while increasing, rather than discouraging, productive economic
activity. Honing the message over the years (and gaining seniority
which allows choice of better locations within the exhibit hall), PREC
President Al Katzenberger and his colleagues may have gained some
Among Als innovations is a custom-made (and unpatented, as far
as I know) three-tray scale, used to illustrate the factors of
production. Land, labor, and capital (the trays) are all necessary for
most production, and usually use money (the chains) to facilitate the
process. Banks and other financial institutions (the arms holding the
chains) may try to manipulate the system unfairly, and its the
job of government (the central post) to keep things more or less in
For the 2012 event, which concluded Aug 9, Al was assisted by Don
Killoren of St. Louis, Irene Marmi of Chicago, and this blogger. Since
two people are generally enough to staff the booth, each of us had
time to wander the hall visiting with other exhibitors and
there were many. Why so many? As has been said: No ones
liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session,
so everyone wants legislators to do, or refrain from doing, something.
Some exhibitors were interesting, and might be the subject of future
Of course each of us has a slightly different view of what geoists
want to accomplish, but we tried to present a unified message: If you
tax jobs, retail sales, and buildings, youre likely to get less
of those. If you tax the value of land as vacant, youll get
economic benefits and, hey, let me tell you about much nicer your
community will look.
Few people might stop by a booth about public revenue, so Al and Don
just call out to passers-by Where are you from? They
reply, and Al or Don says Oh, you could use this there.
But theyve also learned (better than I) to just shut up and
listen to each prospect, find out what their concerns are, and provide
a helpful response.
Thinking about next years NCSL conference (in Atlanta), we
might want to seek a cleaner look by having fewer documents on the
table. Plastic racks would be suitable for some of them. Other would
be under the counter, or perhaps even available only on
request via email. People will put their business cards in a fish bowl
if a prize is offered. What prize? Maybe a $50 RSF gift certificate,
along with some suggestions about what to spend it on. Use the
business cards to generate an email list. Three days after the
conference, everybody gets a Thank you and call us if we can
help message. If they dont respond, they wont hear
from us again until a week before the 2014 (Minnesota) conference,
when we invite them to stop by our booth.
We need an attention-getting colorful postcard-size piece,
highlighting our special web address which well set up for the
occasion, and perhaps a phone number. To the extent possible, the look
of the documents we distribute should be modernized and made
consistent. The Revenue Source is Under Our Feet seriously needs
updating, and must include contacts for (not necessarily in) every
Across from the PREC booth was ESRI, the dominant geographic
information systems software provider, who almost certainly were
behind the Greenwich land value map we used to illustrate how
straightforward land value assessment is. They suggested some contacts
and ideas which may aid geoists in the future.