Democratic Freedom Caucus Endorses LVT
GroundSwell, May-June 2009]
Your GroundSwell editor was among the 44 Georgists to whom Jason
Bessy, Skowhegan, ME, emailed his editorial, "Georgism and the
Single Tax on Land: Why the 130-year-old Idea Is Still Relevant Today."
The purpose of the article is "to outline why the idea of land
value taxation argued by 19th century political economist, Henry
George, is still relevant to many of today's pressing issues,
including poverty, economic growth, the environment, and responsible
government." Subsections are "What Is Economics?", "The
Fruits of Productivity as Reward, Taxation as Punishment," "Land
-Value-Taxation Versus Property Taxation", "The Benefits of
a Single Tax", and "Conclusion".
In a subsequent email between your GroundSwell Editor and Jason , he
brought to our attention the Democratic Freedom Caucus. They are a
small but growing caucus within the Democratic Party that supports (as
part of their platform) land value taxation. Quoting Section 2a of
"Out of justice and practicality, it is proper to allow an
individual to keep the rewards from his or her labor. So, there should
be the least taxes possible on labor, because taxes on labor take the
fruits of labor. Such taxes are not only unjust, but also lower the
incentive to be productive. Taxes on income, sales, or buildings all
take away the rewards of labor and productivity, so they are the most
harmful kinds of taxes. The least harmful tax is a tax on land
location value or on extraction of natural resources, because those
are not products of labor, but are fixed resources.
"Land is fundamentally different from products made by human
effort, because no person can produce land, meaning locations and
natural resources. So, property in land needs to be treated somewhat
differently from other types of property, in order to prevent
over-concentrated ownership of land and natural resources."
Mike O'Mara, York, PA, is one of the founders of the Democratic
Freedom Caucus (DFC), a current National Committee member, and he is
the State Chair of the Pennsylvania DFC. Mike is also one of the
moderators of the DFC discussion group. A HGFA director, and formerly
of Maryland, Mike wrote the "A Landlord Is Really a Type of Tax
Collector" brochure that was distributed at the Libertarian Party
convention in Washington, DC in 1996 (and was inserted in the
July-Aug. 1996 GroundSwell.)
Brooks Nelson, Gainesville, FL, is the Florida state chair and
current DFC National Director.
Paul Gagnon, Franconia, VA, joined the DFC not long after it was
founded. He is the chair of the DFC in Virginia. (Paul also is the
chairman of the Metro DC/VA/MD chapter of Common Ground-USA.)
In March 2005 Free Liberal's contributing editor Robert Capozzi
conducted an interview with Paul Gagnon, member of the Democratic
Freedom Caucus (DFC) National Committee. Portions of the interview are
... Paul "and his colleagues on the DFC have been working from
within to inject libertarian ideas into the Democratic Party. The DFC
'is a progressive, pro-freedom caucus, which promotes the values which
the Democratic Party was founded upon: individual liberty,
constitutional democracy, and social responsibility.'
"The DFC was formed in 1996 by three gentlemen: Andrew Spark,
Hanno Beck, and Mike O'Mara. I (Paul) and two others joined shortly
thereafter. It became a place for libertarians who couldn't live with
some of the ideological strictness of the Libertarian Party, but, at
the same time, were a little unhappy with how the Democratic Party had
gone. Now we see that the Democratic Party is open to change. ... The
Democrats have become more adept at appealing to the mainstream. . . .
"One of the good things about the DFC is that we're open to a
lot of new ideas. Many of us are Georgist. ... Most economists would
agree that a land-value tax is the least harmful to the economy.
People have trouble separating out a tax that's put on land and a tax
that's put on buildings. Georgists would say that the human body is
owned by the individual; and our labor belongs to us. That's pretty
much standard libertarian philosophy. We point out that the land -
which includes airwaves, air, water, soil, minerals, all of that, plus
the site value itself - was not created by man. It comes from nature,
it belongs to nature, and it does not come from human labor or the
human mind. The land itself is for everyone. (Henry) George called for
a single tax on the land.
"DFCers go one step further. We say, 'Take the unearned revenues
from land value - which would be roughly half of your real estate tax
- and that money would be divided up as a citizen's dividend.' Every
year, [every citizen] would get a check for your ownership in the
land. Some might call that 'socialism,' but we don't think so. It's
simply giving each person their due."