Democratic Freedom Caucus Endorses LVT

Nadine Stoner

[Reprinted from 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 their platform:

"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 quoted below.

... 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."

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