Land Values Taxes and State Banking were Welcome News to Them
On October 8, 2010, I responded to an invitation to speak to members of the New York Trilevel (city/state/federal) Job Creation Task Force, in Borough President Scott Stringer's office, along with other community organization leaders.
Politicians attending included:
Borough President Scott Stringer (host);
Assembly Member Keith L.T. Wright;
NYC Councilmembers Dan Garodnick (whom represents my district and whom I've spoken to before and whom might have been responsible for putting me on the mailing list), Robert Jackson, and Margaret Chin;
State Senators Malcolm A. Smith (President of the State Senate), Robert Jackson, and Bill Perkins; a representative from U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office.
I was fortunate to be allowed to speak first. Typically, during two hour recorded semi-public meetings like this, the main panel members will slip away as the meeting runs into overtime, and this was no exception. I'm glad I had the opportunity to speak first and to the entire panel. The meeting was recorded and should appear here at some point:
While most of the speakers focused on how their particular organization could help provide jobs, or at least income, in novel ways, at Common Ground-NYC, which I was representing as president, we chose to focus on how to restructure the economy so that the natural opportunities that already exist could become available to people. As Georgists and Geoists everywhere know, there are things that need to be done, and people that want to do them. The only thing standing in the way is money. So, I took this invitation as an opportunity to show where the money is and how it could be freed for both private and public sector opportunities. This may sound like an obvious thing to local politicians, but judging by the reception, and the Q&A that followed, it was not.
Land Value Tax was new to most of them, but they were interested and I was asked how this would work. It is not really new to Scott Stringer's office, as he and Josh Vincent worked on a paper a few years back on LVT, available form the Borough President's site here: http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=52.
Without getting into New York City's (let alone the state's) arcane and often conflicting 6-tax class system, I simply made the point that Common Ground-NYC, using NYC Department of Finance figures, had calculated that there is a bit less than half a trillion dollars of Ground Rent in the city alone, to tax, and that a roughly 8%/year tax would enable the city to get rid of nearly all other taxes (there are social reasons for perhaps keeping some "sin" taxes, though this is not Georgist. I never actually used the word Georgist, using Geoist instead).
I left the task force with supporting documents including:
Mason Gaffney's "The Hidden Taxable value of Land: Enough and To Spare"
Lindy Davies' "New York City Property Taxes: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime"