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181  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Georgism/Geoism and the Land Value Tax on: December 11, 2012, 04:14:08 AM
@myrkul - You and I agree on more things than we disagree, and we had a good discussion in the other thread.  What's happened to you?  You've been so combative and non-constructive lately.  Maybe you need a break from this forum...

You should know by now that the moral position being discussed here holds that claiming natural resources as private property is theft.  This is what you need to refute if you want to convince anyone.
182  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Georgism/Geoism and the Land Value Tax on: December 11, 2012, 03:27:24 AM
But for the value of the land year from year, how could value of land be determined when it is not currently for sale? People could claim that it's worth a million dollars with no intention of actually buying the land and then someone's taxes will go up. It seems the most fair thing would be a flat rate per area, which could also have benefits in increasing property distribution and thus the tax base but might have other stupid consequences.
Well, the difficult part is defining "area".  Certainly it would be unfair to assess one suburban house significantly more than its next door neighbor, and it would be readily apparent that something was wrong if that happens. 

Would people give up ownership of their lawn just to pay lower taxes in such a system?
Well, the value of the land is what they're willing to pay for it.  So, if they're not willing to give it up, the worth has not been exceeded.

I just reread one section where George talks about this.  He says that only relatively recent improvements should be excluded from value assessments.  "A swamp drained or a bill terraced by the Romans constitutes now as much a part of the natural advantages of the British Isles as though the work had been done by an earthquake or glacier."

That sounds reasonable to me.  What if, whenever we make an improvement to land, we report how much we spent on it, and that much is deducted from value assessments for as long as the same person holds the land?  That opens up the possibility of an auction based system.
183  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Georgism/Geoism and the Land Value Tax on: December 11, 2012, 02:49:28 AM
I am curios though, does Henry George indicate how the the values of the land are calculated? That is the most important criticism I have heard.
Agreed.  Unfortunately, he doesn't give a magic formula like I hoped he would, but he did point out that land value assessment is already done in the private sector, and that renters often do make expensive improvements even though they won't keep them forever.  There may not be a perfect solution, but if we could get "close enough", it would be a big improvement. 

I keep hoping to find some perfect, objective free market solution, but we may just have to rely on subjective assessments.  I've seen it pointed out that if land was over-valued, no one would rent it, and it would have to come down, so that's one balancing mechanism.  Again, it wouldn't be perfect.  There's still the possibility of corruption, but the corruption would be much more visible than it is in our current system.

In the other thread Fjordbit mentioned an auction system, where the purchaser of the land has to either come to an agreement with the owner of the improvements or compensate by "re-creating" the improvements elsewhere.  That seems incredibly impractical to me. 
184  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Georgism/Geoism and the Land Value Tax on: December 10, 2012, 08:16:02 PM
I would counter that after enough time has passed, one should be careful about giving nepotism too much weight. Why should people who, by a freak of nature just happen to be the descendants of someone who had his land stolen many years ago, become lucky winners in a genetic lottery?
I'm not saying we should track down the descendents of the original owners.  That would be almost impossible.  It's just an illustration of one of the problems of private ownership of land.

The Georgist perspective is that people who want to take land for their own use should pay rent (land value tax) to the community.  The money can either be used for public works, like you said, or simply redistributed as a citizen's dividend.  I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.  The original owners of the land were also wrong to hold it without paying the community.  Under this system,  everyone will be entitled to an equal share of the land's value, regardless of what happened in history.

The problem with most governments today is that even when they mean well, popular philosophies are tainted by Marxism.  They see wealth itself as evil, and make no distinction between wealth created through production, and wealth stolen through land rent.  People are happy to take from the wealthy because they're wealthy and give to the poor because they're poor, with no regard to right and justice.  They also forget that the wealthy have much more influence on the government than the poor, and never bother to question who really benefits when a new policy is made allegedly to help the poor.

I'd also say a normal, modest home should not cost any taxes, I believe there is enough space for those. We should be able and free to live in a self-sufficient way after all like the Garbage Warrior. Only if someone claims excessive land ownership, there must be resistance, otherwise it would be like a cancer spreading in an organism.
It would have to depend on the demand for the land, not the quantity.  A normal, modest, home in the middle of nowhere would cost nothing or at least very little, a normal modest home in the heart of New York that's standing in the way of a skyscraper that will create thousands of jobs should be taxed accordingly.
185  Other / Politics & Society / Re: AnCap is inherently unstable, would immediately fail, and could never last.... on: December 10, 2012, 06:16:13 AM
"It is not voluntary to not murder, plunder, rape, excessive pollute and conspiracy for my demise, period. "

"It is mandatory to refrain from murdering, plundering, raping, polluting excessively, and conspiring to cause my death."

Basically, the Non-Aggression Principle.
186  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Republic of Molossia on: December 10, 2012, 03:50:12 AM
Heh, you can watch the movie on, although it probably won't be that entertaining unless you're already a fan of the site and its characters.
187  Other / Politics & Society / Georgism/Geoism and the Land Value Tax on: December 10, 2012, 03:33:11 AM
We had a discussion about this before in 420's fair tax thread.  I decided to start a new thread specifically devoted to this topic.

I finally finished reading Progress and Poverty, and I'm even more convinced than I was before that geoism is completely compatible with libertarian moral views and necessary to create a truly just and free society.

George talked about the various forms on income secured through land ownership, which he described using the umbrella term "rent".  He argues that rent always tends towards the highest point the economy can sustain.  Unlike other goods, demand for land cannot be balanced out by increased production, so the price tends higher.  Whenever society becomes richer, whether through technology, population, infrastructure, etc, land value rises enough to absorb the extra value in rent, so that labor gets little-no benefit from the increased wealth.

The rewards of labor and capital comes from the value they add to the economy.  People can rightly claim ownership over these things, because people produce these things.  If I want to use a machine, it is completely reasonable to pay the creator a fair price, because if he didn't exist I couldn't have that particular machine at any price.  If I want to use land, well, if it weren't for the owner and those like him, I'd have it for free.  It's almost a form of extortion to have to pay him to not prevent me from using the land.

Keep in mind we aren't talking about the value of improvements such as buildings.  Some will object that even unimproved land gains value through human activity.  This is true.  However, it is not the activity of the owner.  Land gains value from the surrounding community.  Landholders collect revenue from surrounding businesses that they had nothing to do with.  This is not to say that landowning is a risk-free enterprise, but when they do make money it's at the expense of others.  Labor and business make their money by production of new goods, landowners simply leech off of them.

If you think about it, the tyranny of modern governments is based on control of land.  Most governments exert force within their borders and take relatively little interest in what happens outside.  Yet, "love it or leave it" is not an acceptable principle, because we need land to live on and live off of, and pretty much all of it is under the control some government or another.  Why is it acceptable for individuals to practice this level of control if not governments?

More than once in the other thread the objection of scale was brought up.  Private landowners do not generally control enough land to exert the kind of coercion that governments do.  There are at least three problems with this.  The first is that there is nothing, in theory, to prevent any individual from coming to possess as large a quantity of land as necessary.  The second is that while an individual landowner may not control that much, landowners as a class can literally control an entire country, and exert their collective will on the landless as a class.  The final problem is that pointing out that competition exists among landowners in no way justifies it on a moral basis.  If it is wrong for one person to own all the land, how can it be less wrong for several people to each own a part of it?

Then there's the fact that much land has not followed an unbroken chain of voluntary transactions from its rightful owner under the homestead principle to its current possessor.  People may object that these thefts happened long enough ago that they are irrelevant.  George discusses this issue in his book The Irish Land Question.  Basically, his point was that while stealing an object is a one time thing, robbery of land is an ongoing process.  The families who stole land centuries ago have collected rent ever since, and those from whom it was stolen have been obliged to pay.  While we might overlook the robbery that occurred far enough in the past, the robbery of land never stops.

So, I think that the land value tax is both morally and practically necessary.  While I believe in a free market of labor and capital, for an individual to claim ownership of land  is an act of aggression against others who need that land to live.  In order to gain exclusive possession, one must pay compensation to the community in the form of the land value tax, which may be divided up among the community.  It's a clean solution to historical injustice and it helps ensure that everyone will get to keep the value of their labor rather than losing it to rent.
188  Economy / Services / Re: Owning a .com anonymously and securely. Is it possible? on: November 02, 2012, 08:34:09 PM
Although, if you really want to do that, why even bother with the clearweb.
Indeed, if anonymity is your main priority, maybe something like a TOR hidden service is what you're looking for.  Of course, those have many disadvantages, so it depends on how much you want to be anonymous.
189  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Another one for the "anarchists" on: November 02, 2012, 08:11:04 PM
Fascinating.  You have a different definition of "around here" than I do. :p

As an experiment, it doesn't seem to follow the rigor I would require, but I salute them for finding a way to apply their ideals to their gaming life.

Actually, that makes me wonder if their style of rule enforcement could be applied to other games and communities.  Like, would it work on these forums?  It might be difficult, because you would need to create the circumstances under which a poster can be released from imprisonment, and they would have to favor the better established and more organized posters to replicate their results.

EDIT:  Thanks for telling me about that.  It really raises a lot of interesting questions, and gives me even more ideas for experiments to do.
190  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Another one for the "anarchists" on: November 02, 2012, 07:23:34 PM
Wasn't aware that minecraft servers typically have governments, nor the kind of dilemmas that test social structures.

I never played minecraft, so I guess I wouldn't know.
191  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Another one for the "anarchists" on: November 02, 2012, 06:58:28 PM
I always thought that online games would be a good way to do social experiments.  One of these days I need to put together a simple game or two to test some theories I have.
192  Economy / Services / Re: Really reliable bitcoin domain registrar on: November 01, 2012, 08:19:48 PM
I use  Never had any problems with them.
193  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / Re: The best way to Hoard coins on: October 30, 2012, 06:56:06 PM
I disagree that saving is bad for the reasons others have provided, but I will say it would be nice if there were more and better investment opportunities.  I don't like having a ton of BTC buried in my virtual backyard, but I don't know what else to do with them.  They've provided a better return than any fiat investment I've ever made.
194  Economy / Services / Re: [ANN] New Website: Spot Metal Prices in BTC on: October 27, 2012, 08:43:13 PM
Thanks, I was hoping someone would make something like this.  Before, whenever I made a long-term deal with someone I had to denominate it in USD to hedge against BTC price changes.  Now I can do it in precious metals.
195  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Fair Tax and black markets on: October 24, 2012, 05:17:45 PM
I've mostly stopped posting in this thread because I felt like I've said most of what I have to say, but a few thoughts.

First, myrkul is right that a geoist system could exist within a private property system, if for no other reason than a land owner can impose any rules he wants on his tenants.  The issue is that the geoist would believe that the AnCaps are claiming ownership over something no one has the right to own.  Imagine if the AnCaps encountered a group that practiced slavery.  The slavers might say, "Well, you can give your slaves freedom and fair compensation for labor if you want, but what gives you the right to tell us what to do with our slaves?"  I'm not comparing land ownership to slavery, I'm simply pointing out that a values dissonance issue exists.

Second, under ideal conditions, if the property owners are numerous and diverse enough to always be in competition, the a private property system isn't that bad.  But, consider that today the world's tyrants claim little other authority other than ownership of their countries.  Why can't you have an AnCap society today?  Because you have no place to build it.  There are many impoverished countries in the world, but it's extremely rare for them to sell their sovereignty over any part of their land for any price.  You're stuck living under the rule of a government, because it has land and you don't.  What check would exist on a landlords power in an AnCap society?  What distinguishes a large landholder from a national government?

Someone mentioned about all the property currently being owned.  First, why would you respect current property ownership after a transition to AnCap, knowing that much of it was gained unjustly?  Second, as the book myrkul linked pointed out, you would need to distribute government property somehow.

196  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Donate to Gary Johnson in BITCOINS on: October 24, 2012, 03:44:23 AM
The choice the two parties offer is an illusion.  They are two sides to the same coin.  They really have things worked out well.  All the anger and frustration that would be correctly directed toward the system is directed to one head, then the other head becomes popular because it appears to fight the other.

By the way, kokojie, I'm probably going to vote for Johnson on principle, but if I was forced to vote for a major party member, it would probably be Obama.  So, there's that.
197  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Donate to Gary Johnson in BITCOINS on: October 23, 2012, 08:02:21 PM
Nah that's ok.

Gary has a serious marketing issue. He's the poster child for fiscal conservatives pretending to be libertarian, although he's at least honest about not being a libertarian. He missed the republican nomination and shouldn't run at all (if he's ethical) because any votes he takes from romney lends to obama getting a second term.

Yep, anyone who vote Gary Johnson is a fucking idiot, you think you are voting for Gary Johnson, when in reality you are actually voting for Obama.
Exactly the reason why we need to change from the first-past-the-post vote system.  We really need more agitation for approval voting.
198  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Fair Tax and black markets on: October 21, 2012, 10:17:21 PM
It doesn't matter whose effort it is. If I buy a car, so long as I pay fair market value for the car, why does it matter whose effort made the car valuable? Sure, someone mined the steel, someone invented the automobile, someone manufactured the engine, and so on. But if I acquired it at market value, it's all my car. Once you realize that this argument applies to *everything*, not just land, it quickly falls apart.

And only land ownership will make it possible for people to capture the value of improvements to land. Say I want to build something that will go on one piece of land but increase the value of a number of surrounding pieces of land. In the absence of full private ownership, there's no way I can capture the value this project will add. However, if all that land is privately owned, I can go to each owner and get them to agree to share with me some of the increased value. I may not get them all to agree, but at least I have a chance. Without private land ownership, there's no way at all I can get a share of the value I'm creating.
Everyone involved in making the car has been paid for their work, and this is reflected in the price you pay for the finished product.  The people who made your LA land rise in value, which is basically every productive member of the community, have not been paid for what they did for you.  You're making money off of their work without necessarily giving anything in return.

If you go back and read the rest of this thread, you'll find that the issue of improvements has been discussed in depth.  You do understand that the discussion is about geoism, not communism right?

For the sake of discussion, can you name a real world example of an improvement to surrounding lands where the builder captures the value of the positive externalities in that way?

The solution is simple -- if you buy land at fair market value, it's yours. All of the land on Earth has an owner right now, though admittedly some have acquired it unfairly. But we're not going to give America back to the Indians. So we have now what we have. Pretty much everyone who owns land today has acquired it at fair market value anyway. And it would be truly bizarre to treat some present-day landowners different from others.

If you want to talk about what the rules should be for the Moon or if we build underwater cities, we can. But most land is already owned by people who, by and large, paid fair market value for it. So unless you want to try to right ancient injustices (which is basically impossible since the victims are dead) people own what they own.
How does that work if the person you bought it from wasn't the rightful owner?  If I pay fair market value to to some guy I know, can I take your house?

If "That's the way things are" is enough to justify something in your mind, then there's no need for you to discuss anything at all.  You should be happy with the current system, because people own what they own, and if someone changes that system you should be happy with what they change it to, because that will be the way things are.

Well, at this point, effectively all land is claimed, everywhere. so, I sort of have to concede this point. Land can be purchased, however. Undeveloped land is typically much cheaper than developed, and land outside the "city" likewise tends toward the cheaper end. So expansion is still possible, often at much lower cost than renting or buying a place inside the city.
Yes, the land will be sold for no more than people are willing to pay for it.  As I said, this doesn't affect the morality, one way or the other.

Well, I see your point, but I'm trying to allow for those who like nature in it's natural state (for instance, people who would like a hunting preserve) to do so without having to murder any who come in, and without enabling the creation of a state (which any form of geoism would eventually do). Do you have a better solution for those who would like to preserve a patch of nature from development? Would breaking a trail through the patch of land suffice as enough improvement to allow for ownership?
Under the homesteading principle as I understand it, wouldn't breaking a trail give you ownership of the trail and nothing else?

I said I could understand the homesteading argument, that doesn't mean I agree with it as a system.  It doesn't achieve the goal of allowing a person to only claim their labor.  It gives them their labor, and the land, which is something entirely different.

Well, under AnCap, ultimately the justification is that they entered into that arrangement voluntarily. They chose to give X portion of their labor for the ability to keep Y portion. If they're happy with those portions, who are we to say they can't do that? It's essentially wage labor, just with some unusual wage terms.
Yes, but the question is whether the advantage over them that society has given you in terms of land rights is justified.

True. But, again, you're paying them, yes? Essentially, they're renting their labor to you. And as long as they're happy with those terms, I'm not going to step in and prevent them.
More accurately, it's a collaborative effort to produce something of value.  They're providing the labor, you're providing the land, and the capital depends on your arrangement.  Even if you provide the capital, ownership of the land will allow you to negotiate for a larger share of the finished product than the capital alone would.

Last year, you worked the land, got 100% of the profit, and the land itself as your reward.  This year, others are doing the exact same work, but only getting say 30% of the profit, and no land.  The only difference between you and them was you got there first, but what a difference it's going to make in your life.

Well, it's a valid point, every system has it's flaws. That people can sometimes collude to make more profit is one of them, in any market system. Geoism is no different, it just has different flaws.
I absolutely agree.  This has been an excellent conversation.
199  Other / Politics & Society / Re: Fair Tax and black markets on: October 21, 2012, 06:06:30 AM
Oh, certainly it's possible, but remember that copper is not the only thing you can use to make many things, and it's recyclable, so if the price goes too high, replacements can be found, and people looking for copper can shift from buying from mines to buying from recycling centers.

Collusion tends to fall apart for the same reasons that it gets started... people get greedy, realize that they can get more money by undercutting their buddies, and the cartel falls apart. Also, buying all the mines in an area is expensive. "Cornering the market" never happens, for exactly that reason. The more you buy, the more expensive the rest becomes.
So things will eventually return to normal... AFTER the cartel has made a pretty penny.

Let's be clear, I'm not disputing that a full private property system can survive.  I know ours is still going fairly strong.  So, when I point out the various ways that people can manipulate the system, I'm not saying they'll bring down the whole society, just that they'll make undeserved gains.  There's no reason to keep pointing out the ways to mitigate the problems they cause, that's not the issue.  While people might find ways to adapt to the artificial copper scarcity, that doesn't change the morality or lack thereof of inducing that scarcity.

How do you think cities expand? Wink "Scarce" is relative.
What makes you think the land bordering the city wouldn't be claimed? And the land bordering that and so on?  I think it's quite possible that all land that could be considered 'in' the city by any reasonable definition could be claimed.

Well, "no one" is not the same as "anyone". You don't own it until you've transformed it in some way.
I'm sorry, I just don't see the reasoning behind marking land granting exclusive ownership.

"Without me or someone like me, you'd have to build and maintain your own house" There's a reason sharecropping doesn't happen anymore...
I was talking about the sharecropper landlord.  And apparently it does still happen.  Some mines in Peru use the cachorreo system, where miners are given one day a month to dig up some ore for themselves, which is their only payment.

Now, granted these countries probably have other problems with corrupt governments and such that may be limiting opportunity, but all of this would be legal under AnCap, so the point remains.  The landowners have the power to collect the labor of others who want to work the land.  If the basis of their claim to ownership is that they put work into the land, how can they justify confiscating the labor of others upon the land?

As for the rest, while you don't gain the products of the labor of future owners, if you've claimed land with lots of intrinsic (say, mineral) value, you're right that you might be able to get more than you've put into it. Like I said, however, make a wise investment, and you get more out than you put in, too. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with profit.
I meant that you gain the products of the labor of anyone who wants to work on the land while you own it.  Whether you hire them as as employees, sharecroppers, or renters the work that would have gained them the land if you hadn't been there goes to making you richer instead.

And what I meant when I said you get more than you put in, I mean, for instance, that if you build a shack you get the shack and the land it sits on.  I don't think you can say they're one-and-the-same.  The land can be much more valuable.  You plant a garden one year, and the next year people could be begging you to let them do the same.  You'll both do the same labor, except your reward was even more than what you harvested, and they'll only get their harvest minus rent.  I say taking control of land means more than taking control of the labor you put into it.

For my response to the rest of your post, see my first response up above.

Your definition obsessively focuses on an irrelevant detail while ignoring the things that are actually important. While humans don't make land, the value of land comes from human effort. The difference in value between an acre in the middle of Los Angeles and an acre in the middle of Australia was all the result of human effort.
Some of it was the result of human effort, but not necessarily the effort of the owner.  That's the problem many geoists perceive with the current system.  It allows people to profit from the industry of others.

This same argument about land would apply to everything. Why should anyone be entitled to anything since all the raw materials it is made out of weren't made by anyone? Copper isn't made by man any more than land is. But just the same, all the value *does* come from the actions of humans.
All raw materials come from some form of land in the economic sense.  If a solution can be found for land, it will cover everything else.
200  Other / Politics & Society / Re: The Explorer Race - The Origin and Purpose of Life on Earth on: October 21, 2012, 03:29:19 AM
Life can have whatever purpose in life you perceive, but the most basic/standard purpose, in my opinion, is for our souls to learn through life experiences.

Life's basic purpose is to make more. It's just that simple. Anything else is icing.
Why do you say that's the purpose?

According to the Theory of Evolution, that's a tendency of life, but it doesn't say that it's the purpose of life, anymore than the Theory of Gravity says the purpose of life is to fall.
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