From Eternal to Extinguished: The Reform of Municipal Ground Lease in the Netherlands

Part 2: The Reform of Municipal Ground Lease in the Netherlands Since the introduction of the municipal ground lease in Amsterdam in 1896, the conditions have continually been subject to changes. Despite that, still no one is really satisfied…

Citadels of Privilege: How LLCs funnel land rents into the pockets of wealthy investors

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As housing costs continue their inexorable climb upwards in cities across the US, concern is mounting about the role played by corporate investors. Referred to as the ‘financialization’ of housing, real estate is being hoovered-up by massive investment funds with names like BlackRock and Blackstone. With little personal connection to their tenants, these faceless investors engage in ruthless profit-seeking, deploying evictions as a weapon to raise rents as much as possible. The presence of these well-heeled investors is also driving prices upwards, pushing homeownership even further out of reach for the middle-class.

The Dutch Ground Lease System from a Georgist Perspective

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Seventeen years after the publication of Henry George’s Progress and Poverty, the city of Amsterdam decided not to sell any more of its land. Instead they installed a system of municipal ground lease, to ensure the community would benefit from the increased value of the land. The system has been hotly debated ever since, including by Georgists.

LVT on the Ballot in New Zealand

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New Zealand is suffering many of the same ills that afflict American cities. Tenants facing ever-rising rents, young people and ethnic minorities being priced out of homeownership, widening inequality driven by soaring land values, sprawling cities and congested streets. A long and bitter debate that blamed land use regulations for these problems has largely been won by ‘YIMBYs’, with several waves of upzoning producing a budding building boom for townhouses and apartments. While there are some signs that rents may be easing as a result, these problems are far from solved, and public attention has begun to look for alternative solutions.

Who Says You Can’t Have a State Property Tax?

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Well, okay. Lots of people. One of the crowning strategies to rouse the rabble is to ream the property tax. Fair enough. But in some states like New Jersey, the property tax is unpopular, likely because the property tax is just as high as the state income, business, and sales taxes.  But some states have a lifeline for tax efficiency, equity, and progressivity. Yet because we live in strange times, state governments get the shakes regarding property tax. So instead, they throw themselves upon regressive, volatile, or inefficient taxes. Not surprisingly, these taxes hit parts of society that are powerless or don’t vote.  The property tax can trace its unpopularity to simple (and fixable) quirks in most states: the bill comes due once a year. There are legitimate concerns over what happens to people on a fixed income. The house’s value may go up, but there’s no cash flow to pay for a tax bill that goes up. 

Mississippi: The Tangled Web of History, Class, Race and Water

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It's too easy for a northeastern US observer to have an overbearing and infuriating attitude regarding Mississippi. Unfortunately, Mississippi has a laundry list––or a butcher's bill if you like, of past sins that stick in the craw of humanists and the respecters of justice alike.  That said, no one is innocent. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed (after getting hit with a brick in Chicago), "As long as the struggle was down in Alabama and Mississippi, they could look afar and think about it and say how terrible people are. When they discovered brotherhood had to be a reality in Chicago and that brotherhood extended to next door, then those latent hostilities came out."  So, we ought to look at the current problems in Jackson, Mississippi, bloodlessly and try to keep emotions out (I'm not saying it's easy). What happens when a group surrenders political power but economic power remains the preserve of the privileged? Perhaps, it will turn out that political power is often no power at all. Instead, it takes politics and economics for political economy like two elements forming a chemical compound producing different behaviors.