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Scott B.

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3 reviews

Review for Center for the Study of Economics, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Rating: 3 stars  

The CSE has been instrumental in modeling the way for small towns to tax shift off of buildings and onto land, in a revenue-neutral way. Though they would like to, they don't have the influence to convince lawmakers to shift away from deadweight taxes on wages, sales, etc., though that - the Single Tax - is what their inspiration, Henry George, advocated for.
Even within this partial solution, however, CSE has been able to demonstrate significant improvements from their plan in economic activity, reduction of urban blight, development of idle vacant land, and general economic improvement.
The problem is, CSE is too small and under-staffed, and their reforms too muted, to show the kinds of major changes that would be overwhelmingly convincing, so it is a constant struggle to convince the next town, and the town after that. Also, big cities have too powerful lobbies in the R.E. and banking sector for CSE to achieve change.
Some have complained that the reforms are really just a giveaway to the developer industry, lowering the rent of property by untaxing buildings more than raising the tax on land commensurately. But this ignores the rise in price of land that results. This is offset by greater development and competition, which can wind up lowering the cost of housing. The overall result has been positive wherever CSE's plans have been implemented, but not overwhelmingly convincing.

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field

Review for Common Ground Usa Inc, Anaheim, CA, USA

Rating: 4 stars  

Common Ground USA is a 501c4 registered charity, established in 1984 to promote the philosophy of Henry George and its implementation. It's mission statement:
"Common Ground-U.S.A. is dedicated to the principle that all persons have equal and common rights in the earth and its resources and each individual has an exclusive right to the income from his or her own labor and capital investment. We are also dedicated to support and improve the free market, including purchase, ownership, and sale of real estate.

"Therefore, we are committed to reducing and replacing taxes on labor and capital. We propose to pay for essential government services by adequate taxation of the value of land and other natural resources. We also propose fees for pollution, resource extraction, and use of the public commons. We believe these changes will increase total wealth and equality of opportunity, thereby improving the quality of life for all individuals and the functioning of government."

Right now, there are 7 active chapters in North America (really the U.S. though there used to be one in Canada). CGUSA is one of the older and more established Georgist activist groups and has long and deep roots in the Georgist community.
It publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, reaches out to politicians and seeks to implement related laws and policies (as a c4, not a c3, organization, we can go where c3s cannot in terms of direct support). The chapters are semi-autonomous (I am president of the NY chapter since 2010 and this is our local website: and localized in their membership and focus. The national board meets as necessary and always annually just before the annual Council of Georgist Organizations meeting held a various locations in the U.S.
CGUSA has successfully promoted laws and policies over the years, and worked with other Georgists to advance the cause.

Role:  Board Member

Review for Center for the Study of Economics, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

The Center for the Study of Economics is the major Georgist organization implementing the principles of the Single Tax on a city-by-city basis. With their recent victory in Altoona, PA, where they helped lead a 10 year taxshift off of buildings and onto land, the CSE has been largely responsible for helping that city, and several other Pennsylvania cities, increase both their building and their overall prosperity. The practical effects of untaxing building (improvements) and taxing land instead, include: reducing hoarding of valuable land, increasing opportunity, providing new housing for people at all levels, and dampening land speculation - which many economists lies at the root of the current economic crisis.
The CSE's past leader and emeritus, Dr. Steven Cord, has compiled 238 studies that show land value taxation works, and works always when properly applied.
CSE's new and dynamic leader, Josh Vincent, continues the important work of his predecessor, ticking off new victories one-by-one in the northeast, creating a more prosperous and just world, and proving these two goals are not incompatible if a proper economic paradigm is applied.
For those who understand the works of America's greatest economist, Henry George, you won't find a better implementer of these time-tested principles that the Center for the Study of Economics.
- Scott Baker, President of Common Ground-NYC

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

our efforts toward tax and land reform in Common Ground-NYC

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Make it bigger! Expand its reach here to New York City.

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field & I met with and supported the CSE.