Tuesday assorted links


tyler, thanks again for not posting only selected comments. the heterodox commentariat here keeps it perpetually interesting.

#2 - You don't own that land or the improvemnets on it. You rent it from the government. Same thing with your income. The government lets you keep most of it so you continue to work for the government.

I there's some government-free land in Somalia, South Sudan, and Antarctica. You should look into relocated to somewhere more in line with your ideals.

How does one obtain this "ownership" of land?

#2 is a pretty weak case if that is the case, we should do it.

Research Universities--
Executive assistant to system or institution CEO: $91,824
Head coach, women's ice hockey: $99,399
Physical sciences, senior research scholar: $77,892

In a world where Tyler was a women's hockey coach instead of a professor...

Bernanke's blog is useless. His first post said "the Fed has no influence on interest rates." The commenters asked him (among other things) "what about QE?" They even asked him specifically about the Fed monetizing Federal and non-Federal debt. So of course, Bernanke's second post is a puff of hot air about secular stagnation.

I don't know why Bernanke wants a blog if he's just going to repeat the gibberish he spouted as Fed chairman. If he wished to be interesting he would answer some real questions, like: "how much were you paid to save the bonuses and asset appreciation of Goldman Sachs and its friends?"

Am I the only one skeptical of the idea that the Ben Bernanke is actually parking himself in front of a computer to compose blog posts and read comments from the galaxy of internet strangers? Can somebody assure me that Katy Perry actually reads my replies to her on Twitter?

No, but maybe you would get his attention if he found out that quantitive easing really turns Katy on.

Considering their relative wealth, perhaps you should be asking Katy Perry for economic advice.

Great Bernanke piece. The effect of inflation expectations on interest rates should be stamped on the forehead of every analyst who ever claims money is "ultra-loose" or even "loose."

File that under YMMV. I thought WC Varones was wrong about 0 comments, but closing out at 52 seems rather selective. I guess you have to approach him like the Soup Nazi - no comments for you!

You always have the option of starting your own blog.

First, I have to figure out how to become Fed chairman. Maybe they might go for an outsider.

I didn't realize that only former Fed Chairmen were allowed to have blogs. I could have sworn I was reading a blog not written by a former fed chairman.

In fact, Mr. Berger, that is where single-tax folks always end up: the government owns all the land and just rents it to occupants. Curiously, this system has already been tried, in pre-revolutionary Russia.* (Read Pipes' book-- even if you disagree with his thesis about private property and political freedom, you can only benefit from his clear and extremely well-informed history of Russian institutions.

The system is perfect in theory, but, like true communism, undesirable in practice. It replaces economic relationships with political ones-- the government that owns all the land does not, in fact, set rents impartially, but rather favors cronies with low rents and dissidents with high rents. Since a 100% LVT is indistinguishable from simple government proprietorship, a 100% LVT regime is just as undesirable.

No tax regime should ever try to capture all or even most of the surplus from any particular thing, because that will turn normal economic jockeying around the thing in question into additional competition for coercive "non-" or "anti-economic" power. Instead of a few theoretically-perfect taxes it is better to have several imperfect taxes. (A variation of this argument is applicable to the VAT, by the way-- and you will find many contemporary examples to prove the point.)

*And again in Soviet Russia, with some added complexities.

Channeling SD above - "if you don't like it, leave!" Truth to power, question everything, dissent is patriotic - all so gauche now. Weird how that works.

Sucks to be a young right-y these days I guess. Too bad you weren't born 60 years ago, you could have taken part in lynchings and everything.

Sure, Reader, because leaning right or being a fiscal conservative means you are a racist, sure. Goof.

So many lynchings in the late 1950s.

#2 is interesting but chooses the wrong standard against which to compare the tax. Of course it's distortionary relative to a world without the tax. But the correct question is whether its distortions are better or worse than are those of the alternative options for revenue generation. Whether a 100% LVT would fare better under that analysis, though, I'm not sure

A pretty good post here on why this case against the LVT sounds mistaken:


I think the bigger problem with a 100% LVT is that it would generate a lot more revenue for the governments than the current taxes do and we have terrible conrol ove public spending. In some ways we might consider some of the inefficinecies and some bad aspects of the current tax system as a check on even worse Public Choice type problems.

Of course this is the entire point. People (and by this I mean liberals) always want to grab more resources from others so that they can disperse them as they see fit.

And conversely, conservatives always want to privatize natural resources for their own personal gain.

Tyler, what do you have to say about things like "creative destruction?" To me it looks like there are a lot of zombie companies that won't die sucking up the air in the market.

It says a lot of good thing about LVT that no one can come up with a coherent argument against it.

I may have crossed over into senility, but who would want to be the owner of land if its total value is taxed away? What do I do with the tax - sign my land over to the tax man, in which case the government becomes the sole owner of all land? Or do I pay the tax out of other assets, so that I can pay it again next year?

It seems to me that this idea - 100% land value tax, is, to coin an anti-phrase, "self-refuting".

The idea is that the land will be used productively because you can't profit from just the land value. Right now there are vast parking garages/warehouses/empty buildings in prime real estate locations. The owners can hold onto them in a dilapidated unimproved state for very cheap. If they put parking lots in the make a decent profit too. Very low cost and allows them to speculate into infinity about rising land values. If they were taxed 100% on the unimproved value they'd have to put more productive/interesting businesses in the same place.

So this guy gets the incentives completely backwards.

I have a concept that you should become acquainted with - http://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/opportunitycost.asp

An example opportunity cost - money spent on improvements can't be spent on buying more land.

"The idea is that the land will be used productively because you can’t profit from just the land value. "

If you are really worried about lost productivity, why not just advocate for a tax on leisure time?

There are windfall capital gains that can accrue to land while holding on to it. There aren't windfalls to labor from leisure. Sitting around doing nothing doesn't increase the value of your labor.

Please. Just imagine what this would do to the real estate market, and then the financial market, and then every other area of our economy. Sounds like a recipe for starting the next great depression.

Does anybody remember what happened to Rome?

The tax is not going to come in from nowhere. There will be sustained campaigns for an LVT. The prices would mostly have adjusted by the time it even comes in for legislation. As for the negative wealth effect, it's possible to make up a part or more of the loss with a one-time helicopter drop of money.

Saudi Arabia just announced a land tax on some empty land in their cities and the prices of shares of real-estate firms have dropped.

If the total value of land is taxed away, you're indifferent between owning the land and not owning it, so its sale price is zero. Luckily this will not cause the assessors any trouble in determining what the value is, because of that neato solution to the Problem of Socialist Calculation that someone's apparently come up with.

Unless you have an idea that you can create value from using the land.

The cost of the land becomes the value of the opportunity to put structures on the land that the land enables. Certainly, it would mean that all land value falls dramatically from what it is now. But it doesn't fall to zero. It's still a scarce good that can be productive. You don't think that your iPhone has zero value just because you can't conceivably make a profit by reselling it.

The value of the opportunity to put structures on the land makes up part of the unimproved value of the land. If you're not taxing it along with everything else that gives the unimproved land value, you don't have a 100% LVT.

To put it another way: If you tell your assessors to tax according to what the value of the land would be if it couldn't be used for anything, you're going to be ever so slightly disappointed with the revenue.

The land value is the rental value of land. The rental value of land is taxed. The economic activity that can take place on the land such as farming, industrial production, etc., has value and thus land will certainly have prices bid for it in a market.

You wouldn't want to be the owner of any land you're not using for personal use or as a part of a business. Every person and every business would have structures on the minimum land that they need and not a sq inch more.

Thank God that elected representatives not academics or economists.impose taxes. No wait . . .

The "it can't conceivably be measured" argument seems coherent.

W.H. Hutt, "The Theory of Idle Resources"

@3. That doesn't make a lot of sense. With either a catalog app or web-site, nearly all the content is going to have to be downloaded dynamically as users search and browse for items. So if there's a significant performance difference, they did something wrong.

With a website, you have to send over everything, from the content that goes into a table, to the description of how big the table is, to the formatting information of what the table looks like, to the code that tells the table what to do if you hover the mouse over a cell, to the library that the code needs in order to know what a mouse is, etc. etc.

With a native app, you tell the app what page you are on, and the content that fills in table A on that page. It's a ton less stuff to transmit, and less to run though a generic website rendering engine.

There is obviously some client side caching on the website but native apps are always going to be a bit peppier than HTML rendering.

No, that's not the case -- any service that the app calls for data, the client-side web page code could call just as easily. It's true that the client-side code in the mobile web site *could* ask for fully-formatted html content, but it could also ask for just the raw data and then generate the html locally.

It's not the 5K of XML that makes the website slow, it's the 5 mb of JavaScript libraries from 4 different sites that takes so long. In an app it's all in a compiled language and so it just needs the little message passed.

Whether or not well-designed responsive HTML could theoretically match the feel and performance of a native app, in practice it rarely does. Web apps are a nice idea, but high-end apps are generally native. Maybe this has long term implications for the web (as opposed to the internet), but I digress.

That said, requiring (as opposed to offering) a native app is a bad idea for most uses. Occasional users, among others, are unlikely to install an app. We've all experienced that pushy web interface that tried to drive us to download (and keep updated, and find screenspace for) an app for something we will use maybe yearly. So you need a usable web interface, even if you expect your power-users will all go for the native app.

But not all apps are created equal. A car racing game is nothing like a mapping application is nothing like a shopping/catalog app. The first two are pretty much always going to remain native. But with catalog apps, you're talking about something that is inherently structured like a mobile web site (e.g. pages of dynamically loaded data + shopping cart + checkout process, etc). Most of these will ultimately end up being implemented as HTML/javascript packaged into an app using something like PhoneGap/Cordova. And if you know what you're doing, you can generate such apps for all the mobile OSs as well as an equivalent mobile web site all from the same code base.

News from 2012! Web Apps in competition with Native Apps! Read all about it!

Native Apps are faster and look better than responsive HTML! Native Apps also cost more to develop! Some of your users won't be interested in installing your Native App on all their devices! Especially if you're a company like Sears, 'cause it would be embarrassing if anyone ever saw it! So you really need to have both, and your premium customers will go for the Native App!

Do the advocates of a land tax propose that it be applied to farmland and timberland as well? Returns from timber in the northeast are rather low in general; if there were a significant land tax they would likely be negative.

That would be above 100%. Not all plots are equal in rental value.

Anyone have numbers for the land value tax? What it's the assessed value of all the land, net of improvements, in the U.S. (or in one state)? How much would a 100% LVT raise, in theory? What tax rate would be needed to find the government solely from a LVT? Is it practical for a state to have sobering like a 20% LVT instead of its current taxes?

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