I appreciate the effort to frame Georgism in many contexts to organize a broad coalition. It seems like it’ll be sometime until it reaches mainstream level discussions in each of these communities. I fear that the current trajectory of the LVT in American politics follows that of the carbon tax a decade or two ago. Seeing attempts to combine YIMBY objectives with the LVT is a great way to prevent that type of fate.

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Oct 31, 2023Liked by Jeff Fong

Check out the A.C.T. down here in Australia. They are moving to a bigger land tax over a 20 yr time frame (to avoid older people having to sell). There were proposals to do it in NSW (Sydney's state) as well but the new state govt have canned that unfortunately

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Great post. Zoning reform and land value taxes form both prongs of my solution to the "housing theory of everything." They must go together, they reinforce each other like a double helix.

Most opposition to Yimbyism and LVT seem to be knewjerk reactions of incredulity. LVT and Georgism require a level of thinking most are unwilling to undertake.

I am curious if you see an alternative to euclidean zoning? Form based codes seem promising: https://www.lianeon.org/p/the-housing-theory-of-everything

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Oct 25, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023Liked by Jeff Fong

Jeff, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I absolutely agree that YIMBYs and Georgists are on the same side. I've been YIMBY for a while, and I only just discovered just how deeply broken the financial incentives in landownership are, and how this fuels NIMBYism in the first place. Zoning regulations are not preordained laws of nature. They were invented by people to protect the financial interests of landowners.

To illustrate: When you develop the city center, demand for space is pulled away from other locations, like the suburbs. This decreases the anticipated land rents in these other locations and makes present-day land values fall, destroying homeowner wealth and throwing people underwater on their mortgages. Because land/location value is fractured, speculatively inflated, and bet on in a highly leveraged manner, it will always be difficult to develop anywhere because development is always a local thing, and will literally hurt landowners in other neighborhoods. As a result, we get stuck in a deadlock where development is halted city-wide.

I do agree that, as far as social organizing goes, YIMBYism is a path to Georgism. It was for me! When we look at how messed up our cities are, it's easiest to identify the tangible regulatory barriers that don't allow city development to proceed in a healthy manner. And we should definitely be pointing to their harmful effects to win over people's hearts and minds.

However, I worry that if we only hack away at the tangle of NIMBY regulations without addressing the root of the problem, the zero-sum fight over location value, we will always face an uphill battle.

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I couldn't agree more.

The urbanists are so much more active than our armchair economists. The Georgist research studies are great. The Georgist e-journalism is great. We're even getting into the technological side of things. But it feels like we've been educating and writing letters to reps for a long time. It's not like we have nothing to show for it, but we haven't set up that political machine for some reason -- that pipeline for activism. The enthusiasm for Georgism can fizzle pretty quickly when it feels like everyone is working in isolation.

If we understand the secrets to passive income, we should be able to leverage that to our advantage. We should not be lacking in resources whatsoever.

To YIMBYs, Georgism just makes sense. It seems like they hear it and don't even think of it as a big deal. I've found other groups which are receptive if you say just enough to let them figure it out ("independently derive it") themselves.

This is our time. Let's not miss this boat.

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