Welcome to the Henry George School of Social Science’s blog – Land Value Reuse and Recycle – a periodic posting of commentary about cooperation, human progress, natural resource economics, and the equitable distribution of wealth in the tradition of Henry George for use by social justice reformers in the present era. There is much written about this topic, some excellent, and some seriously flawed; importantly, the flaws I will be describing in upcoming posts are probably not presented with evil intent, but rather an unclear context within universal value.

About Marty Rowland

For 43 years Marty has practiced environmental engineering in the aerospace and waste industries, and in government. He holds licenses in professional engineering in New York and Louisiana, and a certificate in hazardous materials management. Marty is also a natural resource economy scholar in the traditions of Henry George and Elinor Ostrom, focusing on the sustainable and equitable distribution and preservation of society’s wealth. In that vein, he teaches ecosystem management and is influenced by those thinkers’ philosophy as a government employee. After years of policy analysis, activism, and reform advocacy, he is now leading a team of professionals in the development of an international standard on improving the safety and performance of society’s infrastructure asset services while lowering their costs. Lastly, Marty is actively creating a new version of material in the construction of affordable and sustainable buildings, as a certified passive house designer. At HGSSS, Marty teaches two courses; 1) Land Value Reuse and Recycle; and 2) Fundamentals of Sustainable Economics. He is also a member of the Education Committee of the Board.

Universal Value

The best expression for universal value is cooperative progress, a synthesis of Henry George’s belief in human progress and Kate Raworth’s focus on a cooperative economics as opposed to one based on simple growth. We do not necessarily grow and develop as a society simply because more stuff and more services are spewed out into the material universe; rather we progress through cooperation when essential outcomes are identified and achieved through concerted effort. For example, when anybody is subsistence insecure, that person has a much harder time contributing to society, however, with universal healthcare, that insecurity is less severe for that one person and society is more likely to include one more voice toward its advancement. Also, as society halts on its way to a non-fossil fuel future, we are forced to deal with increasing levels of contaminants that alter critical ecosystems such that a sustainable future becomes less certain. Appreciating and politically responding to threshold conditions are universal values; obsession with quixotic equilibria of an ephemeral economy is stuff for a circus sideshow.

Special Interests in Land Value Clothing

The problem with tax increment financing and other similar measures of land value capture is that they do not address the larger infrastructure needs but focuses on localized solutions to a single developer, often sucking resources from adjoining jurisdictions for the benefit of that developer; a real Paul’s hand in Peter’s pocket. This is a perfect example on non-universal value.

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