The Persistence of Poverty Amid Advancing Wealth “What happens when government abandons its proper role? At the top, we get fraud. Corruption. Gross incompetence. For the rest of us? We get unemployment, inequality, poverty, and inadequate healthcare, retirement, and welfare.” L. Randall Wray, Making Money… Read More »The Great Enigma of Our Times: MMT and GCE
Fall is here once again. This change of seasons typically evokes thoughts of colorful leaves; nights by the fire, hot cocoa in hand; and the impending holiday season. This fall, however, larger, more distressing trends are overshadowing these fanciful notions in many people’s minds.
Inflation has us paying more – much more – for everything from the food we feed our families, to the gas we put in our cars, to the insurance policies we purchase to safeguard our assets. And when it comes to our homes (often cited as most Americans’ largest asset) more and more buyers find themselves priced out of a housing market that is increasingly dominated by corporate investors with all cash offers, looking to turn a dual profit as landlords and owners of physical assets that can be borrowed against with ease.
In the Netherlands, the government is trying to combat the housing crisis with more subsidies for first time house buyers. But this will only make prices go up even more. There is a better solution, which would make housing cheaper for everyone: a land value tax. But as long as homeowners are in the majority, no politician dares to burn its fingers on this idea.
The financial crisis of 2008-10 illustrated the immense danger of a malfunctioning housing market. According to The Economist, between 2000 and 2007, America’s household debt rose from 104% to 144% of household income, and house prices rose by 50% in real terms. San Francisco and other large metropolitan areas in the U.S. are experiencing rents that represent 40% of the average person’s earnings. Housing is too expensive, which is damaging to the economy and poisoning politics.
Low-density housing typically refers to residential areas occupied primarily by single-family homes or buildings with a limited number of dwellings. There is no set definition, but one characteristic of such an area is that the inhabitants start complaining about any housing development that is too… Read More »Zoning Has Been Weaponized
On a lazy Sunday morning I managed to get my son Miran (9) and his friend Tinus (10), who lives next door to us, to play a game of Monopoly. They were not very enthusiastic at first; they find the game boring and predictable. The player who can build houses first quickly gets ahead in the game. Especially if he reinvests the money he earns in new houses. For the others, it’s hard to catch up. The winner accumulates piles of money, the other players are broke and frustrated. There’s hardly any strategy involved. It’s just a matter of being lucky or unlucky.
The current housing market in the Netherlands looks a lot like a Monopoly game. If you bought a house at the right time, your wealth is growing. If you don’t own a house yet, it is almost impossible to get in on this wealth growth.
To save itself, Los Angeles must return to its original hair color or, as they say, “its roots.” When my great-great-grandfather landed in Los Angeles in 1890, there were commuter trains. Downtown Los Angeles was an actual center city, not simply a name of one of over 400 neighborhoods. Los Angeles’ functional boundary currently has 400 neighborhoods whose names rarely denote anything more than a feeling from a particular time.
In The Privatization of Everything, Donald Cohen and Allen Mikaelian argue that, over the past four decades, private entities have wrested control of many of the functions of federal, state, and local governments. Free-market ideologues and cost-cutting “small government” bureaucrats have cooperated with business firms… Read More »The Privatization of Everything
We subsidize advertising campaigns of multinational corporations. Every time we sit in our cars stuck in traffic on clogged arterial roads and forced to look at an ad for a Big Mac or Starbucks Coffee, we’re looking at an ad subsidized by our tax dollars.
The value of their advertisements is worth ten times what they pay, because of how US streets are designed. While the value of the land we build on is not something people think about, it is something corporations think deeply about and understand.
Does informality hold back tax progressivity, that is, the capacity to tax the rich at a higher rate than the poor? The optimal (and fair) distribution of the tax burden has long been a key issue in both academic and policy circles.
In a new paper, I study whether reducing informality by tackling tax evasion leads policy makers to increase statutory tax progressivity. I take advantage of the Italian “Ghost Buildings” program, which is a policy that identified buildings not registered in the land registry.