Register for the ‘Economic Justice and Freedom Action Plan Roundtable Discussion’ to be held Wednesday, August 29 in Baltimore from 6:30 – 8:30 PM.

 

Economic Justice and Freedom Action Plan

Roundtable Discussion to be held Wednesday, August 29 in Baltimore from 6:30 – 8:30 PM.

To register and for location details contact:

alannahartzok@gmail.com or 717-357-7617

This Economic Justice and Freedom Action Plan holds a “forward center” vision with practical policy approaches that draw from the baseline values of both the right and the left, namely, freedom, efficiency and emphasis on the individual on the right, and fairness, equality, and emphasis on societal well-being on the left. This Action Plan therefore has the potential for uniting and empowering the majority of the people who are currently stuck in the stagnant ideological waters of the right/left divide and thus easily dominated by the one-percenters.

The Economic Justice and Freedom Action Plan can help to build forward center movements that address the failures of the currently predominant economic model such as chronic unemployment and low wages, homelessness, too high housing costs, falling literacy rates, substance addiction and a variety of other forms of social predation.

Our primary intention is to highlight and implement economic policies and programs that address the problem of the special interests of an elite few, and also eliminate private wealth creation obtained from unearned income such as from land speculation and hoarding or government subsidies while removing tax and other burdens on the earned income of those producing goods and services. Our goal is an economic system that is both free and fair – one that supports and furthers the well-being of each individual and thus society as a whole.

The Economic Justice and Freedom Action Plan views tax incentives as instrumental to both

Freedom and justice. Our ownership ethic holds that wages and other wealth produced by human effort belong to the producers and thus should not be taxed.

Land, including natural resources and valuable locations, is created by Nature. Clearly land is very different than things made by human effort such as buildings and machines.  Therefore land and resource value (land rent) should be the primary tax base to pay for needed public goods and services, since no person made the land, natural resources or locations.

The first two parts of the Action Plan address the inequities of the FIRE sectors – finance, insurance, and real estate – which currently capture much of the wealth in the form of unearned income. This Action Plan brings the lens of genuine economic freedom and fundamental fairness to the FIRE sectors and links taxation policy to an ethic of human rights to land and natural resources, which no person produced. The third part of the Action Plan lists several desired forward moving outcomes that will be strengthened and encouraged as a result of addressing the injustice of the current FIRE sectors.

(A)Taxation and Land Rights

1.Base public finance policy on “pay for what you take not what you make”, which means eliminating taxes on the real economy of working people and productive capital goods while collecting taxes on unearned income obtained by land speculation or merely owning large amounts of valuable land and natural resources, which were not produced by any person.

2. Encourage the production of affordable housing and business space for all by shifting taxes off homes and other buildings and put in place a land value-based system of property taxation. This approach reduces land speculation and hoarding, keeps land and thus housing affordable, and gives incentives for job creation, thus enhancing the local economy.

3. Lower or ideally eliminate taxes on labor, products, services and exchanges in order to make things more affordable, enable job creation, allow more diversity of sizes and forms of organization, and strengthen local economies.

4. Eliminate government subsidies (corporate welfare) to agribusiness, oil, gas, mineral and other corporate holdings.

5. In order to address the causes of stock market crises: (a) remove government subsidies to risky investments, by either reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act or using other legislation which separates commercial banking from investment banking; (b) put a limit on land speculation, by using a land value tax, which gives those speculators an incentive to put some of that land to use for housing or job creation, since they have to pay the tax even if they continue to hold the land out of use; (c) stabilize the federal government’s issuance of money and credit.

6. For federal lands, which cover about 48% of our country’s land area, before issuing new permits, bring mineral, oil and other extractive resource lease fees up to market values. We the people must no longer lose billions of dollars a year because we do not charge fair fees for access to our federal land.

Permits and leases for private use of federal lands need to be carefully and transparently evaluated with adequate input from non-government sources, such as universities, non-profit organizations, and the public (such as for example, by polling, focus groups, or other means).

7. Use a form of participatory budgeting in which decisions on the use of tax dollars at any level of government include adequate citizen input, such as for example, by means suggested above in A-6.

8.  An economy based on justice and freedom requires proper legislation and also an effective court system to uphold that legislation. We support the right to a genuine trial by jury, as stated by the Supreme Court and the authors of the U.S. Constitution, specifying that a jury has the right to declare a defendant not guilty if the jury finds that the particular law involved is unjust or misapplied. We also support litigation for economic human rights based on the ethic that the earth’s land and natural resources are the birthright of all.

(B) Money, Banking, Insurance

1.The current banking and monetary system is inequitable, unjust and damaging to the common good. It has resulted in an overly centralized control of the economy and is  biased towards special interests. We are committed to dialogue in search of the best forms of banking and monetary policy.

2. Reform any current laws which hinder non-profit banks, such as credit unions, from being allowed to offer the kinds of services offered by for-profit banks, so that consumers could have more choices regarding loans and interest rates, such as possible alternatives to compound interest charged on mortgages, etc. and/or as an alternative to our over-centralized federal control over banking, consider the possibility of  transparently managed state banks responsible for holding state tax dollars after collection and before disbursement and for issuing low-interest loans particularly for housing purchase.

3. Permit and enable the issuance and circulation of a diverse range of local and regional methods of exchange such as voluntary use of alternative currencies, local exchange trading systems, and barter. Note that when governments decide what forms of payment are acceptable for tax purposes this strengthens the validity of any particular medium of exchange.

4. Allow a level playing field for non-profit insurance companies and for-profit ones, by removing any government regulations or subsidies that might favor for-profit insurance companies and which might hinder non-profit ones. Allow people to buy insurance from other states if some basic standards are met.

5. Allow a level playing field for local and regional stock markets, by removing any government laws or subsidies that might favor national stock markets and which might hinder local and regional ones.

(C) Desired Forward Moving Outcomes

1. The creation and stabilization of local businesses and entrepreneurial activities will strengthen local economies.

2. Untaxing production while taxing land rent via land value taxation will keep land affordable for local farmers and farmers markets, as well as other uses of land, including not only familiar patterns of land use but also opportunities for some who might want to try other forms if appropriate, such as community land trusts, co-housing, etc.

3. With both genuine economic freedom and fairness, allowing a level playing field, there can be more possibilities to try diverse forms of business organization, such as cooperatives, employee profit sharing, or other approaches, as possible choices along with more familiar forms.

4. Housing will be more affordable as purchasing capacity increases with the elimination of taxes on labor, products, and services, the possibility of low-interest loans from non-profit banks, and stabilized land costs as taxes are shifted to those based on land value, which helps put a limit on land speculation and hoarding that otherwise drive up land prices.

5. By reforming the laws which currently favor special interests, a level playing field would enable the proper balance between local, regional, national, and international exchanges of  products and services. People would be more able to try diverse approaches, such as the possibility of local stock exchanges, or incorporation of new “triple bottom line” companies called “benefit corporations”, whose corporate charters are different from for-profit corporations.

6. With a level playing field a better balance can be reached between things that are produced locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally. And with freedom from taxes on labor and production, along with the fairness of equitable land access and more affordable land, there would be more job creation, higher wages, and more affordable products and services.

7. Since some utilities may be “natural monopolies” due to economies of scale, if we have more freedom and the fairness of equitable land access and more affordable land, it will become easier to either have some utilities be cooperatively owned as non-profit organizations if appropriate, or regulated or owned at the most local government level feasible.

8. Government funding of needed public goods and services from land and resource rent will then be adequate. Budget decisions can include needed citizen input, such as described in A-6. Taxing the unearned income from land and natural resources will help prevent concentrated holdings. Affordable land access gives workers more power as it allows more job creation and therefore more job choices, including the possibility of self-employment.

9. As foreign wars and internal conflicts are most often based on drives for territorial conquest and control of wealth, the fair sharing of the unearned income and surplus profits from land and natural resources from local to global levels will further a world of peace and plenty for all.

Protocol for Endorsements

Organizations are encouraged to endorse the Economic Justice and Freedom Action Plan in full as is, or endorse with modifications which then should be noted at the top of the document, including the date, organization’s name and contact information as well as the numbers of the document that were changed. We also welcome endorsements from individuals. Either way please send all endorsements to either the Democratic Freedom Caucus or to Earth Rights Institute or email to alannahartzok@gmail.com and she will forward your comments to Mike O’Mara (see Document Background).

Document Background

The Economic Justice and Freedom Action Plan originated with several points of the economic platform of Alanna Hartzok’s 2014 campaign for Congress for Pennsylvania District 9. As Deputy Director of the Democratic Freedom Caucus (DFC), in 2018 she approached Mike O’Mara, DFC National Committee member, also a resident of Pennsylvania, and suggested they work together to propose an economic action plan for the DFC.

The Plan was presented to the other Executive Committee members of the DFC and then to the DFC National Committee as well as to the board members of Earth Rights Institute of which Hartzok is co-founder and co-director. These two organizations were the original endorsers of the Economic Justice and Freedom Action Plan, which they launched on _______

We now seek widespread endorsements of the Plan from other individuals and organizations with the goal of building networks and movements for implementation of its several points.

 

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