Alanna Hartzok: Earth Rights Democracy Tour

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May 3 – 23, 2006

Melbourne – Hobart – Brisbane – Sydney

Alanna Hartzok is a Co-leader of the Earth Rights Institute and a UN NGO representative. She has worked extensively with the UN HABITAT on local funding issues and has a long list of public speaking engagements including the World Urban Forum, US Institute for Ecological Economics Conference, and the Eastern Economics Association Conference (NY).

Lecturer, legislative reformer and grass roots activist, Alanna Hartzok’s vast array of interests sees her moving between villages in Nigeria to the halls of power at the UN. Her central focus is that with greater insight we can orchestrate a tax shift policy that addresses major local and global problems.

Alanna hopes to help show “that there is an alternative economic paradigm which addresses the dis-functions of the current system, rather than simply the symptoms, an approach that is both more efficient and more equitable than the current one. People working for justice need to understand what we mean by the land problem and its place within an ethical and human rights framework.”

In her 2001 E.F. Schumacher Lecture she said “The needs of the people and the needs of the planet are one and the same: protection, care, validation, respect, appreciation, creative expression. Thus, the ethics of the Next Economy will flow out of a profound perception that the rights of human beings and the rights of the planet are one and the same. The Next Economy will be founded on ethics so simple and basic that thoughtful human beings will say, “Yes, this is true.” The force of truth is a liberating force, always has been and always will be. Mahatma Gandhi knew and taught this. Gandhi lived according to sattyagraha, the truth force.”

From 1993 until 1998 she was involved in a very tough political campaign to bring in legislation which made taxes more efficient and fair in her native Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She learnt first hand that to change land laws much education of lawmakers is necessary along with an enormous amount of patience and resilience.

However Alanna does more than give lectures and talk to politicians. She is actively involved in bringing about peace and prosperity. This is seen with her involvement with the building of an Eco Village Living and Learning Centre in Odi, Nigeria. This is a region continually in conflict over oil rents, and Alanna and her Team are developing connections in Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta, working to develop a Resource Trust similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund.

While in Australia Alanna will address many diverse groups whose interests range from democracy to infrastructure funding, the green tax shift and peace. Upon hearing Alanna’s message you will gain a new policy outlook for which many of the world’s problems would be simplified if only the policy makers respected fundamental economic laws.

Alanna Hartzok CV Highlights:

Current:

– Working with the UN HABITAT Agency’s Land Tenure Center to develop worldwide training programs
– Finishing a book – The Earth Belongs to Everyone – A Collection of Articles and Essays by Alanna Hartzok, to be published by the Institute for Economic Democracy
in July 2006.
– Advising associates of United for a Fair Economy to develop populist education on Land Value Taxation methodology in Pennsylvania
– Preparing a presentation for the World Urban Forum, Vancouver 2006

Articles featured in:

Creating a Sustainable World: Past Experiences, Future Struggles edited by Trent Schroyer and Thomas Golodik (The Apex Press, 2006)
– article: Land Ethics and Public Finance Policy as if People and Planet Mattered

A World that Works: Building Blocks for a Just and Sustainable Society, by Trent Schroyer (The Bootstrap Press)
– article: Pennsylvania’s Success with Local Tax Reform

Building a More Democratic United Nations, edited by Frank Barnaby (Frank Cass),
– article: Acting As If the Second Assembly Already Exists.

Planet Champions: Adventures in Saving the World by Jack Yost (Bridge City Books)

Synopsis:

  • March 2006 – delivered her delivered her 40th major lecture in the last 4 years, a two hour presentation to a group of progressive Federal Democrats in Washington on tax reform.
  • 2004 – set up Nigeria’s first Eco-Village in Odi, Niger Delta
  • 2001 E.F Schumacher Lecture – Democracy, Earth Rights & the Next Economy. Talk reprinted in light of critical acclaim by the E.F Schumacher Society
  • 2001 – represented the Green Party in Pennsylvania State elections.
  • 1993 – initiated tax reform legislation and worked with state Senator Terry Punt and his staff to guide it through Pennsylvania legislative hearings to nearly unanimous passage of Senate Bill 211, signed by Governor Thomas Ridge as Act 108 in November of 1998.

True Cost Economics

Karl FitzgeraldUncategorisedLeave a Comment

The 2006 Forum was a great success with organisers excited by the turnout on the day. Alanna Hartzok’s powerpoint presentation on an extensive form of Green Tax Shifting can be downloaded. The 2007 TCE Forum will be held in mid July, featuring Frank De Jong, leader of the Ontario (Canada) Greens.

The True Cost Economics forum is attempting to link the industries of Science, Insurance and Economics together. Science is leading the way with the evidence of Global Warming. The rapidly increasing cost of Insurance is alerting us of the dangers to ignoring nature’s law. Economics needs to direct the behaviour of consumers towards looking after the planet.

A new economic paradigm is needed to ensure a liveable planet is left for future generations. It has been over 120 years since the last economic paradigm change to Neo Classical Economics (NCE). The previous change was 110 years before that, when Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations and Classical Economics was born.

The concern with most moves towards a green economic system is the inflationary effect eco-taxes add. Alanna Hartzok from the Earth Rights Institute (USA) will discuss how this pressure can be reduced and why the UN HABITAT is so interested in her work.

Whilst much of the scientific world has provided evidence of the problems associated with Global Warming, it is up to progressive thinkers to start pushing the solutions to some of these problems.

Aims:

1. To hold a 1 Day public forum promoting the need for a transition towards a True Cost Economic system. It is the best way we can attempt to keep up with the changing climate of this modern world.
2. Provide clear evidence of how quickly & effectively economics affects behaviour.
3. Demonstrate how Science may be able to help in valuing
a. watershed’s and other present day intangibles
ie the value of a tree
4. Encourage Insurance to lobby for a new economic paradigm by offering lower premiums to those environmentally active.
5. Demonstrate how a comprehensive True Cost Economic system can prioritise the earth’s living systems and simultaneously free small business from the shackles of paperwork and prohibitive rents.

Speakers:

  • Alanna Hartzok (Earth Rights Institute, USA)
  • Dr Ian McPhail (Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability)
  • Associate Professor Frank Fisher (Nat. Centre for Sustainability)
  • Kenneth Davidson, (Journalist, The Age)
  • Francis Grey (Economist at Large)
  • Jose Ramos (Centre for Social change Research, QUT)
  • Dominic Gilligan (Sustainable Living Festival)
  • Karl Fitzgerald (Earthsharing Australia)

The Venue:

The National Centre for Sustainabilty, Swinburne, Hawthorn. Enter off Park St (parallel to Burwood Road) and head to Building TD, room TD121. Check map here.

Summary:

This event will promote the fact that progressives must talk in the language of the market to open the ears of the corridors to power.

The true cost of avoiding such a transition towards responsible economics is quickly becoming apparent. Let’s insure against the power of nature by following the money trail and scientifically re-directing it towards a profitable future for all generations.

Earthsharing Workshop

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Education by young people for young people

Workshop Info Pack (PDF 46KB)

What Is The Earthsharing Challenge?

* An opportunity for an interactive workshop on land and natural resource use in your school
* Ultimately – a challenge to students to be selected to attend a free environmental camp, with a hands on role in the production of a video on sustainability

Outline Of The Challenge

Starting with Earthsharing Workshops in Your School

Two members of the Earthsharing team will come out to your school and take your students (Years 8 – 11) through a 45 minute interactive environmental learning experience. The workshop is based around Earthsharing Australia’s philosophy of land and natural resources as part of the Global Commons. More specifically we will explore current environmental issues, eco footprints and opportunities for further student involvement.

At the culmination of the workshop we ask that you select two student environmental representatives to attend the Earthsharing Challenge camp to be held in Anglesea in early October 2007. The camp involves workshops, speakers and documentary making and is cost free for students involved. Your students have the opportunity to film, star in and direct a documentary summing up the exciting topics of the weekend. They can then present this film to the school as an educational resource for staff and students.

When? Where? What?

Workshops can be held between:

* Mid May – end August
* Length- approximately 1 hour (including student presentations)
* Metropolitan schools only (preferably on the days we have earmarked to visit your locality)

What we need from you-

* A date and time
* A space to hold the workshop and presentation.

There are limited places in the camp and so we encourage you to contact Earthsharing as soon as possible to organise the workshops and register your schools interest.

Want more info?

Email Us: students [at} earthsharing [dot]org[dot]au or Call Our Offices: 96702754

So… Challenge Your School Challenge Yourself

Education by Young People for Young People….

Resourceful Understandings

Karl FitzgeraldTrue Cost EconomicsLeave a Comment

by Karl Fitzgerald

As the South Pole effect blows its melting southerly winds upon our summer, the wake up call must be coming soon. With the evidence mounting up, young people are wondering what is causing the delay.There are reasons like there are seasons. Much has to do with the playing field government & businessmen must compete in. This playing field is governed by the laws of economics. Within this field, the morals of the businessman are cornered by the dictates of the market. This is because most must play by the rules of the sharemarket. A noose appears each 3 months in the form of quarterly dividend payments, for which the CEO must do all he can to achieve his profit objective. Elsewise he will endanger the share bonus scheme that has become as common as his ‘golden handshake’.

One of Government’s main roles is to manage the parameters of society’s behaviour. With melanoma levels peaking and extreme weather events scaring the daylights out of insurance companies, one wonders whether we can make up our own minds. Are we to accept that running for the shade on a sweltering day is the way of life in a modern world? Many people don’t have time to research the most environmentally useful product or importantly, the money to pay for organic, worker friendly goods. Beyond all this, do we really need the latest designed anything? Subsequently our common sense suffers and our rationality is limited, mainly because we have to work such long hours to pay off our mortgage.

The best way to change people’s behaviour is by the hip pocket nerve. “Charge society extra for environmentally unfriendly activities” they say. Social Justice experts become concerned because any eco-tax placed on the consumption of harmful goods and services leads to inflation. That means it will be a regressive tax and fall harder on the poor. It also concerns government as inflation is its number one enemy. Inflation leads to increased prices, reducingthe amount of stuff we can purchase and in the end causing more unemployment. This short-term fear generally overrides any long term need for change towards an economic system that can deliver greater generational equality.

A way through this is to look at the fundamental laws of economics. The grandfather of economics, Adam Smith, spent more than one third of his book talking on the importance of an effective tax system. Much of this has fallen upon deaf ears and a much sexier term, “the invisible hand”, has become the catchcry for all Smith’s hard work. Within Adam Smith’s words of wisdom grew the seeds that inspired another Classical economist – David Ricardo. He deducted the theory of economic rent. This was the formalisation into theory of the big ‘up yours’ that landlords can say when they hike up your rent by 10 or 15%. “Either pay what we want or you can move out to the boondocks”. We tenants have little alternative as the land has been locked up by a framework that encourages wealthy investors to hoard land as they know there is easy money in the long term. This is reinforced by a subtle system of subsidies from the poor to the rich (such as negative gearing and tax payer funded infrastructure that delivers windfall profits to nearby landlords).

These windfall profits occur in many other activities at present too. When a local community works together to build a safer locality, this adds to the local value of land. The same thing occurs when a few friends get a community garden together, producing organic food and setting up a trendy outdoor café. In time people will want to live closer to this new asset, leading to higher land values. In economic terms this increase is known as economic rent. We believe that since the public creates this economic rent, it should be re-cycled back into the community coffers. At present this rent is captured by those smart enough to play the system.

A True Cost Economics (TCE) system is needed to ensure the community gets what it deserves both now and into the future. This can be implemented to avoid inflation by moving beyond our 2 dimensional economic system of Neo Classical Economics (which only looks at labour & capital in economic equations) and into a system that accepts that we do live on a round, finite planet. What is needed is to go back to the Classical era where land was technically included in the equation as the third “Factor of Production”. This ensures the capturing of economic rent, allowing the government to cull the 13 – 15 different inefficient taxes we live with today (including Income Tax), streamlining the tax package. This can all be rectified by replacing them with a system of Resource Rentals, where a Land Value Tax (LVT) acts as the anchor for future revenue raising. This forms what we call Geonomics: the land-based economic system.

By pulling out these inefficient taxes prices will drop by at least 32% (ABS estimates). Other calculations say this could be as much as 50%. This drop gives us the ability for eco-taxes and resource rental charges to be set up to penalise anyone polluting the earth, ensuring that the true cost of our activities is represented in all that we do. By adopting this framework we can incorporate environmental costs without endangering inflation levels, removing the government’s reticence over inflation and meeting the Social Justice industry’s needs.

Now the great ‘Green Tax Shift’ can simultaneously fast forward the assistance to those in poverty and look after the planet. This occurs because under a Resource Rental system everyone must pay something back to society for the privilege of controlling that resource. No longer will the Packers be able to rort the tax system to boast of only paying $100 p.a in tax. In fairness, we must remember that it’s not their fault, they are just doing what the system allows at present.

If we were to go the whole 9 yards like Tony Blair & Bono keep professing, then we must establish real justice from the most basic of premises – the ability to own your own land so you can put a roof over your family’s head and/or find a cheap location to start a business from. This is a huge hidden issue of the times, with the locking up of the lands constricting our freedom to be self-employed, reducing employment opportunities and in the end limiting our options to working for the man. This is the great danger of globalisation that few look at. In the same year as the Seattle protests and the birth of the Global Justice movement (1999) there were 4770 foreign investments in Australia. Of these, 3700 were real estate investments (78%) worth an average of $14.1 million! (The Age, 24/12/1999)

When an LVT is implemented, ‘investment’ properties must become economical ie they must be rented out, they can no longer be left idle waiting for the capital gains delivered by society’s development. To see how much over-capacity there is in housing, especially flats, just drive by the Docklands at night. Even better, ask a friend who lives there. The real estate lobby’s figures may say 3% vacancy levels (REIV), but friends living there report anywhere from 20 – 40% vacancies. Imagine if these properties were forced onto the market? This is what will happen when a decent LVT (set at 10%) is implemented. The price of land would drop, probably by 20% plus with this increased supply. You can almost hear the screams of delight from the younger generations. Phew the great Australian dream isn’t a fantasy!

The Resource Rental system includes sharing a % of the wealth from all resources such as land, coal, water, gold, oil, gas & the electromagnetic spectrum. With at least 10% going back to the government, the community ensures it is getting a reasonable share of the ‘common wealth”. Any increase in value, such as that caused by China’s resource boom, means that the whole society, and not just the shareholders, benefit (BHP’s cash flow has increased 46% in just 6 months!). At the same time, any company that causes excess pollution must pay a % back to society (not a minimal amount that can be financially factored in ie no ceilings on any charges).

Environmental Scientists are helping the evolution towards a TCE system by developing the costing methodology for different resources ie water (see the writings of CSIRO’s Mike Young for a good start). These specialist fields can expand on the framework that Geonomics provides. Exciting developments in carbon trading are a representation of this, where the productive value of the carbon absorbed and converted into oxygen are valued. One hopes that in the future the Kyoto type carbon levels are continuously tiered downwards, ensuring that in time pollution rights cannot be exported.

The valuation of natural eco-systems is also an important development towards a TCE system. New York’s water quality has traditionally been naturally filtered by nature – plants, soil etc. An EPA warning on water quality forced NY to shape up this natural filtration as the alternative $6billion fee for a mechanised system reinforced to lawmakers how valuable nature was. This led to a million dollar buyback program of nearby farms & the tightening of environmental laws. Such savings see “Bio-Mimicry” as the new catchcry. Get business to study nature and replicate the millions of environmentally efficient methods it has worked out over the millennia ie adapting the sticky stuff mussels use to clamp onto rocks for commercial use. Let’s keep the pressure on to ensure that doesn’t become bio-piracy of indigenous customs. The problem at present is that much scientific funding is tied to political outcomes that are influenced by campaign funding, the so-called ‘lobbyocracy effect’ recently seen within the CSIRO. This curtails the study in vital areas that long term sustainability requires.

Global warming’s extreme weather will hit tropical areas harder, where resource wealth is concentrated and poverty more entrenched. This emphasises the need for a fairer distribution of these resources amongst the community to provide funding and support for the expected ramp up of natural disasters. A TCE system can do this and simultaneously simplify life for the business sector, reduce the pressures on the working class (lower mortgages) and reward those who are environmentally conscious with lower costs.

Investigate our websites to learn more about our position in the “radical centre” and keep posted on an upcoming visit by world leading Geonomics expert Alanna Hartzok in May 2006, speaking at the True Cost Economics Forum on Friday May 12th, 2006

The Challenge

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Earthsharing Challenge Camp Event Details

Participate, Educate, Create!

The way society is, we rarely step outside our comfort zones. The Challenge we are offering you is to put yourself in a different environment and see how you adapt. Some could say the Earthsharing Challenge will be a “Reality Tour” where students examine their “Ecological Footprint” in everything they do.

Participate:

We will be staying at Opoeia in Angahook State Forest over the weekend of Friday October 6-8th. This is just near the seaside town of Anglesea where local leaders have adopted the Ecological Footprint as an environmental objective. “Reduce our impact on the environment for the benefit of all” they say.

Representatives from environmental organisations such as ANGAIR will give detailed workshops on how community development effects the.environment, where it’s good for business and where it could be improved. We will visit such places for students to video the effects and understand for themselves the ‘big picture’.

Educate:

Earthsharing Australia prides itself on looking beyond the problems and towards solutions. Students will investigate the modern day religion of money and discuss some of the underlying laws of economics that make life easy for some and difficult for others. How can we truly change society to look after future generations?

Then imagine listening to Indigenous leaders as they tell us how they survived for 40,000 years with tales of hunting, cooking and their ultimate lifestyle – travelling every 4 months to a new seasonal location. Mmm, the campfire will see some interesting story-telling!

The laughs will be on us too when comedian Rod Quantock gives a humorous outlook on how society, the environment and the constant struggle to make money are all linked.

Create:

Learn how to make a video from a seasoned activist. Participants will be put into 4 different groups and be given a DVD camera to record the weekend’s events. Each group will record from a different perspective. This material will then be edited into an educational resource for teachers. An environmental story from the youth to youth! Following the camp, you and your team will be involved in editing back in our Melbourne Office over a weekend (hopefully your team will only be required for 1 day).

Successful applicants will receive an Information Pack giving a briefing on what we will be learning on the weekend. Here you will be able to read up on what the Ecological Footprint is all about, whether forestry can be sustainable and what are some of the world’s leading environmental solutions. Tips on making & editing videos will be provided too.

Please download the Entry Form.
Legal Document for participants

Good Luck!

Kirk, Mia & Emily
Event Directors
Earthsharing Challenge