Obscure but interesting, at least to me. . .

Leaders know about land-value taxes and their benefits, but they almost never hear about them from their constituents.

A 2003 survey of legislators (I know, I’m behind on my reading) and local elected officials found that among both groups, two-thirds of respondents were either somewhat or very familiar with the concept of land-value taxation. Some 63 percent of state lawmakers and 77 percent of local officials believed that land-value (or split-rate) taxation would be a positive stimulus for urban development. (They’re right: it accomplishes this trick by inducing land speculators to change their investment strategy—into economically productive channels rather than the economic parasitism of speculation. We’ve written about it in Tax Shift and This Place on Earth 2001.)

What they don’t know is that their constituents want land-value taxes (which is likely because those constituents don’t know about the benefits of land-value taxation). When asked if they had ever been contacted by a constituent or organization to ask their support for land-value taxation, only one in ten said, “yes.”

Elected officials are contacted about every conceivable issue and policy proposal, over and over, day after day. The fact that only one tenth report ever having heard about land-value taxes from any voter or lobbyist suggests two things:

1. There’s vanishingly little organized constituency promoting this positive innovation (only a rag-tag crew of Henry George enthusiasts).

2. A little bit of lobbying might make a real difference.