December 28, 2012
Top Preservation Victories of 2012
The National Trust for Historic Preservation names its "Ten Remarkable Preservation Wins of 2012." The list includes the Cesar Chávez National Monument (Keene, CA), the Howard Theatre (Washington, DC), and the Phillips 66“The Flying Saucer” Gas Station (St. Louis, MO).
Tyson on Involuntary Annexation
Christopher Tyson (LSU) has posted Localism and Involuntary Annexation: Reconsidering Approaches to New Regionalism (Tulane Law Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
"Involuntary" annexation - the ability of cities to expand their territory unilaterally by extending their boundaries - is one of the most controversial devices in land use law. It is under attack in virtually every state where it exists. Involuntary annexation is a direct threat to "localism," the belief in small, autonomous units of government as the optimum forum for expressing democratic freedom, fostering community, and organizing local government. Localism has been justifiably faulted with spurring metropolitan fragmentation and the attendant challenges it creates for regional governance. This critique is at the center of "New Regionalism," a movement of scholars and policy makers focused on promoting regional governance structures that respect the cultural draw of localism while correcting for its deficiencies. New Regionalism emphasizes bottom-up, voluntary governance structures and dismisses approaches like involuntary annexation as politically infeasible. Both types of approaches face considerable political challenges, but there are arguably more examples of well-functioning involuntary annexation regimes than there are successful models of New Regionalism. While involuntary annexation has been critical to the success of metropolitan regions in Texas and North Carolina, many regard it as a violation of the liberty and freedom that comes with property rights. Property rights are rooted in instinctive and culturally reinforced notions of personal identity and the inviolability of ownership. Localism extends this logic to municipal identity. The hostility toward involuntary annexation, therefore, can be understood as a response to the taking of a person's perceived right to express individual identity, group identity, status, and ownership through municipal identity. This notion of municipal identity as property threatens to undermine both existing involuntary annexation regimes as well as future New Regionalist proposals. While New Regionalism has well-reasoned justifications for focusing on more-voluntary, bottom-up governance structures, involuntary annexation remains a potent tool for facilitating regional governance and is worthy of defense and preservation.
December 27, 2012
Mann on the Mortgage Interest Deduction
Roberta Mann (Oregon) has posted Housing & the Mortgage Interest Deduction (Book Chapter) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
deduction for qualified residence interest (QRI) is the second largest
individual tax expenditure, after the exclusion for employer provided
health insurance. While homeownership has long been viewed as a social
good, the QRI deduction has faced criticism. Commentators have argued
that it is not consistent with the structure of the income tax system;
it is economically inefficient, skewing investment towards private
residences; it is inequitable, discriminating against low income people
(a group that may disproportionately include people of color), and
certain religious minorities; and it is environmentally unsound,
encouraging sprawl, excessive energy use, and inefficient transportation
choices. In late 2008, the entire world reeled from a global economic
crisis, which started with a housing bubble inflated by excessive debt
facilitated by subprime mortgages and spread around the economy by
mortgage backed securities.
Assuming that homeownership provides useful societal benefits, this chapter will explore how the tax system could create incentives for homeownership while avoiding the problems of the QRI deduction. The chapter will examine options including adding a homeownership benefit to the standard deduction, creating a refundable housing credit, providing a deduction for contributions to a housing savings account, and including a shelter credit available for renters and homeowners alike. The chapter will also address whether the housing benefit should be linked to debt financing. The ideal benefit would be equitably distributed, would not unduly influence housing prices, would not encourage excessive debt, and would respect environmental as well as social goals.
December 25, 2012
Sherman's Christmas Gift to Lincoln
Slate highlights this historical gem. In the winter of 1864 Willima Tecumseh Sherman presented Lincoln with the City of Savannah as a Christmas present. Sherman's telegram, dated December 22, reads “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.” According to Slate, "The brief message came as a huge relief to Lincoln, who had been out of touch with Sherman for several weeks, since the major general had embarked from Atlanta on his March to the Sea."
December 24, 2012
The Largest Private Land Owners in America
CNBC lists the five largest landowners in the U.S.A.:
1. John Malone The cable tycoon has 2.2 million acres stretching from Wyoming to Maine. One of his crown jewels is the Bell Ranch, a 290,100-acre cattle empire.
2. Ted Turner The media magnate has 2 million acres in Nebraska, New Mexico and other states. He is a strong advocate of wildlife conservation.
3. The Emmerson family This low-profile family holds 1.8 million acres through Sierra Pacific Industries, the nation's second largest lumber producer.
4. Brad Kelley The reclusive billionaire, who drives a pick-up truck and made his money from discount cigarettes, owns about 1.5 million acres and uses much of it for cattle ranching.
5. The Irving family The Canadian forestry family behind J.D. Irving Inc. owns 1.2 million acres in Maine and other locations. This year alone, J.D. Irving will plan 30 million seedlings.
Jaworski on Locke's Labour Theory
Peter Jaworski (Georgetown - Business) has posted The Metaphysics of Locke's Labour View (Locke Studies) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This paper is an evaluation of John Locke's labour theory of property. Section I sets out Locke's labour view. Section II addresses several possible objections, including against the conceptual coherence of Locke's argument, against the metaphysical implications of his view, as well as foundational criticisms of the moral significance of labour and of my relations with objects that are grounded in labour under certain conditions and circumstances. I attempt to address each of these criticisms in a Lockian spirit, which will require strange metaphysical moves. The final Section raises further objections that are more significant because they cannot be squared with the labour view.