May 17, 2012
The Dangers of Unmarked Graves
Sometimes, when digging the foundation for a new structure, you find a few unmarked graves. Or 1400+ unmarked graves.
August 02, 2011
Property & Religion: The Eruv
Sometimes it's ok to mix public property and religious purpose:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|The Thin Jew Line|
What the video here doesn't capture is that an eruv requires an additional mandatory legal component. In order to create a valid eruv under Jewish law, a local government official must issue a (ceremonial) lease of the enclosed area to the Jewish community for a (nominal) fee. This lease is essential because it symbolically converts the public domain into a private space. The enclosed space then allows Orthodox Jews to carry objects outside their home on the Sabbath.
For an extended scholarly discussion of eruvs and the disputes they've generated, see Alexandra Susman, Strings Attached: An Analysis of the Eruv Under the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
(HT: Thanks to Ashira Ostrow for the discussion of the eruv at SEALS)
July 13, 2011
Taxing Church Land, Ctd.
One the topic of taxing non-profits, here's an idea from LTVfan, one of our commentators:
I'm heartily in favor of taxing the land under nonprofit buildings; I'd favor exempting the buildings themselves from taxation. Valuing land well and accurately is relatively easy; valuing buildings, particularly special-purpose buildings like churches, is much more difficult and expensive.
Many downtown churches sit on large pieces of land, bought decades or centuries ago, perhaps with the foresight of land speculators in the lay leadership. Frequently, the land is underused, and currently no mechanism exists to nudge it into more use.
But I encourage you to consider the effects (and costs) of taxing ANY buildings, and submit that we'd be wiser to simply tax land value, and treat buildings and their contents as private property, not subject to taxation. Land value, unlike the value of buildings and personal property, is created by the community, and is thus a logical and just base for taxation.
You might explore Henry George's Single Tax, best laid out in his landmark book, "Progress and Poverty," available online at its dot org.