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Property

Towards Democratic Public Ownership In The 21st Century

Our current political economic system is in crisis. Forty years of market fundamentalism, privatisation, and unchecked corporate power have led us to the point of ecological collapse, increasing economic and social inequality, and dangerous political instability and backlash. Driven by the system’s failings, and the real pain being felt by workers and communities across the world...

Reimagining Democratic Public Ownership For The Twenty-First Century

A new transatlantic project will explore how new models of public ownership can shape the emerging commanding heights of the economy. As we enter the second decade of the new century, signs of crisis are all around us. Climate change, rising economic inequality, assaults on workers’ rights and wages, unchecked corporate power, financialization, entrenched racism...

Hong Kong Shows China Must Abandon Its Property Model

The southern city of Shenzhen, now a blueprint for China’s urban development, should abandon the Hong Kong property model it borrowed decades ago, warned the country’s “godfather of real estate”. Meng Xiaosu, who spearheaded China’s property reform policies in the 1990s, said Shenzhen and other cities in the Greater Bay Area should learn from the pitfalls of Hong Kong’s market, which he said included cramped conditions, wealth inequality and a chronic shortage of land for development.

States Allow For-Profit Pipeline Companies To Seize Private Property

According to Misha Mitchell, an attorney for a conservation group in Louisiana’s ecologically sensitive Atchafalaya Basin, Energy Transfer Partners and other private oil interests broke the law when they began building a section of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline on a parcel of private land in the iconic river swamp without permission from the landowners. Mitchell filed a lawsuit against the pipeline project on behalf of landowner Peter Aaslestad and his family after construction began on their property in late July, but work continued on the property until Monday, when Energy Transfer Partners struck a deal in a local court with the plaintiffs to temporarily halt construction. The company must now wait until at least November to finish, when a court will decide whether Energy Transfer Partners has the legal right to “expropriate” the property under state law.

The Properties Of Property

One of them, the one we know most intimately these days, is that it causes social crises, such as the so-calling “housing crisis.” We know what the “housing crisis” is not. It is not a housing crisis. It is an “affordable housing” crisis. And it is a crisis of homelessness. It is called a “housing crisis” to fool people. But there are “Now Leasing” and “For Rent” signs all over town on market rate housing that most people in Berkeley cannot afford. The crisis of affordable housing results from a political failure to implement a simple proposition, that “housing is a human right.” That proposition cannot be implemented because property rights supersede human rights in the US (they don’t in other places). That is why city government throws up its hands, says “there’s nothing we can do” – besides organize studies and subcommittees.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Can’t Enter Some Private Properties

As the Atlantic Coast Pipeline doubles down on slashing trees on hundreds of private properties in North Carolina, a federal judge has taken the unusual step of barring the energy consortium from clearing trees on two rural homesteads. U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said the interstate pipeline developer must first pay the two landowners before its chainsaw crews can enter their properties. The ruling comes as the planned 600-mile natural gas project, which is already more than a year behind schedule, is running up against deadlines that could add months to the construction timeline. Led by Charlotte's Duke Energy and Richmond's Dominion Energy, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline plans to bring vast supplies of natural gas to North Carolina from fracking operations in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Flawed Assessments Caused $2 Billion Shift In Property Taxes

In the first effort to measure the cost of Cook County’s error-ridden assessment system under Assessor Joseph Berrios, a new study estimates that at least $2.2 billion in property taxes was shifted from undervalued Chicago homes onto overvalued ones between 2011 and 2015. Because the county’s assessment system is skewed in favor of high-priced homes, the errors amount to a staggering transfer of wealth that benefited Chicago’s most affluent homeowners at the expense of people who own lower-priced homes. The study, released Thursday by the Municipal Finance Center at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, was conducted by Professor Christopher Berry, a critic of the assessor’s office who testified at a County Board hearing in July about flaws in the county’s assessment system.

Diversifying Public Ownership

By Andrew Cumbers for The Next System Project - This paper advocates a form of economic democracy based around diverse forms of public ownership. It does not prioritize one particular scale but recognizes the importance of decentralized forms of public ownership, to encourage greater public participation and engagement, mixed with higher level state ownership, for strategic sectors and planning for key public policy goals (e.g. tackling climate change). It takes a deliberately pluralistic definition of public ownership, recognizing both state ownership and the role that cooperatives and employee ownership could play in a more democratic economy. The main aim of the proposal outlined here is to enhance democratic participation and collective knowledge formation in relation to the economy. The paper outlined is premised on the principal that increased privatization of the economy is leading to growing inequalities, inappropriate policy formation, and decision-making in the interest of wealthy elites at the expense of a broader common good. In contrast, there is considerable evidence that greater collective ownership of the economy will lead to more progressive, egalitarian, and socially just outcomes that also offer more effective solutions to critical public policy problems, such as dealing with the effects of climate change.

Tenants March To Stop Giveaways To Wall Street Landlords

By Aditi Katti for Inequality.org - It was a brutally hot and humid day in the nation’s capital and Margie Mathers needed a cane to get up to the podium, but the Florida senior had a story she was determined to tell. “When I moved into our manufactured housing community in North Fort Myers, it was a beautiful, peaceful place,” Mathers told the crowd of around 1,000 activists who’d converged on the city for a July 13 Tenant March on Washington. “Now I have neighbors who are really struggling. They’re taking their medications every other day instead of every day and not eating the food they need to be healthy.” What changed? Her development had been purchased Equity LifeStyles Property Inc., a private equity firm specializing in developments where residents own their trailer homes but rent the land under them. This new landlord quickly jacked up Mathers’s monthly rent to $630, from $230 just four years ago. To fight back, Mathers became involved with MH Action, which is organizing owners of manufactured homes to protect the affordability and quality of their communities. This group co-sponsored the Tenant March, along with more than a dozen others, including New York Communities for Change, Community Voices Heard, People’s Action, CASA de Maryland, and the Center for Popular Democracy. Organizers reported that marchers came from 16 different states.

Congress Sets Value Of All Public Lands & Buildings To $0

By Brody Levesque for NCRM - The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a rules change this past week by a vote of 234 to 193, that would allow Congress the ability to essentially give away federal lands and buildings for free. The new rule, authored by GOP Rep. Robert Bishop of Utah, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, codifies that any legislation to dispose of federal land and natural resources would have a net sum zero cost to taxpayers. As the rule applies only to the House legislative rules, it is not subject to approval by the Senate or a presidential signature and is effective immediately. All Democrats in the House voted against the measure, while only three Republicans joined them in opposing it, USA TODAY reports.

Judge Rules LA Must Stop Taking & Destroying Homeless People’s Property

By Elijah Chilang for Curbed - The city of Los Angeles has run into another setback in its ongoing quest to confiscate the property of homeless residents. A US Circuit Court judge ruled Wednesday that local law enforcement has gone too far in seizing the property of homeless individuals without sufficient reason. As the LA Times reports, the judge issued an injunction that stops the city from taking belongings without sufficient notice and—in the event that property is confiscated—makes the city sort through it and store items of value.

The US Patent System: Out Of Step With The Times

By Shobita Parthasarathy in The Conversation - This year, July 31 marks the 225th anniversary of the first patent issued in the United States. Though the American patent system was designed initially to stimulate innovation, some citizens now argue that it’s actually hurting innovation, limiting access to technology and promoting unethical areas of research and innovation. These critics are making their voices heard through courtroom challenges, legislative hearings and even street protests. This grassroots activism might seem strange. After all, the patent system is a highly specialized technical and legal domain, seemingly of interest only to inventors seeking exclusive rights to commercialize their new technologies for a limited period of time. Why has it become such a controversial site, and what can policymakers and citizens do about it?

Why Oakland’s Crackdown On Protest Is Sure To Fail

By Rachel Lederman in Truthout - Under pressure from business after a large May Day demonstration, in which dozens of new cars and bank windows were smashed, Oakland's new mayor, Libby Schaaf, has instituted a ban on nighttime street marches, which has outraged the Oakland activist community. The mayor's directive violates a federal court order and has escalated ongoing tension between police and protesters - while doing nothing to address the serious issues of state-sponsored racism, extrajudicial killings and police impunity, targets of the growing movement. Banning protests doesn't work as a way to stop property damage or squelch popular anger. Across the Bay, San Francisco tried it in response to vandalism during protests over the 1992 acquittals of the Los Angeles police officers who beat Rodney King.

Wikileaks Publishes Updated Intellectual Property TPP Chapter

Today, Thursday 16 October 2014, WikiLeaks released a second updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the world's largest economic trade agreement that will, if it comes into force, encompass more than 40 per cent of the world's GDP. The IP Chapter covers topics from pharmaceuticals, patent registrations and copyright issues to digital rights. Experts say it will affect freedom of information, civil liberties and access to medicines globally. The WikiLeaks release comes ahead of a Chief Negotiators' meeting in Canberra on 19 October 2014, which is followed by what is meant to be a decisive Ministerial meeting in Sydney on 25–27 October. Despite the wide-ranging effects on the global population, the TPP is currently being negotiated in total secrecy by 12 countries. Few people, even within the negotiating countries' governments, have access to the full text of the draft agreement and the public, who it will affect most, none at all.

Protests Disrupt Property Fair In London

It was billed as the ultimate “property marketplace”, a high-profile networking event for investors, developers and local authorities to broker big deals, but the first day of the Mipim conference in Olympia, west London ended in a police lockdown. Protesters forced organisers to close the gates and one conference delegate was arrested on suspicion of assault as tensions spilled over. “What they’re doing in there is a crime against the city,” said Sam Middleton, of the activist group Focus E15 Mums, as she hurled a dollop of mud at the windows of the exhibition centre while a 300-strong crowd chanted “homes for people not profit, housing for need not greed”.
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