Pre-emptively poking holes in the land tax bucket

Land taxes have – unexpectedly – become a hot policy topic in the run-up to the election. Land taxes were originally suggested by the economist and social reformer Henry George as a fairer alternative to income or business tax. The logic behind them is that land values are shaped by the activities of society as a whole, rather than the individual owner: they are boosted by public investments in transport and good schools, and by the productivity gains that arise from lots of workers and businesses interacting in cities.…
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The cost of pedestrian congestion

Disclaimer: This is a post about a research project I led at work. My policy is not to blog about things that I’m working directly on, but in this case the research has already been reported elsewhere. All facts and figures in this post are drawn from a summary of my research and some related work that was presented to the City Centre Advisory Board.…
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New Zealand’s problem with death

Matt’s post the other week about New Zealand’s worsening road safety record was troubling. After years in which the number of people dying in road crashes has fallen, the number’s been rising steadily since 2014 and it’s recently spiked upwards. As Matt wrote: That our road toll is increasing is appalling and it’s even more disappointing to see that pedestrians are bearing some of the brunt of it.…
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Sunday reading 10 September 2017

Welcome back to Sunday reading. Before the articles, a brief personal note. My grandma, Mollie Rogan, died on Friday night after a short stay in the hospital. She was 96, and had spent most of those years in Devonport (where her family moved during the 1930s), Milford (where she and my granddad Jim raised a family), and Takapuna (where they moved after the kids moved out).…
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Legalising perimeter block housing

One of the paradoxes of planning reform that legalises the development of more housing in established urban areas is that it typically makes it easy to build like this:While still making it difficult to build like traditional perimeter block housing like this:Even from the Google Maps view, you can see that there are some important differences between the first built form, which is in Royal Oak, Auckland, and the second, which in Prague.…
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Sunday reading 27 August 2017

Welcome back to Sunday reading. This week: Land taxes. In Newsroom, Zbigniew Dumieński and Nicholas Smith put forward the case for a major shakeup of New Zealand’s tax system. Sounds like it could be a very good idea: Unlike any other products of labour (including houses), land is not produced and, therefore, won’t disappear when we tax it.…
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Pouring gasoline on the housing fire

Yesterday, Prime Minister Bill English announced that he would encourage the Reserve Bank to remove the loan to value ratio (LVR) rules that it put in place to take the heat out of rising house prices. As reported in Newsroom: Prime Minister Bill English has rediscovered his jawbone and has sent a clear message to the Reserve Bank that he expects it to start thinking about scrapping its restrictions on loan to value ratios, now that house prices across the country are flat or falling.…
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Sunday reading 13 August 2017

Welcome back to Sunday reading. This week, I’d like to start out with two stories of self-inflicted screwups (by other people). Self-inflicted screwup number one is Australia’s broadband rollout. As Jennifer Hewett sets out in the Australian Financial Review, it’s gone much worse than ours: In September 2009, the Key government in New Zealand announced it would invest in an all-fibre, ultra-fast broadband network.…
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