Eco Tax Project for the US (Spring 2015)

Course Proposal:

Inequality of income, with a suppression of the middle class, or even the salaried professional class, by an ever-wealthier top percent threatens the economy, reputation, and future of the United States.

Peter Fend, who successfully analyzed taxation in the US in 1974, with an economic analysis of a $500 million claim by US agencies for “overpayment" on drugs, went to enter the art world, but came back to the original question: how shall citizens of the United States be taxed?

We can start answering this question in Florida.

Florida is one of the six states that did not ratify the 16th Amendment in 1913, which mandated a direct income tax on citizens.  Indeed, along with Pennsylvania, Florida refused to vote on the Amendment. They saw it being a creation of the same people who started the Federal Reserve Bank, and of aiming for a nation of wage-earners regularly lorded over by the very rich. The US Supreme Court had already ruled that an income tax is unconstitutional. To get around this, JP Morgan and friends organized a major campaign. They used the ruse that the income tax would burden more those with bigger incomes.

As we have learned in the US, income tax indeed burdens more those who earn larger incomes than the poor earn, but it leaves room wide open for the very rich to avoid paying taxes altogether by funneling their wealth into foundations, gifts, and offshore investments.  As a result, large amounts of wealth go into maintaining the status quo, under "philanthropy," and large amounts of wealth leave the country. Witness the "art party" given just now for wealthy and connected people in New York for the benefit of the alma mater—the University of St. Andrews—of the UK's evident crown prince: depending on the table where one sat, between $10,000 an $100,000 went to support a UK university, which is already supported by the UK state, and not at all to anything educational in the US, nor to the US budget. And the outlay gets deducted from taxes.

Around 1913, there was also a movement for a single tax on land. This was led by Henry George. It was recently endorsed by...Milton Friedman. It comes originally from the first economists, the French "Economistes."  They were led by the physician to Louis XIV.  They argued that the wealth of a country consists ultimately of its land, plus what lies beneath that land, so the health and vigor of the land, or the ecosystem writ large must be maintained, or even improved.  With no health of the land, with no ecological vigor, there can be no durable economy.  Thus, taxation should be placed on any depletion of, or lessening of, the vigor of the land.

Income tax promotes depletion.  It promotes earning money, any which way, even by non-productive actions like repairing broken vehicles, never mind the consequences for our resource base, in soil, in water, or even in minerals.

Income tax also has come to be so peppered with loopholes and provisions, such as the right to put money into foundations and charities instead of the state, that it burdens the middle class, and even the professional classes, into day-to-day struggles to get by.  

A sophisticated land tax could change this.

This could be set up by artists.

After all, land is an entity that can be seen.

It is an entity that can be visually assessed and recorded.

In Florida, in March and April 2015, on the 102nd anniversary of the Income Tax, and with the aim of showing how to repeal the Income Tax and replace it with a single land tax, or Eco Tax, that assures the perpetuity of the land in its vigor, in its diversity of healthy animals and plants, we can show how.

The chief sources to use are: multi-spectral sensors on civil satellites; elevation mapping, to indicate flows of runoff; mapping of terrain; readings of air quality, soil health, and water quality.

Work starts with two areas of very drastic transformation in recent decades: around Disney World, in Orlando; in Miami, including its waters.

Work could be extended to other areas in Florida without much difficulty, as plenty of satellite data and aerial survey data, plus air and water quality readings, have already been compiled.

If we succeed in demonstrating how an eco-tax could save the land and the base of all wealth, and if we succeed in showing how easily the tax base could be assessed and charged, and if we succeed in showing to gain public finance in accordance with public-resource depletion, we could impact national politics.

Plenty of people throughout the USA, and in both national parties, would notice.

We can start with top politicians in Florida seeking a national voice.

The course is useful for any artists seeking mastery of digital media, of color-field and color-stream painting, of efficiency in eye-brain reading of color sequences, of video and film, and of landscape painting.

Course Project:

Eco Tax (Public presentation/exhibition)

Course Schedule:

Week 1
Tuesday, March 17th
Thursday, March 19th

Week 2
Tuesday, March 24th
Thursday, March 26th

Week 3
Tuesday, March 31st
Thursday, April 2nd

Week 4
Tuesday, April 7th
Thursday, April 9th

Week 5
Tuesday, April 14th
Thursday, April 16th

All sessions: 6-9 PM