Eastern Economics Association Conference

Wyn Achenbaum

[A report on the conference held 23-25 February 2007. Reprinted from GroundSwell, March-April 2007]

GroundSwell has received two reports from persons attending the EEA Conference held Feb. 23-25, 2007 in New York City. Wyn Achenbaum of Stamford, CT and Jeffery J. Smith of Portland, OR comment below. Also see Jeff Smith's presentation reprinted in GroundSwell on pages 1, 13-15

Wyn Achenbaum reports as follows:

This was my third EEA conference in 4 or 5 years. I found it fascinating. The first two sessions I attended Friday morning were organized by Polly Cleveland, and each gathered 3 speakers and 3 respondents, plus a small audience -- typical of EEA sessions. Lowell Harriss came to both these sessions; it was great to see him. In the same room followed a session organized by Cay Hehner, and, perhaps since it had little competition other than lunch, it gathered a gaggle of college students. Friday afternoon, Bob Shiller, outgoing president of the EEA, and co-founder of Case-Shiller (now part of Fiserv), gave the customary talk, in this case about the housing bubble; the first two questions came from Fred Foldvary and me. Friday night, Ed Dodson gave a talk at HGS, which drew about 45 people, and produced a lively Q&A session, followed by a dutch-treat supper at a nearby restaurant for about 15 Georgists.

Saturday, I attended a few sessions on a variety of topics. In each one, I had occasion to wonder why on earth I'd chosen it, and in the week that followed, I found reasons to be very glad I'd chosen them. I spent time at the RSF table (well located: next to the coffee station!), and had an opportunity to chat up passersby and catch up with Bob Drake, who was on hand to promote his new abridgement of P&P. Saturday lunch was a sold-out talk by Joseph Stiglitz, incoming president of EEA. I'd not gotten a ticket, but found a bit of standing room in the back of the room. Alanna Hartzok, however, had had the foresight to get a ticket and a seat at one of the front tables, and, well prepared, got in a wonderfully structured question, starting with a quote from an interview with Greg Palast a few years ago, regarding sharecropping, which Stiglitz confirmed represented a 50% tax, pocketed by the landlord, on labor. Saturday night, there was a celebration at HGS, the beginning of the School's 75th anniversary, which drew at least 100 people, including a reporter from the New York Observer, who wrote a rather good article about Georgism (other than calling us eccentric, he pretty well got it!). The gathering drew a number of people from the EEA conference who were part of the USBIG (Basic Income Guarantee) track, a number of whom I'd met at previous EEA conferences, and it was a nice followup to the gathering at HGS Philadelphia during last year's EEA conference.

Sunday morning, I found myself in a session, for the second time, with a woman who turned out to have taken every course Bill Vickrey offered, and we had a good chat. Steve Cord ran a session on implementing LVT. Next year's conference is in Boston March 7-9; information will be available at http://www.iona.edu/eea/ in the fall. I encourage you to attend, and, if you are so inclined, present a paper. You won't get a large audience, but it is an opportunity nonetheless to get our interests in front of people, particularly college students and instructors. And your presence, and willingness to ask pointed questions, will help reach audiences of people who otherwise might not come into contact with our ideas.

Jeffery J. Smith reports as follows.

Basic Income in New York

In February, thanks to support from the Henry George School and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, in New York City I spoke in the Basic Income Track within the annual conference of the Eastern Economic Association. Their new president, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, fired from being Chief Economist at the World Bank for articulating inconvenient truths, drew a bigger audience than yours truly! Stanley Aronowitz, unionist now at the City University of New York, from the podium agreed with recovering site values, but thought taxes on other values would be necessary, too. Senator Eduardo Suplicy, Brazilian Federal Senate, who may be the next mayor of Sao Paulo, liked the idea of recovering site values in order to fund housing assistance for all residents, a bit like Aspen CO does. The reception at the Henry George School was the highlight of the week. There I met many old friends and Nibaldo Aguilera, new advisor to the new president of Chile; we brainstormed ways we might catalyze geonomics in Latin America. Returning to Portland, the cabbie from the airport liked my report on my trip so much, he halved my fare!