Instituto Henry George ...
Managua, Nicaragua


Fourth Economics Course Registers 102 Students
LVT Study Proposal Goes to Managua City Hall
New IHG Radio Show Starts in March!

Managua, February 22, 2001 -- The Instituto Henry George's fourth intensive "Comprender la Economía" Political Economy class started February 12th with 102 students enrolled. At press time, with two classes to go, the retention is 81 students, a notable increase in retention over the three previous classes. CE students have to maintain perfect attendance and hand in 2 to 4 page tests each class in order to be able to continue the course.

320 applications were handed out and 159 applications were received from new applicants for the CE course over a period of 11 days. Class attendance was expected to be even higher than the 102 who registered, but because of the uncertainty of a new procedure whereby qualified applicants were invited to enroll via an advertisement in the newspaper, some interested eligible applicants were unable to find the ad and missed the registration deadline. This problem was due to unfamiliarity of the newspaper ad system, and will not occur for the next course.


CE 6-00

CE 8-00

CE 10-00

CE 2-01

# Days Promo





Promo Media (newspaper classified ads)





# Days App.s Received






Total App.s Disbursed





Total App.s Received

72 (37%)

179 (53%)

89 (54%)

159 (49%)

Avg. Applicant Qualification






Inicial Course Participants





# Course Graduates

23 (46%) 22 (44%) 46 (48%) ??

Each CE course draws many new applicants and registers more students. Has the ceiling been reached yet?

IHG director Paul Martin is again imparting the course in the same rented location with the help of a handful of dedicated volunteers (who are also involved in the Instituto's teacher training course). The students in this class are more university student aged, but there are many older professionals. Many of the students are unemployed or underemployed and living in difficult circumstances, as do the vast majority of Nicaraguans.

The February 2001 CE course took place in the same location as the previous class, but with improved visual aids.

Nicaragua Economic Notes: Nicaragua is currently in an ongoing economic crisis characterized by high unemployment, crushing urban and rural poverty, rapidly growing concentration of land ownership and wealth, growing land speculation with much urban and suburban land held out of productive use, extending consumer and development credit, high dependency on foreign aid, loans and monthly "remesas" which are the monies which the over 800,000 Nicaraguans working in the US, costa Rica and other countries send home every month. Without the money injections, the economy would go bankrupt overnight with serious results. The minimum wage is the equivalent of about a third of the "Canasta Básica", the basic basket of goods, or rather the stuff that you need for mere survival. Obviously, Nicaragua's government leaders, many of whom "earn" a salary higher than their US counterparts, are more intent in the real estate business than in structuring a productive economy. Many farmlands and urban properties are reposessed by the banks each month as crops fail, businesses fold, and market prices for exports fall short of profitability for producers. Meanwhile taxes on every product and activity imaginable keep Nicaraguan's crushed under by the total of their cost of production. For instance, Nicaraguan's pay the highest tax on gasoline in Latin America and have the highest sales tax as well (15%). The wealth redistribution formula is: farmer takes loan (if he is lucky) and invests in high cost production, crop falls short due to bad weather or other problem, there is no reserve of capital to adjust, farmer cannot pay loan and loses his ranch. Bank sells land to rich landowners (usually relatives or friends of officials or stockholders of the bank) for a song. There are also many cases of government officials making way for easy low-cost land aquisition to special interests in areas slated for development. The expanding free trade zones which are presented as being a means for employment are rather exploiting the hopeless situation of the army of unemployed to offer a tax free and low wage haven to (mostly foreign owned) export production while the private owners of these zones make their profit off of relatively high building and land rent. The majority of Nicaraguans are able to recognize the general trend of what is going on, but do not have a functional ideology in which to comprehend the basic cause and effect of the situation. The IHG's CE course is the basis of our educational strategy to teach Nicaraguan's to understand the macro-economic reality of their situation, and to appreciate the alternative which democratic insistence in the LVT would give them.

One improvement in the February CE course is the production and use of prepared visual materials. Each of the first three classes now has its own visual aids, thanks to the work of IHG volunteers. One aid used to illustrate the "Law of Rent" uses moveable objects to show the changing proportional distribution of rent as the margen of production extends to less productive lands. This key visual aid is based on the drawings found in the Understanding Economics online course.

IHG volunteers and CE teacher candidates, Karla and Donaldo, prepare new visual aids for the February class.

The class materials used by the students in the CE class were also revised and improved for the February course. The Progreso and Miseria abreviated text was completely reviewed for errors and was edited to use language and references within the popular cultural norms of Nicaragua. The CE study guide was totally redone using the corrected and improved text from the Comprender La Economía online course. Another great improvement, carried over from the third CE course in November 2000, was the use of more standardized homework exams which allows for the exams to be corrected in less time and returned to the students in the subsequent class. The final exam is still a thesis which the students have a week to work on.

Donaldo and Karla correct the four-page homework exams of February CE class #4.


LVT Study Proposal Goes to Managua City Hall
Last week a packet of information was taken to the office of the Mayor of Managua who has publicly indicated that he is interested in taking advantage of Managua's untapped real estate tax potential. IHG visiting representative Jeff Smith and later the IHG director Paul Martin met with Managua's cadastre director to inquire into the possibility of a LVT feasability study for the Capital. The director of the cadastre, with agreement from the sub-director, agreed that the study would be interesting and valuable and that it could be done using current data and data that their department is currently collecting. With that encouragement and their stated support, the IHG put together an information packet and a proposal for the study which would include participation of US based experts in land assessment and LVT. The Mayor had previously received IHG introductory information. The next few weeks will tell as the IHG office gathers signatures from past CE students to submit follow-up letters to the Mayor asking him to consider the proposal. If the Managua proposal does not advance in a timely fashion, the same proposal will be made to the Mayor of Nicaragua's second largest city, León.


New IHG Radio Show Starts in March!
Today February 22nd, the IHG signed a three month contract to put a weekly radio show on a popular university FM band station. The program, which will be called "Comprender La Economía", will air every Wednesday at 11:00 for one hour starting March 7th. The program will include the reading of a chapter or two of the Progreso y Miseria abreviated version text used in the IHG CE course, georgist perspective news, interviews, discussion with the listening audience, and anything else that the IHG can think of which will draw attention to the content we are trying to communicate. One useful function of the program will be the ability to communicate directly with our growing body of graduates, all of whom are potential volunteers; another will be for the general promotion of our various activities, for instance, our pending university outreach campaign, which in turn will help to promote awareness of the radio program. The IHG staff is very optimistic about the potential of the show for helping to give the IHG activities greater public exposure.

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