A tax break I've never understood
Labels: Social Security taxes
Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.
Labels: Social Security taxes
I never pretend we're going to change this stuff overnight. We've taken decades to paint ourselves into this corner. . . . We have to change fundamentally our politics to stop being hostage to the energy vision of the 1950s. Drill where it's appropriate. Stop the speculation. Give people more choices and have alternatives. This is what we're going to be slugging on for the next 30 months.
The next 30 months. That takes us to January 1, 2011.In 30 months, who knows what the price of gas might be? But if we're going to be working on this for the next two-plus years, why do our parties feel the need to barricade themselves into their traditional constituencies? Why can't we simultaneously pursue existing and future energy sources?
Labels: gas prices
Liberalism promises an Apple government. One that is seamless, smooth-running, sleek, chic and aesthetically uplifting. It is a world of Deweyan positive liberty, where the government takes so many of the hassles out of life that it liberates you to be all you can be. That's why liberals think the extra money is worth it. And frankly, if government could be an Apple government, I think the money would be worth it.Exactly right. And yes, I'm a Mac guy.
But Apple government, call it MacTopia, is fool's gold. It will always be a PC government, because that's what government is: a bunch of perpetually outmoded parts that have trouble talking to each other. It sells itself as the cheap fix but ultimately costs you more because of its constant system errors, freeze-ups, and faulty patches that only kick problems down the road. It is a system of impenetrable jargon designed not to improve efficiencies but to empower the bureaucrat-technicians who wield a gnostic-like power over the rest of us simply because they know what gets plugged in where and what an alt-dot-sys-bat file is. Citizens must take their word for what we need because the PC government system is rigged to keep us in perpetual stupefaction about how the system works.
If there is a MacWorld (aside from the magazine), it is the private sector. Consumers matter more in the private sector than citizens do in the public one. The private sector is set up so that the people are happy with what they get. In the public sector the system is set up so that people have no choice but to stick with it (just look at school choice where liberals want to take scholarships from poor black kids for the good of the public school system). The government can — and sometimes does — borrow good ideas from MacWorld, but it cannot be MacWorld because the incentives are different.
Apple products are based on centralized command-and-control. Apple makes the hardware, software, and — increasingly — many key applications ("everything inside the state, nothing outside the state"). The Apple faithful believe that the computing world dominated by Microsoft is bad (if not outright evil) and must be redeemed. If only everyone changed to their way of computing, we would reach computing nirvana. And society would be changed for the better, too. If only. This mythology goes back to the original Mac "big brother" ad.
The company is led by one man, and one man only, and no one else could take his place. Steve Jobs is head of engineering, product marketing, advertising, etc. The employees exist to do what Steve wants because, after all, only Steve knows how to make it all work. Those who work there put up with it because they are proud to be part of a higher calling.
As I said, I love the products. And it's fine by me for Apple to function as a fascist company, as the employees can choose to work there (I chose otherwise). But don't ever wish for an Apple government.
First, back in 1992, we increased the Privilege Tax. This was an additional 1.5% tax on our electric bill. We used this tax to pay for putting utilities underground when Murray Boulevard was widened. Once the project was complete, we rescinded the tax. If we had kept the tax in place and dedicated those funds, we could have placed all utilities underground when we improved Davis, Hart, and Hall over the last ten years. Wouldn't that have been nice?Translation: Wasn't it foolish of us to remove that tax (even though it was probably intended only for the Murray project)? Wouldn't it have been nice to continue taxing you over the last 16 years so we could have more of your money than we already get for our current $160 million annual budget? Wouldn't it be great to say it's dedicated to utility relocation, but still have the money if we really needed it for some other really important project like The Round?
Second, the City used to have Urban Renewal Authority. We still do, but it requires a city-wide vote to implement. Rather than going through the expense of putting it on the ballot we have been doing the best we can to leverage federal and state dollars to improve the downtown. Oh, but if we only had that old authority.Translation: We used to be able to spend your money without your approval, and we really want that back! We'll say the issue is an "expensive election," but really the issue is that we're afraid you pesky voters might say no, and really, we know better than you, don't we?
Third, Beaverton used to have a City Manager as well as a Mayor. In fact, as usual, we were one of the first cities in the State of Oregon to do so. But, I'm going to have to save that story for another article.This is really funny, considering that A) This article came out after Dennis Doyle defeated four-term incumbent Mayor Rob Drake; and B) Stanton endorsed Drake. Now she wants the city to have a city manager? It couldn't have anything to do with her desire to take power away from the newly-elected mayor (accountable to the voters) and put it in the hands of a (less accountable) city manager, could it?
Sometimes, it is wonderful to go forward and break new ground, trod new paths. But, it's also good to consider what we might miss if we don't see where we've been and what we might be giving up by going in a different direction.Yep, we long for the good ol' days when we could tax you with impunity, and you voters weren't so nosy about how we spent your money. Won't you be accommodating?
City officials wouldn't talk Tuesday about their next move. But they insist that taxpayers will be protected and suggested that the Round's struggles have more to do with Dorn-Platz than a bad project idea.I know the economy is an issue, but it's difficult to accept the latter part of that statement when the Round has had nothing but problems since the city bought the property. As an earlier Oregonian story noted:
The Round has struggled since 1997, when the city sold the former sewage-treatment plant to a developer and called for multistory buildings with ground-floor retail and restaurants with housing and offices above.So let's do the math: $821,000 in back utility bills, minus the seized $250,000 deposit, plus $79,000 for legal bills, plus $250,000 in rental fees for a seized heating plant, plus $5 million for the initial property purchase. That comes out to almost $6 million out of city coffers. And that, frankly, only scratches the surface of the city's financial investment.
The first developer declared bankruptcy, and the city took back control of the site in 2001. Later that year, Dorn-Platz took over the project. The city, however, declared Dorn-Platz in default of its development agreement, penalized the developer and signed a new agreement.