So why oh why do I keep reading it? And why do loving parents allow their innocent offspring to attend J-school when there are honest trades like repossessing cars and sweeping floors to be had?
Perhaps it's the amusing levels of nuttiness. Oh, not at the very top; the Indy [Red] Star's editor is merely a staunch FDR/LBJ Leftie, filled with smug self-assurance that he can uplift our heathen, rednecked selves (for our own good) by means of draconian law, regulation and unremitting hectoring: it's the Administrative Control Bias that infects all media, plus a generous dollop of condescension and it's as predictable as sunrise. Still, the guy can string together a sentence and even when I find his reasoning specious or deceptive, he's at least done his homework.
Some of the paper's regular columnists, on the other hand, appear to have been eating paint chips -- the old ones, with extra lead. Take today's offal, er, offering from smart-as-a-bag-of-hammers Dan Carpenter, bemoaning the horrific iniquity of adding property tax caps to the state constitution. "So what," you shrug, "This has been the bleat of those who would do good with other people's money since the debate started and Dan's to the Left of Lenin." This is true but at least Lenin could beat a pig at checkers. Mr. Carpenter doesn't even know what a "free market" is.
Our property taxes are based on "market value" assessments, which means in real life, I am paying taxes on an assessed valuation a bit over 1.4x what I paid for the house, a house presently worth 0.83x what I paid for it. The escrow for property taxes, which took a big lurch upward the year (before) I bought the place (but nobody'd seen the bill when I got my loan 'cos we pay 'em in arrears) was so large I nearly lost the house through not being able to make the unexpectedly large payments. As it worked out, instead of losing the house, I gained a boarder; but it was a near thing.
So when the Governor says of the tax-cap law (vs. the amendment), "If the statute brought certainty with it, that probably would be enough for me. We couldn't leave it subject to the whims of a judge." And the paper's leading Leftie whines in response, "Like so many of the governor's quotable toss-offs, this one begs and raises questions. What other risks of the free market shall government protect investors from?" I have to wonder what he's smoking: the "cap" only caps the tax rate.
If the free market -- as rather generously read by the township assessor -- says my house is worth more, I'll pay higher taxes; if the value of my house drops, so do my taxes. All the cap does is say it cannot be more than X percent of what the house is (supposedly) worth. (You'd think I'd be able to sell it to the State for that much if that's what they say it is worth, but noooo). Not much "protection," really, and none from the free market. It does shield me a little from decidedly coercive (that's "double-plus unfree" in Newspeak, Dan) actions of lawmakers, who can seize my house if I don't pay up.
But that's no matter to him: "There is little doubt that the electorate, given a rare point-blank shot at taxes, will endorse the caps. There is no doubt local government, which has to care for the property involved and the people occupying it, will suffer."
Hunh? "Has to care for the property involved and the people occupying it?" Since when? I paint it, I mow the lawn, I make my own breakfast. In fact, if the sidewalk out front gets funky, I'm stuck with fixing that, too. So...what, then? Sewer, water, power, gas, telephone, all pay-to-play. True, the city takes care of the road, the trash (I'd almost rather pay, as their list of rules keeps growing -- you can't even throw away a cardboard carton full of trash now: the box has to be folded flat and tied with string and the trash must be bagged, or they leave it on the curb) and police and fire, plus (some) ambulance, though the last usually results in a bill, but that's it. There are free streetlights, too -- but I pay for the one in our alley. If the city unlights the one on our street, I'd give serious thought to the $6.00 month it would take to turn it back on.
In Dan's world, things like that never happen; it's just us nasty, greedy or poor folk, awaiting the beneficence bestowed upon us by our betters -- using money they took from us under threat of losing our homes. Why not let us keep the money -- and our houses -- in the first place?
YANKEE RADIO TOOL KIT, #106
4 weeks ago