April 27, 2012

Politics remains the art of the possible

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 12:34 pm by realitytax

Those who think political participation is about raising the noise level to “drive this party” farther from the middle  are confusing ideological purity with political reality.

Politics remains the art of the possible, which necessitates negotiation and compromise. Purists may prefer a revolution – they may even get one, if they’re very patient, but the odds are that political evolution is more likely (not to mention pragmatic, and ultimately productive.)

Many state legislatures have lately shown the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council, ceding local authorship and introduction of bills designed to improve the state in favor of an ideological purity which, it should be noted, favors the very wealthy (who, by their nature, are also particularly influential among those who desire to become more wealthy as an end in itself.)

The only antidote is a unified response by those more interested in the quality of their community (however that’s defined) than in the quantity of their earnings – yet waiting for unification only causes greater harm by exacerbating the egregious and ever-widening income gap.

Act. Participate.  If you’re not part of the solution you are, in fact, part of the problem. The most potent tool is the information battle for the “hearts and minds” of the public, and those who have attained power and wealth have also marshaled the resources to control, or at the very least bend and spin, the information that determines if the masses are more likely to be active or apathetic. Theirs is a very elite club with a great facility at obscuring the reality that it’s also a very, very small club.

It starts with being a voter. Actively learning about the actions legislators take is a great thing key, as is following the money by looking up donors.  You don’t have to change the whole world, but to save the prosperity that’s getting away from more and more U.S. residents you have to act like you care. 

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March 2, 2012

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:49 am by realitytax

February 28, 2012

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:06 am by realitytax

The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the “Bill of Rights” specified basic rights such as freedom of religion and speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right of individuals to possess weapons. Since these are well-established, should we conclude that the institution of the Bill of Rights is no longer at issue, and roll back the very principles we fought so hard to secure?

If not, why roll back the fruits of laborers bargaining collectively, an exercise of our freedom of assembly that contributes to the pursuit of happiness?

There can be only one motivation for claiming the tactic of union bargaining is no longer necessary: as a prelude taking these hard-won, time-tested benefits away from the people working under such agreements.

February 15, 2012

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:18 pm by realitytax

Knowing that unions built the middle class, which ismost of the consumers in America, why would any reasonable business owner try to get rid of them? It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your mirror.

April 7, 2011

7 Keys to Understanding Mass Transit Impact – and Value

Posted in role of government, taxes, U.S. Economy, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 9:32 am by realitytax

DC Streetcar study1) It’s not just bus and light-rail

Streetcars play an increasing role, as the DC Streetcar Land-Use Study documents, and for good reason. The upfront costs are lower than light-rail, while businesses (and commercial real estate values) react much more vigorously than they do to bus rapid transit (BRT) proposals.

2) Return on Investment is Reliable, Investors React

In terms of taxpayers dollars, the Goody Clancy DC study found “streetcar offers a better ratio of benefits to costs compared to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or Light Transit. While BRT is less expensive to implement, it does not generate the real estate investments to the same degree that streetcars can.” In other words, with a lower implementation cost than light rail that stability and predictability is what businesses and property owners like. Long-term, they know the traffic patterns and support for use are reliable.

3) Urban Rail Transportation Stimulates Economic Development

With so many elected officials trying to create jobs and reverse shrinkage of tax revenues, studies on the light rail projects in Minneapolis, Portland, and Denver reveal more benefits than just the immediate job creation from the construction projects, there’s lots of other new real estate development, too, including especially housing when the lines are well-sited.

4) Transit Is Not an “either/or” Choice

Some state legislatures are leery of the investment as they look at funding for the repair and maintenance of existing roads, highways, and bridges. Yet a new (or better) Transit system reduces wear, freeing up more money and reducing infrastructure maintenance costs in transportation budgets.

5) If Highways Are the Answer We’d All Move to L.A.

I don’t want to decry development in Southern California, but the smog and traffic jams are legendary. Most developed areas don’t have the land to give up for more highways, toll-roads are far from a free solution even though they shift the maintenance costs, and most communities favor fewer big roads as the cost to our environment and impact on our quality of life becomes more evident.

3) It’s Efficient

Max busIt’s a simple fact, person-throughput is increased when a greater share of travelers in any given transportation corridor are riding rather than driving. Risks shrink, quality of life blossoms, and systems that mitigate commuter congestion coincidentally result in revitalized commercial and retail growth – again, because business investors recognize and gravitate to the predictable. While there are pitfalls to be avoided, there are numerous studies that show what’s working and what hasn’t; the data is real, so re-inventing the wheel isn’t the first step.

7) If You Build It, They Will Come

When you consider areas such as the Pearl district of Portland it’s obvious why that city is always high on lists of desirable places to live; urban development was phenomenal, and some estimates suggest streetcar ridership is 7 times higher than a bus alternative would be. Either way, it spurred billions of dollars in development projects, which translates into jobs and other tax revenues for the city – and isn’t that what every state or local government needs?