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I mean, I would love to be able to park the car, stroll down the street and take care of my business in a bunch of family owned establishments. I really try to do that. But a problem arose: the local retailer, the mom and pop business, usually stinks.

Like the vacuum cleaner. We needed a new one. We looked online, got the reviews, printed a couple of sources out and went to the small vacuum cleaners store in town, to support local business and all. I mean, it's remarkable that our town even has a repair/sales vacuum cleaner store and I would love to support that. They have a re-configured vacuum cleaner in the window that bounces a balloon, which is creative and adds a little something to the walk up and down the beautiful old downtown.

I had the cash in my pocket. A wad of about 300 bucks. I want to walk out with a vacuum cleaner and move on the next thing on the list. I'm ready to buy.

But then the guy comes out and tries to sell us the super expensive European vacuum. All the websites say it's good but not twice as good and there is no need to spend 500-600 bucks for a good machine. So we show him the reviews from the site. He says I shouldn't believe everything I read on the internet. I guess he figures I should believe him because he works at a vacuum store rather than 3 or 4 different review sites with the combined opinions of hundreds of people. So, to be polite, I listen to his dumb song and dance about a lot of machines I don't want. Everything I read on the internet, right, you arrogant, vacuum snob...

Meanwhile, my son is playing with the balloon in the window, which is cool because this is taking too long and at least he's out of the way and happy. Until the crabby owner walks in and tells me to get my son out of the window. Like a kid is not going to like that bouncing balloon! Ok, that does it, I'm going to the corporations. We walk out.

And the hardware store. It's great. Looks like it's out of a Normal Rockwell painting-- wooden screw drawers and ladders to get stuff from the top shelf, lot of nice dust. And the owner is this lankey, nice guy who is straight out of central casting for a bit part in It's A Wonderful LIfe. And he's nice: he makes key chains out of the messed-up keys to give to the kids, which they love.

It's great, except that it sucks. No, I don't have 2 and a quarter screws but I do have a box of 2 inch. Okay, that's great. Probably be okay with 2 instead of 2 and a quarter, or maybe the floor will fall in and someone will die.

Off to the corporations.

In these small towns out in the country, there should be a good reason to live in the old village. If you live in town, you should be able to walk to some shops. Now you might be able to library or post office, maybe a cafe but that's about it. Otherwise, you have to drive to the strip same as the guy who lives in a new subdivision outside of town. So the old towns decay while new subdivisions spring up on farm land even as the population is essentially stagnant.

It's crazy. We have a couple of assets here in the county: some beautiful old villages, towns and small cities and great views and tremendous open space and we're destroying them both simultaneously. So you know I don't want to shop out on the strip.

It's all local stuff but it's the same local stuff whereever you go but it never becomes a national issue. Like property taxes funding local schools. It's killing New Jersey. Vermont just went through spasms over prop 66. Everywhere it's a problem: farmers pay tax on their land, even at a reduce rate it's killing the kind of farms that make the country beautiful and the people healthy and the food tasty. So even people who don't want to subdivide their land.  In the suburbs, middle class people pay a completely unfair proportion of their income on property tax. And the poor often end up in jurisdictions with no tax base to tax and have to limp along with terrible underfunded schools.

In one place, like Detroit, you get 5,000 a year per child and in Bloomington Heights they get 15,000 a year. Looks like racism. But the same thing plays out in the country where every one is white. On a smaller scale: one town has a mall, a ski resort, a lot of weekend homes that don't send kids to school, something like that, and the other town just has working people in it. So the tax rate is higher and the budget per child in the school is lower in the poorer town.

A billionaire with a 50 million dollar house pays tax of 5 percent of his assets while a middle class family with 80,000 a year in income pays tax on their house, which is probably 75 percent of their assets.

Unfair to the famer, unfair to the middle class, unfair to the poor. Unfair in the rural area. Unfair to the inner-city. Unfair to the suburbs. Property tax is a bad tax.

The arbitrary difference between the school in one district and another distorts the market as much as the ridiculous system of having health care tied to where a person works. In the labor market, people are making job decisions based on health care, which shouldn't be a factor, and in the housing market people are bipassing otherwise well-made, special houses for shoddy, ugly house because of schools.

All of this can only be dealt with on a federal level. Not that the federal govenment should be involved in local schools or even in health care per se but Washington has to set the formula up for the states. These are things that states can handle but not when they are competing with each other.

So, the federal government should pay school districts half of what the state pays on a per-child basis, with the local govenment contributing no more than a certain amount. So, if New York wants to put their rate at 5,000 per child, then the federal government has to chip in 2,500. The local government can contribute from 25 percent to 100 percent of the federal contribution. Every state will set their rate, within the margin set by the federal government.

Property taxes will be essentially abolished or reduced dramatically on residential, agricultural and even some commercial property. Maybe not retail, something like that.

Will this help me shop in town instead of going out to the strip, to come back around to initial point as an English teach would want me to do?  I have no friggin idea.

Anyway, this is my new point: abolish the property tax, provide health care some other way than by tying it to where people work, pay for public education in a different way without ruining the 30 percent of the schools that are doing a good job, stop subsidizing commodity agriculture and use the money to make famrs property tax free -- all farms in the whole country even if they grow tomatoes.

And food stamps: food stamps should only be for buying fresh vegitables and meats at a farmer's market. Nothing else. You have to make the money for processed foods yourself.

We subsidize the commodity production -- corn -- then subsidize the consumption of food based on those commodities. That makes me hate the federal government. The federal government should be about setting rates and doing some redistribution not running programs -- look at the farm subsidies, they suck. And one day the WTO will shoot them down. Why not give farmers a leg up in a fair way: take away their property tax.

If this ghost economy of retail, real estate, and shoddy construction comes crashing down in a pile of fiberglass and aluminum, we're going to wish we had some farms, some real shit. The dollar is falling, we're dependent on middle eastern oil int order to feed ourselves, we're allowing the chinese government to exploit their works at our expense, and it could all come crashing down. It's a big old house of cards, this economy.

Okay, that's enough. China is the next topic.

Originally posted to willep on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:35 AM PST.

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| 16 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ahhh, yes, we know you (0+ / 0-)

    We try to humor you when you walk in but it's obvious you're half of a made it couple person.

    Nothing against made it persons, unless they're shopping with us.  Then they're a royal pain in the butt.

    Let me help you understand.  Have you even been at  a nice place to eat a bite and in walks a wannabe couple?  You know, there's just too much of this and too little of that, a watermelon pretending to be an avocado.

    That's what the made it couple comes across like in country stores.  They judge everything by it's cover and apply the my dollar is king rule to it all.

    They deserve box stores.  There bling is king and and price is queen.  It's their world.

  •  Bout three diaries there I think (0+ / 0-)

    Agreed with 90% of it at least (except the food stamp part - some merit there but not entirely practical for the poor who need the stamps.  For example, when I was on food stamps, there were no nearby farmers markets and prices are too high for the amount of stamps you get.  Was able to eat well - but processed foods were definitely not on the list.  Too expensive also.)

  •  WIC (0+ / 0-)

    I believe it is the WIC (?) program that is providing extra money to be used only for fresh produce.  Not necessarily farmer's market produce but grocery store produce as well.  WIC's way of fighting against obesity.

    I live in a small town only 25 miles from a city.  Our town merchants figure people will go to the city for major shopping so it is not a full service town.

    But, gasp, Walmart is constructing a big box store here and everyone fears what will happen.  I think a lot of town residents will shop locally more, not less.

    "Man's life's a vapor Full of woe. He cuts a caper, Down he goes. Down de down de down he goes.

    by JFinNe on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 04:58:59 AM PST

  •  online mom & pops, lost technologies.... (0+ / 0-)

    You can search "vacuum cleaners" online and come up with a bunch of specialty stores that do nothing but sell vacuums & accessories.  Some of those are small mom & pop outfits in their own small towns.  Call 'em up and talk to them.  If you reach some generic call center that only takes orders, try a different place until you find one that's operated by the owners and you can talk to someone who knows what's up.   I had to do that to get some appliances.  It's no big deal.  It's just a locally owned appliance store that's a few hundred miles away.  

    As for deck screws, a quarter inch isn't going to kill anyone.

    Yes, we've become spoiled.  The big box outfits seem to have "everything."  There's a certain dazzling effect that comes from walking into a store and seeing huge aisles full of "everything."  Reminds one, subconsciously, of the first trip to the toy store as a little kid: this big place all full of toys, wow!  

    But there was a time when you couldn't get "everything," and people had to figure out how to live with what they could get nearby.  People were more resourceful then.  They even knew how to repair stuff.  Read about life in WW2.  Americans were smarter and stronger, or at least more adaptable.  They passed the Darwinian Challenge of their times so we don't have to say "Heil Hitler" in our times.  

    Wonder how the Egyptians built the pyramids?  Ever hear the term "lost technology"...?   That's how it took us 2,000 years to figure out how to make concrete, which the Romans did all the time but the technology was lost until some guy rediscovered it around the end of the 1800s, and it took another thirty years to figure out how to make it strong enough for tall buildings.  

    "Fixing things" is starting to become the latest lost technology.  

    But not to worry.  Just wait a few years when peak oil is an acknowledged fact and the cost of long distance transportation starts to go up... and up.... and up...   and the dollar goes down... and down... and down...  yeah we'll start learning how to fix things again.  And how to make do with what we can get nearby.  

    Or perhaps this time we won't, and we'll fail the Darwinian Challenges of the 21st century.  

    Silly humans.  They never recognize when they have it easy.  

    Turn off the light.  Sit in the dark for a while.  Try taking a cold shower.  Don't wipe your bottom next time you poop.  Try sleeping on the floor with nothing but the clothes on your back.  

    Yep, we have it easy, don't we?  

    •  I don't know for sure a quarter inch won't matter (0+ / 0-)

      Probably not, but why should I take a chance?

      •  if you drive an automobile.... (0+ / 0-)

        ...you're already taking a chance with crashing the planet in the climate crisis.  Why should you take that chance?  

        And I don't say this from holier-than-thou because I drive, though have been reducing it via telecommuting.

        Consider comparative risk.  For the sake of minimizing certain types of personal risks that have low probability, we engage in other behaviors that drive up collective risk to a near certainty.  

        The numbskull who drives an SUV because they think it's "safer" for their kids is a classic example.  But buying stuff at the big-boxies is another because it supports the paradigm of economic growth (the local store grows until it reaches a stable mature size and remains there; the large corporation is legally bound to continue growing limitlessly as a condition of maintaining shareholder value) that will shortly come to a screeching halt when Ma Nature blows the whistle.  

        You takes yer choice & you takes yer chances.  

        And the best part (!) is, we're all going to get to find out.  Soon.  

  •  There's a raft of bad ideas (0+ / 0-)

    let's see, we should eliminate property taxes on the most subsidized industry, farming, while retaining them on commercial stores, unsubsized mom-and-pop business, struggling to keep prices competitive. somehow, the writer doesn't seem to realize that high property taxes on commercial property [in arizona it's 25% of assessment vs only 10% for residential property] raises the price of goods for everyone. this is especially onerous for low and moderate income people.

    farming is a business. why shouldn't they pay taxes? i know a number of farmers, all millionaires. if you want to protect farmers, simply offer them good, federally-sponsored insurance. if you want an egalitarian tax base for schools, use income tax to spread the largess universally, rather than locally thru property taxes.

    one way to increase the revenue base is to increase the taxes on upper income and corporations, which has been slashed by the conservatives in recent years.

    why shouldn't low income people buy processed food with their food stamps. lately, fresh produce has been killing people with e-coli, hepatitis, and salmonella. what's so healthy about that? maybe there should be a booze stamp issued concurrently with food stamps. hey, it's depressing being poor. let's drink out way to happiness. now, there's a good idea.

    •  i know a lot of farmers (0+ / 0-)

      None get any subsidies at all -- well, one through the Northeast Dairy Compact, if you call that one. Mike grows vegitables, Hannah, Hugh and Karl do CSA, biodynamic, Hawthorne Valley too, sell raw milk at the store--

      No one and they all pay property taxes every year. If you buy a printing press, you only pay taxes on it once. To a farmer, land is a machine. Why do they have to pay every year?

      I don't know about Arizona, but I bet there are thousands of farmers with no subsidies. Most. Not corn farmers-- we don't havet those here.

      Property taxes are no good. Income and sales taxes are better.

      Anyway, I don't say anyone shouldn't but processed food. But what should the state help pay for? Why not get people who need help buying food a hand up to buy some local fresh stuff while helping to create agricultural reserves near population centers for when/if the crash comes and people will be hungry?

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