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.