Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Promises, Promises

I had promised not to write a single word on economic issues for a month. I'm getting too much into the cost of things and not enough into the benefits. But this is worth reading. It explains why some of our fellows pay no federal income taxes. And for a large percentage, the answer is very simple. No money. You've all done taxes, so follow along. You put in the income from your W-2. Then you take the standard deduction and the exemptions. If those come to more than about $27K for a family of four, taking the deduction and exemptions reduces your taxable income Wow, you don't owe any tax. Wow, you're also a family of four trying to support itself on $27K a year. Other exemptions that do have an impact are the extra exemption for elders, the deduction of a portion of Social Security benefits, and so on. In other words, it's not people wriggling out of taxes, but people who have no money.

It's too bad that we can't start thinking, good lord, a lot of families are trying to make it on almost no money.

And the cartoon is there just because it reminded me of the day I decided to search the internet for incorrect information on tenants in foreclosed properties, and seek to correct it. I realized that it would have been a fulltime job.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Peon Tries To Catch Up

Peon has no excuse. Peon has thought, I should put a link to this on my blog. Peon has thought, I should check the links on the Tenants and Foreclosure blog and fix the dead ones. Peon has thought, I should make the bed. But Peon has done none of these things. Peon will now attempt to catch up.

First, Peon skipped the bed. She'll do that later.

Peon has enjoyed the Republican primary. She cannot help herself. It's so much fun to watch someone trying to come up with more reactionary positions than the other guy. I'll see your position on abortion and raise you contraception. I mean, contraception was an issue decided when my mother was still in her childbearing years. And what is with these guys? Do they really want to take the chance of a pregnancy every time they have sex? Do they really imagine themselves as the patriarchs of old, with wives, concubines, and 27 children? Or do they just want to insure that the proletariat keeps having kids, so that the reserve army of the unemployed doesn't disappear? See this. Well, we'll give up the right to insurance-paid contraception when every man who has had sex not for purposes of procreation agrees to be castrated.

I love my Nook. I can get books from the library at 3 AM. I can buy books at 3 AM. And the purveyors would much prefer that I buy them. So the book publishers are refusing to sell eBooks to libraries. Or selling them for outrageous prices. Unfortunately they don't understand how people use eReaders, and they're making a bad mistake. I don't buy most books that I'm only going to read once. I get them from the library. First I don't want to spend the money. And second I don't want the book hanging 'round my house forever. I buy books that I really want to keep. The same will happen on my Nook. I will buy books that I really want to keep. And if I can't get the others for my Nook, I'll just wait in line to read the paper edition. That simple. I don't like being played. And I don't like book publishers trying to play my local library either. After all, I pay for that library. You can read more on this subject here.

And for those of you interested in California's budget and economy, there's a new blog out there. Golden State Outlook, produced by Dennis Meyers (who works for the Department of Finance), reports on California finance and also does some work on related economic issues. One of his posts, for instance, looks at the position of some right-wing observers who suggest that California is on its way to being Greece, and will be if we don't end pensions as we know them, dump our environmental protections, get rid of all the darker-hued persons, subsidize all rich, white guys, and get women back into the kitchen. Meyers also, unusual for economists, writes in coherent English. I first ran across him here, although I suspect that his class isn't as much fun as it was when I watched it. He's still teaching on television, but the Spring semester is Microeconomics, which bores me to tears.

There's more, but I'm off to get my hair cut.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Gas Prices

No one wants to give more money to Chevron, but higher gas prices are a much greater burden for low-wage workers than for higher wage workers. High earners pay about 2% of income to fill up the Range Rover. Low-income workers pay a full tenth of their income on gasoline. And I'd not suggest that low-income workers could take the bus. In most communities public transit is set up to enable richer people to get to their jobs, while lower-wage workers are on their own, particularly if they don't work standard 9-5 shifts.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Issue That Will Not Die

No, it's not the homeless, or the meaning of life, or war and peace. It's the Arena, or as it's now known, the Entertainment and Sports Arena. Our present arena, once Arco, and now Power Balance (yeah, the owners of the Kings made a deal with the equivalent of snake oil sellers), just isn't good enough for the NBA's worst team, the Sacramento Kings. Last night our City Council voted 7-2 to lease out our parking structures and their attendant revenue to a private parking authority, sell off a bunch of land (yeah, when property values are in the toilet), and raid various funds, to come up with 2/3rds of the cost of this venture. The Kings will give up money they've borrowed and AEG (the manager of lots of arena-like venues in the US) will throw in about $60 million. The difference is that the City will get somewhere south of $1.2 million a year, while AEG will get substantially more than that for its investment. The City argues that there will be spillover effects that will increase tax revenues. I'll believe that when I see it. And one of the two votes against the plan agrees with me on this point.

But the biggest problem, and one that wasn't discussed at all at the City Council, is that the Arena is being plopped on land intended for another purpose, that is too tight for the facility, and is just ugly. Because the downtown elite developed an enthusiasm for trying to jump-start development in the former railyards north of downtown, the City is trying to shoehorn the Arena into a way-too-small space intended for the Amtrak/light rail/other public transit station. So not only do you have this monolith in a very tight space, but the transit hub ends up disjointed, unfocused, weird. I want it noted that I was the first to declare the whole project ugly so that, should the Arena actually be constructed, and people then say, "no one goes there, it's ugly," I will get to smile sweetly and say, "well, yeah, did you look at the 'artist's rendering'? That always looks better than the finished product, and not even an artist could put lipstick on this pig."