Monday, October 25, 2010

New York State of Mind

New York State of Mind

Former Harlem postal worker Jimmy McMillan stole the debate for New York governor last week by reiterating that the "rent is too damn high." He didn't stop there. In response to being questioned about gay marriage, McMillan responded that "if you were in love with a shoe, i'd marry you."
As the audience roared with laughter the moderator then stated "Next question goes to you Ms. Davis." At the time, I didn't know who "Ms. Davis" was so I googled her and discovered she was a former prostitute and madam. Ms. Davis opined about the need for legalizing all drugs and prostitution. It was at this point that I realized the reason why the county I live in was just ranked the highest in the country for property taxes. When you have unqualified people vying for state leadership positions and will be responsible for managing taxpayer dollars, there's no wonder why people are moving out the state of New York in droves.
Property tax data was released several weeks ago ranking the highest property taxed counties in the country. Monroe county (Rochester, NY) ranked 1st in the country. That's right...the highest taxed county in the country is not Orange county, California or Westchester county, New York. It's Monroe county. The county famous for "The Garbage Plate" rakes the highest for percentage of property taxes in the United States.
Normally I wouldn't be comfortable disclosing personal financial information but in this case, it's necessary to paint the appropriate picture for the reason of the exodus out of New York state. My wife and I purchased a home here in Monroe county this past April. Our home is a 4 bedroom, 3 bath colonial on less than half an acre. We paid $218,000. The yearly property taxes on our home are $10,200. Upon research, a nearly identical property in Virginia recently sold for $220,000, but the yearly property taxes on that dwelling were $2,400. Similar properties in Alabama had yearly property taxes under $1,000.
New York state has too much "overhead." They have tried, unsuccessfully, many times to trim state budgets, cut social programs, and make the necessary changes to government infrastructure that would equate to lowering state costs. But year after year, state budgets increase. When the state budget increases, taxes have to go up to cover the costs. When taxes go up, people start to leave the state for more affordable opportunities (see above). When taxpayers leave the state, the increased tax burden is shared amongst the remaining property owners. It's a cyclical problem that shows no light at the end of the tunnel.
Meanwhile, we have unqualified candidates debating about marrying a "shoe." These candidates are trying to take over the position that is currently held by a man who used his power to score 2009 World Series tickets for he and his son...and he took over for a man who was soliciting prostitutes.
Uncontrollable spending seems to be New York's state of mind. I think Billy Joel should re-write his song.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

RIP American Work Ethic

Judge Judy is my hero. I've watched her court show periodically since it came on the air. I'm drawn to her. She is one of a dying breed that calls people out, not only on their guilt in court proceedings, but their guilt in not contributing to the success of our country.

Our country's financial and global successes were built on an unbridled work ethic, something that has been buried along with the generation that was responsible for it. I remember my grandfather telling me how when he graduated from the University of Iowa in the late 1930's, he was unable to secure a job. At the time, our country was just starting to pull out of the Great Depression and most places still were not hiring. Unwavered, he went down to a local grocery store outside of Des Moines, Iowa and asked if they would allow him to work stocking shelves....for free. My grandfather, an intelligent man in his early 20's with a bachelor's degree in Accounting, asked the owner of this grocery store for a non-paying stockboy position, with the hopes that once the economy turned around he'd be in line for a paying position.

Fast Forward to 2010, Judge Judy listened to a civil suit where a woman in her late 20's was being sued for repayment of a loan. This woman folded under Judge Judy's questioning about her financial position, and admitted that she has never been employed. Additionally, the woman had 4 children. When Judge Judy asked if the father was in the children's lives, the woman responded "one of them is." "Explain that" quipped Judge Judy. The woman described that she has 4 young children by 3 different fathers. When asked how she supports the children financially she said "with my social security." Disgusted, Judge Judy responded "There are other things to do with your time besides making babies, GET TO WORK MADAM."

Sadly, I hear of so many of these situations. People choosing to live off the taxpaying system, rather than paying into it. It's frustrating watching my hard earned money going into a tax system that increasingly supports social irresponsibility. I saw a commercial the other day for a "free cell phone program." Apparently, our tax dollars now go into giving free cell phones and 200 minutes a month to those who meet certain financial requirements. Since when is a cell phone a basic necessity?

We have become a true Socialist system. Think about this...if you don't work, our government will potentially pay for your housing, heat, electric, food, health insurance, health insurance of your kids, college education, transportation (county funded bus token programs), cell phone service, garbage collection service, AND will give you additional money (monthly stipends) for personal spending.

With all those handouts, I can certainly see why so few people in this country have any desire to abandon the taxpaying trough. Judge Judy's verbal tirades at least force these people to hear the voice of the taxpayer, even if it doesn't force change. After all, why would they change when it pays not to change? In the words of Dire Straits, "Money for Nothin' and Chicks for Free."