Regarding the Zoo millage, which passed overwhelmingly:
“I’m thrilled,” said Liz Kaczmarek, 30, of Clinton Township, who takes her nieces and nephews to the zoo frequently. “I don’t know a person who knows about the zoo millage who said they were going to vote no.”
I didn’t vote at all. But even if I had, Liz, you wouldn’t have given a damn what my opinion was, because there simply aren’t enough of me.
Eric Ogunbase left a comment in response to my original post on the subject, A Zoo is Not a Public Good:
Growing up in San Diego makes one a “Zoo Snob”. However, I’ve been to both zoos (born in Hutzel Hospital many moons ago). I think the tax dollars of those in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties could be used for more pressing matters.
The Zoo is not one of them.
I couldn’t agree more. As long as the government is spending money, it should be doing something mildly productive with it. Subsidizing people who want to play with big cats or cute penguins all day doesn’t count.
Meanwhile, Jeff Molby was busy commenting:
I take my son to the zoo regularly and I’m gonna go to the polls specifically to vote against this. BTW, I don’t even own a house.
That’s alright. Property taxes are passed forward to consumers of rental properties, too. But it didn’t matter that Jeff voted against it.
The measure passed by a 2:1 margin, and is expected to raise property taxes about $10/year. Why can’t the 2 who voted for it pay $15/year, and I pay $0/year? That seems fair.
According to the article,
The tax, which is to cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $10 per year, will generate almost $15 million a year toward the zoo’s $26-million annual budget. The rest comes from admissions, concessions and donations.
Does the Detroit Zoo really only take in $2MM in concessions and donations revenues, annually?
Must be some sort of “new” math. If the zoo is $15MM short, that means it only brings in $11MM/year. The zoo boasts over 1 million visitors per year, and an adult admission is $11 with discounted fares available to children, groups, and elderly. I’m going to assume an average fare of something in the neighborhood of $8. That’s about $9MM in revenue, right there.
One commenter at the Free Press forum said,
It is just a shame that they didn’t ask for more money and make it free admittance. Then maybe people would go and utilize it…then sponsors would come…then the zoo would expand and get better…and more people would come…and more sponsors.
Right. Just what we need – even more corporate welfare.
Jeff Molby left a comment on Consumer Price Index (1800-2007)
I’m no fan of the Fed, but I couldn’t find a source for the estimates used in the chart. It’s pretty, but meaningless without a list of the assumptions used.
You could look it up at MeasuringWorth.com (via EH.net). They indicate $51 in 1800 is approximately equivalent to over $800 today.
Robert Evans left a comment, as well:
In general, statistics demonstrating that there has been inflation do not convince anyone that anything is wrong, because public opinion normally holds that a low but constantly positive level of inflation is good for promoting growth. That’s the belief that needs to be changed. Otherwise, you’re just preaching to the choir.
Robert! I think the point of that chart is that a “low but constantly positive level of inflation” is not what we’ve experienced over the last 100 years. This chart should give even the staunchest Friedmanites pause.
Jeff Molby left a comment on Fiat Credit is NOT a Loan, in response to my position that “A credit card is not a loan. Sometimes they are characterized as unsecured loans, or unsecured lines of credit, but in truth they are not loans.”
You’re not suggesting that credit cards themselves are a source of the problem, are you? It seems to me that a credit card could be completely legit in a hard money economy. If the bank pays Best Buy in hard money, the bank is temporarily and conditionally surrendering an asset on my behalf.
Your title implies that we agree on that, but I think you should clarify your third paragraph to make it clear that the underlying fiat system is the problem rather than the practice of supplying credit via a standardized form of identification.
Yes and No. I think that credit cards as we know them are essentially a product of a fiat money system, in that regard the system is the problem and the cards are merely a symptom.
Kip commented on Money From Nothing,
the Fed does not and cannot “monetize the debt.” Only the Treasury can do that. Federal Reserve Notes are not “the national debt,” Treasury securities are. The Treasury redeems them, not the Fed — either with tax revenues, proceeds from new debt or with currency (monetizing).
I consider the Fed and the Treasury to be two sides of the same coin, no pun intended. It doesn’t much matter which party technically monetizes the debt. The broader argument, that inflation is fraud, still holds, regardless of which half of the oligarchy is pulling the levers.
There were a number of comments on this subject, to which I’m still crafting a reply.
On Chrysler Kills the Auto Lease I forgot to mention something.
When determining the lease price for a vehicle, the lessor must know at least two things.
- The fair market value of the vehicle at inception
- A reasonable approximation of the vehicle’s value at fulfillment
Most of the news reports are citing vehicles’ lower-than-anticipated value at lease termination as reason for killing the lease as a financing alternative. This is only half of the problem, for which their economic model certainly should have accounted. The other half of the equation is always overlooked.
My best guess is that for most of the vehicles leased in the last few years, the value of (1) was ridiculously overstated. Combined with the failure to accurately predict (2), the financing woes for the auto companies was exacerbated. Had they started from a reasonable value, their exposure to macro-economic risks like a recession would’ve been lower.
Of course, it’s a result of over-capacity, brought about (at least in part) by malinvestments encouraged by loose monetary policy.
Kip, Esquire responds to my accusation, that governments are per se illegitimate in Comments # 22
You toss around the word “illegitimate” a little too recklessly. The argument is that “legitimate” is not a discrete quantum, but a continuum. One government can be more or less legitimite (sic) than another, and the metric by which legitimacy is measured is inoffensiveness to competent adults who have a natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
But to summarily dismiss all government as per se “illegitimate” is circular: you’re just assuming the answer.
I granted the idea that there is a continuum:
Conceivably, if and only if a government were to handle everything with kid-gloves, tread lightly and carry no stick, it would be less illegitimate than it currently is.
But this is a continuum of illegitimacy. Since there is no “contract” and can never be any such “contract,” (which would qualify as “legitimate”), the endpoint, “legitimacy” is not within the operative range of this continuum but is instead an unattainable ideal state.
Sure, the less deviation there is from an impossibly hypothetical contract, the better off everyone ought to be, but when examining a legitimate contract, the parties must have had the opportunity to avoid the contract in the first place. This is a binary condition: either the parties had the opportunity to forge a valid, consensual contract, or they had no such opportunity.
Since nobody ever had a choice in the matter, I’m willing to defenestrate any pretense of legitimacy.
I mean, let’s call spades as they are. The fact of the matter is this: You are not allowed to disagree with the non-existent contract without ultimately getting shot.
(Anything wrong with this proposition, from a libertarian perspective? Just asking.)
Any government proclaiming any degree of legitimacy ought to recognize that killing people for mere differences of opinion is an heinous policy to pursue.
One of the greatest black marks on American history was the Civil War. How is it, that every other western nation was able to eradicate chattel slavery without the bloodshed that beseiged the nation during the 1860s, claiming three-quarters of a million able men?
Not being a history scholar, I have no idea how the other nations managed to do it, but Vache Folle offers one solution to the problem in What was so great about slavery?
I don’t really understand why Southern elites hung on to the institution of slavery for so long. They would have had the same cheap labor force to exploit if they had emancipated their slaves and made them free laborers. They would also have gotten more Congressional representation since a freedman would count as an entire person for the purposes of apportionment.
Seems like a no-brainer, to me.
Of course, most people believe that the Civil War was in fact fought over slavery. I believe this was perhaps the popular cause, the rallying cry if you will. In fact, the Civil War was fought to “preserve the Union”, thus invalidating the sovereignty of allegedly free states and people.