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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

In Case You Take it All Too Seriously...

Posted: 05/01/05 23:45, Edited: 05/02/05 07:52

by Dave Mindeman

When the current government power brokers get you down, I guess you have to start thinking about how absurd it all is. Here are a few Right Wing Slants on definitions in the news. I'm sure you can think of others so feel free to post them in the comments section below. Here goes:

Current Republican definitions:

Checks and Balances: send us a check and we'll take care of the balance.
Bi-Partisan: The inclusion of any Democrat who agrees 100% with us.
Moral Value: How much the Christian Right contributes to the RNC in a year.
Judicial Discretion: Judges deciding cases in our favor.
Filibuster: What Republicans can do and Democrats can't.
Energy Bill: Waste management.
Budget Deficit: How we pay for things.
Ethics: Rules of conduct with moving definitions depending on what Tom Delay does.
Lobbyist: same as Budget Deficit above except insert the word "personal" before things.
Marriage Amendment: What we keep bringing up when we need to change the subject.
New Ideas: Old stuff we couldn't bring up before because we didn't control everything.
Faith Based Initiative: A means of funnelling government money into religious institutions while getting around the ACLU
Enemy Combatant: uh, we made that up.
Guantanamo: Cuban property for prisoner interrogation purposes; American property for all other purposes.
Fortune 500 Companies: our political base.
Libraries: places we can subpoena records from because W has never been there.

You get the idea. Its a strange planet we are on... time to go see Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-- it may make more sense.
comments (1) permalink

"Fair" Value

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 04/29/05 13:32, Edited: 04/29/05 14:07

by Paul Bartlett

As a guy who has lived in both states, I appreciate the unique qualities of both Wisconsin and Minnesota. For example, the Packers enjoy playing in Super Bowls, while the Vikings relish their post season quiet time at home. The Badgers get a kick out of winning Rose Bowls, while the Gophers prefer watching the bowl games on TV.

But both states share one common accomplishment: each has found a way to manipulate their property tax laws to enrich the already rich.

Wisconsin's scheme is called "Use Value". The idea is that assessors must value agricultural land as agricultural land. Well, that's exactly what they had been doing. The effect: real estate developers in and around large (and small) cities can just sit on their "farms", pay practically no real estate taxes, and realize huge capital gains at the expense of all other taxpayers. For example, the median per acre value of these "farms" in Green Bay is $105, Madison is $158, while Milwaukee is $138. And that's BEFORE the values are REDUCED to the level of assessment.

Minnesota's scheme is called "Limit Market Value". Here, the taxable value of a homestead is artificially constrained by the state. We've all heard the expression "the power of compounding". Well, the power of compound discounting best describes this tax shift scheme. For example, assume a $200,000 home in a neighborhood with 12% annual inflation and a limit value cap of 8%. After five years, the home would be worth $352,468, while its taxable value would be only $293,866. Who pays for this subsidy? Every taxpayer in a low inflation neighborhood.

Working stiffs subsidizing the well-to-do. This seems to be our national creed. What the heck, it works for GW Bush, why not the states.
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Bush's Social Security "Plan"

Category: US Politics
Posted: 04/29/05 09:37

By Jay H. Steele

At his press conference last night, the President for the first time hinted at a plan to address the solvency issue of Social Security. As has been widely reported, his privatization proposal doesn't address the long-term solvency issue, and almost certainly makes it worse. Last night he suggested a form of means-testing for future Social Security benefits where the wealthiest would receive fewer benefits and the poorest would be guaranteed a full benefit.

Progressives like me should be for this kind of progressive plan, right? The poor are protected; the wealthy receive less. It's a very bad idea for Social Security. Why? Because the strength of Social Security comes from it being for everyone. Everyone pays the same and everyone receives the same benefit. While the wealthy rely on it much less, they still have a stake in its success and an incentive to pay their share.

As soon as we means-test Social Security it becomes just another form of "welfare" and it is one step closer to becoming a perpetual conservative target for cutting and elimination. It has thus far been politically untouchable because it is not perceived as just a "welfare" program. It needs to stay that way. Whatever plan is adopted to address its solvency issues needs to keep the pay-in and the pay-out neutral on the issue of the relative wealth of participants.
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