Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Back from Vacation

Sorry readers for the extended blog break. I went on vacation to San Antonio and while their I tried to avoid thinking about politics. I failed.

In San Antonio, there was news that the city had "found" $30 million from unspent bonds or something. The pols were positively giddy about the ways they would spend the money. Giving the money back to taxpayers was not among the proposals. Politicians thinking they know best is not a problem unique to Racine.

I talked with a shopkeeper in SA who was worried that the city would sell the property and that new owners would raise the rent. Or, to put it another way, a shopkeeper has enjoyed artificially reduced rents (for thirty years) while consumers, taxpayers and retail competitors have paid the price. At least Racine isn't in the commercial real estate business, thank goodness.

And San Antonio is quite nice. They have a famous river walk area, the people were friendly, the food was good and the weather was sunny and 60's and 70's.


Mixter said...

Why would they want to give that money back to the taxpayers? I'm sure, especially in this economy, that they have plenty of ways to spend the money that will benefit the community.

After all, with a population of roughly 1.3 million, how much would each taxpayer get? As a hypothetical: If only 30% of the population paid taxes, and the city distributed it equally among all taxpayers, each person would get a whopping $77. If they can use that money to bring in new business or provide incentives for businesses to employ people, wouldn't that be a good way to spend the money?


Mixter said...

Oh, how rude of me...

I'm glad you enjoyed your vacation! :)


Denis Navratil said...

Mixter, yes, politicians could spemd the money wisely. Or they could spend it poorly. Likewise, taxpayers could spend the money poorly or wisely.

But I am of the view that individuals, on average, will spend the money more wisely. Why, because they have more information. Yes, I know what is best for me while politicians can't know what is best for me. Perhaps I need insulin or a snowblower or a new tire or knowledge of a particular subject etc... Now take the infinite number of good things I could do with the $77 and multiply it by the other hundreds of thousands of taxpaying San Antonions and the thousands of potential needs that they might have and you can see that the maximum good possibly derived from the $30 million is unknowable by you, me, a politician or a commitee.

I have to run but will have more to add later.

Mixter said...

I appreciate your point of view, but $77 isn't going to buy much of a snowblower! :) And, the $77 was hypothetical, obviously. It would more likely be a lot less than $77.

So, a family could maybe have a night out at the movies, or the city could possibly act responsibly and use that money to repair infrastructure or help bring new business to the city. Either way it's a win-win that they "found" the money. Who's the idiot responsible for losing it in the first place? :D

I don't see things in black or white. I'm actually good with either scenario, but lean more toward the city using the money to bring in new businesses or help existing businesses, and in turn helping the economy by employing people and bringing in revenue.

But, if someone wants to give me $77, I'm all for it!


Denis Navratil said...

Mixter, I think we agree that the city should seek to use the money in an attempt to maximize the good. But you seem to think little good can be done if the money is chopped up and given back to the taxpayers in $77, or smaller, increments. IMHO, this suggests a bias on your part in favor of the large, splashy, visible project and against a multitude of smaller spending or investment projects. Do you assume that one or two large expenditures is better than a multitude of smaller expenditures? If so, why?

I believe that there is a moral dimension here also that we shouldn't overlook. The money belongs to the taxpayers and should be given back in the form of tax breaks.

Mixter I believe in small government. You can't please everyone all the time so government should only be involved in those areas where there is common agreement among nearly everyone. For example, with the exception of criminals, there is nearly universal agreement that we should have a police force and a court system to solve disputes. And except for some on the whacked out left or suicidal pacifists, we agree that we should have a military to defend ourselves from foriegn invasion. As you get further away from these obvious collective needs, you will get more and more disagreement. Universal education in its present form, various forms of welfare, unemployment benefits, seatbelt laws, promoting democracy militarily etc... are good things were there is a bit more disagreement. And when money is taken, increasingly, for public expenditures were there is a far lesser degree of general agreement, you will find more waste and more acrimony. For example, the taxes I contribute towards education is entirely wasted in my view because I think the private school that I send my son to is far better and I believe other parents children would be better served if they had additional educational choices. And if government declared that carrots are good and that we should all eat carrots every day and that from now on we will be taxed extra so that everyone will have fresh carrots delivered daily by the government, this would be wrong and wasteful and would probably coincide with enormous campaign contributions from the carrot lobby. I am really starting to ramble now so I will just wrap this up by saying that the more government strays from the collective actions that benefit us all, the more waste, fraud and corruption there are likely to be, so limiting the power and reach of government is good.

Mixter said...

Denis, you and I don't disagree on this as much as you seem to think we do. I said in my prior post that I would be good either way: taxpayers get a refund or government spends the money on something worthwhile for its citizens. Could I use an extra $77 right now? Damn skippy! It would actually help me out tremendously. However, if the city used that money to provide incentives for businesses to relocate there or to create additional jobs, that's also a win in my book. Large, splashy projects are generally more pomp and less substance, so no, I don't favor that at all. You assume too much about me, kid! ;)

I agree that government is too large and out of control. I also agree that the government should represent the will of the people. That is not to say it should not help those less fortunate, me currently being one of the less fortunate! (If you read my recent response to Nemo, you'll know to what I am referring.) It's gotten so big and wacky that there is altogether too much waste, and if they could force themselves to tighten it up we'd all be in better shape.

And, ramble away, my brother. It's your blog! :)


Denis Navratil said...

Careful Mixter. Too much agreement with me will lead to your ouster from the Kay club.

And yes, I read your response to Nemo's quote. We have become accustomed to get help from government be it public schooling, unemployment insurance, social security etc... but there is a twofold danger here in my view. First there is the problem of who is to pay for the programs and if there is enough money to pay for them and whether such programs will disincentivize productivity on the part of both recipients and taxpayers. Secondly and perhaps more troubling is the danger that we will stop looking out for our family, neighbors, community etc... because that is now the governments job. Will too much government "help" contribute to us being less responsible towards ourselves and others? Yes, in my view.

Granted, I am looking at this from a detached, macro point of view while you, perhaps, because of your difficult circumstances, are looking at it with your own particular difficulties formost on your mind.

Anonymous said...

Mixter - as I said on the other thread I'd like to get in touch with you. I saw your blogger profile and my Outlook is locked into an old account so I can't even call up your email address from the profile. I have a list of life science recruiters for you plus another idea -

Mixter said...

Silly Denis; I'm not a member of any club!

Yeah, there are lowlifes and deadbeats out there, but my view is that most of us are hard workers with a strong work ethic. It seems to me (and I could be wrong about that) that you don't have much faith in your fellow humans -- do you really think that we're going to stop looking out for family, neighbors, community, etc.? I don't believe that; I won't believe that.

Hey, Anon... I haven't made it to the other thread yet, but you can reach me at mixter_64 [AT] yahoo [DOT] com. Thanks! :)