Falling Through Loopholes
Those greedy grandparents: Why are we allowing our adult children, who were born and raised in California, to pay for the selfish sins of their grandparents? When their grandparents were young, they bought homes all over California at dirt cheap prices with low interest rates ["Prop. 13: The building-sized loopholes corporations love to exploit," Joe Eskenazi, feature, 1/4]. Yet, when they were given the opportunity to pay it forward, they instead decided to keep everything for themselves.
Dear old grandpa and grandma voted for Prop. 13, which keeps their property taxes at the 1978 tax rate — that was back in the good old days, when a gallon of gas was only 63 cents.
Prop. 13's damage is widespread: Back in 1982, when I lived in the Bay Area, I gathered signatures on a petition to amend Proposition 13. I still remember what a difficult sell it was getting people to sign. Our pitch was this: Prop. 13 treats business and residential property the same — but when a person buys a business, the property doesn't change hands, so it doesn't get re-assessed. Over time, we explained, Prop. 13 will shift the tax burden onto homeowners, exactly the opposite of its intention.
We never got the initiative on the ballot. Prop. 13 went on to do a lot of damage, not only in California but throughout the nation, where it inspired a generation of phony tax revolts designed to benefit the wealthy. In Washington, where I live now, the reigning heir to Prop. 13 is Tim Eyman, who has eviscerated the state budget with a series of faux-populist initiatives inspired by California's example. Schools, police departments, fire departments, libraries, hospitals, services for the disabled, and other vital government functions have borne the brunt.
It's nice to see an in-depth story on this issue, even 30 years later. Too bad that, as the article notes, even now change is highly unlikely.
Scuffing Up the DA's Résumé
City needs to prosecute scammers: Magic line in this text: "But the DA didn't file charges." This is the reason why the fair city is drowning in crimes — Gascón is lacking the cojones to prosecute ["Shoe-Shamers," Lauren Smiley, Sucka Free City, 1/4]. Of course we knew that, and voted for him anyway. We do get the officials we deserve.
Gascon must go
Panhandling trick on the move: I came across this in NYC on the Upper West Side. It was a little more elaborate. They "bet" they could tell me where I got my shoes, right down to the zip code. They kept it going for a few minutes. I agreed to a shoe-shine and all through it I was trying to figure out how they could possibly know where I "got" my shoes. They were very nice and good natured about it and I let them shine my shoes and gave them a tip — just a couple of dollars and they didn't ask for more. Everybody has to make a living somehow.
Blog Comment of the Week
Common New Year's resolution doesn't need to be invasive: Darn tootin'! While everyone has the right to pursue their own path to health, it is appalling how some weight-loss clinics paint a rosy picture of the procedure, the recovery, the risks, and life after surgery ["Five Things to Do in 2012 That Aren't Radical Weight-Loss Surgery," Marilyn Wann, the Exhibitionist, 1/3]. Wouldn't it be good just to do things like exercising, socializing, stress reduction, and eating tasty, real food — things that are good for a person's health and don't involve hacking or binding vital organs?