UPDATE FROM THE 30 BLOCKS OF SQUALOR – GOVERNMENT BUILDS IT WITH YOUR MONEY AND THEY DON’T COME

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Posted on 10th April 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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I haven’t provided a 30 Blocks of Squalor update in quite a while. I generally don’t like to repeat myself, so I wait until I see something particularly disturbing, stupid, or outrageous. The well is now filled on all accounts and I’m ready to unload. The joys of West Philly are multi-faceted. I’ve been getting off at the Girard Avenue exit of the Schulkill Expressway for six years on my way to work.

The Philadelphia Zoo parking lots are located directly in front of the exit ramp. I then proceed to 34th street and take my little shortcut through the hood. About one year ago, a construction project began on the existing parking lot at 35th and Girard Avenue. I had no idea what they were building and why. Before long it became evident they were building a big ass parking garage. I was stumped. The zoo had multiple existing parking lots that were NEVER filled. As the months went on I realized they were building the Shangri La of parking garages with a majestic glass tower in front. This is the final result.

Images of the Philadelphia Zoo's new parking garage before and after construction.

I began to wonder who came up with the money for this monstrosity, because the Phila zoo is a money losing non-profit that depends on donations for its continued existence. As I was driving down 36th Street a couple weeks ago I noticed a brand new sign telling me I was entering the Centennial District. That’s funny because I thought I was entering the slums of West Philly where no one works and everyone has an iPhone. This would be a more appropriate sign.

It all began to make sense when they installed the enormous signage naming this parking garage the CENTENNIAL INTERMODAL TRANSPORTATION CENTER. Orwell must be so proud. Liberal Democratic politicians now give grand flowing names to parking garages.

Site plan for center

Now that I had a name for this unnecessary albatross I was able to do a google search to find out how much this 683 space, union constructed parking palace amidst squalor actually cost. I was flabbergasted to find out it cost $24 million. You can be sure it could have been built for $16 million if it had been built non-union. For some perspective, IKEA builds 300,000 square foot retail stores for $18 million. Now for the best part. YOU paid for 30% of this porkulus project. Your Federal tax dollars funded a major portion of this project. Here is the breakdown:

  • Federal Transit Agency/Federal Highway Administration: $7.18 million
  • Pennsylvania state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program: $8.25 million
  • Philadelphia city capital program: $0.7 million
  • PNC Bank loan: $8.25 million

Pennsylvania taxpayers got a double dose of pork fever. Their Federal taxes paid for 30% and their state taxes paid for another 34% of this project. Of course, the rest of the cost was covered by debt. Think about this craziness for just a minute. The zoo had sufficient parking. The Federal government is running deficits in excess of $1 trillion per year. The State of PA is being bankrupted by government employee pension obligations. The City of Phila is a fiscal disaster. Three bankrupt government entities join forces to spend taxpayer money they haven’t collected on a project that isn’t needed. This is Keynesian idiocy at its finest. They should have named it the Krugman/Obama/Nutter Ultra-Liberal Phallic Center for Union Workers. You’ll also be happy to know they have plans to paint a huge mural of black people doing great things on the side of this waste of taxpayer dollars.

Images of the Philadelphia Zoo's new parking garage before and after construction.

Now for the funny part. I stumbled across the architectural rendering of what this albatross would look like. Please note the beautiful foliage, as if this parking garage was in the middle of Valley Forge National Park. Also note the dozens of white people strolling along Girard Avenue. You also see a portion of a modern trolley in the shot. Having passed this location every morning and evening for the last six years, I can assure you there is no beautiful foliage. There are scraggly diseased trees amidst garbage, debris, needles, and dead bodies.

The picture doesn’t do justice to this West Philly oasis of poverty, squalor and crime. The picture is missing the crazy black dude begging at the off-ramp. The actual trolley smells of urine and was built in 1963. The streets are crumbling. Water mains explode frequently. Every building is covered in graffiti. And 90% of the people on the streets are black, and the other 10% are walking really fast.

The Trayvon hoody wearing populace of West Philly aren’t interested in new parking garages or getting a job at the Phila zoo. They  prefer EBT cards, armed robbery and drug dealing.

This is the reality of Girard Avenue. Gorgeous architectural renderings and gleaming glass encased parking garages paid for by taxpayers will do absolutely nothing to change the dynamic of West Philly. This is just another mal-investment by liberal do-gooders whose policies have created this shithole over decades.

 

Speaking of mal-investment, this brings me to an update of Mantua Square. It is located two blocks from the zoo parking garage. I’ve written two previous articles about this monument to government pork, false promises, Keynesian idiocy, and your tax dollars:

http://www.theburningplatform.com/?p=27516

http://www.theburningplatform.com/?p=18696

Mantua Square continues the legacy of the welfare state begun in the 1960s by LBJ and his Great Society programs. There were thousands of low income high rises built in the 1960s and 1970s to provide subsidized housing for poor people. Mantua Hall was an 18 story taxpayer gift to Philadelphia’s poor.

As with most of these tenements, it quickly became a rat infested, crime ridden, drug paradise where even the Philly police would not approach. It became a dangerous crumbling disgrace. It proved that giving ignorant, lazy scumbags free housing with no strings attached and no requirements to work or keep their homes in any semblance of order leads to really bad consequences. So what did the liberal Democrats that run Philly do? They imploded the 18 story drug house in 2008 and started over.

Obama’s 2009 $800 billion porkulus plan spread your money far and wide to his minions in urban shitholes across the land. The Democrats in Philly were rewarded with millions for Keynesian make work projects for their union brethren. Mayor Nutter and  West Philly Congressman Chaka Fattah commandeered $10 million of “stimulus” and another $18 million from HUD to replace Mantua Hall with a 101 luxury townhouse low income housing gated community in the heart of the West Philly slums. These corrupt government politicians never learn, or they don’t want to learn – is more like it. The Feds pay them off and they pay their union cronies off , assuring their re-election. Mantua Square opened in 2011 with balloons, ribbon cutting and promises of  community redevelopment and a retail renaissance. I have to admit that it is a beautiful oasis amidst the squalor. Of course, at a cost of over $250,000 per unit to the U.S. taxpayer, it should be beautiful. How many hard working married American couples can’t afford a $250,000 townhome? I’ll go out on a limb and say, most. Why would a resident of a taxpayer funded $250,000 townhouse have any incentive to get educated and obtain a job that would make them ineligible to live in that townhouse?

This gated oasis was built with 8 retail stores totaling 7,400 square feet. The government drones were sure that if they built it they would come. It is now two years after opening and I’m sorry to say – NO ONE CAME. All 8 storefronts are empty. Not one West Philly entrepreneur has stepped forward with a fantastic retail idea. Shocking!!!! Maybe someone should have realized that with a median household income of less than $20,000, Mantua will NEVER sustain a single retail store, let alone 8 stores. You have less chance of opening a successful store in Mantua than finding a female with a wedding ring or a male with a school book in West Philly.

Maybe someone should have checked out the available facts before building these 8 retail stores:

http://www.city-data.com/neighborhood/Mantua-Philadelphia-PA.html

Some interesting tidbits:

  • There are 7,854 people living in the area and 90% of them are black
  • The median household income is $19,765 versus $50,000 in the U.S. (this means 50% of the households make less than $19,765)
  • Only 14% of the households are occupied by married couples versus 48% in the U.S.
  • 30% of the households are occupied by single mothers.
  • 36% of the residents did not graduate high school, with another 35% not going further than high school.
  • The average value of the decaying row houses in the neighborhood is less than $40,000.
  • Over 43% of the population is living below the poverty line.
  • The crime rate is three times the national average.
  • The true unemployment rate is above 60%.

The statistics confirm my observations of squalor. I’ve driven past Mantua Square virtually every day since it opened. I can honestly tell you that the neighborhood has not been redeveloped or revitalized. Mantua Square is still surrounded by dilapidated, boarded up, rat infested hovels. There is no new retail. There is no community revival. A row house one block away simply collapsed during Hurricane Sandy. There are brand new union built wheel chair ramps on every corner of West Philly, paid for with the Obama stimulus funds. Of course, the sidewalks between the wheelchair ramps are crumbling, so someone in a wheelchair could never utilize them. But that’s OK. Wheel chairs are old school. I see many West Philly residents tooling around in the streets in their Hoverounds. Their practically free, don’t you know.

The local bar, next to the middle school, seems to be doing good business as there are usually 10 or 15 twenty something black men milling around outside when I pass by at 5:15 pm on my way home from work. They must accept EBT cards. Do you throw trash, garbage and beer bottles on your front lawn? The people in this neighborhood seem to think this is acceptable behavior. Monday is trash day in West Philly. This week I saw a leather couch that was nicer than my living room couch out by the curb. Last week I saw a big screen TV in the trash. I must really be doing something wrong. The amount of trash outside these low income townhouses is two to three times the amount we generate in a week.

It does appear that Obama’s subprime solution is working its magic in West Philly. How else can you explain the 20 something black man driving an $80,000 BMW 750 I saw yesterday in West Philly? I have seen the power gates of Mantua Square open and BMWs, Jaguars, and Cadillac Escalades departing. How can low income occupants afford such vehicles? The neighborhood around Mantua Square is filled with new model Lexuses, Cadillacs, and a particular favorite – Chrysler 300s. The hovels all have satellite dishes. The unemployed peeps all have cell phones.

Everything I’ve noted could not have been accomplished without the easy money policies of the Federal Reserve. The money printing of the Federal Reserve with no anchor to gold has allowed the welfare state to grow to immense proportions. It has allowed politicians to buy votes by spending taxpayer dollars on multi-million dollar Keynesian zero return albatrosses. It has allowed politicians to enslave black people on a welfare plantation of entitlements. Bernanke and his cronies reward mal-investment through their policies. They reward bad behavior (borrowing & spending), while punishing good behavior (saving and investing). West Philly is a testament to failed economic policies, government waste, lack of personal responsibility, corrupt politicians, excessive union costs, and the delusional belief that government can create economic growth. The 30 Blocks of Squalor is descending further into squalor and it will accelerate as Bernanke’s policies further destroy what remains of capitalism in this country.

AVAILABLE

109 comments

Posted on 25th March 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley

 

 

Six months ago I wrote an article called Are You Seeing What I’m Seeing?, describing my observations while traveling along Ridge Pike in Montgomery County, PA and motoring to my local Lowes store on a Saturday. My observations were in conflict with the storyline portrayed by the mainstream media pundits, Ivy League PhD economists, Washington politicians, and Wall Street shills. It is clear now that I must have been wrong. No more proof is needed than the fact the Dow has gone up 1,500 points, or 11%, since I wrote the article. Everyone knows the stock market reflects the true health of the nation – multi-millionaire Jim Cramer and his millionaire CNBC talking head cohorts tell me so. Ignore the fact that the bottom 80% only own 5% of the financial assets in this country and are not benefitted by the stock market in any way.

The mainstream corporate media that is dominated by six mega-corporations (Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Comcast, Viacom, and Bertelsmann), has one purpose as described by the master of propaganda – Edward Bernays:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

These media corporations’ task is to use propaganda and misinformation to protect the interests of the status quo. The ruling class has the power to manipulate public opinion, obscure the truth, alter government data, and outright lie, but they can’t control the facts and reality smacking the average person in the face every day. Based on the performance of the stock market and the storyline of economic recovery being peddled by the corporate media, the facts must surely support their contention. Here are a few facts about what has really happened in the last six months since I wrote my article:

  • The working age population has grown by 1.1 million, the number of employed Americans is up 500k, while the number of people who have left the labor force has gone up by 600k. The BLS reports the unemployment rate has fallen without blinking an eye or turning red with embarrassment.
  • The number of Americans entering the Food Stamp Program in the last six months totaled 1 million, bringing the total to 47.8 million, or 20% of all households (up 15 million since the Obama economic recovery began in December 2009).
  • Existing home sales have increased by a scintillating 2.9% on a seasonally adjusted annual basis and average prices have fallen by 6% in the last six months. It is surely a great sign that 32% of all home sales are to Wall Street investors and 25% are either foreclosure sales or short sales. A large percentage of the remaining sales are funded by 3% down FHA government backed loans.
  • There were 31,000 new homes sales in January versus 34,000 new home sales six months prior. Through the magic of seasonal adjustment, this translates into a 15% increase.
  • Single family housing starts were 41,600 in February versus 51,400 six months prior. Even using seasonal adjustments, the government drones can only report a pathetic 4.7% annualized increase and flat starts over the last three months, with mortgage rates at all-time lows.
  • The National Debt has gone up by $750 billion in the last six months, while Real GDP has gone up by less than $150 billion.
  • Real hourly earnings have not increased in the last six months.
  • Consumer debt has risen by $65 billion as the Federal Government has doled out student loans like candy and auto loans (through the 80% government owned Ally Financial – aka GMAC, aka Ditech, aka ResCap) like crack dealer in West Philly.
  • The Federal Reserve has increased their balance sheet by $385 billion in the last six months by buying toxic mortgages from Wall Street banks and the majority of Treasuries issued by the government to fund the $1 trillion annual deficits being produced by the Obama administration. It now totals $3.2 trillion, up from $900 billion in September 2008, and headed to $4 trillion before this year is out.
  • Retail sales have increased by less than 2% over the last six months and are barely 1% above last February. On an inflation adjusted basis, retail sales are falling. Other than internet sales and government financed auto sales, every other retail category is negative year over year. This is reflected in the poor sales and earnings reports from JC Penney, Sears, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes, Kohl’s, Darden, McDonalds, and Yum Brands. I’m sure next quarter will be gangbusters, with the Obama payroll tax increase, Obamacare premium increases, 15% surge in gasoline prices, and continued inflation in food and energy.

Considering that 71% of GDP is dependent upon consumer spending (versus 62% in 1979 before the financialization of America), the dreadful results of retailers and restaurants even before the Obama tax increases confirms the country has been in recession since the second half of 2012. In 1979 the economy was still driven by domestic investment that accounted for 19% of GDP. Today, it wallows at all-time lows of 13%. In addition, our trade deficits, driven by debt fueled consumption, subtract 3.5% from GDP. These facts are reflected in the depressed outlook of small business owners who are the backbone of growth, hiring and entrepreneurship in this country. Small businesses of 500 employees or less employ half of all the private industry workers in the country and account for 65% of all new jobs created. There are approximately 27 million small businesses versus 18,000 large businesses. The chart below does not paint an improving picture. The small business optimism has dropped from an already low 92.8 in September 2012 to 90.8 in March 2013.

Small business optimism report for March 2013

The head of the NFIB couldn’t make the situation any clearer:

While the Fortune 500 is enjoying record high earnings, Main Street earnings remain depressed. Far more firms report sales down quarter over quarter than up. Washington is manufacturing one crisis after another—the debt ceiling, the fiscal cliff and the Sequester. Spreading fear and instability are certainly not a strategy to encourage investment and entrepreneurship. Three-quarters of small-business owners think that business conditions will be the same or worse in six months. Until owners’ forecast for the economy improves substantially, there will be little boost to hiring and spending from the small business half of the economy. NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg

If consumers, who account for 71% of the economy, aren’t spending, and small business owners, who do 65% of all the hiring in the country, are petrified with insecurity, why is the stock market hitting all-time highs and the corporate media proclaiming happy days are here again? It can be explained by the distribution of wealth and income in this country. Every media pundit, politician, Wall Street shill, Ivy League PhD economist, and corporate titan you see on CNBC, Fox or any corporate media outlet is a 1%er or better. The chart below shows the bottom 99% saw their real incomes decline between 2009 and 2011, while the top 1% reaped the stock market gains and corporate bonuses for using “creative” accounting to generate record corporate profits. The trend in 2012 through today has only widened this gap, as real worker wages have continued to decline and the stock market has advanced another 20%.

The feudal financial industry lords are feasting on caviar and champagne in their mountaintop manors while the serfs and peasants scrounge in the gutters for scraps and morsels. This path has been chosen by the king (Obama) and enabled by his court jester (Bernanke). Money printing and inflation are their weapons of choice. We are living in a 21st Century version of the Dark Ages.

On the Road Again

I’ve been baffled by a visible disconnect between deteriorating data and the storyline being sold to the ignorant masses by the financial elitists that run the show. The websites and truthful analysts that I respect and trust (Zero Hedge, Mish, Jesse, Karl Denninger, John Hussman, David Stockman, Financial Sense and a few others) provide analytical evidence on a daily basis that confirm my view that our economic situation is worsening. We are all looking at the same data, but the pliable faux journalists that toil for their corporate masters spin the data in a manner designed to mislead and manipulate in order to mold public opinion, as Edward Bernays taught the invisible ruling class. As you can see, numbers and statistical data can be spun, adjusted, and manipulated to tell whatever story you want to depict. I prefer to confirm or deny my assessment with my observations out in the real world. I spend 12 hours per week cruising the highways and byways of Montgomery County and Philadelphia as I commute to and from work and shuttle my kids to guitar lessons, friends’ houses, and local malls. I can’t help but have my antenna attuned to what I’m seeing with my own eyes.

As I detailed in my previous article, Montgomery County is relatively affluent area with the dangerous urban enclaves of Norristown and Pottstown as the only blighted low income, high crime areas in the 500 square mile county of 800,000 people. The median household income and median home prices are 50% above the national averages. Major industries include healthcare, pharmaceuticals, insurance and information technology. It is one of only 30 counties in the country with a AAA rating from Standard & Poors (as if that means anything). On paper, my county appears to be thriving and healthy, with white collar professionals living an idyllic suburban existence. One small problem – the visual evidence as you travel along Welsh Road towards Montgomeryville or Germantown Pike towards Plymouth Meeting reveals a decaying infrastructure, dying retail meccas, and miles of empty office complexes.

I don’t think my general observations as I drive around Montgomery County are colored by any predisposition towards negativity. I see a gray winter like pallor has settled upon the land. I see termite pocked wooden fences with broken and missing slats. I see sagging porches. I see leaky roofs with missing tiles. I see vacant dilapidated hovels. I see mold tainted deteriorating siding on occupied houses. I see weed infested overgrown yards. I see collapsing barns and crumbling farm silos. I see houses and office buildings that haven’t been painted in 20 years. I see clock towers in strip malls with the wrong time. I see shuttered gas stations. I see retail stores with lights out in their signs. I see trees which fell during Hurricane Sandy five months ago still sitting in yards untouched. I see potholes not being filled. I see disintegrating highway overpasses and bridges. I constantly see emergency repairs on burst water mains. I see malfunctioning stoplights. I see fading traffic signage. I see regional malls with rust stained walls beneath their massive unlit Macys, JC Penney and Sears logos. I see hundreds of Space Available, For Lease, For Rent, Vacancy, For Sale and Store Closing signs dotting the suburban landscape. These sights are in a relatively affluent suburban county. When I reach West Philly, it looks more like Dresden in 1945.

                      Dresden – 1945                                                     Philadelphia – 2013

 

I moved to my community in 1995 when the economy was plodding along at a 2.5% growth rate. The housing market was still depressed from the early 90s recession. The retail strip centers and larger malls in my area were 100% occupied. Office parks were bustling with activity. Office vacancy rates were the lowest in twenty years during the late 1990s. National GDP has grown by 112% (only 50% after adjusting for inflation) since 1995, with personal consumption rising 122%. Domestic investment has only grown by 80%, but imports skyrocketed by 204%. If the economy has more than doubled in the last 18 years, how could retail strip centers in my affluent community have 40% to 70% vacancy rates and office parks sit vacant for years? The answer is that Real GDP has not even advanced by 50%. Using a true rate of inflation, not the bastardized, manipulated, tortured BLS version, shows the country has essentially been in contraction since the year 2000.

The official government sanctioned data does not match what I see on the ground, but the Shadowstats version of the data explains it perfectly.

My observations also don’t match up with the data reported by the likes of Reis, Trepp, Moody’s and the Federal Reserve. Reis reports a national vacancy rate of 17.1% for offices, barely below its peak of 17.6% in late 2010. Vacancy rates are 35% above 2007 levels and more than double the rates in the late 1990s. But what I realized after digging into the methodology of these reported figures is the true rates are significantly higher. First you must understand that Reis and Trepp are real estate companies who are in business to make money from commercial real estate transactions. It is in their self -interest to report data in the most positive manner possible – they’ve learned the lessons of Bernays. These mouthpieces for their industry slice and dice the numbers according to major markets, minor markets, suburban versus major cities, and most importantly they only measure Class A office space.

I didn’t realize the distinctions between classes when it comes to office space. The Building Owners and Managers Association describes the classes:

Class A office buildings have the “most prestigious buildings competing for premier office users with rents above average for the area.” Class A facilities have “high quality standard finishes, state of the art systems, exceptional accessibility and a definite market presence.” Class B office buildings as those that compete “for a wide range of users with rents in the average range for the area.” Class B buildings have “adequate systems” and finishes that “are fair to good for the area,” but that the buildings do not compete with Class A buildings for the same prices. Class C buildings are aimed towards “tenants requiring functional space at rents below the average for the area.”

So we have landlords self-reporting Class A vacancy rates in big markets to a real estate company that reports them without verification. Is it in a landlord’s best interest to under-report their vacancy rate? You bet it is. If potential tenants knew the true vacancy rates, they would be able to negotiate much lower rents. There is a beautiful Class A 77,000 square foot building near my house that was built in 2004. Nine years later there is still a huge Space Available sign in front of the building and it appears at least 50% vacant.

I pass another Class A property on Welsh Road called the Gwynedd Corporate Center that consists of three 40,000 square foot buildings in a 13 acre office park. It was built in 1998 and is completely dark. The vacancy rate is 100%. As I traveled down Germantown Pike last week I noted dozens of Class A office complexes with Space Available signs in front. I’m absolutely certain that vacancy rates in Class A offices in Montgomery County exceed 25%. When you expand your horizon to Class B and Class C office space, vacancy rates exceed 50%. The only booming business in my suburban paradise is Space Available sign manufacturing. We probably import those from China too. Despite the spin put on the data by the real estate industry, Moody’s reported data supports my estimates:

  • The values of suburban offices in non-major markets are 43% below 2007 levels.
  • Industrial property values in non-major markets are 28% below 2007 levels.
  • Retail property values in non-major markets are 35% below 2007 levels.

The data being reported by Reis regarding vacancies in strip malls and regional malls is also highly questionable, based on my real world observations. The reported vacancy rates of 8.6% for regional malls and 10.7% for strip malls, barely below their 2011 peaks, are laughable. Again, there is no benefit for a landlord to report their true vacancy rate. The truth will depress rents further. This data is gathered by surveying developers and landlords. We all know how reputable and above board real estate professionals are – aka David Lereah, Larry Yun. A large strip mall near my house has a 70% vacancy rate, with another, one mile away, with a 50% vacancy rate. Anyone with two eyes and functioning brain that has visited a mall or driven past a strip mall knows that vacancy rates are at least 15%, the highest in U.S. history. These statistics don’t even capture the small pizza joints, craft shops, antique outlets, candy stores, book stores, gas stations and myriad of other family run small businesses that have been forced to close up shop in the last five years.

The disconnect between reality, the data reported by the mouthpieces of the status quo, and financial markets is as wide as the Grand Canyon. Even the purveyors of false data can’t get their stories straight. Trepp has been reporting steadily declining commercial delinquency rates since July 2012, when they had reached 10.34%, the highest level since the early 1990s. The decline is being driven solely by apartment complexes and hotels. Industrial and retail delinquencies continue to rise and office delinquencies are flat over the last three months. Again, the definition of delinquent is in the eye of the beholder.

The quarterly delinquency rates on commercial loans reported by the Federal Reserve is less than half the rate being reported by Trepp, at 4.13%. Bennie and his band of Ivy League MBA economists have reported 10 consecutive quarters of declining commercial loan delinquency rates. This is in direct contrast to the data reported by Trepp that showed delinquencies rising during 2012.

Real estate loans

All

Booked in domestic    offices

Residential 1

Commercial 2

Farmland

2012:4

7.57

10.07

4.13

2.67

2011:4

8.48

10.34

6.11

3.26

2010:4

9.12

10.23

7.96

3.59

2009:4

9.59

10.54

8.73

3.42

2008:4

6.04

6.67

5.49

2.28

2007:4

2.91

3.08

2.75

1.51

2006:4

1.70

1.95

1.32

1.41

The data being reported doesn’t pass the smell test. Commercial vacancy rates are at or above the levels seen during the last Wall Street created real estate crisis in the early 1990’s. During 1991/1992 commercial loan delinquency rates ranged between 10% and 12%. Today, with the same or higher levels of vacancy, the Federal Reserve reports 4% delinquency rates. When the latest Wall Street created financial collapse struck in 2008 and commercial property values crashed while vacancy rates soared, there were dire predictions of huge loan losses between 2010 and 2012. Commercial real estate loans generally rollover every 5 to 7 years. The massive issuance of dodgy subprime commercial loans between 2005 and 2007 would come due between 2010 and 2012. But miraculously delinquency rates have supposedly plunged from 8.78% in mid-2010 to 4.13% today. The Federal Reserve decided in 2009 to look the other way when assessing whether a real estate loan would ever be repaid. A loan isn’t considered delinquent if the lender decides it isn’t delinquent. The can’t miss strategy of extend, pretend and pray was implemented across the country as mandated by the Federal Reserve. This pushed out the surge in loan maturities to 2014 – 2016.

In an economic system that rewarded good choices and punished those who took ridiculous undue risks and lost, real estate developers, mall owners, and office landlords would be going bankrupt in large numbers and loan losses for Wall Street Too Stupid to Succeed banks would be in the billions. Developers took out loans in the mid-2000’s which were due to be refinanced in 2012. The property is worth 35% less and the rental income with a 20% vacancy rate isn’t enough to cover the interest payments on the loan. The borrower would have no option but to come up with 35% more cash and accept a higher interest rate because the risk of default had risen, or default. Instead, the lenders have pretended the value of the property hasn’t declined and they’ve extended the term of the loan at a lower interest rate. This was done on the instructions of the Federal Reserve, their regulator. The plan is dependent on an improvement in the office and retail markets. It seems the best laid plans of corrupt sycophant central bankers are going to fail.

Eyes Wide Open

There are 1,300 regional malls in this country, with most anchored by a JC Penney, Sears, Barnes & Noble, or Best Buy. The combination of declining real household income, aging population, lackluster employment growth, rising energy, food and healthcare costs, mounting tax burdens, and escalating on-line purchasing will result in the creation of 200 or more ghost malls over the next five years. The closure of thousands of big box stores is baked in the cake. The American people have run out of money. They have no equity left in their houses to tap. The average worker has only $25,000 of retirement savings and they are taking loans against it to make the mortgage payment and put food on the table. They can’t afford to perform normal maintenance on their property and are one emergency away from bankruptcy. In a true cycle of doom, most of the jobs “created” since 2009 are low skill retail jobs with little or no benefits. As storefronts go dark and more “Available” signs are erected in front of these weed infested eyesores, more Americans will lose their jobs and be unable to do their 71% part in our economic Ponzi scheme.

The reason office buildings across the land sit vacant, with mold and mildew silently working its magic behind the walls and under the carpets, is because small businesses are closing up shop and only a crazy person would attempt to start a new business in this warped economic environment of debt dependent diminishing returns. The 27 million small businesses in the country are fighting a losing battle against overbearing government regulations, increasingly heavy tax burdens, operating cost inflation, Obamacare mandates, a low skill poorly educated workforce, and customers with diminishing resources and declining disposable income. Small business owners are not optimistic about the future because they don’t have a sugar daddy like Bernanke to provide them with free money and a promise to bail them out if their high risk investments go bad. With small businesses accounting for 65% of all new hiring in this country and looming healthcare taxes, mandates, regulations and penalties approaching like a freight train, there is absolutely zero probability that office buildings will be filling up with new employees in the next few years. With hundreds of billions in commercial real estate loans coming due over the next three years, over 60% of the loans in the office and retail category, vacancy rates at record levels, and property values still 30% to 40% below the original loan values, a rendezvous with reality awaits. How long can bankers pretend to be paid on loans by developers who pretend they are collecting rent from non-existent tenants who are selling goods to non-existent customers? The implosion in the commercial real estate market will also blow a gaping hole in the Federal Reserve balance sheet, which is leveraged 55 to 1.

federal reserve balance sheet

I regularly drive along Schoolhouse Road in Souderton. It is a winding country road with dozens of small manufacturing, warehousing, IT, aerospace, auto repair, bus transportation, retail and landscaping businesses operating and trying to scratch out a small profit. Most of these businesses have been operating for decades. I would estimate that most have annual revenue of less than $2 million and less than 100 employees. It is visibly evident they have not been thriving, as their facilities are looking increasingly worn down and in disrepair. Their access to credit has been reduced since the 2008 crisis, as only the Wall Street banks and mega-corporations with Washington lobbyists received Bennie Bucks and Obama stimulus pork. These small businesses have been operating on razor thin margins and unable to invest in their existing facilities or expand their businesses. The tax increases just foisted upon small business owners and their employees, along with Obamacare mandates which will drive healthcare costs dramatically higher, and waning demand due to lack of income, will surely push some of these businesses over the edge. There will be some harsh lessons learned on Schoolhouse Road over the next few years. I expect to see more of these signs along Schoolhouse Road and thousands of other roads in the next few years.

The mainstream media pawns, posing as journalists, have not only gotten the facts wrong regarding the current situation, but their myopia extends into the near future. The perpetual optimists that always see a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow are either willfully ignorant or a product of our government run public education system and can’t perform basic mathematical computations. As pointed out previously, consumer spending drives 71% of our economy. As would be expected, the highest level of annual spending occurs between the ages of 35 to 54 years old when people are in their peak earnings years. Young people are already burdened with $1 trillion of government peddled student loan debt and are defaulting at a 20% rate because there are no decent jobs available. Millions of Boomers are saddled with underwater mortgages, prodigious levels of credit card and auto loan debt, with retirement savings of $25,000 or less. Anyone expecting the young or old to ramp up spending over the next decade must be a CNBC pundit, University of Phoenix MBA graduate or Ivy League trained economist.

There will be 10,000 Boomers per day turning 65 years old for the next 18 years. Consumers in the 65-74 age segment spend 28% less on average than during their peak years. It is estimated that between 2010 and 2020 there will be approximately 14.5 million more consumers aged 65 or older. The number of Americans in their peak spending years will crash over the next decade. This surely bodes well for our suburban sprawl, mall based, cheap energy dependent, debt fueled society. Do you think this will lead to a revival in retail and office commercial real estate?

We’ve got $1 trillion annual deficits locked in for the next decade. We’ve got total credit market debt at 350% of GDP. We’ve got true unemployment exceeding 20%. We’ve had declining real wages for thirty years and no change in that trend. We’ve got an aging, savings poor, debt rich, obese, materialistic, iGadget distracted, proudly ignorant, delusional populace that prefer lies to truth and fantasy to reality. We’ve got 20% of households on food stamps. We’ve got food pantries, thrift stores and payday loan companies doing a booming business. We’ve got millions of people occupying underwater McMansions in picturesque suburban paradises that can’t make their mortgage payments or pay their utility bills, awaiting their imminent eviction notice from one of the Wall Street banks that created this societal catastrophe.

We’ve got a government further enslaving the middle class in student loan debt with the false hope of new jobs that aren’t being created. We’ve got a shadowy unaccountable organization, owned and controlled by the biggest banks in the world, that has run a Ponzi scheme called a fractional reserve lending system for 100 years, and inflated away 96% of the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar. We’ve got a self-proclaimed Ivy League academic expert on the Great Depression (created by the Federal Reserve) who has tripled the Federal Reserve balance sheet on his way to quadrupling it by year end, who has promised QE to eternity with the sole purpose of enriching his benefactors while impoverishing senior citizens and the middle class. He will ultimately be credited in history books as the creator of the Greater Depression that destroyed the worldwide financial system and resulted in death, destruction, chaos, starvation, mayhem and ultimately war on a grand scale. But in the meantime, he serves the purposes of the financial ruling class as a useful idiot and will continue to spew gibberish and propaganda to obscure their true agenda.

It is time to open your eyes and arise from your stupor. Observe what is happening around you. Look closely. Does the storyline match what you see in your ever day reality? It is them versus us. Whether you call them the invisible government, ruling class, financial overlords, oligarchs, the powers that be, ruling elite, or owners; there are powerful wealthy men who call the shots in this global criminal enterprise. Their names are Dimon, Corzine, Blankfein, Murdoch, Buffett, Soros, Bernanke, Obama, Romney, Bloomberg, Fink, among others. They are using every means at their disposal to retain their control and power over the worldwide economic system and gorge themselves like hyenas upon the carcasses of a crippled and dying middle class. They have nothing but contempt and scorn for the peasants. They’re your owners and consider you as their slaves. They don’t care about you. They think the commoners are unworthy to be in their presence. Time is growing short for these psychopathic criminals. No amount of propaganda can cover up the physical, economic, social, and psychological descent afflicting our world. There’s a bad moon rising and trouble is on the way. The time for hard choices is coming. The words of Edward Bernays represent the view of the ruling class, while the words of George Carlin represent the view of the working class.

“There’s a reason that education sucks, and it’s the same reason it will never ever be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it. Be happy with what you’ve got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now, the big, wealthy, business interests that control all things and make the big decisions. Forget the politicians, they’re irrelevant.

Politicians are put there to give you that idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land, they own and control the corporations, and they’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the State Houses, and the City Halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies so they control just about all the news and information you get to hear. They’ve got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want—they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interest. You know something, they don’t want people that are smart enough to sit around their kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.” George Carlin

 

CITIES WITH HIGHEST & LOWEST TAXES

23 comments

Posted on 4th March 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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I hate finishing in 2nd place. Maybe Philadelphia can finish 1st next year if Mayor Nutter can just jack up those real estate taxes a little more. There sure does seem to be a number of Democratically run urban shitholes on the list of highest tax cities. According to liberal ideology, higher taxes should be more beneficial to a community. Higher taxes allows government to pay union teachers and union policemen more money to make our kids smarter and cities safer. How is that working out in Detroit, Philly, Chicago, Newark and Baltimore?

American Cities with the Highest (and Lowest) Taxes

February 25, 2013 by Michael B. Sauter, Alexander E.M. Hess, Samuel Weigley

Philadelphia

Tax season is here and, according to a recent report, American families in the nation’s largest cities will be shelling out 15% or more of their income, and that doesn’t even include federal taxes.

The report, released by the Office of Revenue Analysis of the Government of Washington, D.C., reviewed the estimated property, sales, auto and income taxes a family paid in 2011 in the largest city in each state. The differences were stark. A family of three earning $75,000 in Cheyenne, Wy., paid just $2,808, or 3.7% of its income. In Bridgeport, Conn., that same family would have paid $16,105, or 21.5% of its income. Again, this is excluding federal taxes.

Click here to see the cities with the highest taxes

Click here to see the cities with the lowest taxes

One of the biggest factors in how much a family can expect to pay is the state and local tax rates affecting their city. In Bridgeport, Conn., the effective property tax rate, or how much people pay per $100 of property, is among the highest of the large cities reviewed, and property values are higher, meaning a family earning $100,000 per year can expect to spend $11,299 in property taxes alone.

According to Edward Wyatt, fiscal analyst for the Office of Revenue Analysis, while tax rates are certainly a factor in the tax burden on families, it is more the existence of certain kinds of taxes that determines whether families pay through the nose or barely at all come mid-April.

Personal income tax is one of the key factors. Seven states have no income tax, and six of the 10 cities with the lowest tax burdens are in these states. Two more cities in the bottom 10 — Memphis, N.H., and Manchester, Tenn. — only tax nonwage income, such as dividends and interest. None of the cities with high tax burdens are in income tax-exempt states.

The cities with the highest tax burdens tend to be much larger ones, like New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, while the low tax burden cities are smaller and in more rural areas, including Fargo, Anchorage and Cheyenne. Wyatt suggested this may have to do with the cost of running these larger cities, as they have to spend less per capita on programs like social services.

Another interesting trend was that cities with higher tax burdens tended to have higher unemployment, while lower-taxed cities tended to have among the lowest unemployment. While this is often a product of the state economy, in some cases, the city’s rate is much higher than the state. Bridgeport, the city with the highest tax burden among the 51 cities studied, also had the highest unemployment rate, at 11.7% in December. The state of Connecticut’s rate that month was just 8.6%.

Also read: The States with the Strongest and Weakest Unions

Based on the local government report: Tax Rates and Tax Burdens in the District of Columbia — A Nationwide Comparison, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the cities where a family of three in different income brackets would spend the largest and smallest percentages of their income on state and local taxes. In order to reflect the respective rank in all income levels measured by the report, we considered all of them for the purposes of the ranking. The report covers the largest city in each state, as well as Washington, D.C. All estimates are for the 2011 fiscal year. 24/7 Wall St. also reviewed data for these cities from the U.S. Census Bureau, including the occupational breakdown of the city’s workforce, and income, poverty and home value data, all for 2011. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we reviewed the unemployment rates for these cities as of December 2012.

Cities with the Lowest Tax Burdens

10. Las Vegas, Nev.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $3,027 (24th highest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $6,305 (3rd lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 10.2% (9th highest)

Las Vegas had no state or local income tax in 2011, which saved a hypothetical family of three earning $25,000 a year $266 over the average city, and a family earning $150,000 per year an estimated $6,835. Also, the city’s effective residential property tax rate was just $1.15 per $100 of assessed value, a rate lower than most of the cities reviewed. Although the city had an especially high 7.75% sales tax, it also had one of the nation’s lowest sales tax burdens. Among the reasons why, in Nevada only 37.4% of goods are taxed at sale, and food and other consumer goods are exempted. Currently state and local sales tax payments are also tax deductible in Nevada.

9. Manchester, N.H.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $2,357 (4th lowest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $6,582 (7th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.0% (16th lowest)

Manchester was one of just five cities reviewed with no state or local sales tax. Additionally, neither the city nor state had an income tax on personal wages, with state income taxes limited to sources such as interest and dividend payments, inheritance and business profits. However, the city is heavily dependent on property taxes, which its website describes as “the principal tax of the City.” In 2011, for a hypothetical family of three, Manchester’s property tax burden was among the highest for all cities observed at all levels of income. Property taxes also comprised the majority of any family’s state and local tax burden: A Manchester family earning $75,000 would have paid $5,134 in state and local taxes in 2011. Of this, $4,645 would have been property taxes.

Also Read: The Six States (and D.C.) with the Highest Gas Prices

8. Sioux Falls, S.D.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $2,565 (7th lowest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $7,127 (8th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.2% (4th lowest)

Sioux Falls residents benefit from lower than average taxes. Helping to significantly alleviate the total tax burden, Sioux Falls is one of just a few cities where residents are not required to pay any income taxes. In addition, auto taxes are among the lowest of all cities. The one downside for taxpayers is the sales tax burden, which is among the top third of all cities measured. The unemployment rate of 4.2% as of December 2012 was the fourth lowest of all cities measures. The surplus in the city’s 2013 budget is expected to be about $1.7 million.

7. Memphis, Tenn.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $2,941 (23rd lowest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $6,450 (5th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.8% (11th highest)

Memphis charged no city-level personal income tax in 2011. Neither did the state of Tennessee, where only income from dividends or interest payments, as well as corporate income, are taxed. However, residents did pay a total of 9.25 cents per dollar in sales taxes, higher than all but three other cities. All of these cities have higher incomes than Memphis, where more than 27% of the population lives below the poverty level, compared with 15.9% nationwide. Partly because of sales taxes, a hypothetical family earning $25,000 paid 11.8% of its income in state and local taxes, while a family earning $150,000 paid just 4.3%.

6. Billings, Mont.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $2,223 (the lowest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $11,036 (14th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.1% (3rd lowest)

In 2011, residents of Billings did not have to pay any sales tax, either to the city or their state. Sales taxes cost a family of three earning $25,000 a year $728 and a family earning $150,000 a year $2,194. Additionally, Montana is a low income tax state. At all income levels, Billings had a lower income tax burden than all observed cities where such a tax was in effect. However, not all taxes in Billings were low; gas taxes were more than four cents per gallon higher than the nationwide average in 2011. The state also provides oil and gas companies with a controversial tax holiday, which allows production at new wells to be taxed at a rate of less than 1% during their first 12 to 18 months of operations.

5. Jacksonville, Fla.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $2,956 (26th lowest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $6,429 (4th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.7% (21st highest)

As residents of Florida, individuals and families living in Jacksonville pay neither a state nor local income tax. Partly because of this, the tax burden for wealthier families remained low in 2011. A typical family of three with two sources of income, earning $150,000 per year, would have paid 4.3% of its income on state and local taxes — less than all but four other cities. However, a family earning just $25,000 per year would have had to pay 11.8% of its annual income in taxes. Florida’s 6% sales tax accounts for the majority of the state’s tax revenue.

4. Fargo, N.D.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $2,228 (2nd lowest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $7,908 (10th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 3.2% (the lowest)

Fargo has a very low tax burden compared to most large cities, especially for families who make little money. For a family of three making just $25,000, the tax burden was just $2,280 in 2011, the second lowest of all cities. Although both the city and the state do not collect as much in total tax revenue from households, the 3.2% unemployment rate means that more people are likely to own homes, spend more money when shopping, and purchase cars, driving up tax payments in those categories. In addition, North Dakota collects revenue through various oil and gas taxes, such as the oil gross production tax, the gas gross production tax and the oil extraction tax.

Also Read: States Where People Cannot Get a Mortgage

3. Houston, Tex.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $2,709 (14th lowest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $6,571 (6th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.1% (17th lowest)

Houston is one of just eight cities in which a family of three earning $150,000 a year paid less than 5% of its annual income in taxes in 2011. One major reason is the absence of any state income or local income tax, which cost a similar family an average of $6,835 in the cities where income taxes are levied. However, residents did pay one of the nation’s highest sales taxes, at 8.25%. This cost a family earning $150,000 in Houston almost $2,500 in sales taxes — higher than in two-thirds of cities surveyed. Additionally, the city had one of the nation’s highest property tax rates, at $2.53 per $100 of assessed property value.

2. Anchorage, Alaska
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $2,236 (3rd lowest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $5,095 (2nd lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.2% (tied for 10th lowest)

Anchorage has a tax rate lower than all but one major city in the United States. The low taxes are even better given that the city’s median household income of $72,813 in 2011 was higher than all other cities. Anchorage’s one weak spot is its property tax burden, which is generally among the top quarter of all cities measured. The city is just one of a handful where residents are not required to pay any sales taxes. In addition, the auto tax burden is among the lowest of all cities. This week, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce will host a debate on the pros and cons of changing the state’s oil tax law.

1. Cheyenne, Wyo.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $2,424 (5th lowest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $4,702 (2nd lowest)
> Median household income:
> Unemployment rate: 5.2% (tied for 10th lowest)

No city measured has a lower burden on families than Cheyenne. A family of three earning $25,000 would have had a 9.7% tax burden in 2011, the fifth lowest of all cities. The tax burden becomes even lighter as someone moves up the income ladder. A family of three earning $150,000 had a tax burden of just 3.1%, lower than any other city. For a family of three making $75,000 to $150,000, the city has the second lowest property tax burden behind Birmingham, Alabama.

Cities with the Highest Tax Burdens

10. Baltimore, Md.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $2,703 (13th lowest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $17,134 (6th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.9% (10th highest)

Baltimore has one of the highest income tax burdens of all the cities. In 2011, a family of three earning $50,000 would have paid $1,818 in income taxes, the ninth highest burden of all largest cities. For a family earning $100,000, the income tax burden was $5,511, the sixth highest. In addition, property taxes in the city were higher than most other largest cities, especially for higher-income families. It is also the largest property tax in the state. According to The Baltimore Sun, mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has expressed interest in lowering the city’s property tax rate to make it more competitive.

9. Detroit, Mich.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $3,270 (17th highest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $15,522 (10th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 18.2% (the highest)

Detroit residents have among the highest tax burdens of all cities, but it is especially high for those with higher incomes. For families of three earning over $75,000, Detroit’s income taxes are among the top five of all the cities reviewed. The high tax burden on its residents has not translated into a healthy economy — Detroit’s finances are still in havoc. A state review found that the city has more than $14 billion in long-term liabilities and a budget deficit of at least $327 million annually. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will decide in the coming weeks whether to have the state intervene to help rebuild the city, with options including Chapter 9 bankruptcy on the table.

Also Read: Cities Where People Can’t Find Work

8. Los Angeles, Calif.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $3,425 ( highest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $15,764 (9th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 11.3% (4th highest)

For all levels of income, Los Angeles has one of the highest property tax burdens on its residents among the largest cities. This is despite the city’s low effective property tax rate, which at $1.13 per $100 was one of the lowest for all cities. In 2011, Los Angeles had the highest assumed home value — used to calculate property tax payments — for each income bracket between $50,000 and $150,000. In addition to high property taxes, Angelenos also pay one of the highest total sales tax rates, at 8.75 cents on the dollar — more than two cents over the average city sales tax.

7. New York, N.Y.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $3,273 (16th highest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $18,8111 (3rd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 8.8% (16th highest)

Among the cities measured, only New York City had graduated state and local income tax rates as of 2011. This means that the income tax rate rises as individuals’ earnings rise. In 2011, a family of three with two working parents earning $25,000 a year paid no income tax while a similar family earning $150,000 per year paid $12,464 in income tax — more than such a family would pay in any other city reviewed. No other city measured had a higher city-level sales tax than New York City’s 4.5%. This contributes to an effective sales tax rate of 8.875%, among the nation’s highest. According to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, in the fiscal year 2009-2010 New York City residents paid about $4.1 billion more in taxes than they received in government services.

6. Newark, N.J.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $2,999 (25th highest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $16,032 (8th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.6% (23rd highest)

Newark residents can expect to pay a substantial share of their income to the government. Not all taxes are high in the city. Newark residents do not pay state or local income tax. Newark also has either the lowest or second lowest auto taxes of all cities measured, depending on a family’s income, and is also in the lower half of cities in terms of sales tax. However, Newark residents are hammered through property taxes — for families making more than $50,000 a year in 2011, property taxes were the second-highest among all cities measured.

5. Chicago, Ill.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $3,898 (4th highest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $14,814 (14th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.7% (12th highest)

As of 2011, Chicago residents paid the highest effective sales tax rate of any city studied, at 9.75%. This increased the tax burden for lower-income earners, who paid a higher percentage of their income in sales taxes. Partly because of the city’s sales tax, a Chicago family earning $25,000 had a state and local tax burden equal to 15.6% of their income, while for a family earning $150,000, the figure was just 9.9%. Poorer residents are also burdened by the state-level flat income tax, which was raised from 3% to 5% in 2011.

Also Read: The States with the Most Homes in Foreclosure

4. Louisville, Ky.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $3,594 (8th highest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $18,008 (5th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.9% (20th highest)

For a family of three that earned between $100,000 and $150,000, the average tax burden was 12%, higher than all but four other cities reviewed. The tax burden for people earning $25,000 to $50,000, although higher at 14.4%, is less of jump compared to most of the cities on this list. The 14.4% tax burden is the eighth highest out of all the cities measured. The biggest tax burden comes from income taxes. Depending on a family’s income, Louisville has either the second or third highest income tax among all cities measured.

3. Columbus, Ohio
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $3,369 (12th highest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $18,241 (4th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.5% (23rd lowest)

Columbus residents are hit by the one-two punch of sales and property taxes that are higher than most. For instance, a family of three earning $50,000 in 2011 had to fork over $2,116.50 in income taxes and had to pay an additional $4,025 in property taxes. The income tax burden was higher than all but four cities, while the property tax burden was higher than all but five. Not all is bad, though. The sales tax and auto tax burden across all incomes were in the lower half of cities reviewed.

2. Philadelphia, Penn.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $4,513 (2nd highest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $19,951 (2nd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 10.6% (7th highest)

A family of three that made just $25,000 a year in 2011 would have been stuck with a tax burden worth a whopping 18.1% of their income, tied with Birmingham, Ala., for the highest of all cities. Taxes did ease a bit as one moved down the sliding scale, although burdens were still near the top. For a family of three making $150,000 in 2011, the total tax burden was 13.3% — the second highest of all cities measured by the report.

1. Bridgeport, Conn.
> Taxes for family earning $25,000: $3,708 (5th highest)
> Taxes for family earning $150,000: $23,501 (the highest)
> Unemployment rate: 11.7% (3rd highest)

No city taxed its residents more heavily than Bridgeport in 2011. In 2011, its effective residential property tax rate was $2.77 per every $100 in assessed home value — the sixth highest in the nation. Citizens are also paying more in property taxes, due to the high value of homes in the area, at over $434,000 for a person earning $150,000 a year. In defending his city to the Connecticut Post, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch noted the average resident paid only $6,431 in taxes a year and notes that the city’s residents are “of modest means” and that residents’ tax rates are also affected by the close proximity of far wealthier cities. The median household income in Bridgeport is just $35,379, more than $15,000 below than the national median.

CITY OF PHILA. PAYS SEXUAL PREDATOR $625,000

13 comments

Posted on 23rd February 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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This is a classic example of slimy government drones paying off even slimier government drones with taxpayer money. These scumbags don’t give a crap, because it is your money. Carl Greene is about the biggest lowlife you can imagine. He is a walking sexual harrassment suit. All that is required to get a top job in Phila is that you be black. Fast Eddie Rendell stole this prize away from the Detroit Housing Authority even though he already had a sexual harrassment lawsuit pending in Detroit. Didn’t Eddie ever hear about checking references? This is the guy responsible for housing the free shit army in taxpayer subsidized low income housing estates like Mantua Square.

They paid this dirtbag $350,000 per year, which was more than the PA governor and Phila mayor made combined. Even though he made this kind of money, he defaulted on his mortgage. On July 27, 2010, Wells Fargo filed a foreclosure action in the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Court of Common Pleas, seeking to cure a default of $386,685 on a $400,000 mortgage for Mr. Greene’s condominium and primary residence which was valued at $615,035. Such residence located in Naval Square, a Toll Brothers condominium development on the site of the former Philadelphia Naval Asylum. The Philadelphia Inquirer further revealed that Greene also repaid over $52,000 in back taxes owed in 2010 to settle a lien placed against him by the Internal Revenue Service.

On August 19, 2010, The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote: “Charges of sexual misconduct have shadowed Greene since his arrival in Philadelphia in 1998 from the Detroit Housing Commission. In his former job, a housing-agency auditor accused Greene of kissing, touching, and fondling her, and promising her a promotion if she “submitted to his demands.” Rendell, who as mayor at the time headed PHA, hired Greene and gave him a contract that ensured his job even if he lost the Michigan case. The case brought by Gertrude Faye Johnson was settled out of court on the eve of a trial”.

At PHA, at least two other cases of sexual harassment have been made against Greene. Melissa Shingles, a former senior management specialist at PHA, filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in 2004. The case was closed in 2006 after a settlement was reached between the sides.

John M. Elliott, an attorney for Elizabeth Helm, a 29-year-old employee of the authority (PHA), has charged Greene of “serial predatory sexual misconduct.” Elliott alleges that Greene promised her a promotion in her capacity as an interior designer and planner at PHA, if she submitted to his sexual advances. In a letter outlining Helm’s sexual-harassment complaint, Elliott wrote that Greene “insisted” that Helm meet him after work April 12, 2010 at the bar of the Prime Rib Restaurant at 1701 Locust St. to discuss PHA-related matters. Elliot calls her the “most recent victim” of Greene’s pattern of sexual harassment. Helm had worked at PHA for about a year. The night of the incident, Greene praised her work and said he was processing her promotion paperwork. He then made advances including “touching, grabbing, and groping her,”. Despite her insistence that he stop, Greene “continued to forcibly and physically pursue inappropriate and unwanted contact of an intimate nature.” Elliot states that Greene admitted to Helm that his contact was unwelcome, stating as he grabbed her, “I know that you don’t want to kiss me.” Helm filed a complaint April 30, and an investigation opened May 13. An out of court settlement of $250,000 was offered on August 24, 2010.

On August 25, 2010 the PHA board suspended Mr. Greene for 30 days, after receiving a subpoena for documents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office working with the FBI. The PHA said it would proceed with its own investigation into the latest sexual harassment claim (and the first three, claiming it had never been notified of their existence -due to technicalities in the settlements- which to its surprise exceeded $650000). HUD launched its own probe as well.

This guy is a slimy lowlife and Phila taxpayers just paid him $625,000, on top of the $4 million he was paid in salary and the hundreds of thousands paid out in sexual harrassment settlements.

 

Phila. Housing Authority, ex-director Greene settle for $625,000

Carl R. Greene, former director of the city Housing Authority, entering the Philadelphia federal courthouse last month.
Jennifer Lin and Mark Fazlollah, Inquirer Staff Writers
Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013, 11:59 AM
After more than two years and $1 million in legal defense fees, the Philadelphia Housing Authority has agreed to pay $625,000 to end a contract dispute with its ousted executive director, Carl R. Greene. 

The deal was first announced as a tentative agreement by the agency’s interim executive director, Kelvin Jeremiah, at PHA’s monthly board meeting Friday. The sides then signed the agreement at 5 p.m.

Clifford Haines, an attorney for Greene, called the settlement “reasonable and fair.”

Jeremiah said the agreement was “the right decision” and noted that Greene originally sought $4 million.

“Mr. Greene was asking for $4 million, then $2.5 million, then $1.5 million,” Jeremiah said. “This was a hard-fought case.”

Greene sued PHA in federal court on the grounds that the agency had no cause to fire him and that it owed him $743,000 in lost income plus damages. The trial began Jan. 29 and included testimony from former Mayor John F. Street, PHA’s chairman from 2004 until 2011, as well as former Gov. Ed Rendell.

The trial was to resume Monday, but Haines said U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter would be notified of the settlement. He said he did not expect that the parties would need to appear in court.


Haines said testimony and the settlement went “a long way to restoring the integrity of Mr. Greene’s name.”

Greene was fired Sept. 23, 2010, on a 4-1 vote by PHA’s board after commissioners discovered that he had settled multiple sexual harassment complaints without telling them.

Three of the women who filed complaints against Greene and were paid settlements were set to testify.

John Elliott, an attorney for one, Elizabeth Helm, said Greene had engaged in “egregious misconduct and now apparently is being rewarded.”

“It’s a sad day for the taxpayers to have public funds spent in that manner,” he said.

In a statement, PHA said the settlement “closes a tenuous chapter in PHA’s history.”

PHA noted that the agreement ensures that Greene will be unable to pursue any further lawsuits against the agency or its former board.

However, the settlement does not protect Greene from “any claims, known or unknown . . . involving fraud, misappropriation of funds, or any criminal acts.”

Federal officials continue to investigate PHA’s activities during Greene’s tenure.

Originally, Greene’s lawsuit included claims that his civil rights were denied and that PHA’s board had defamed him. Buckwalter eliminated those claims, leaving only the question of whether PHA breached its contract agreement with Greene.

Under that pact, the agency could only fire Greene for cause if it could prove that his behavior caused material financial damage to the agency.

Street said he did not support the settlement.

“I stand by the action of the board in dismissing Mr. Greene for cause,” Street said in an e-mail. “The irony of Mr. Greene getting more money than any of the victims in this case is stunning.”

Street noted that Greene, who took the stand for one day, was not cross-examined and the women were not able to testify.

“This settlement sends the wrong message to every potential victim of sexual harassment as well as every potential perpetrator,” Street said.

PHA had spent more than $1 million on its defense and had exhausted the coverage provided by its insurer. That meant that with the start of the trial, the agency was paying for its lawyers out of its own budget.

Street, in an investigative report presented to the board, called Greene a “serial sexual harasser.”

The board dismissed Greene not only for the sexual harassment complaints and the way they were handled, but also said that he created a hostile work environment and abandoned his duties, and that his personal financial problems set a bad example for tenants. His behavior, it asserted, damaged PHA.

For the first time at the trial, Greene testified about the events leading up to his termination. Haines, his lawyer, said the current PHA leadership had done the right thing by reaching the agreement, but criticized Street and said his report to the board “was not an investigation at all.”

“It was the sole opinion of chair,” he said. “It was a mean-spirited, uncalled-for, personal attack that should not have happened.”

CHICAGO WINS AGAIN

21 comments

Posted on 16th January 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Not only does Chicago hold the murder capital title for 2012, but they have achieved an even higher honor – bed bug capital of the U.S. They edged out Jimski’s Cincinnati by a bug’s leg. Maybe next year. Rahm must be so proud. Maybe they should ban beds. Philly fell off the list because the beds in West Philly are so disgusting, even the bed bugs won’t go near them.

America’s Top Bedbug Cities Named

by | January 16, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Chicago has beat out Cincinnati for a dubious, itchy distinction – top U.S. city for bedbugs.

That’s according to a new list released by the pest control company Orkin, which looked at bedbug service calls made across the country in 2012 to rank the top 50 cities.

And while the Windy City jumped from the number two spot in 2011 to number one in 2012, Orkin says the bedbug-killing business is up nearly 33 percent nationally for their parent company, Rollins. In all, Rollins runs eight U.S. pest control companies, including Orkin.

Also hard hit was the Seattle-Tacoma metro area, which jumped 14 spots to land at number 13 overall among the country’s top bedbug hotspots.

Orkin says Indianapolis, Omaha, Milwaukee, Hartford-New Haven, Knoxville, Charleston-Huntington, Cedar Rapids-Waterloo and Minneapolis also saw notable spikes over the last year.

The list wasn’t all bad news: Atlanta, Honolulu, Charlotte and Las Vegas all dropped significantly, Orkin’s numbers show.

Some cities – including Philadelphia and Salt Lake City – were on the 2011 list, but improved enough in 2012 to be dropped from the top 50.

“This list shows that bedbugs continue to be a problem throughout the U.S.,” Orkin says in a statement accompanying the list.

Orkin says adult bedbugs resemble apple seeds in size and color; newly-hatched babies are as small as a pinhead and pale in color.

Here’s a look at the complete top 50 list:

The following cities are ranked in order of the number of bedbug treatments Orkin performed from January to December 2012 along with their shift, if any, in ranking compared to January to December 2011.

1. Chicago (+1)
2. Detroit (+1)
3. Los Angeles (+2)
4. Denver
5. Cincinnati (-4)
6. Columbus, Ohio
7. Washington, D.C. (+1)
8. Cleveland/Akron/Canton (+5)
9. Dallas/Ft. Worth (-2)
10. New York (-1)
11. Dayton, Ohio (+4)
12. Richmond/Petersburg, Va. (-2)
13. Seattle/Tacoma (+14)
14. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose (-2)
15. Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville, N.C. (+4)
16. Indianapolis (+15)
17. Omaha, Neb. (+11)
18. Houston (-7)
19. Milwaukee (+13)
20. Baltimore (-2)
21. Syracuse, N.Y. (+2)
22. Boston (-8)
23. Colorado Springs/Pueblo, Colo. (+2)
24. Lexington, Ky. (-2)
25. Miami/Ft. Lauderdale (-1)
26. Hartford/New Haven, Conn. (+10)
27. Knoxville, Tenn. (+11)
28. Buffalo, N.Y. (+1)
29. Atlanta (-8)
30. Louisville, Ky. (+5)
31. Charleston/Huntington, W. Va. (+18)
32. San Diego, Calif. (-6)
33. Cedar Rapids/Waterloo, Iowa (+12)
34. Minneapolis/St. Paul (+12)
35. Phoenix (-1)
36. Pittsburgh (-6)
37. Honolulu (-19)
38. Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo, Mich. (+1)
39. Grand Junction/Montrose, Colo. (-1)
40. Nashville, Tenn.
41. Lincoln/Hastings/Kearney, Neb. (+7)
42. Albany/Schenectady/Troy, N.Y. (+2)
43. Charlotte (-10)
44. Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.
45. Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto, Calif. (-4)
46. Las Vegas (-30)
47. Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville, S.C.
48. Champaign/Springfield, Ill.
49. Portland, Or.
50. Sioux City, Iowa

Source: Orkin

WHAT FERAL DOGS DO FOR FUN IN WEST PHILLY

14 comments

Posted on 8th January 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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I guess the choice was stay home and study for tomorrow’s math exam or roam the streets randomly slashing tires. Good choice. It takes a village to raise feral dogs.

Tire-Slasher Hits 56 Cars in W. Philadelphia

Brian Rademaekers,
Tue Jan 8, 3:25 PM UTC

West Philadelphia residents along two blocks woke up Monday morning to find a total of 56 cars with their tires slashed, Philadelphia Police reported.

At least 48 vehicles on Hazel Avenue between 49th Street and 51st Street had tires slashed, and 8 vehicles on the 5300 block of Chancellor Street were also vandalized.

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey announced a $5,000 reward for the arrest and conviction “of those responsible for this malicious act of violence, courtesy of the Mayor’s Office,” the department said in a news release. “We urge anyone with information about this criminal act to come forward and help us put an end to this senseless and hurtful crime.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the local Fraternal Order of Police are also contributing $5,000 to the reward for an arrest, bringing the total to $10,000.

Anyone with information can call 911 or Southwest Detectives at 215-686-3183, 3184.

SHOWING THEIR TRUE COLORS

8 comments

Posted on 20th December 2012 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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 The children slaughtered in Connecticut by a drugged up mental defective haven’t even been put into the ground yet and Obama is convening a gun banning convention in Washington DC today. Hysterically, the Philadelphia Chief of police is headed down to provide his brilliant insight. Meanwhile, we enter the final week of 2012 and Philly will finish the year with around 330 homicides, the highest since 2007.  Philadelphia has the toughest gun laws in the state. I’m sure if we ban guns, the lowlife scumbags in North Philly and West Philly will abide by the new rules. Maybe a few NO GUNS ALLOWED signs will work. Doctor Sowell does his usual fantastic job poking holes in the left wing liberal storyline. I’m sure he hasn’t been invited to Washington DC for his thoughts on the matter. We wouldn’t want any divergent points of view.

If you had any remaining thought that the Mainstream media in this country was impartial and just journalists reporting the facts, you are badly mistaken. This past week was probably an eye opener for anyone with critical thinking skills. The propaganda and misinformation is being screeched over the airwaves, in Op-Eds and by Cartoonists across the land. The dead children were barely cold before Bloomberg, Obama, and the left wing do-gooder control freaks on MSNBC, CNN and the rest of the liberal propaganda machines began spewing their standard storyline. This tragedy will not go to waste. Maddow, Matthews and Shultz were probably high fiving as the news reports came in. There was a tingle up their legs.

I always knew the press had a liberal bias, but this tragedy has revealed the true colors of these faux journalists. It appears that 90% of the mainstream media has a liberal agenda and is nothing but a mouthpiece for the government assuming more and more control over every aspect of our lives. When it became clear that the murderer was a drugged up psychopath, just like the previous mass murderers, the MSM dutifully trotted out the mouthpieces for the drug industry and the psychology industry to deny that his mental illness and their drugs had anything to do with it. Corporate media helping corporate advertisers helping bought off politicians.

There will be new laws. There will be new regulations. There will be new rules. There will be new paperwork and bureaucrats and police. The mindless sheep will be surveyed and they will beg for gun control. Obama will have a grand signing ceremony surrounded by the families of the dead children. Crime rates will go higher. Homicides will go higher as the criminals will know that their victims won’t be armed. The do-gooders and the MSM will call for more laws to save the sheeple.

And so it goes.

 

Invincible Ignorance

by Thomas Sowell

Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of “gun control” advocates?

The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available.

If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.

Places and times with the strongest gun control laws have often been places and times with high murder rates. Washington, D.C., is a classic example, but just one among many.

When it comes to the rate of gun ownership, that is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, but the murder rate is higher in urban areas. The rate of gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, but the murder rate is higher among blacks. For the country as a whole, hand gun ownership doubled in the late 20th century, while the murder rate went down.

 

The few counter-examples offered by gun control zealots do not stand up under scrutiny. Perhaps their strongest talking point is that Britain has stronger gun control laws than the United States and lower murder rates.

But, if you look back through history, you will find that Britain has had a lower murder rate than the United States for more than two centuries – and, for most of that time, the British had no more stringent gun control laws than the United States. Indeed, neither country had stringent gun control for most of that time.

 

In the middle of the 20th century, you could buy a shotgun in London with no questions asked. New York, which at that time had had the stringent Sullivan Law restricting gun ownership since 1911, still had several times the gun murder rate of London, as well as several times the London murder rate with other weapons.

Neither guns nor gun control was the reason for the difference in murder rates. People were the difference.

Yet many of the most zealous advocates of gun control laws, on both sides of the Atlantic, have also been advocates of leniency toward criminals.

In Britain, such people have been so successful that legal gun ownership has been reduced almost to the vanishing point, while even most convicted felons in Britain are not put behind bars. The crime rate, including the rate of crimes committed with guns, is far higher in Britain now than it was back in the days when there were few restrictions on Britons buying firearms.

In 1954, there were only a dozen armed robberies in London but, by the 1990s – after decades of ever tightening gun ownership restrictions – there were more than a hundred times as many armed robberies.

Gun control zealots’ choice of Britain for comparison with the United States has been wholly tendentious, not only because it ignored the history of the two countries, but also because it ignored other countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States, such as Russia, Brazil and Mexico. All of these countries have higher murder rates than the United States.

You could compare other sets of countries and get similar results. Gun ownership has been three times as high in Switzerland as in Germany, but the Swiss have had lower murder rates. Other countries with high rates of gun ownership and low murder rates include Israel, New Zealand, and Finland.

Guns are not the problem. People are the problem – including people who are determined to push gun control laws, either in ignorance of the facts or in defiance of the facts.

There is innocent ignorance and there is invincible, dogmatic and self-righteous ignorance. Every tragic mass shooting seems to bring out examples of both among gun control advocates.

Some years back, there was a professor whose advocacy of gun control led him to produce a “study” that became so discredited that he resigned from his university. This column predicted at the time that this discredited study would continue to be cited by gun control advocates. But I had no idea that this would happen the very next week in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

December 18, 2012

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His Web site is www.tsowell.com. To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page.

 

TRASH TALKING – 30 BLOCKS OF SQUALOR STYLE

22 comments

Posted on 13th December 2012 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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For those liberal do-gooders that are outraged by my 30 Blocks of Squalor articles, stick this in your crack pipe and smoke it. This is how the filthy animals that inhabit the 30 Blocks of Squalor settle arguments about basketball games. These ignorant dregs of society that voted 100% for Barack Obama just pull out a gun and blast away on a SEPTA subway. 46th and Market is where that American Bandstand plaque and the Enterprise Center to help black businesses sits. I notice the article says the descriptions of the young lads was vague. I’ll go out on a limb and predict they might be black. Oh my. That is certainly racist on my part. Finding lowlife, ignorant, violent, black, Trayvon-hoodie wearing gangbangers in West Philly may be difficult for the police. It describes 70% of the population. I just know that four more years of Obamanomics will surely revive the 30 Blocks of Squalor and create upstanding West Philly citizens. 

Basketball dispute leads to shooting on SEPTA El train

WEST PHILADELPHIA – December 13, 2012 (WPVI) — Police say a suspect opened fire on a SEPTA elevated train after an argument over the Sixers loss Wednesday night.

The incident occurred around 11:00 p.m. at the El stop at 46th Street on the Market-Frankford line.

According to police, two teens walked out of a train after arguing with a Bulls fan who was wearing his team’s jersey.

One of the teens pulled a gun and fired into the crowded train car, critically wounding the 35-year-old male Bulls fan in the stomach.

Police say the bullet went through him and hit another man, 30, in the leg who was trying to stop the fight. He is in stable condition.

Both men were taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Officials say there were more than two dozen people on the train at the time of the shooting.

So far, police only have a vague description of the suspects.

They are believed to be about 17 and 19 years of age. Both were wearing gray hooded sweatshirts. The shooter also had on a blue vest.

Police are searching for the suspects and reviewing surveillance video.