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Tax breaks are about creating winners and losers. In this case, farmers, ranchers, and farm/ranch equipment dealers are the winners. The losers are everyone else. Either taxes will have to increase for everyone else or services will have to be cut.
Although the ballot measure will ask if farm/ranch equipment sales should be exempt from the county sales tax, it could be asked in another way: are you willing to pay extra taxes (or receive fewer services) so that farmers and ranchers can be exempt from paying county sales tax on equipment?
My answer is that I'm not sure. I recognize public value to farming/ranching, as i enjoy the open space, the habitat to wildlife, and the contribution of these lands to hunting. I also eat. I appreciate being able to afford that habit. So I might be willing to make a sacrifice on behalf of this industry.
However, I don't know how much of a difference a 2% break will make if we are currently 5-7% more expensive here. I think farmers/ranchers will still buy expensive equipment elsewhere. My guess is that it won't change behavior much at all, but will just eliminate the taxes on the equipment that is bought here anyways. In that sense, we are just creating a benefit to farmers/ranchers and local equipment dealers without really changing where people get their equipment.
I didn't think I described Republicans as "saviors on horseback." They are just as much to blame as democrats in my mind for the mounting debt. They (in general) lack the courage to take the political hit required to cut programs/spending, and wind up reducing revenue without reducing spending. And you're right, they will increase spending on those items that matter to their constituents (even if the revenue isn't available).
Although your example of a budget deficit in Texas is related to debts, which are the sum of deficits (and surpluses), when you look at their debt rating on Forbes, they are in good shape. http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/20/states-debt-pensions-interactive-map.html They are having a bad year, but I am interested in long term debt, not the deficit in one year. Texas only owes $500 per capita (whereas we all owe $45,000 on account of the federal debt). The map in the above link does not perfectly coincide with "red" and "blue" states, but there is definitely a correlation. (compare the map of debt ratings to the map of states voting democratic in the last presidential election).
Again, I was speaking in general, so there will be a lot of examples outside of this generality. The truth is that the notion that legislatures-both state and federal-can repeatedly run deficits will eventually catch up to us.
We are currently seeing how deficits get out of control. Democrats take control and implement all kinds of programs and increase "fees" and taxes. Then republicans take over and start cutting those fees and taxes. But the programs are still there with their budgets. Lets face it, It is hard to take away a program once it is implemented. I realize this is a simplified version of how this works, but I think it is a general trend. How is the $1 billion deficit in the state budget going to be addressed while we are simply cutting revenue? We are seeing this at the state and federal levels right now. (The federal government extended the GW Bush tax cuts and lowered the social security payroll tax... it also extended unemployment benefits. In other words, it decreased revenue and increased government spending on other programs). It is irresponsible and shortsighted and again ignores what I perceive to be the greatest threat to this country: debt.
I agree with als. Why would a town this size (and not growing) need two fire stations? Is it that difficult to go all the way to Hayden once a month to train? The time it takes to get from Yampa to the west side of town is what 3 minutes (when you drive through the lights). I seriously doubt there will be much of a difference in insurance premiums (in fact, the companies will probably raise rates because of the increased risk of having live fires burning near your home once a month). I can think of about 100 capital projects this town needs more than a second fire station. Nothing in this article indicates that the current fire station is inadequate.
I think that most laws recognize that it is worth it to limit an individual's freedom to some extent for the public good. You don't get to litter (even though that restricts your freedom to be a slob) because we feel like that freedom isn't worth as much as the public good of having a nice and sanitary place to live. Here, your right to be lazy and/or negligent of the sidewalk in front of your home is a freedom that is probably not as important as having a safe path for citizens to walk on (especially kids on the way to school).
On the other hand, it is asking a bit too much of people to clear their sidewalk multiple times a day due to the snow plows pushing snow back onto the nicely cleared sidewalk. I think this is why most cities have their streets plowed at very early hours.
I think the first issue that needs to be sorted out is actually having sidewalks in the first place. Then we can get to thinking about how to keep them clear.
What seems incredibly ridiculous to me is that Finley Lane leading up to the high school has requirements for a setback to fence lines such that it would be extremely easy for the city to put a sidewalk all the way up both sides of the street there. I'm not sure what the history is as to why only about half of the homes have sidewalks and the other half don't. I know that when the residences were built there, the high school did not exist. At this point, some people might be out some shrubs, but that's not much of a price to pay to have a safe place for students to walk to and from school.
As for the comment about clearing the sidewalk, I agree that a homeowner should do this. The problem is that a lot of homes along these paths are for sale or in foreclosure and not occupied. I'm not sure how the path would get cleared in the winter in those circumstances.
Don't get me wrong. Standardized testing is definitely useful for the reasons Als stated. But in my mind it doesn't allow me to accurately assess the quality of a school. It certainly allows me to see where students measure up with others in the state, and for that reason it is definitely important. However, No Child Left Behind does not permit the comparison of information about all of those factors that are great predictors of success in academics. This means I can't really see if the teachers/ curriculum here measure up to the teachers/ curriculum elsewhere. All we see are test scores (and a few other demographics, but not the factors I would like to see). And as I said before, many of the factors that determine test scores are not related to the quality of education at a particular school. I want to know how students with the same predictors for success (or failure) are doing at a particular school as opposed to the schools in Craig. That's how I would grade schools and that is a much more accurate measure of how well a certain school is performing.
In terms of preparing students for higher education, No Child Left Behind really fails in my mind, at least in places where most students are probably not going to go on to college. Its goal is to make it so that every child is above average (take some time to think about the logic in that goal). It has specific goals with regard to the traditionally lower testing groups. It has no provisions with regard to high performing students. They are the ones who are neglected because they are "fine," meaning they will meet the basic performance requirements that the testing measures. Programs such as AP classes and other college level courses are not priorities (and in Craig do not exist). The new regime focuses on the bulk of students in the bell curve, working hard with those at the lower ends of the curve, and ignoring those at the top. Not a good way to prepare college students in my mind, and definitely not a good way to prepare future leaders.
I am so glad you highlighted that ridiculous review of the state of local schools. I read that article and came away thinking the administrator was full of excuses and explanations that made no sense. (What on earth do Littleton, Montrose, Craig, etc... have in common?)
I do have a problem with judging our schools on these test scores though. I think there is much more than test scores that factor into the success of students, and the most important of those factors have nothing to do with what happens at school. Some of those are: education levels of parents, cultural values relating to education, socioeconomic status, educational experiences before school begins, parental involvement, self-motivation of students and self-esteem/belief in own abilities of students. I don't expect a school system to instill any of these things (but they better not destroy those things that I have instilled within my kids).
Factors that a school can and should control are: discipline, creating a safe environment that promotes learning, encouraging students when they try, challenging students who need extra challenge, the quality of instructors, the quality of instruction, the curriculum (to some extent), advanced curriculum for better achieving students, special curriculum for underachieving students. I would much rather see an assessment that scores these factors for our schools instead of test scores. Test scores don't tell me much about a school... they tell me much more about the students and their backgrounds. I will take responsibility for my part and would like a way to assess how well the school is performing its part... the test scores just don't tell me that.
A lot of people think anything Obama does must be evil. Nothing I say will change that. I'm not a cheerleader for the health care plan and I agree it was basically shoved down people's throats, but I do see benefits to some of the reforms. It forces uninsured people to carry health insurance. If 30 million more people carry insurance, then that's 30 million people I don't have to subsidize each time I use a medical facility. This reduces costs, especially for hospitals where emergency care is given to uninsured people for "free" (i.e., insured people like me get to pay for it).
If people want to stand on their right to not carry insurance, then I think the law obligating hospitals to treat uninsured individuals in order to maintain their charitable organization status should be changed. The health care plan obviously doesn't do this, so I think it fails in this sense. This type of reform would address people's issues with treating "illegals" who don't have insurance. Again, it didn't happen, so the plan failed in this regard.
The reform did address some of the unconscionable practices by the insurance industry. I think it is absurd to allow the insurance industry to deny people coverage because they have gone over their "limit" or because of a preexisting condition, especially when that preexisting condition is part of a chronic illness. This is essentially business executives saying your life is no longer worth the cost to our profits. The health care plan eliminates those abuses. In that sense, I see these changes as positive.
I actually don't agree that people should receive coverage under their parent's plan until they turn 26. That's 8 years of adulthood. I think people should be independent much earlier... maybe not right at the age of 18, but at least by 20. I don't think government should facilitate the "living in my mom's basement" phenomenon. If anything, it should discourage that. I agree with other posts that this provision creates a sense of entitlement that is uncalled for.
The biggest problem I have with the reform is that it does not address what I see as the primary reason costs are skyrocketing. No, not tort reform, but the issuing of patents for every new medical device and every new drug and the onerous approval process for new drugs. My recent treatments involved injections of a new drug that was patented that cost $7000 each injection. The total for that drug alone was around $56,000. If the government is going to create a monopoly (which is what they do in issuing a patent), health care reform needs to address the time that a medical patent is valid or the costs drug/medical device companies can charge during the patent period. Reform should also address the approval process to streamline it while still making sure drugs are safe. The health care plan fails in doing that also.
So basically, it has a lot of problems, but I do see some positive elements in the new law.
I think this is an awesome idea too. I hope it is successful and wish you the best in trying to implement it. I am concerned that venture capitalists will not be keen on the idea of locating the business in Moffat County, as I would think the heating costs here would be much more than in other suitable locations. I would guess that we are fairly isolated from the producers of the chemicals needed for the business as well. Also, I'm not sure how you can compete with cheaper operations in, say, Mexico. I'm sure these are things you have thought about and it looks like you are still comfortable with your rate of return... so best wishes!
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