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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Feudal (or is it futile?) System

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/02/05 21:30

By Dave Mindeman

Scene 1: The Middle Ages. The landowner has all the rights and your voting rights increase as you acquire more property. Tax collections, payment, and grievances involve only the landowners. The property owner's tenants have no rights. If taxes increase, the rent on the land increases. If the tenant objects, a new tenant is found. The Tenant's increased expenses reduces his ability to make a living and it's without redress or representation.

Scene 2: The 2005 Republican House Caucus and Governor. Proposals on the table -- "Truth in Taxation"-- meaning property owners, and only the owners, will get the right to weigh in on proposed property tax increases. Postcards with objections can trigger a referendum. Landlords get a postcard for EACH unit of property. Landlords get more than one card, tenants get none. In Minnesota, at least up until now, tenants could get some relief in a renters' credit as an umbrella against escalating tax triggered rent increases. The GOP Caucus has proposed slashing that credit by 25% affecting 270,000 Minnesotans; 1/3 of them earning incomes less than $46,000 per year. If the taxes go up, the rent goes up. If the tenant objects, a new tenant can be found.

Any similarities between Scene 1 and Scene 2 are purely coincidental.
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In Case You Take it All Too Seriously...

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

by Dave Mindeman

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

Current Republican definitions:

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

You get the idea. Its a strange planet we are on... time to go see Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-- it may make more sense.
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"Fair" Value

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

by Paul Bartlett

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

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

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

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

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