Rent Control reduces the Amount of Affordable Housing

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 15th, 2014

Week in Review

Living in New York City is expensive.  High taxes.  And high property values.  But people want to live in the city.  And will pay very high rents to do so.  Which landlords can charge because there are people willing to pay them.  It’s the basic law of supply and demand.  It’s the same reason why beachfront property is so expensive.  There’s so little of it and so many people want to live there.  So the property goes to the highest bidder.  Which is why some of the richest movie and television stars own the best of these properties.  Because they are willing to pay the highest price.

Of course that’s all right for the rich.  But what about the poor and middle class?  Who can’t afford to live like rich movie and television stars?  Well, there has long been a cry for affordable housing for the less affluent.  And price controls.  To keep rents affordable for those of more modest means.  There have been various forms of rent control in New York City.  To make housing more available to the less affluent.  Which actually reduced the number of apartments available to them.  How, you may ask.  Well, when it comes to rent there are two parties.  A buyer and a seller.  We know why buyers are buying.  They want a place to live.  But why do sellers want to rent out apartments?  To make a profit.  And because rent control made it more difficult to make a profit landlords went elsewhere to make a profit.  Thus reducing the number of rental units available.

New York City still has rent-controlled apartments.  And people desperately want to live in them because rent everywhere else (at market prices) is so expensive.  So there are often battles between rent-control tenants and landlords who want to rent at market prices.  Like this (see Brooklyn landlords illegally harassed, targeted rent-stabilized tenants: suit by Erik Badia, Ginger Adams Otis posted 4/15/2014 on the Daily News).

The landlords targeted longstanding black tenants who lived in rent-stabilized apartments, the suit contends.

The plaintiffs pay anywhere from $600 to $1,400 a month for 52 three-bedroom units in the three buildings, according to the lawsuit…

The group claims the landlords, who bought the buildings in 2009, have neglected to do repairs in black-occupied units…

Approximately 15 new tenants have moved in since then, paying market rents as a high as $2,500, the plaintiffs claim…

Pilgrim, who pays a stabilized $950 rent for his apartment, said he has talked to new tenants who had told him they are paying more than double that rate…

“How can you go from paying $687 a month to $2,500 a month? They’re also taking advantage of these young kids,” Bell said.

The tenant sees the landlord as being greedy.  While the landlord sees that apartment being rented 72.5% below what it could be renting for.  If the roles were reversed the tenant would probably do the same thing.  Because people want to make money.  And people want to be rich.  That’s why they buy lotto tickets.  And try to make it in movies and television.  To be rich and famous.  They don’t buy properties to see how little money they can make with them.  They buy them to see how much money they can make with them.  Movie stars would never put their mansions up for sale at 72.5% below what other rich people would pay for them.  Just as a middle class homeowner would never sell her home for 72.5% below what someone would pay for it.

The law of supply and demand bring buyers and sellers together at a price they both agree on.  Making both parties happy.  When laws interfere with market prices (such as rent control) both parties are seldom happy.  Buyers tend to be happier.  But because sellers are so unhappy they stop selling.  Thus reducing the number of apartments available to rent.  Which is why rent control doesn’t work.  It actually reduces the amount of affordable housing.  So that only a very lucky few can enjoy life in a rent-control apartment.

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New York’s High Tax Rates makes it Difficult for People to Willingly Work in New York

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 29th, 2014

Week in Review

If you ever wondered why the communists built the Berlin Wall this is why (see Man Takes Selfies for Proof to the IRS by Brian Koerber posted 3/18/2014 on 3/18/2014 on Mashable).

Anne Jarvis’ father, Andrew, is an architect that splits his time between his firm’s branches in New York City and Philadelphia. The commute became so overwhelming that he began to rent an apartment in NYC to improve his quality of life.

Upon further inspection of tax laws, Andrew learned that in order to avoid being taxed by New York, he would only be allowed to live in the city 182 days or less out of the year. In preparation for disputes against his living situation, he began taking selfies, as a way to prove to the taxman that he spends more time in Philadelphia, than he does in New York.

When a taxing authority taxes too much the natural inclination of free people is to move.  And that’s what was happening in East Berlin.  The best and brightest that drove the economy were walking across the street into the West.  Leaving behind only the less-educated and the less-skilled.  So to stop this brain-drain the communists built the Berlin Wall.  To keep the best and brightest from going to where life was better.

Those on the left will read this story and call this architect greedy.  For he enjoys the privilege of working and living in New York City part of the year.  And should pay for that privilege.  In particular so they can have more free stuff paid for by the best and brightest.  But if New York starts taxing his income that doesn’t mean Pennsylvania will stop taxing his income.  No.  They both will tax his income.  As if he’s two different people.  That is, he will pay the taxes of two people.  Is that fair?  Would even those on the left call that fair?  Of course if you suggest they should pay two cellular bills (theirs and somebody else’s) they would say, “Wait a minute.  That is NOT fair.”  But the architect?  They’d probably say something like, “He’s rich.  He can afford to pay the income taxes of two people.  And should.”

Being rich is a relative term.  It basically means anyone making more than you these days.  So even people who win the lotto don’t consider themselves rich when it comes to paying income taxes.  They’ll say that having to give almost half of their winnings to the taxman is unfair.  But having two states tax this architect is fair.  Because he can afford it.  For he earns that every year.  While they only won one lotto.

The way New York City is going they will have to build a wall around Manhattan if they expect to keep the best and brightest from fleeing their oppressive tax rates.  Or they’ll have to get the federal government to tax all states oppressively high so people have no better place to go.  Which explains why big-government liberals are all for expanding the power of the federal government.  For their oppressive liberal policies won’t work if the people can move to another state to escape them.

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Capitalism gives New York City a Night Life while Communism gives Pyongyang only Night

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 1st, 2014

Week in Review

The American left has long had a love affair with communism.  They loved Joseph Stalin.  Until he made a nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany that allowed Hitler to wage World War II.  Which devastated the left.  For they felt their true love betrayed them.  But they rejoiced when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union.  So they could love Uncle Joe Stalin once again.  Even though some 20 million Soviets died because of Stalin’s nonaggression pact with Adolf Hitler.

All during the Cold War the left urged détente with the Soviet Union.  They wore t-shirts with pictures of Che Guevara.  They carried pictures of Chairman Mao.  They admired Ho Chi Minh.  They wanted to normalize relations with Cuba.  They liked Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.  And just loved Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.  When it came to communist/socialist regimes nationalizing industries and oppressing their people the left professed their undying love.  Why?  Because they hate capitalism.  Just like these communist/socialist dictators.  Who put their people ahead of profits.  Like they do in North Korea (see NASA photo shows North Korea is in the dark by Dylan Stableford posted 2/26/2014 Yahoo! News).

While you were sleeping, North Korea disappeared.

Well, not exactly. But a recent image taken from the International Space Station shows the mysterious, dictator-ruled country almost completely in the dark…

Even the capital of Pyongyang (population: 3.26 million) is a relatively dark, compared with smaller cities in neighboring South Korea and China.

The reason? According to a recent report by the Korea Institute for National Unification, electricity in North Korea is “sporadic and unreliable, with homes that have electricity often receiving just a few hours per day.” About half of North Korea’s 24 million people live in extreme poverty, with most homes and apartments “heated by open fireplaces burning wood or briquettes.” And many “lack flush toilets.”

The North Korean regime hates capitalism.  Just like the American left. Because capitalism puts profits before people.  Which is why New York City has an incredible night life unlike Pyongyang (or any other North Korean city).  Not to mention cellular networks and smartphones.  Broadway and night clubs.  Times Square and Greenwich Village.  Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show.  Trains and air planes.  Allowing anyone to get where the party is.  New York City.  Things they don’t have in North Korea.  Because North Korea doesn’t have capitalism.  Like New York City.  The city that never sleeps.  Thanks to electric power lighting up the night.  Something North Korea doesn’t have.  Because North Korea doesn’t have capitalism.  Or lights.

The American left loves liberal New York City.  It is the center of their world.  Even though it was built with capitalism.  But the left loves socialism.  And communism.  Where they put people before profits.  And those people sit in the dark doing nothing once the sun sets.  And defecate in holes in the ground because they have no flush toilets.  Something else you can do all night long in heated buildings throughout New York City.  Because New York City has capitalism.  Which makes life better.  At least according to the American left.  For their favorite city is a city that capitalism built.  Unlike that communist city they’re not flying to for a good time.  Pyongyang.

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Guns, Butter and Abortion

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 24th, 2014

Economics 101

Democrats will cut Defense but not Entitlements because fewer People in Defense vote Democrat

A cornerstone of the Obama presidency is social justice.  Primarily through redistribution of wealth.  Raising taxes to fund a growing welfare state.  To help those not lucky enough to have won life’s lottery.  Such as expanding the food stamp program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).  Which has grown over 70% under President Obama.

Of course, this costs money.  A lot of it.  Added on top of an already costly welfare state.  Driven by entitlement spending.  Social Security.  And Medicare.  The biggest portions of federal spending.  And it only keeps growing.  Making the welfare state unsustainable without entitlement reform.  But the politicians won’t touch entitlements.  The third rail of politics.  Because they’re afraid of losing votes in the next election.  So they’d rather the country implode instead of reforming entitlements.  And hope that implosion comes after they’re dead and buried.  For as long as they get to enjoy their lives they could give a rat’s behind about future generations.

But they will touch defense spending.  And often do when they are looking for more money for the welfare state.  Even now.  The Obama administration is proposing spending cuts in defense spending.  That will shrink the size of the military.  And cut pay and benefits for some of the lowest paid people in the country.  The people who go in harm’s way for their country.  They won’t touch entitlement spending because it may hurt people that typically vote Democrat.  But they have no problem doing just that to those who wear a uniform to serve their country.  Who don’t always vote Democrat.  Just so they can have a generous welfare state like the European social democracies they so admire have.  Who can have them because they don’t have large defense budgets.  For the United States has been protecting them since World War II.

People can’t pay Taxes to fund a Welfare State without a Job that Provides an Income to Tax

If you watch television you’ve probably heard New York State’s commercials to attract new businesses to New York.  Where the state is promising that businesses will be “100% tax-free for 10 years.  No income tax, business, corporate, state or local taxes, sales and property taxes, or franchise fees.”  Which is a clear admission from the state with the second highest tax burden in the country that high taxes hurt business.

The tax burden is so great in New York that some businesses have moved their operations out of state.  And people with vacation homes in New York who only visit them a couple of weeks out of the year are selling them.  As the state is taxing their incomes as if they are permanent New York residents.  But despite these high taxes New York has suffered great budget deficits.

New York City is a Democrat city.  Their high taxes pay for a large welfare state.  A large public sector.  And the enormous costs of their public sector benefits.  In particular, health care and pension costs.  But their high tax rates have shrunk the tax base.  Because people can pack up and move out of state.  Just as businesses can.  Which is why they are doing a 180-degree turn on taxes.  In a desperate attempt to get businesses to come to New York.  For even if these businesses aren’t paying taxes their employees will.  Income taxes.  Sales taxes.  Property taxes.  Liquor taxes.  Cigarette taxes.  Etc.  None of which they can pay if there are no jobs to give them an income the state can tax.

The Number of Abortions is having a Direct Impact on the Economy and Tax Revenue

New York City released its SUMMARY OF VITAL STATISTICS 2012 THE CITY OF NEW YORK PREGNANCY OUTCOMES this month.  In it you can find why New York City, New York State and the federal government are having such a difficult time paying for their welfare states.  It’s because of liberal Democrat policies.  Not on the spending side of the equation.  But on the revenue side of the equation.

In 2012 there were 73,815 abortions.  Which are future taxpayers that weren’t allowed to be born.  That’s right, before anyone pays the high tax rates of a welfare state they have to be born first.  And when they are not born that’s future tax revenue the government cannot collect.  If we look at a 20 year period (about a generation) and assume 73,815 abortions each of those 20 years that’s 1,476,300 people that never will pay taxes.  If they earned on average $30,000 each that’s $44,289,000,000 of economic activity they never created.  And at a New York State tax rate of 11.7% that’s $5,181,813,000 in lost tax revenue for the state.

But it gets worse.  If you divide this number by two you get the total number of couples (a man and a woman) that could have started a family.  If each couple had 3 children this lost generation could have brought in another 2,214,450 taxpayers into New York City.  Adding them to their parent’s generation and assuming a median family income of $53,046 (an older generation established in their career earning more and a younger generation just starting their career earning less) brings the total lost economic activity for these two generations of possible New Yorkers to $195,779,524,500.  And lost tax revenue for the state of $22,906,204,367.  So the number of abortions is having a direct impact on the economy.  And tax revenue.  Making it necessary to cut guns to pay for more butter.  Whereas if these taxpayers were born we could have both our guns and butter.  And live in a world made safe by the most powerful military in the world.  Peace through strength.  The Ronald Reagan way.  And not a world where our enemies are constantly testing our resolve.  The Jimmy Carter and President Obama way.

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New York City Abortions changing the Color of the City

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 23rd, 2014

Week in Review

The Democrat’s most sacred issue is abortion.  Any attempts to restrict abortion and the left immediately starts bleating that the Republicans have a war on women.   As if the only thing women care about is having an abortion.  But could there be another reason behind their defense of abortion rights?  Perhaps.

New York City (NYC) requires that all abortions are reported.  They just released a report summarizing abortions in 2012 (see SUMMARY OF VITAL STATISTICS 2012 THE CITY OF NEW YORK PREGNANCY OUTCOMES released in February 2014).

All pregnancy outcomes, whether a live birth or a spontaneous or induced termination of pregnancy, are required by law to be reported to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  This report compiles the information reported about these events to monitor the health of women and their infants in New York City.  For additional tables, technical notes and samples of NYC certificates of birth, please see the Bureau of Vital Statistics website at www.nyc.gov/vitalstats.

In Table 1. Pregnancy Outcomes, Pregnancy Outcome Rates*, and Pregnancy Rates* by Mother’s Age Group, Racial/Ethnic Group, and Borough of Residence, New York City, 2012 we see the information summarized here.

 NYC Live Births and Abortions R1

According to the U.S. census the demographic breakouts are approximately non-Hispanic white (63%), Hispanic (16.9%), non-Hispanic black (13.1%) and Asian and Pacific Islander (5.3%).  Which agrees with the order of the percentage of live births in the table above.  But things are different on the abortion side.  Where non-Hispanic blacks top the list of abortions.  With Hispanics a close second.  While non-Hispanic whites only come in third.   Despite their making up the largest percentage of the population.

If you look at the ratio of live births to abortions we see some startling statistics.  For every Asian and Pacific Islander abortion there were 4.71 live births.  For every non-Hispanic white abortion there were 4.03 live births.  But for every Hispanic abortion there were only 1.60 live births.  While for every non-Hispanic black abortion there were only 0.79 live births.  Or for every 10 abortions there were approximately 8 live births.  Meaning that more non-Hispanic black women are having abortions than having a live birth.

So what does this tell us about abortions?  That non-Hispanic blacks are more likely to have an abortion than any other group in NYC.  With Hispanics a close second.  Interesting.  For Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks typically vote Democrat.  As the Democrats constantly tell them that Republicans hate them.  Even though Republicans oppose abortion.  So if Republicans had their way there would be more black and Hispanics babies being born.  Which would suggest that it’s not the Republicans that don’t like blacks and Hispanics.  But the Democrats.  Because keeping abortion legal is making NYC whiter.

For the sake of argument let’s change the title from ‘Abortions” to ‘Infant Mortality’ in the table above.  What do you think people would be saying then?  Probably not what they’re saying now about these abortion numbers.  Which is nothing.

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Jon Stewart to lose all respect for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio after he did what Donald Trump Did

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 12th, 2014

Week in Review

The new mayor of New York City just stuck a fork in the eye of New York City (see Bill de Blasio uses a fork & knife to eat pizza by Yoav Gonen and Kathryn Cusma posted 1/10/2014 on the New York Post).

Some New Yorker!

Mayor de Blasio shunned years of Big Apple custom Friday by digging into a slice of Staten Island pizza with a knife and fork.

With the move, Hizzoner joined the ranks of real estate mogul Donald Trump and former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who were ridiculed in 2011 for not eating New York City pizza like a New Yorker — with their hands.

Eating New York pizza with a fork?  Pahdon me while I play the grahnd piano (I believe that was a line from the Monty Python television show).  What’s next?  Requiring New Yorkers to grovel in your presence?  For after all, you eat pizza with a fork.  Like a European or something.  A man of sophistication.  And pomposity far exceeding your common New Yorker.  It was bad enough you were getting rid of the horses from Central Park.  For your real estate friends.  And to do God knows what with those horses.  Which they eat in France.  And probably something you eat, too, with your fancy fork.

Perhaps Jon Stewart said it best.  What he thought about a man eating his New York pie with a fork (see About (Late) Last Night: Jon Stewart slams Donald Trump for eating pizza with a fork [Video] by Meredith Blake posted 7/2/2011 on the Los Angeles Times).

Donald Trump likes to think of himself as the quintessential New Yorker, but Jon Stewart begs to differ. His main bone of contention? The way Trump eats his pizza. As Stewart put it Wednesday night on “The Daily Show,” “Based on how you eat pizza, Donald, I want to see your long-form birth certificate. I don’t think you were really born in New York…”

The accusations came at the end of a lengthy but highly entertaining segment in which Stewart closely analyzed the recent pizza dinner shared between Trump and fellow speculative presidential candidate Sarah Palin. In a rant in which Stewart channeled the ghost of Joe Pesci’s character in “Goodfellas,” the host cited two major issues with the Donald’s dinner.

First, there was the venue: Famous Famiglia, a generic chain pizza restaurant at 50th and Broadway, just north of Times Square. It was an underwhelming choice, especially in a city with a wealth of options for a delicious, authentic slice. Or, as Stewart put it in a mild jab at Palin, “I hate to use this term so close to ground zero, but we’re a bit of a pizza Mecca.”

But even more egregious was Trump’s rather fussy method of eating his slices: Stacked and (brace yourselves) with a fork. “Donald Trump, why don’t you just take that fork and stick it right in New York’s eye?” Stewart said, adopting a broad “New Yoik” accent.

No doubt Mayor de Blasio just lost Jon Stewart.  And with him the youth voters.  Say hello to a single term, Mayor de Blasio.  For how can the youth voters vote for a man who eats pizza with a fork?  That’s just too ‘1% ‘for their tastes.

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The Poor Economic Model of Passenger Rail

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 25th, 2013

Economics 101

The Amtrak Crescent is about a 1,300 Mile 30 Hour Trip between New Orleans and New York City

An Amtrak train derailed this morning west of Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Thankfully, the cars remained upright.  And no one was seriously injured (see Amtrak Crescent with 218 aboard derails in SC by AP posted 11/25/2013 on Yahoo! News).

There were no serious injuries, Amtrak said of the 207 passengers and 11 crew members aboard when the cars derailed shortly after midnight in the countryside on a frosty night with 20-degree readings from a cold front sweeping the Southeast.

This is the Amtrak Crescent.  About a 30 hour trip one way.  It runs between New Orleans and New York City.  Approximately 1,300 miles of track.  Not Amtrak track.  They just lease track rights from other railroads.  Freight railroads.  Railroads that can make a profit.  Which is hard to do on a train traveling 1,300 miles with only 207 revenue-paying passengers.

People may board and leave the train throughout this route.  But if we assume the average for this whole trip was 207 and they were onboard from New Orleans to New York City we can get some revenue numbers from the Amtrak website.   We’ll assume a roundtrip.  They each have to pay for a seat which runs approximately $294.  Being that this is a long trip we’ll assume 20 of these people also paid an additional $572 for a room with a bed and a private toilet.  Bringing the total revenue for this train to approximately $72,298.  Not too shabby.  Now let’s look at the costs of this train.

Diesel Trains consume about 3-4 Gallons of Fuel per Mile

If you search online for track costs you will find a few figures.  All of them very costly.  We’ll assume new track costs approximately $1.3 million per mile of track.  This includes land.  Rights of way.  Grading.  Bridges.  Ballast.  Ties.  Rail.  Switches.  Signals.  Etc.  So for 1,300 miles that comes to $1.69 billion.  Track and ties take a beating and have to be replaced often.  Let’s say they replace this track every 7 years.  So that’s an annual depreciation cost of $241 million.  Or $663,265 per day.  Assuming 12 trains travel this rail each day that comes to about $55,272 per train.

Once built they have to maintain it.  Which includes replacing worn out rail and ties.  Repairing washouts.  Repairing track, switches and signals vandalized or damaged in train derailments and accidents.  This work is ongoing every day.  For there are always sections of the road under repair.  It’s not as costly as building new track but it is costly.  And comes to approximately $300,000 per mile.  For the 1,300 miles of track between New Orleans and New York City the annual maintenance costs come to $390 million.  Or $1 million per day.  Assuming 12 trains travel this rail each day that comes to about $89,286 per train.

Diesel trains consume about 3-4 gallons of fuel per mile.  Because passenger trains are lighter than freight trains we’ll assume a fuel consumption of 3 gallons per mile.  For a 1,300 mile trip that comes to 3,900 gallons of diesel.  Assuming a diesel price of $3 per gallon the fuel costs for this trip comes to $11,700.  The train had a crew of 11.  Assuming an annual payroll for engineer, conductor, porter, food service, etc., the crew costs are approximately $705,000.  Or approximately $1,937 per day.  Finally, trains don’t have steering wheels.  They are carefully dispatched through blocks from New Orleans all the way to New York.  Safely keeping one train in one block at a time.  Assuming the annual payroll for all the people along the way that safely route traffic comes to about $1 million.  Adding another $2,967 per day.

Politicians love High-Speed Rail because it’s like National Health Care on Wheels

If you add all of this up the cost of the Amtrak Crescent one way is approximately $161,162.  If we subtract this from half of the roundtrip revenue (to match the one-way costs) we get a loss of $88,864.  So the losses are greater than the fare charged the travelling public.  And this with the freight railroads picking up the bulk of the overhead.  Which is why Amtrak cannot survive without government subsidies.  Too few trains are travelling with too few people aboard.  If Amtrak charged enough just to break even on the Crescent they would raise the single seat price from $294 to $723.  An increase of 146%.

Of course Amtrak can’t charge these prices.  Traveling by train is a great and unique experience.  But is it worth paying 80% more for a trip that takes over 7 times as long as flying?  That is a steep premium to pay.  And one only the most avid and rich train enthusiast will likely pay.  Which begs the question why are we subsidizing passenger rail when it’s such a poor economic model that there is no private passenger rail?  Because of all those costs.  Congress loves spending money.  And they love making a lot of costly jobs.  And that’s one thing railroads offer.  Lots of costly jobs.  For it takes a lot of people to build, maintain and operate a railroad.

Which is why all politicians want to build high-speed rail.  For it doesn’t get more costly than that.  These are dedicated roads.  And they’re electric.  Which makes the infrastructure the most costly of all rail.  Because of the high speeds there are no grade crossings.  Crossing traffic goes under.  Or over.  But never across.  And they don’t share the road with anyone.  There are no profitable freight trains running on high-speed lines to share the costs.  No.  Fewer trains must cover greater costs.  Making the losses greater.  And the subsidies higher.  Which is why politicians love high-speed rail.  It’s like national health care on wheels.

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Foreign Governments warn their people about traveling to Democrat Cities

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 17th, 2013

Week in Review

An anti-capitalist just became the new mayor of New York City.  And it’s got a lot of people nervous.  Not the people who elected him.  But people who do business in the city.  Who came to the city after Mayor Rudy Giuliani cleaned it up.  Making it safe for families to walk the streets again.  And making Times Square the tourist attraction it is today.  Unlike the Seventies.  When prostitution and drugs filled Times Square.  And crime.  Lots and lots of crime.  Some of these business people are worried that New York City might return to what it was like in the Seventies.

Sadly, it is a trend of some of our larger cities to become dangerous.  Even foreign governments are warning their people about some American cities.  And even now those warnings include a much cleaner and safer New York City (see 16 American cities foreign governments warn their citizens about by Reid Wilson posted 11/14/2013 on The Washington Post GovBeat).

Planning a trip abroad? It’s probably best to check out the State Department’s list of travel warnings for countries with unsafe political situations. At the moment, the State Department has issued travel warnings for 34 countries, from the Central African Republic and El Salvador to Iraq and North Korea.

Well, just as State warns Americans about dangerous places to travel, so too do foreign ministries in other countries — and some countries warn their citizens to avoid heading to certain cities in the U.S. France, in particular, warns travelers to be careful in a large number of specific cities.

So what are these cities?  Boston, New York, Washington, Baltimore, Richmond, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, St. Louis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Miami, Los Angeles and El Paso.  Notice anything in common with these cities?  That’s right, they’re all Democrat cities.  The kind of cities that don’t have a Rudy Giuliani running them.  A mayor who is tough on crime.  To make their cities family-friendly.  And tourist-friendly.  The kind of city most of us would prefer to live in.  Which we could have if we, apparently, vote Republican.

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Mayor Bloomberg says Unhidden Cigarettes in Retail Stores encourage People to Start Smoking

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 24th, 2013

Week in Review

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg knows what’s best for New Yorkers.  Lucky for New Yorkers that they have Mayor Bloomberg to be their parent.  For apparently, without him, New Yorkers would be just too stupid for their own good (see New York mayor wants to ban stores from displaying cigarettes by Jonathan Allen posted 3/18/2013 on Reuters).

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday proposed requiring that cigarettes be hidden from view in retail stores as a means to reduce smoking in what he said would be the first law of its kind in the United States…

Bloomberg, a former smoker, is accustomed to industry opposition from previous measures to improve the health of New Yorkers, including bans on smoking in most offices, restaurants, bars, parks and on beaches.

Bloomberg has also taken steps to curtail the use of trans fats and salt in the city’s restaurants. Last week a court unexpectedly struck down his attempt to limit the size of sugary drinks, in part because it did not go through the City Council. The city is appealing that ruling.

“These laws would protect New Yorkers, especially young and impressionable New Yorkers, from pricing, discounts and exposure to in-store displays that promote tobacco products,” Bloomberg told a news conference at a city hospital.

“Such displays suggest that smoking is a normal activity and they invite young people to experiment with tobacco. This is not a normal activity,” he said…

The proposal would also increase penalties on stores that illegally resell cigarettes smuggled in from states with lower tobacco taxes, which Bloomberg said cost the city $30 million in lost tax revenue every year.

Over the last 18 months, inspectors visiting 1,800 cigarette retailers found 46 percent were selling untaxed or unstamped tobacco products, city officials said. New York City cigarettes are the most expensive in the nation at around $12 or $13 a pack after federal, state and city taxes.

Cigarettes are a funny beast.  People like Mayor Bloomberg hate them and want to make it hard for people to smoke.  But he sure loves taxing them.  And when they find cheaper out-of-state cigarettes in stores what is his concern?  That these cheaper cigarettes will make it easier for poor people to smoke?  No.  It is the lost tax revenue to the city that these poor people aren’t paying.

People aren’t smoking because they see cigarettes for sale and say, “Hmmm, smoking looks irresistibly delightful.  I must try it.”  Kids smoke because their heroes in music, television and Hollywood smoke. They look cool smoking and these kids want to look cool like them.  And grown up.  For smoking is an acquired taste.  You have to work at it before you can stand the discomfort of smoking.  But kids do it.  Because they want to look older than they are.  And cool.  Like Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Slash, etc., look on stage with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth as they play a low-slung guitar.  That gets them the ladies.  Like the suave movie hero that gets the ladies and ends up in bed with them.  Who both enjoy a satisfying after-sex smoke.  To be cool like womanizing Don Draper.  Who starts his day with a bourbon and a smoke.  And the cool and liberated women who work with him in the Sixties that smoke.  This is why kids start smoking.  To be like the people they want to be like.  Not because they can see cigarettes for sale.

So smoking is not a ‘normal’ activity.  Well, we don’t need smoking to sustain the human race.  For it serves no necessary biological function.  So, yes, smoking is not normal.  But neither is recreational sex.  Or male-to-male sexual contact.  Which provides no biological function whatsoever.  So one would assume Mayor Bloomberg finds male-to-male sexual contact not a normal activity.  Which can result in AIDS.  According to the CDC there were approximately 16,694 adults and adolescent-men who contracted AIDS in 2011 from male-to-male sexual contact.  In the previous year AIDS claimed 15,529 lives.  Is the mayor going to place restrictions on these activities, too?  After all, he has gone after cigarettes, trans fats, salt, sugary drinks.  What’s to stop him from entering the bedroom.  After all, it’s for New Yorkers’ own good.

Now there are those on the Left who support regulating Americans in their personal life.  Because they think average Americans may not be smart enough to know better.  But where does it end?  Something to think about now that the government will be picking up the tab for our health care thanks to Obamacare.  And we will have to do pretty much whatever they tell us to do if we want some of their health care services.  And to cut costs they may try to ban certain unhealthy lifestyle choices.  From smoking.  To excessive sexual activity that can result in sexually transmitted diseases.  After all they’re banning assault rifles that claimed 323 lives in 2011.  Why wouldn’t they try to ban something that kills more people.  Like male-to-male sexual contact.

When you allow the state to ban lifestyle choices it can start with smoking and sugary drinks.  But it can end with activity behind the bedroom door.  Such as the Left is always accusing the Right of wanting to do.  But it isn’t the Right trying to micromanage our private life.  All the hostility to cigarettes and the foods we enjoy is primarily from the Left.  From those in the nanny state.  So it’s just a matter of time before the Left starts regulating our sexual lives.  Which they will claim they have the right to do.  As Obamacare gives them that right.  Because the state will now be paying for the consequences of our lifestyle choices.

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Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg are taking on the Teachers Unions over Teacher Evaluations

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 2nd, 2013

Week in Review

Once upon a time Republicans ruled New York.  George Pataki was governor from January 1, 1995 – December 31, 2006.  And Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York City from January 1, 1994 – December 31, 2001.  Sparking a renaissance in New York.  Especially in New York City.  For Giuliani cut crime and improved the quality of life for New Yorkers living in America’s greatest city.  But I don’t recall them taking on the public schools like the current Democrat leadership (see New York City’s schools could lose 2,500 teachers by next year by Hilary Russ posted 1/28/2013 on Reuters).

New York City’s public schools over two years will lose $724 million in state aid and as many as 2,500 teachers through attrition, because of a labor union conflict over a teacher evaluation system, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday.

The schools lost $250 million of that total earlier this month after the city and United Federation of Teachers failed to agree on a way to evaluate teacher performance.

City schools would lose that same baseline funding amount in the state’s coming fiscal year, which begins April 1, plus another $224 million under the state budget proposed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last week, Bloomberg said at a joint legislative hearing…

City schools could lose $1 billion altogether in baseline state funding without action on the teacher evaluations, said New York City Comptroller John Liu, who testified after Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, however, said that the union tried to introduce new provisions to an agreement at the last minute that would have made the evaluation system a “fraud” because it would have expired in two years – the same amount of time required to conduct the evaluations, making the process pointless.

This is not what you expect to hear coming from Democrat governors and Democrat mayors.  For the teachers unions help these people get into office.  By funding their campaigns with union dues.  And getting out the vote with their foot soldiers.  It is doubtful that these actions will swing the teachers’ support over to the Republican cause.  But it is interesting to see these Democrats bite the hand that feeds them.

It also shows how contentious teacher evaluations are.  For the unions are willing to lose $1 billion in funding to avoid evaluating their teachers.  One has to wonder why?  Why are they so dead-set against evaluations when every industry in the private sector evaluates their employees?  The common answer is that evaluations aren’t fair.  That they just measure a student’s ability to read, write and do math.  And not more important things like helping these kids see things from a liberal point of view.

The problem is this, though.  Businesses want to hire graduates who can read, write and do math.  For these are necessary skills in the business world.  And seeing things from a liberal point of view will not allow American kids to keep up with the Chinese and Indian kids.  Who are learning how to read, write and do math.  Which is why more and more jobs are being out sourced to these countries.  Their kids score better on standardized tests than our kids.  And end up getting better jobs.

This may be why these Democrats are taking on public education.  New York has some of the highest tax rates in the country.  These high rates are causing the best and brightest to leave New York.  As more and more of their earnings are taxed away.  And who is replacing the best and brightest?  The kids graduating from the public schools.  Who apparently aren’t doing as well as they could.  As Bloomberg and Cuomo are playing hardball when it comes to these teacher evaluations.  There must be a reason for that.  And one can only assume that they want their high school graduates to be better and brighter.

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