These midnight ponderings keep rumbling around in my head as I toss and turn during the night listening to Bruce Springsteen praying in vain for a savior to rise from these streets.
Carty gets no respect
History will judge Carty Finkbeiner a better mayor that we judge him now. The man we love to make fun of is now the butt of a new book published by The Blade entitled The Little Book of Carty, which makes fun of his famous gaffes.
Carty’s blunders are not so much in what he proposes but in how he proposes it. Here are two examples: His famous suggestion to sell homes located near the airport affected by the sound from freight planes to deaf people drew national publicity. But had he suggested to sell the homes for less than market value to people who would prefer the beauty of the area and its proximity to Oak Openings Metropark in exchange for jet noise, taxpayers would have saved the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to buy out homeowners and demolish these homes.
I know people who live in this area and love it. They have learned to tolerate noise.
Carty’s latest idea drawing ridicule is to tax people for using plastic bags at the grocery store. But, something needs to be done. Plastic bags don’t biodegrade. They break down into small toxic pieces contaminating soil and water. World-wide, more than 500 billion bags are consumed annually. This petroleum-based product also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
A similar tax reduced bag consumption in Ireland by 90 percent and saved more than 18 million liters of oil, according to the website reusablebags.com. The tax has had mixed results since because paper bag usage has increased. But, Carty is right to start a discussion. Maybe, a better alternative to suggesting a tax would have been to present the problem and solicit ideas from council and the public.
How high will fees go?
For more than 30 years we have used a forest trial to access our cabin on a small lake in Northern Michigan. Next year, for the first time we will pay an annual $20 fee to the National Forest Service to use that same trail. They will not improve it and we are not allowed to improve it. There are thousands of such cabin owners that use such forests trails. This is money for nothing and more to come in 2009. Every level of government is experiencing large revenue losses due to the recession and raising taxes is out of the question. For example, Lucas County proposes raising the conveyance fee for real estate transactions $1 for every $1,000 of real estate transferred.
This is just a start. Look for increases in title fees, license fees, hunting and fishing fees and the big one—the sales tax.
I have a recurring nightmare about the news show I recently watched one Sunday morning. Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby was going on and on about his opposition to the bailout of the Big Three. He stated the Detroit auto companies and their unions were more responsible for their financial distress than the recession.
Sen. Shelby never mentioned his state is home to Honda, Mercedes Benz and Hyundai plants which employ some 40,000. GM in 2007 produced more than 12,000 cars a day. If GM fails, Americans will still be buying cars, but more of these cars will be built in Alabama.
Congress should structure a bailout based on conditions that curb executive largesse, loosen union rules to allow GM more flexibility and move us closer to energy independence by mandating better mileage requirements. But, why were there no conditions when Congress bailed out the insurance and financial companies?
Besides, this is a loan, not the money for nothing given to Wall Street.