24 July, 2009

Political Kryptonite: Repealing Prop 13

This letter was written to Credo in response to their offer of "Repeal Prop 13" bumper stickers.
The machine behind 13 is too strong, and the propaganda is too inflammatory. Prop 13 reform is considered Kryptonite for politicians. The minute anyone tries to even suggest repealing, we start seeing ads about old ladies being thrown out of their homes because they can't pay the property taxes.The Jarvis-Gann groups are experts at fearmongering and they ruthlessly destroy any chance, because they are greedy beyond imagining.

This is what needs to be hammered home to California voters: Some aspects of Prop 13 CAN be revised to benefit Californians and businesses. If we sell those benefits, I think reformation CAN be pushed through. If we go negative, we will get NOWHERE. At ALL. We must offer not only repair of crumbling schools, public services, and highways: we must offer real improvement, and treat this money carefully as a prudent investment in the future, not merely as an onerous expense. So, constantly frame it as a *benefit*, and have arguments tailored to overcome opposition. It's very easy to preach to the Credo-oriented convert; help give us real talking points for those who need to be convinced.

Here are some thoughts - and keep in mind I'm a layperson, no lawyer, economist, or expert of any kind except how to eat ramen 6 days a week and not get thoroughly sick of it:

• those who inherit their parents' homes could be "grandfathered in" but still pay reasonable property taxes based on the home's current market value, perhaps ramping up in increments or mitigated by the other items factored into the estate tax.
• CORPORATIONS and COMMERCIAL PROPERTY owners should be required to pay property taxes based on their property's current value, not on what they paid before Prop 13. This should be based on square usable footage, not on the parcel. It could be mitigated by credits such as green building, green / water saving open space, alternative energy usage, etc.
• Corporations who rely heavily on California infrastructure - or who are heavy polluters - construction, beverage bottlers, oil producers, container shipping, trucking, airlines, chemical manufacturers, etc. - should pay a fair property tax and have an itty-bitty .05% or something tacked on to help repair and replenish the infrastructure and environment they damage.
• Out-of-state and foreign property holders should see a slightly higher tax rate, because they are using the infrastructure and benefiting from CA consumers and tax payers without contributing... the money is basically being siphoned away never to be seen again.

I think taxes that support our infrastructure should be fair - of course little old ladies should be able to keep their homes, and of course those with big expensive properties and pavement-crushing vehicles should be paying their *fair* share. Not all of it. Just a *fair* share. This won't drive any businesses out of CA and if they are sold on it correctly, they can then play the old "giving back to the community" card....

If trucking companies are paying taxes into a highway repair fund, and their repairs decrease because the roads don't suck, and their insurance rates go down because they have fewer accidents, who loses?

I hope these ideas are helpful in formatting the campaign. I just don't see "REPEAL PROP 13" succeeding. You have to offer something better.

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The Door is Open

I took this phrase from two sources:
the U2 song "Gloria", and my favorite Rumi poem:

"The Breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep
you must ask for what you really want
Don't go back to sleep
People are going back and forth
Across the doorway where the two worlds touch
The door is round, and open
Don't go back to sleep"

I have spent a fair amount of my life wide awake and dreaming, other times sleeping where my dreams were so vivid I wanted to go back and figure out how to make them real. How do I bring dreams into the waking world - dreams of creativity, of joy, of peace, of fun? How to take the shadow of my psyche and use it to heal myself and others instead of hurt?

I have eclectic taste - possibly insane taste - ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. I like silly humor more than I like sarcasm. I have a lifelong interest in why the heck the world is the way it is... cause and effect? G/d/s? Quarks? Who knows. Even if I thought I knew, that would be faith. The intersection between faith and knowledge - a dangerous and blurry place.

As the Firesign Theater states ".... a force that can only be used for good... or evillllll..." but I don't remember what they were talking about, was it a time machine?

I'm blessed with brilliant and creative friends; you'll find links to their blogs, art and ideas here. I'll add my own art and interests as time permits. Daring to put ourselves out there is one of the greatest challenges many artists face. Creating is easy, sometimes it happens all by itself. Communicating... hard.