Today’s Headlines

  • U.S. Automakers Shutting Down Remaining S.U.V. Plants (NYT)
  • While States Halt Road Projects and Hope for Stimulus Money (NYT, Vegas Now)
  • Convert That Automaking Capacity to Wind and Transit (Huff Post, Seattle PI)
  • Or a Full-on National Make-Over, Argues Thomas Friedman (NYT)
  • Cargo Trikes Edging Out Delivery Trucks in Cambridge, MA (CSM)
  • City Breaks Ground on a New Courthouse and 60% of This Story is About Parking
  • Dellaverson Oversees $500M Loss in MTA Pension Fund (News)
  • A Rare Snow Day Allows Seattlites to Discover the Joys of Street Life (Stranger)
  • Yassky’s Had Enough of the Vendors on Court Street (News)
  • "The Last Traffic Jam" 1972-Style (Atlantic via Kottke)
  • What Would Jane Jacobs Do With Dubai? (Metropolis via Planetizen)
  • Even Click and Clack are Pushing a Gas Tax (Hub & Spokes via Sblog.Net)
  • Larry Littlefield

    Sounds like a great time for a 20/50 pension plan. After all, allowing workers to retire early and be paid more years to do nothing actually saves money, acutaries hired by the state legislature say.

    For one thing, since people have no right to expect public services, you don’t have to replace them. And since public employees with seniority have no obligation to work, you don’t even see the collapse of public services right away, and later it can be blamed on something else. Like the poor or low taxes.

    Public transit, public schools, public parks — all doomed, and at tax rates that provide cradle to grave services in Europe.

  • lee

    Larry, what would a more equitable/sustainable retirement system look like?

  • Larry Littlefield

    One that didn’t increase benefits for those cashing in and moving out every time the stock market goes up, and then cut benefits for younger generations every time it goes down, over and over again.

    The main component is shoring up Social Security, which is all most people in younger generations will ever get.

    But for New York state and local government, I covered this ground in my outraged response to the latest screw the newbie proposal (to which the unions are feigning opposition) here:

    http://www.r8ny.com/blog/larry_littlefield/pensions_generation_greed_strikes_again.html

    Like the exemption of retirement income from state and local income taxes, this is what no one wants to talk about. New York, where those who care about their own kids send them to live elsewhere.

  • MIndy

    those cargo trikes look pretty cool. I wouldn’t mind having a tricycle for running errands or going on picnics.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Am I the only one frustrated with Friedman. He calls for “creative tax incentives” without suggesting taxing oil. Thats chicken shit. Any asshole can do that and even get people to vote for it. No one has to vote for Friedman yet he doesn’t have the balls to include and actual tax as “creative”. I think he does pretty good pontificating over there at NYTimes. How can taxing fuel continue to be the third rail of American politics. I don’t even care what you use the money for. He suggests teachers, “infrastructure”, “innovation” (which means basically making new things). Great, but other than printing it, where would the money come from. I don’t even care if you off-setted capital gains taxes against it. I prefer taxing oil and using the money to build and operate mass transit, support population density, open and industrial space. Anything. Just tax the oil. Jesus, and if he can’t advocate it, sitting in his cat-bird seat at the New York Times, having committed to it in the past, who can? We are truly fucked.

  • Friedman: “I took the Acela, America’s sorry excuse for a bullet train, from New York to Washington. Along the way, I tried to use my cellphone to conduct an interview and my conversation was interrupted by three dropped calls within one 15-minute span.”

    I generally agree with Friedman’s idea that we should upgrade our infrastructure, but the last thing I want is to be surrounded by cell-phone yappers during the entire trip from New York to Washington.

    I suggest that we have good cell phone connectivity in one car, where we can quarantine all the yappers and let them listen to each other, and no connectivity at all in other cars.

    All the people who have no connectivity can spend their time reading – maybe even the New York Times.

  • Niccolo: Friedman does support a gas tax. Eg, see his column “Who’s Afraid of a Gas Tax” at http://select.nytimes.com/2006/03/01/opinion/01friedman.html

    Incidentally, do you know that the devil is called “Old Nick” after Niccolo Machiavelli, because Machiavelli was considered the epitome of evil?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    There is a long list of stuff I don’t know. But those two aren’t on it. I know the Friedman piece you are referring to, nonetheless now is the time to step up to the plate. Things get done in crises that don’t otherwise get done. There are lots of positive things that get done, market things, by applying a tax to them. Since we are printing money down in Washington now is the perfect time to rearrange the other tax structures to do some positive things. I know Friedman’s general position of fuel taxes I just want it more upfront in his little pieces like this on how great the rest of the world is. Europe is even better than Asia regarding infratstructure and they don’t have to level their old neighborhoods to do it like Hong Kong and Beijing have. I feel any “infrastructure” piece that doesn’t include fuel taxes at some point in it is bullshit. In fact carbon taxes are the most important infrastructure improvement that we could make. They are political-economic infrastructure that enables the elimination of other social overhead capital deficits.

    As to Mr. Machiavelli, I know his rep, and those who thought him so evil in the period you mention were “divine right of kings” spokesmen. My admiration for the man’s work is not diminished by any ad hominem name-calling in past centuries.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    The World is Flat and so is Tom Friedman’s head. Thats my ad hominem effort for Christmas.

  • “Since we are printing money down in Washington now is the perfect time to rearrange the other tax structures to do some positive things.”

    On the contrary, in a recession as serious as this one, you have to pump up the economy by printing money, increasing government spending, and if anything, lowering taxes.

    This is the worst time imaginable to raise taxes.

  • Rhywun

    Geez, I noticed the vast gulf between America’s shabby infrastructure and (to take one example) Germany’s, when I lived in that country *twenty* years ago. It’s a simple matter of priorities. We live in the supposedly richest country on earth but we just don’t care about infrastructure. And it’s not just authoritarian countries like China that are whipping our butt in this area; it’s Western countries too that have different priorities than we do.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Its a simple matter of fuel taxes rhywun. Did you see the price of benzine over there in Germany? They can afford a lot of trains and windmills behind that.