Opinion Journal has a great Best of the web today.
Archives for April 2004
Meanwhile, at The Principality . . .
You gotta love the Friday paper. There are articles on everything, from the headline Developer submits plan for age-restricted housing in township, (for 140 apartment units, at $300,000-375,000 each) which is to take place in a site with “steep slopes, woodlands of 1,700 trees” and transco gas pipelines, to University unveils new master plan for the Dinky rail corridor so the new buildings are within a 10-minute walk from the Frist Campus Center (heavens forbid students might have to take a shuttle to class!). We learn that the 7th person to hold the school Superintendent job since the early 1990s accepts Massachusetts position (and takes a $29,000 pay cut), and that Tempers flare up at joint budget session over library parking, and you haven’t even opened the paper yet. It’s all on the first page.
I wrote about the flaring tempers last Wednesday (see Centerpiece Theater), but there’s one interesting point in the Friday article I didn’t mention. The 29% Borough/71% Township budget split is “derived from a formula for joint services that determines fair share based on total property-tax rateables in the two towns, of which 69 percent is in the township“. The Borough’s two square miles, of which the University occupies one half of the land. The Borough’s aggressively developing more buildings that don’t pay taxes, and clearly there’s every incentive for them to continue since The Township is subsidizing it.
On page 3, 3 teaching positions axed as school board adopts budget, because school enrollment’s expected to drop due to the “expansion of” The Principality “Charter School and an economy that is keeping people from moving into” The Principality. One hopes the buyers for the proposed age-restricted housing aren’t affected by that same economy.
Rick, the clueless-but-hopefully-well-meaning editor of the newspaper titled his editorial Hate taxes? Wait till we pay off bonds, saying “Like homeowners who keep building up the unpaid balance on their credit cards — all the while assuring themselves that a better paying job, a long-awaited inheritance or a winning lottery ticket is just around the corner — the federal and state governments just keep issuing bonds and building up debt, confident that the economy will soon turn around, revenues will start pouring in and everything will be rosy. Eventually someone will have to pay for the burgeoning debt — both economically and politically — but that appears to be of little concern to today’s office holder“. Well, I got news for you, Rick. You have the same situation right here in the redundant local goverments, and for as long as you’ve been editor you’ve supported every single astronomical bond issue and high-priced public building.
Right in the middle of the Borough’s downtown, the Arts Council building (not a rateable) expansion is a given. They even have the drawing of the expanded building (with an ugly high-diving platform thing over the entrance) as the site map, instead of a photo of the existing building. It simply doesn’t matter that the residents of that neighborhood — who are already overburdened with the Council’s parking — are asking,
The Arts Council, [the Principality] High School, [Principality] Medical Center. The common thread is an actively growing community facility located in a residential neighborhood. Why are we always giving away additional public benefits to a tax-exempt regional institution, while causing permanent detrimental effects to the many taxpaying residential neighborhoods? Who compensates the homeowner for the loss in value of their properties?
Vargas Llosa in The Guardian
Several years ago I was able to attend Dr. Vargas Llosa’s lectures at The University, which were wonderful. In my opinion, he’s the greatest writer the Spanish language has ever had. He’s also an insightful political observer:
The killers were not mistaken in their target: today’s Madrid represents precisely the negation of the radical inhumanities of the obtuse, exclusive tribal spirit of fundamentalism, religious or political, which hates mixture, diversity and tolerance and, above all, liberty. This is the first European battle in a savage war that began exactly two years ago with the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York, and whose inroads will probably fill with blood and horror a good part of this new century. It is a war to the death, of course, and owing to the present fantastic development of the technology of destruction and the fanatic, suicidal zeal that inspires the international movement of terror, it is perhaps a trial even more difficult than those represented by fascism and communism for the culture of liberty.