Thursday, July 24, 2008

Garland Property Values Up

According to the Dallas County Appraisal District, property values in Garland increased by 3.1%, while for GISD they're up 3.4%.

Can the City Council and School Board hold their budget increase to this? Or can they actually drop it so that they can lower our tax rates?

$25 billion for Fannie and Freddie?

Twenty-five billion dollars. $25,000,000,000. $82 for every American.

Privatizing profits and socializing risks is an excellent plan--if you're on the profit side. It's a dirty deal otherwise. This looks like a no-strings bailout for stupid behavior.

I haven't fully thought through this, but what would happen if we nationalize them, split them up into about ten companies, and then sell them off taking them completely private? No more bailouts. No more preferential treatment. Just good banking practice.

New Parkland Hospital

I don't have any exact numbers, but I do wonder--if the current hospital didn't have to support illegal immigrants, how many more years would it be adequate?

As it is, taxpayers are being asked to support $747 million in new debt. Ouch.

Police Blotter, July 8 and July 14

1. Ripplewood Drive, 2700 block

4:29 a.m. June 22: Criminal mischief

2. Catalpa Street, 3100 block

1 a.m. June 30: Criminal mischief

3. Galaxie Road, 5000 block

10:20 a.m. June 29: Theft

Marriage in Texas

Starting September 1, you can get a discount on your marriage license by taking an eight hour class. While I don't think it's a bad idea, I think I'd recommend at least one change--allow counseling by clergy to count for the instruction requirement.

Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less!

Let's go over this again.

Raise demand, keep the supply the same, and the price goes up.

Keep demand the same, lower the supply, and the price goes up.

This is where we're at. To lower the supply, either demand has to go down or supply has to go up. You can see some of the results of decreasing demand at the pump, but to really get the price down, increase the supply. The way to do that? Drill. Produce more energy here. Nuclear, petroleum, coal, wind, solar. Do it in an economical way and the price will come down.

The Democrats want to block everything except wind and solar (and they'll even block those when they interrupt their views). Wind and solar aren't bad, but the economics don't work out--both are diffuse, and getting the energy from where it can be generated to where it can be used is expensive (as in, several billion to get it from west Texas to here). What happens when demand goes up but supply stays the same? See above.

The Republicans want to produce our domestic energy. Oil wells aren't bad. My dad has a couple on his property, and the cows graze right up next to them, and you can plow within fifty feet (there's enough underground works that you don't want to go RIGHT up against them).

Let's see what happens in Congress. Will they allow drilling on the outer continental shelf, or no?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where did the month go?

OK, I know I don't have much of a peanut gallery, but I've had a good July. We spent some time in Palestine, riding the Texas State Railroad. Highly recommended.

It's time to hit the ground running. Ready for it?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Who needs fireworks when we have the Dallas County Government?

Sheriff: Let them film!

Commissioners: Let them not!


When is a government program unnecessary?

When it spends $3 million and finds 2 violations.

The only way for them to win... not to let us play.

Police Blotter, June 29, 2008

1. Apollo Road, 1700 block

10 p.m. June 18: Burglary of a vehicle

2. Bent Bow Drive, 2300 block

4:30 p.m. June 21: Burglary of a vehicle

3. Ripplewood Drive, 3000 block

11:30 p.m. June 15: Burglary of a vehicle

4. Village Green Drive, 2100 block

12:01 a.m. June 20: Burglary of a vehicle

Republicans hold lead in gubernatorial poll

At least 57% of Texans favor Republicans as their first choice for Governor in 2010.

Movies at the pool

From the DMN:

Garland water park hosting films

09:53 AM CDT on Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Garland's Surf and Swim water park is offering "Dive-in Movies" this summer – Ratatouille on Friday, The Incredibles on July 11 and Finding Nemo on July 25. Patrons may bring blankets or lawn chairs. Those arriving after 5 p.m. will get $2 off the usual admission price of $6 for those 5 feet or taller and $5 for those shorter than 5 feet. Children 2 and younger get in free when accompanied by a paying customer. Movies start at dusk. The park is at 440 W. Oates Road. For more information, call 972-205-3993.

So where did Phil Gramm go?


Texas Taxes (Say that three times really fast)

Galveston County Tax Assessor-Collector Cheryl Johnson has written a great op-ed at LoneStar Times. She wants disclosure of real estate prices, then limits on their increases, with the end-goal of abolishing the property tax and replacing it with a consumption tax. She'd have my vote!

Remaking the Republicans

From a column by Rich Lowry, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam in their book Grand New Party propose several changes to what the Republicans should do to attract more voters. The proposals outlined in the column are:

  1. $5,000 per child tax credit
  2. Subsidies for parents providing their own child care at home
  3. Expanded transportation infrastructure to ease the suburban commute
#1 and #2 I have only a problem with when they turn into such a tax credit that parents get a bigger "refund" than they pay in taxes. #3 makes me uneasy when it's coming from Washington.

What are your thoughts?

Paying for roads

Paying for roads is always problematic. So how can we do this? My first instinct is to make sure that gas taxes are dedicated to road use, not put in the general fund first. And why hasn't the gas tax revenue scaled with population and traffic growth?

UPDATE: I spoke with the reporter who wrote the article. While revenue has gone up based on the amount of gas consumed, with it being just a flat rate per gallon, it hasn't scaled with inflation.

Perry on Ethanol

Rick Perry wants to cut ethanol production and slash subsidies. It would lessen some pressure on food prices, and reduce transportation costs associated with moving the ethanol around the country (it cannot be moved around in pipelines the way petroleum products can, I think this is because it's water-soluble).

Go for it! In addition, he wants to lift tariffs on ethanol that comes from sugar, such as they can do in Brazil. Go for it again!

Random shootings

I was going to comment on the story, but it channel 8 is reporting that the GPD has a suspect in a car that matches the description! Drive with impunity (but watch the gas prices!)!

Who pays for 911?

Via the DMN, this article talks about how prepaid cell phone cards will soon have a fee on them to pay for 911 service. While I can understand how nobody likes to pay fees they didn't pay before, 911 can be dialed by anybody--even if you don't pay a thing for your phone. You can take a dead phone that doesn't even have a contract of any sort associated with it and dial 911.

Could the fee be done in a different way? Possibly. Instead of charging $0.50 a card, perhaps it could be a percentage of the cost, or even a deduction of so many prepaid minutes a month.

911 is a system where everyone benefits. The costs should be borne by everyone.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

All your credit card records are belong to us!

So how would you like to have the government get instant, no-warrant access to your credit and debit card transaction records?

Me neither.

Call Sam Johnson, Kay Hutchison, John Cornyn, and George Bush, and tell them to stop this thing!

Police Blotter, June 22, 2008

1. High Plateau Drive, 3100 block

6 p.m. June 12: Theft

2. Kingsbridge Drive, 500 block

1 a.m. June 12: Burglary of a vehicle

3. Lamont Drive, 2000 block

9:30 p.m. June 14: Burglary of a vehicle

4. Pine Knot Drive, 1700 block

11:20 a.m. June 9: Theft

Alternative Teacher Certification

My sister went through one of these, and I think she's an excellent teacher. Apparently, some of them have been letting substandard teachers through. Let's get that stopped, but at the same time, remember that the reason the alternative programs were put in place--there weren't enough teachers being certified under the traditional setup.

A friend of mine is applying for one of these programs. I learned that I can't be certified to teach high school math since I don't have enough college hours of mathematics courses. Please ignore the engineering degree, the applied math, the engineering courses that are bundles of mathematical joy, and taking enough math as an undergrad to take me past any high school curriculum that I know of. I am apparently not qualified to teach math. That seems wrong, if you ask me. Are there any teachers out there who can comment on this?

Feeling the pinch

If you can help, please do.

Which side of Obama's mouth do we believe?

"I believe in free trade."

"I don't think NAFTA has been good for America."

He opposed NAFTA and voted against CAFTA. He will oppose the Columbian Free Trade Agreement.

So where is the free trade that he does like?

Nationalizing Oil Refineries

Huh? Do some people think that this is a good idea? What the government has, it controls. We tried controlling markets in the 70s. I don't think we want to go through that again.

Disclosing Sale Prices

For it!

Let's be honest in our appraisals for property tax. One big way of knowing whether those appraisals are accurate is to have disclosure of sale prices on land and houses. Who could be in opposition? Lobbyists for business groups. Apparently, commercial property is easy to undervalue when appraised. If the property is undervalued, then the property tax payments are artificially low. This raises property tax proportions for residential properties. Yes, businesses may have to change their prices, but I think that the honesty in the appraisal would be worth it.

Where have I been?

OK, I know there's not much of a peanut gallery, but I have been on vacation and spending extra time with my family. So. Are we ready to hit the ground running?

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