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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I was flipping through the late-night stations the other night and happened by Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger
I found myself rooting for the alien. -NG

Another Eight Bucks

Let me start this out by saying that I'm okay with an eight dollar tax for people who feel the need to drive into New York City's Midtown Manhattan. Even though I drive into the belly of the beast myself anywhere from two to five times per week, and have no other option but to drive, I don't feel the tax that Mayor Mike Bloomberg (REPUBLICAN turned INDEPENDENT) is excessive. As a matter of fact, I feel that anything which helps alleviate that congestion is more than welcome. Bloomberg has taken over New York City and turned the deficit left to him by the Big-Spender, former mayor and current GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani into a surplus. Thee can be no doubt that his business background has been a financial plus for the Big Apple.

And so ends the good news.

As for Mayor Mile's various taxes and other policies, I'm sorry to say that he simply doesn't get it. For example, Bloomberg has begun charging for commercial vehicles to park curbside in commercial areas in Manhattan. Why this has made money for the city, it has also led to an interruption of business, parking fines and an increase in the cost of doing business. And the eight dollar per car charge added onto the current cost of driving to work is just another tax on the little guy. Whereas those who actually live in New York City can purchase an unlimited ride monthly Metrocard for somewhere around $80 per month, every second and third person who comes into New York every day to work comes from one of the very many suburbs. At any given time during a regular work day, thee are some 14 million people standing, sitting, riding or driving on, above or under the streets of Manhattan. And this in a city of less than eight million residents, four million of whom live on the other side of the East River in the borough of Brooklyn alone.

The federal government - yes, THAT federal government - is applauding the extra eight bucks which comes out of our post-tax dollars. They like the idea so much that they're going to help fund it. it's going to cost the American taxpayer $848 million to pay for cities to encourage their workers to take mass transportation.

Funny how they're going to fund something that's going to raise funds, isn't it?

If one lives in New Jersey, the state with some of the lowest (by pennies per gallon) prices for gas in the nation, one has other fees to pay in order to get to work. Personally, between parking, the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, Lincoln Tunnel and the new eight dollar tax, I will be paying about $43 per day - PER DAY - for the privilege of listening to XM Satellite Radio's Hiway 16 for two to four hours each and every one of those days. In my position as an onsite Network Engineer, I have no choice but to have independent transportation at the ready. But even those who don't drive into New York City from New Jersey have to pay to get into the big Apple. Some of them within an hour's ride on mass transit are shelling out three-to-four hundred dollars a month n their travel tickets and station parking expenses.

A "TransitCheck" allows the employer to take some of the bite out of the mass transit expenses by taking the travel money our pre-tax, but the commuter is still paying that money. They just get to pay a little less.

And the IRS is getting into helping the automobile commuter as well. But that $215 per month they're going to allow pre-tax to the regular New York City driving commuter is only a leaky bandage. The $2,580 tax break you'll receive from the tax code (you're still paying it, but not paying taxes on it) will net most commuters about $250 per year in taxable savings. However, many of us are going to end up paying as much as $12,000 (some more!) for the privilege of playing unique Manhattan street games such as "taxi-dodge", "bus-block" and "can you fit between the double parked truck and the illegally parked cars?"

I understand that many are making the argument that the federal government shouldn't be helping with one hand (financing the eight dollar per day plan) and giving a tax break (the $215 for driving per month plan) with the other hand, but that's not my issue. I want to know why, in every way shape and form that any new tax or fee assessed by any body of government led by the Republicans is assessed on the working class?

Similarly, many of you will note that any traffic fine one might have received in the past few years has increased almost immeasurably. In New Jersey, for example, the state will charge an additional $250 "just because charge" added onto your fine's cost. Then the insurance company will get you for those traffic points for an additional 40 months. And if you decide to hire a lawyer to negotiate a plea, well that's gonna cost you some or all of the above, and then some.

In a city of millionaires (and, yes, in order to live below 86th Street in New York City's Manhattan today, one must shell out an average in excess of one million dollars for an apartment), why isn't Mayor Bloomberg charging a street parking fee to all who own cars there. It could be a two-way street: In order to own a car while living below that dividing line, you would be paying not only for the privilege, but for a parking permit which would only allow those with said permit to park on the street. Certainly those paying one-million dollars-plus , and hefty condo / co-op fees could afford another $160 per month for their car. You could even offer hardship relief for those who simply can't afford the price. But who would apply?

Like everything, the working class will pay for whatever the government, and more to the point, the Republicans can think of. Eight bucks is only the beginning.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg