I am all for increasing the minimum wage. Young people in this town are on the verge of starvation, stacked like firewood in apartments, basements and closets. There has to be some kind of nod to Perato where winners compensate losers, it may be an un-Americana sentiment but fuck it. Some people will go out of business, I'll probably get a pay raise. I'm willing to work like a dog, everyone's prices will go up, I'm not planing on having a ton of staff, my prices go up (but probably not as much as the other guys) and I win. I supported the minimum wage raise when I was a member of the proletariat, I support it now that I'm an owner of capital, maybe I'm not full of shit and self interest on this one.
I am saying that it is a shame that less affluent, long-time city residents would be forced to contribute resources to construct leisure-class amenities which attract new residents, pushing prices up and the long-time residents out.
No doubt. I know at least three families that have been pushed out of the neighborhood in the last few months who were long time residents. This was THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD. I don't mean they lived here, I mean they owned this neighborhood, they were the fabric that made this place. They were born here, graduated from the local high school, worked at the businesses, and now they are shit out of luck, rent went up 50% and they can get the fuck out. I see a ton of shoulder shrugging from people who can afford to stay, "oh well, things change".
Jerry is an older guy I've gotten to know over the past year. He lost both his legs to diabetes. He has a kid who is a little screwed up in the head and also has diabetes. Jerry has a doctor in this part of town who is very familiar with Jerry's problems. He is in the process or fitting Jerry with a pair of prosthetic legs. Jerry's kid has had a lot of problems in school. He didn't generally learn much and was in trouble all the time, just for being a goof ball kid who didn't know how to fit in. The kid has finally settled into a local school that has him on the right track, he's learning and he isn't getting in trouble. Jerry's rent just went up and he lost his roommate. He can't afford to stay in fact he's pretty much homeless. Jerry committed a felony in his twenties (over 30 years ago) so he can't get housing assistance. The kid is staying with friends so that he can keep going to his school and he will have a roof over his head. Jerry has been trying to find a place he can afford that is wheel chair accessible but so far no dice. He told me has to sit at the grocery store for a few hours a day so he can charge his wheel chair. I don't think he always has a roof over his head at night.
Society will be worse of, is worse off, now that a guy like Jerry can't get the medical care he needs without a two hour bus ride, who's kid gets shuffled around from school to school falling further behind. Jerry existed in a community, he was a part of a community for decades, now it's pushing him out. North Portland, University Park and Portsmouth neighborhood was his community now it's shitting him out.
I think that sales taxes are generally more regressive than property taxes, I also believe that most economist would agree. I don't care to argue it.
You seem to take some consolation in that many of these measures are the result of ballot
I don't know what the you mean. I find it interesting, I in no way find it consoling, I think I said interesting.
When people decide how to divvy up the money they seem to make choices that make the community a more desirable place to live. When politicians divvy up the money they seem to make piss poor fiasco laden choices. Maybe the politicians are making the hard choices and it will be revealed down the road that we should have been letting the politicians piss the money in their preferred direction. Portland civilization might come to a collapse when it's revealed that we needed the politicians to make hard decisions about spending instead of blowing our money on all this largess (I kid you not, this might be true). On the other hand the politicians have more money to play around with because they get their 2.5% increase new construction (which is taxed at market) renovated houses (which are priced at market) - compression (which is way to complicated to explain or for me to understand) + new ADU (which is priced at the original tax rate) increase....(gasp for breath) tax increase to play with every year. If the politicians didn't have ballot initiatives making everything all nice than property taxes values wouldn't be going up and they wouldn't have more taxes to play around with. It's curious that when the people choose by the ballot, how their money should be spent, they choose things that make this city a more desirable place to live. It may have undesirable consequences in the long term, but it's curious.
The City of Portland Auditor reports that voter turnout was 48.7% in the May 2016 Primary Election. Is it okay to disregard the preferences of residents who do not find it worthwhile to vote?
Yup it's okay to disregard their preferences. The state is 100% vote by mail (I know one of the main players in getting the revolutionary vote by mail system passed (once again by ballot initiative) in Oregon, he is currently embroiled in a scandal where it looks like he got payed 10k to do the kind of work you'd have a non-paid intern do). They mail the ballot to your house, you can put a stamp on it or you can drop it off at one of the many drop off sites. If you are too apathetic or uninvolved to take five minutes to fill out your ballot than your opinion doesn't get considered. You might find it hard hearted but it's the system we have, it's easy to participate in and if you don't do it your voice isn't heard. We need some kind of system and this is the one we have, it's makes participation just about as easy as possible. I expect that by next year the State will pay for the postage, removing all traces of poll tax from the scheme.
This election included Measure 26-173 for a new ten-cent gasoline tax dedicated to street repair. It passed with 52.14% of the 48.7%. Is it okay to overrule the expressed preferences of one group because a slightly larger group has different preferences?
Yea, once again I think it's pretty OK. Democracy has it's faults but it's the system we got. Seems like people generally make better decisions than the city council. Let me tell you about the city councils first wack at this problem. They were going to pass a tax that levied $12.5 dollars on each house hold and than a tax on businesses that was determined by a byzantine formula. Before they took a vote they put out a business calculator to determine how much tax you would pay. I put my information in and it spit out an additional tax burden of $1200 a month for my business (that's 14,000 a year). I put the information in for the convince store next to my business and it spit out a tax of $250 a month. The convince store gets more visits by automobile per day than I do. The tax would have soaked about 80% of my first year profits. I am located on two bus lines and the majority of my business is from people who are on foot, my business isn't disproportionately destroying the roads.
The gas tax will trickle down to the poor one way or the other as increased transportation costs effect businesses bottom line. A large portion of the gas tax will go toward improving walking and biking infrastructure which makes it more progressive. The degree to which you destroy the roads with your cars is directly represented by the gas tax. The tax burden for their maintenance is mostly falling on those who use them. It's a pretty basic formula for an equitable tax. Yes, everyone benefits from having a quality transportation network and that will also be represented by an increase in the cost of goods as a function of a transportation tax.
It seems you might disagree and that you might prefer some kind of libertarian system? Almost no one here gives a fuck what the libertarians think (this is socialist country), if you feel like that and are unhappy you should go somewhere else. Libertarians should be grateful that we are all fucking ourselves so hard with all this nice shit. It's an experiment, and economic experiments are hard to devise outside of the messy ass real world. Libertarians should go enjoy their shitty streets and strip malls while we enjoy our bike lanes and parks. They are free to go build their utopia and we'll build ours. Either system will have it's discontents, both should learn from each other and in the long run we'll see who has the last laugh. Personally I suspect that the optimal situation with limited resources is somewhere between capitalism and socialism. One of my favorite quotes is the by poet Paul Varley "Two dangers constantly threaten the world: order and disorder." I think that socialism and liberitarianism lay well in this dichotomy.
I love libraries, but it is absurd to suggest that the market has failed to provide access to books.
I'd never make that argument but I'd also tell you that libraries are about a lot more than books. The library tax is pretty progressive when you look at who uses the library and how.
What if Portland were to "get it's shit together as far as affordable housing goes" before building another lovely park? I don't imagine the results would be much better than the state of the roads, but at least the priority would be better. The subsidized park benefits you mention appear well-intentioned and beneficial, but do not meet demand.
The roads here are in amazingly good shape compared with every where else I've lived. People run around acting like it's roadageddon but the people here are prone to exaggeration and whinyness more than just about anywhere I've lived. Maybe the roads are so good because we are ready to put our cash on the barrel head and fix shit before it crumbles. Maybe it's because I'm from Metro Detroit where the roads are insanely shitty that this place seems like a drivers promise land. Traffic is another story. Gridlock is an emergent phenomenon that gets worse every year. I don't know to what extent the road tax is going to improve it, like I said before a big chunk is going towards bikes and pedestrians which doesn't seem likely to help things much.
I have often thought that the park system is overboard. It's nice but no money is without opportunity costs. I would chose to spend less on parks and more on other stuff if I was in charge but I don't know of any situation in which ones preferences are ever perfectly expressed in any civic budget (I'm sure the mayor would be more than happy to relocate big parts of the budget to projects in a way he would prefer). All the same I vote for the parks bond. I don't get to say that I'd like more money to go towards one thing or the other, I get to vote for the parks bond, the museum bond, the school bond as individual motions. it's not pick your favorite or make a ranked list of your preferences but it's what we got.
I'm pretty sure that the next election will include a big affordable housing bond. I'll be interested in how it's structured. Finding the right mix between incentives and mandates to get a builder to include affordable housing in their development is something the city can't seem to get quite right but at least they are trying to find a decent solution.
I don't think that in the end there is an easy solution to affordable housing that is desirable. There is a very nice project about a mile from my house. It's the main source of all the gun crime in the neighborhood (not the major source of crime in general, just the gun crimes). Projects, no matter how nice suck. Concentrated poverty is definitely not the answer. I suspect that as the town increases density, getting builders to make a certain portion of the their developments low income by incentives is a better solution but it's not going to be the answer to all our prayers. The homeless camps are out of control. They are getting bigger and entrenched.
The city has many other problems besides housing to addressee, some of these problems have easy solutions if our leaders can generate enough momentem and consensus, others will be load stones for years and decades to come.