Sunday, January 04, 2009

Spotlight on a Fine Standard-Examiner Editorial

Gentle Curmudgeon grades this one an A+

By Curmudgeon

Some at WCF, myself among them, expressed considerable concern about new directions we might be seeing in Standard-Examiner editorial policy with the recent appointment of a new editorial page editor. I think perhaps those fears were unfounded. The Std-Ex has up this morning an excellent lead editorial:
It's the economy, readers
It notes that "the economy, by far, is the issue of most importance looking ahead. Major corporations and industries that survived the Great Depression have either failed or are in danger of failure. The recession, falling retirement accounts, foreclosures, job losses, stagnant wages, has affected just about all of us."

It discusses the economic outlook for Northern Utah --- it's not pretty --- and notes that "We were blindsided by those we have been told to trust. They preached conservative economics while dealing in risky loans, and concludes: "Make no mistake: these economic problems come from the top. And there's been too much tolerance of bad behavior, ethical lapses, and criminality on Wall Street or Capitol Hill. This year, we must demand reform of the economic system."

It goes on to discuss the federal stimulus package, insisting that "an effective stimulus bill must give a hand to Americans needing to make mortgage payments, not CEOs wanting a vacation home." And it cautions the Utah legislature that while cutting state spending matters, it must not be done "at the expense of the most vulnerable in Utah."

As for what individuals can, and should, do to weather the storm? Hard to go wrong with the Std-Ex's advice: " This is going to be a rough economic ride. To hang on, be frugal, stay close to the people most important in your life, and remember to keep a close eye on our leaders. "

It is an editorial of such sound thinking, so grounded in common sense and sensibility, and so plainly written that I might have written it myself. [There can be, of course, no higher praise than that.]

Damn fine job. And well worth reading in full.

18 comments:

BenJoe said...

I too was impressed with this editorial. It go me thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2009 and how I can avoid the pitfalls of this economy. Great Job!

ozboy said...

Do you suppose the naybobs at the Standard will now start "keeping a close eye" on the Lil' Lord? So far I see no sign that they will. Godfrey has done to Ogden pretty much what Bush has done to the US. That includes all of the things that they point out in this editorial, things like reckless financial management, greed, insider dealings and serious ethical lapses.

On another note, there was an article in today's hard Tribune - which was a re-print from a Washington Post article by Karl Vick - which was about the dying Bush administration trying to push through new rules that would make it easier for developers to build housing sub-divisions near forest lands. The upshot is that developers would have few if any hurtles in paving roads through forest service land to access new development. Perhaps big implications with the Peterson lands in Malans basin?

I can't find the article on the Trib web site. The headline was "Forests may get more houses". Perhaps Rudi could find the article on the trib - or the Washington Post - and hook up a link?

Curmudgeon said...

Ozboy:

This what you meant?

U.S. Forest Policy Is Set to Change, Aiding Developer

danny said...

Regarding the editorial, it makes some good comments except for the idea of a "stimulus" package.

In other words, as usual, and as always, the paper looks to the King to save us commoners.

So while they suggest we start saving and living more frugally, they suggest that the GOVERNMENT SHOULD BORROW MONEY WILLY NILLY AND THROW IT AT ALL OF US (making sure it goes to the little people not the CEOs, yeah, like that's going to happen.)

What needs to happen, and what will happen, is the rot will be washed out of the system as the economy continues to collapse. Some good will also be washed out, but that is unavoidable.

Government bailouts will only make the pain last longer by propping up the status quo that needs to END.

They say, "A pervasive effect of this economic chaos is uncertainty, fear for the future and, perhaps most distressingly, a permanent loss of confidence in our political, business and economic leaders."

Actually, that is benefit, not something distressing. Lack of confidence in, and suspicion of, leaders, would have spared us most of these ills.

Whistler said...

Given our financial situation, it would be an excellent move for the Weber County Commissioners to start collecting all the unpaid and delinquent property taxes owed by several taxpayers. There is talk now of a possible mill rate increase due to the loss of income from the drop in sales tax revenue. Before any mill rate increase or further use of the rainy day fund (to the tune of $300,000), the Commissioners should drop the tax collection hammer on the hundreds of thousands of dollars already owed on delinquent property taxes.

The failure to collect this money allows these delinquent taxpayers to ride on the back of most taxpayers that pay on time. The penalty is so small,
(2%) that they can invest the money in other places and continue to not pay their tax payments.

The Commissioners need to get off their collective duffs and get those taxes in the county coffers.

ozboy said...

Whistler

That 2% you write about is not an annual rate, it represents one and a half months, or 16% annual rate. It is really a penalty. After the month and a half (15 January) the total tax due plus the "2% penalty" then starts accumulating interest at around 10% annually. Certainly no way to make money unless you're the county!

Whistler said...

Ozboy, In the state we lived in before here, the penalty alone is 10%. Whatever it is, it is not a deterrent to delinquent taxpayers. We found by checking tax records on just 6 random property owners in Weber County, they owe over $334,000 in delinquent property taxes for 2006 and 2007.(most of them are delinquent on their 2008 taxes as well) Extrapolate that over the entire county and there may be millions in delinquent property taxes in
Weber County. Didn't the county just dip into the rainy day fund for over $300,000?

The County should go after these scofflaw taxpayers and get them current at least through 2007 and then we may not have to dip into the rainy day fund or increase taxes in the near future.

The county relies on cash flow to operate, what if every property tax payer did not pay their taxes on time?

democrat said...

It's not the economy stupid. It's the stupid republicans.

ozboy said...

Whistler,

The county can make more money by charging 10% on these delinquent taxes than it can by having the money in the bank at around 3 or 4%.

The dipping into the rainy day fund is not generally caused by cash shortages but mainly by extraordinary expenses that were not budgeted for.

The taxes are due by 1 December so it is obvious that the whole years worth sits in the bank until it is used through the year. It still looks to me like delinquent taxes are actually a good investment for the county as they have the property as security and they are first in line, in front of the mortgage companies and every one else, if the property eventually goes into default and is auctioned off. After a certain period the county itself steps in and auctions these properties. The county is absolutely certain that they will get the taxes plus the 10% per year interest. People may be delinquent for a variety of reasons, making big money is not one of them. Usually it is folks forgetting, missing the notices or having bad financial times.

As to the delinquent taxes, they are a rainy day fund themselves that no doubt makes the county more than the accounts they have the rainy day funds in to begin with.

Bottom line is that the county always gets the dough plus good interest in the end. They make big money on these penalties and interest otherwise they would in fact take the draconian measures you advocate. They are not about to get tough and screw up this profit center.

It is the inefficient, incompetent and corrupt politicians that are directing how the tax money is spent that is the problem, not the delinquent taxes.

Whistler said...

Ozboy, you are living in a dream world. Why should the bulk of the county taxpayers pay the way for the delinqents? In effect, the county is granting credit to these scofflaws at the expense of the other taxpayers. If they want credit, go to a bank! They will pay a lot more in interest to the bank than to the county and it will put cash in the banks where it is needed for loans.

By the way, isn't this the kind of thing that got this country in the financial disaster were are in in the first place? Of course it is! The County and the State are in effect lending taxpayer money to those developers and builders that cannot pay their taxes now. Why is it that many larger property owners in Weber County pay their taxes on time?

This is not good for the County or the taxpayers. It appears you are a spokesman for those that think it is a good thing to have outstanding debt to the County or State when any sane person knows what that kind of thinking has brought about the financial disaster in the last year. If you research the tax rolls, you will find many do not pay for years and the rest of us carry them with our paid taxes.

These people are cheating the education system, the local municipalities, and state funding by not paying on time. How novel it would be to run our County as a tight financial ship and set an example for other counties to be as fiscally responsible.

You advocate that it is a good thing for the County to do this, that is nonsense. If every taxpayer took your point of view, there would be almost no funds to run the County or the State.

You may be correct when you say the County will get paid some day, but when? Check out the county website on delinquent taxes and see how many ears some of them go back. In the mean time we will continue to place the burden on the people who pay their taxes on time. Not a good solution.

You blame the politicians, yet you advocate that this nonsense continue. In is unacceptable that our property taxes continue to rise or remain high when there is certainly millions of dollars out there in delinquent property taxes going back many times several years that should be collected. The dipping into the rainy day fund is just symptomatic of the idiotic fiscal efforts in our County and State.

The State and Counties are operating this "Profit Center" on the backs of all the taxpayers that pay on time.

The Viking said...

I agree with Whistler, I resent that these people are given a pass in effect to not pay their taxes on time. When they sell the properties or houses, they jack up the sales prices to help pay their delinquent taxes including interest and penalty and that raises the prices for the homes and properties and thus the property taxes we all pay in the end. The taxpayer gets it stuck to them both ways, by carrying the delinquent taxes and then paying higher prices so these people can pay off all they owe to the County and State.

Zeke said...

Wow ozboy, you are really an advocate of the taxpayers loaning these developers the money they owe in this day and age?

The State is facing a fiscal crisis and you want to extend more credit to these people that cannot find a way to pay the taxes that are due. In looking at the county website, there are many delinquent accounts dating years back! Why should these people get a pass other than interest when the rest of us cannot afford to do that? They can pay off the interest with ease by upping the cost of their property sale and coast along on taxpayer money in the meantime.

Why don't you just cut them a check out of your pocket and take the burden off of the rest of us?

Skipper said...

I hear the Weber Co. Sheriff is going to cut 5 positions in his department. The rainy day fund is tapped for over $300,000 and the State is headed for a fiscal disaster and ozboy wants more of the same.

Get these people to pay their delinquent taxes on time!

Ozboy, You mentioned draconian measures? Since when is it draconian to collect the money that is owed to you? It is too easy to let us other taxpayers carry the burden and that needs to stop. If they cannot pay their taxes, they should borrow the money from the banks and pay them. What's that? They cannot afford it? Oh well I guess we will just stick it to the other taxpayers! What a great approach.

Squirt said...

With all our politicians trying for a way to reduce property taxes so people won't lose their homes or go broke trying to pay their increased taxes, we should be open to any approach that can enhance the State and County coffers without a new tax.

If we collected about half the delinquent property taxes in Weber County and the State, our fiscal troubles would be over, but who would want that?
These are not new taxes we are talking about, they are already delinquent taxes sometimes going back several years.

ozboy said...

Our Republican controlled governments in Utah are masters at extracting the maximum amount of cash they can out of the citizen's pockets. The state laws that govern this property tax business have been carefully crafted to accomplish this. The legislative leadership are mostly lawyers and accountants. They understand all the tricks a hell of a lot better than you economic geniuses that fail to understand basic arithmetic. I mean really, do you think for a minute that the accountant Bramble and his pals Stephenson (Utah tax payers assoc head) and Waddoups the lawyer would let such a glaring loop hole exist if it were not making money?

The whole set up is a big profit center for the counties, if it wasn't they would change the damn laws and/or aggressively pursue these delinquent taxes. As it is they make minimal effort at collecting them knowing full well they are going to get the money with compounded interest in the end.

Maybe some of you geniuses ought to take some basic math and reality classes that will clue you in to the fact that 10% is two and a half times as much as 4%, and that politicians are masters at not leaving any change in tax payers pockets.

Pistol Pete said...

Ozboy, instead of whining all the time come up with something constructive. You overestimate the ability of the sleazeboys and underestimate the power of the public if you can get them involved. Must be your habit to curse the darkness instead of lighting a candle.

I am sure you thought all the boys on Wall street and in the banks are too smart to let happen what did happen in this country. Get off your duff and contribute instead of crying all the time.

Myrna said...

Pete

You apparently do not know "Ozboy" and how many "candles he lights" around here by contributing large amounts of money and time to various politicians as well as political and social causes. If you did, you would realize how wrong and ill advised your comment is. My guess is that he brings a lot more light and joy to more people in Utah than any one you know.

Skeeter said...

I am glad to hear what a great citizen ozboy is, all we ever see is the negative responses complaining about everything and everybody. I can hardly wait to see some constructive ideas from ozboy.

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