Sunday, December 09, 2007

More from the Campaign Ads

Rudy Giuliani says that you should vote for him because he will scare the bad guys in the part of the world where we are currently engaged, just as Ron Reagan did in the Iran hostage crisis in 1980.

"The hostages were released in one hour," he says. "It was the hour during which Ronald Reagan was taking the oath of office."

That doesn't make me think St. Ron and the Republicans intimidated our enemies. It makes me think they had insider agreements in the oil-producing region. How much did US insider cooperation have to do with the long duration of the hostages' captivity prior to their coincidentally timely release?

Hillary Clinton says that our economy is in trouble, indicated by the fact that oil prices are rising and the value of our homes is falling. "The middle class is getting slammed," she says.

Rising oil prices bring significant stress to people with low or marginal incomes. But falling home prices only matter to people selling houses or borrowing against their value. To a person with a low income and poor prospects for its improvement, rising housing prices are bad, bad news. Property gets revalued, tax bills get rewritten and suddenly you're getting taxed out of your home. That house is on the market (or in the hands of the bank or a tax sale) whether you like it or not. You have to find a slum with no services more in line with your lowly economic station.

Property taxes present a particularly ominous strain. As municipal costs go up, the tax on where you live goes up with it, regardless of how many services you are actually using. The burden is distributed over all the property owners in a given jurisdiction, but you may accidentally find yourself living in a house that, according to tax assessing formulas, you don't deserve. But don't panic. Economic mechanisms will straighten that out. Then you will be renting or living in a packing crate, and all will be as it should be, according to the numbers.

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