For What It’s Worth – June 17th
Caution: Geniuses at Work!
Our Legislature racked up a surplus of $700,000,000 this past year due to a recovering economy. Some people would interpret that as a sign that the tax rate was too high, and would advocate adjusting taxes so as to return the surplus to those who over-paid. “Some people” are not the folks in Hartford. They didn’t return any money. They didn’t hold spending at its current. Instead, they committed the entire surplus to brand new spending in the coming year and, not content with such small potatoes, whooped through another $700,000,000 in new taxes. Besides prolonging the “temporary” business profit surcharge, they reinstated the inheritance tax which had finally expired this past January and, while they were at it, jumped it to a whopping 16%. Sound scary? Does it seem that the lunatics have taken over the asylum? Well don’t worry, this is all aimed at those people Howard Dean’s labeled “Fat Cats” – rich, white Republicans who all look alike, to Dean and the yahoos in Hartford. Own a house in Greenwich? Have a life insurance policy? Then welcome to the ranks of Fat Cats. Next year, the “millionaire’s tax” – you’re one of them, too.
In a news story concerning the new business taxes a Verizon executive was quoted as saying that Connecticut is already one of the most expensive states in which to do business. If people can’t afford to run businesses here and can’t afford to die here, I wonder where the Legislature will find the wherewithal to fund all its magnificent new spending? Connecticut is rapidly becoming a kleptocracy, an oligarchy of thieves that preys on Fairfield County and treats it with contempt. I’d say that we deserved better but, since we keep returning these pirates to office, I suppose we don’t.
And Yet Another Einstein
Finished with ripping off citizens, our leaders turned their attention to another serious matter and banned the use of hand-held cell phones. Our own representative, Bill Nickerson, pressed to distinguish between the distraction caused by eating a Big Mac and speaking on a cell phone, pointed out that when you press a hamburger against your ear it is really messy, so the distraction won’t last as long. I have absolutely no doubt that Mr. Nickerson made this observation from personal experience but I do wish that he and his colleagues would at least occasionally depart from enacting laws based on anecdotal evidence and try using informed fact, instead.
We’ve all been annoyed at some idiot on a cell phone cutting us off or wandering across traffic lanes but every study that has looked at the matter has concluded that it is the distraction itself that causes accidents and not the source of that distraction. That is, arguing with your kids in the back seat, tuning your radio, even stuffing hamburger patties in your ear a la Nickerson are all equally likely to cause an accident as a hand-held phone. This is known. But knowledge and the Connecticut Legislature rarely intersect.
Did you see that our friends in Hartford passed a law exempting their email from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act? Did it in the dead of night, tacking it onto another bill. They claim it’s a service to their constituents who will now feel free to communicate personal problems to their representatives. Right.
Rant Over, Back to Real Estate
So much for the legislative summary (it’s been a slow week in this business). You ask (I do, anyway), what’s the best value on the market? Perhaps it’s Joan Epand’s listing at 20 Interlaken, off of Taconic Road. This is a 9,000 square foot contemporary on six acres of land that includes a separate lot of three acres, a pond with canoes racked and waiting on the shore, a guest/bath house with a huge fireplace (I’d be content living in just this structure alone) and a great pool. The house itself is of beautiful design and in very good condition so I’m a bit irked that it hasn’t sold – the Greenwich market just whacks contemporaries. Its price has been reduced from $5,999,999 to $4,300,000 – that’s the value of the two lots. You could sell off one lot and get yourself a terrific, huge house for just the price of the land it sits on. Free house – an unusual opportunity in this town.
Also On the Market
I liked Jim Foote’s listing at 24 St. Claire Avenue in Old Greenwich. It’s a six bedroom 1950’s house renovated ten years ago. Not the quality level you’d find in, say, Conyer’s Farm, but decent enough, and the resulting house is bright, airy and roomy. $2,695,000 – which I think is in the ballpark for this area and this house.