Daily Archives: October 17, 2008

Bamma Bama O’Wamma

On the other hand, if you play nice, we’ll get along just fine (but ditch that old guy, would’ya?

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Obama to critics: “ACORN voter fraud? We don’t have no stinkin’ voter fraud and if you say we do, we’ll have you prosecuted!

Politics for a change!

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Weicker Liker in the desert sands

Here’s a battle fought and lost in Connecticut
Arizona ballot proposition seeks to block sales tax on real estate conveyances
. In Connecticut, the original tax, a pet project of the despicable Lowell Weicker, I believe, was designed to hit just Gold Coast homes. When inflation caused the tax to reach all properties, not just those in Westport and Greenwich, the state kept the tax, doubled it for Gold Coast houses and even encouraged municipalities to double their own tax, while they were at it.

The Arizona proposition is being led by real estate agents, a fact duly noted by the paper covering the story, but here’s the bit I like best:

John Wright, president of Arizona Education Association, said the proposition would stifle governments’ ability to discuss potential tax changes.
“It is an abuse of the Constitution; that’s what the Constitution is there for,” Wright said. “It protects our right as citizens to discuss these issues.”

Got to love those teachers – not content with looting property taxes and the general state coffers, they fume against any attempt to block still another source of revenue to pay for further pay raises.

But “it’s for the kids”, so that must be alright. I think public teachers are the biggest threat to the continuation of the United States that’s out there, simply because they’re determined to turn out multiple generations of mush-brained little collectivists. So I wouldn’t give them a dime, and would force them out on the streets to try to earn an honest living.
Your opinion may differ.

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So who’s going to buy our mansions now?
Putin seeks to destroy oligarchs.

I suppose that if he ends up with all the money over there, Vlad might want to buy a chateau or two here, but that would still leave 120 or so of them unsold.

Don’t you just hate when this happens?

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24 Upland Road, $2.325 Million
The winner and still standing
The only house to go to contract this week. That makes seven for the month, in case you’re counting.

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Er, it can’t happen here, right?
Brooklyn Real Estate tumbles alongside Wall Street

Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) — Brooklyn home prices tumbled 5.6 percent in the third quarter as Wall Street job losses reduced demand for real estate in the New York borough across the East River from lower Manhattan.

The median sale price for a home in Brooklyn fell to $510,000 from $540,000 a year earlier, according to a report issued today by New York-based real estate appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and broker Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The number of sales tumbled 38 percent to 2,298.

Unemployment and tighter credit standards are cutting demand for real estate in New York City, said Paul Purcell, a partner in real estate consulting firm Braddock & Purcell. New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson yesterday raised his forecast for job losses in the city’s financial service industry to about 35,000 over the next two years, up from his earlier estimate of 25,000, as the U.S. economy worsens.

“It’s getting tougher and tougher to get a mortgage in New York, even if you still have your Wall Street job,” Purcell said in an interview. “Most lenders have stopped counting bonuses as income, and for Wall Street workers, that’s the bulk of their paycheck.”

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From a reader, a modern parable

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. ‘Since you are all such good customers, he said, ‘I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’ They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.!

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. ‘I only got a dollar out of the $20,’declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,’ but he got $10!’ ‘Yeah, that’s right,’ exclaimed the fifth man. ‘I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!’ ‘That’s true!!’ shouted the seventh man. ‘Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!’ ‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in unison. ‘We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!’ The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill! And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

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2 Meadow – Deer Park
And so it begins?
While technically listed in February, this house only neared completion in, I think, August or early September, when the first broker open house was held. Price was $16,250,000. Today, it dropped to $14,750,000. Just saying ….

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Why buy the cow …

Hawaii drops universal health care for children
Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the country just seven months after it launched.
Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program. A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

“People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free,” said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. “I don’t believe that was the intent of the program.”

Geeze, ya think? Fortunately, when the Blessed one takes his rightful place in Washington this winter, the free manna health care plan he enacts will have no such difficulties. Because it, like Him, will be perfect.

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The Ol’ Debbil Cheney
Reader Claudette says, speaking of Ol’ Joe, the plumber from (Ohio? Nebraska? Somewhere west of here),

“He was a plant by the Republicans, and since Senator McCain introduced him to us and he is a freak we are not going to let him get off that easily.”

Now how on earth can Claudette and her fellow DemmerKrat friends even get up in the morning, knowing that Bush and Cheney are so hard at work setting up the downfall of poor Obama. Imagine the complexity of this snare: first they find an actor to play “Joe the Plumber”. Then they set him up in what looks to be his own yard but is in fact a sound stage rented for the day by the Republicans because they know, they just know, that Obama’s gonna come down that street and stop by to see Joe. And here’s an even more nefarious part of the scheme: every single person on that street, every house, was occupied by a Republican operative. Obama was doomed to fall into the trap no matter where he stopped, no matter whom he spoke with!!!

I guess my only question is, if Claudette and her friends can spot a Republican plant so easily, if they can tell a freak when they see one, how come Obama’s so naive, so blind? What does that say about his prospects for dealing with world leaders? Shit, even Hugo’s gonna strip him of everything and ship him home starkers. I fear for our country.

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126 Cat Rock Rd.
This house ML# 70557 sold for $3,595,000 in June, 2001. It came back on the market in July of this year for $4,150,000 and was lowered 5% today to $3,950,000. Even if it sells for this new price, that’s only a $355,000 “gain” (before commissions, taxes and all the other inevitabilities) or 1.4% per year for seven years. Gives a new perspective on how the market has appreciated, eh? And, of course, it hasn’t sold yet.

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Greetings from Vancouver

I ran into a friend this morning who in turn introduced me to his friend, visiting from Vancouver. This man told me that the Vancouver real estate market, which has been booming for years with bushels of international money, shut down early this summer “like turning off a spigot”. Apparently Vancouver goes through these spells more frequently than Greenwich but the pattern seems similar: prices go up, which draws in builder/developers from throughout Canada (turns out, Vancouver’s in Canada – who knew?)and everyone overbuilds,office buildings, condominium developments and huge, multi-million dollar mansions. This continues until the bust, when everything that’s been so recently built comes rushing back onto the market at fire-sale prices. This, the Canadian said, acts like a vortex, sucking down everything around it and prices of existing homes drop into its maw.

I’m pretty sure we’re witnessing the beginning of that phenomenon here. Hold on.

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Solar powered tipis? Cool! I’ll take that one!
If you believe the National Association of Realtors – and I rarely do – buyers want energy efficient features built into their new homes. There’s a caveat, however – they don’t buy what they say they want. In fact, according to NAR’s latest (2007) poll, buyers want
Cars and Cable

“Buyers have energy efficiency on their minds, but they still like their big houses and multiple cars, too.

If you want to know the direction of your customers’ homebuying preferences, think big cars and big screens.

Almost 60 percent of home buyers are prepared to spend more for a house with an oversized garage, and almost 40 percent would do the same to get a house that’s ready for cable or satellite TV, NAR research shows.

Both of these figures are up substantially from 2004, when NAR conducted similar research. In that year, buyers were willing to spend a premium in only 6 percent of cases for a big garage and in less than 30 percent of cases for enhanced TV readiness.

With their rise, oversized garages now rank second among the most desired features buyers want, up from fifth place three years ago. TV readiness has also edged up.

And here’s an article whose headline claims More Buyers Looking for Green Houses but the body says otherwise:

” NAR has begun a new program to certify agents as green agents. They will be able to understand what makes a property green, explain to clients the benefits of green building features and practices, distinguish between industry rating and classification systems, list and market green homes and buildings, discuss the financial grants and incentives available to homeowners, and guide buyers in purchasing resource-efficient homes, said Michelle Wardlaw, spokeswoman for NAR….
Despite the trend, in this housing market, buyers may not consider energy-efficiency as a goal in home buying ,[emphasis added]. They will look for energy-efficient homes if their ultimate goal is realizing cost savings after they buy. Many people are interested in that, but they have many choices available to them.

In the Phoenix area, one homeowner reported that the low-E windows and high-efficient air conditioning and heat have not attracted buyers. While some buyers were impressed with the amount of work put into making the house energy efficient, they ultimately bought elsewhere, commenting on the age of the kitchen, he said. In fact, he told buyers how low his electric bill was in the summer, but it made no difference to the potential buyers.

Other areas of the country are more proactive for looking for the green homes. Wardlaw said NAR created the Green Designation Subject Matter Expert Panel. Agents on the panel come from Portland, Ore.; Berkeley, Calif.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Sarasota, Fla. However, Wardlaw couldn’t estimate how many requests for green homes agents receive on average per month”.

Well if she can’t, I can. The number of buyers who request a “green” home in this town is zero (okay, go ahead and write me that you specifically asked for such a house – you’ll be the exception that proves the rule.) If you’re building in Berkeley, you may be better off planting a grass roof and tossing a pair of Birkenstocks into the deal. But in Greenwich, build that 5 car garage, toss plasma TV’s around like candy and build big, big, big. Then price it cheap, and you’re done.

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Nothing to see here, move along, move along
Thanks to a blizzard of “investigative journalism” we now know far more about the personal life, past associations and financial records of “Joe the Plumber” than we do about the man he dared criticize, Barack Obama. Why this huge interest in a mid-western plumber and why the decision to devote an army of reporters to investigate him when that interest was lacking and the army too busy to investigate, say, Barack’s sweetheart land deal with an indicted Chicago pol and “developer”, or how, exactly, Bill Ayres set up Barak in politics?

Because none of that’s news, or, worse, it’s old news and it’s time to Move On. Besides, Joe the Plumber has a tax lien against him! We found it and we want our Pulitzer, now!

The motto of these proud, fiercely independent graduates of Colombia’s Journalism School: “We speak truth to power! We dig out news that must be told!”

And he did question the Anointed One’s tax plan, after all.

We may get a break from all this nonsense – according to an impeccable source (the gossip columnist for our local weekly), “Greenwich resident and TV’s favorite judge, Judy Scheindlin, was seen parking her cream-colored convertible Bentley in front of Douglas Parfumerie on Greenwich Avenue last Thursday afternoon.” That should serve to swing the media circus from the mid-west and out our way in a heartbeat. But if that’s insufficient to do the trick, there’s also this: “Riverside resident, NFL great and announcer Frank Gifford was recently spotted tooling around town in Greenwich in his light blue convertible.”

I think I’m going to unleash our own Amanda Von Stuckle on that last story – What it’s Worth deserves a Pulitzer, too.

As our Suzie says,
“And that’s all for now.”

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Good news for homeowners and airlines, bad news for “experts”

Oil drops below $70 a barrel

Signs that an enfeebled U.S. economy is using less and less oil sent world crude prices below $70 a barrel for the first time in 14 months, a dramatic turnaround for a market that not long ago had some analysts predicting $200-a-barrel oil as early as next year.

When a befuddled and furious Hugo Chavez demanded of his own budget planners an explanation as to why he could no longer afford to buy Russian bombers, that group is reported to have chorused “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” I hope so, anyway.

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Dodd holds hearings on cause of mortgage failures

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If this is what he thinks of his own constituents, imagine what he thinks of us?

Rep. Murtha calls his constituents racists

Ah, the politics of change – can’t hardly wait.
(And dig that American flag – the man’s a patriot, by God!)

Update:
Anyone who supports McCain is a racist

The marquee supporting the GOP ticket in “an area that is strongly African American was like putting a stink bomb in the middle of the living room,” said University of Maryland political Professor Ron Walters.

Oh, we’re in for a lovely time.

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