Chicago medallions rise again.

According to the June issue of Chicago Dispatcher, taxi medallion prices rose again in May, to an average of $170,000.  Here’s some context:

Month                Price               Source
May ’09             $170,000       Chicago Dispatcher
April ’09            $164,500        Chicago Dispatcher
March ’09           $165,000        Chicago Dispatcher
February ’09      $158,000        Chicago Dispatcher
Feb ’07               $  77,000        Chicago Tribune
2004                   >$40,000       Chicago Tribune
1991                     $28,000         Chicago Sun Times

(Chicago Dispatcher data are for the period ending on the 23rd of the indicated month).

I find it remarkable that this kind of real estate has continued to gain value, over 7% in 3 months, while most other kinds in Chicago seem to have declined.  There was, however, considerable fluctuation recently, with sales in late April running around $145,000, increasing to $175,000 on May 19 and 20. According to ads in the Dispatcher, you can lease your medallion out for $600 to $700 per month, a yield of close to 5% (in addition to any price appreciation which might occur).  There is, of course, some risk that the price might depreciate instead.

Wealth stolen thru privilege

We already know this in general, that government-protected privilege is used to steal wealth from the public.  An outrageous specific example appears to be Goldman Sachs, as profiled in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi. The text seems to be here and a pdf scan here.

Tho especially aided by a revolving door between GS and regulatory agencies, none of this could happen under a government which sought to eliminate privilege where possible and tax it where it cannot be avoided.   Taibbi doesn’t seem to be aware of this latter point, or maybe it just isn’t as interesting to focus on policy solutions as to discuss evil persons and their organizations.

A rather weak response from Goldman Sachs is reported here, the good news being that

in the wake of the events of the past year or two, Goldman’s partners have pretty much lost their appetite for going into public service.

But as long as privilege thrives, some will find ways to manipulate it to their advantage.

Solution for governments’ budget woes

With governments at all levels in fiscal distress, I just want to describe a solution which would be effective, would save money for most taxpayers, and would encourage productive enterprise.  Georgists will already be familiar with everything below. Continue reading Solution for governments’ budget woes

Climate change uncertainty

It seems the Obamatons are much like the Bushies in their ideological approach to scientific issues, just using a slightly different ideology. This story, which I found on slashdot, made it into the New York Times, though not onto NPR nor what’s left of the Chicago Tribune as far as I can tell. The suppressed paper is here.  I’m not qualified to evaluate it, but it does support my doubts that restriction of greenhouse gas emission will prevent undesirable climate change.

According to the Times article, it was released thru the “Competitive Enterprise Institute,”  which hardly enhances its credibility, but probably helped get it some attention.

Unnatural Causes

This broadcast documentary looks at the relationship between income (and other status considerations) and health, including life expectancy. Statistically, your income is strongly associated with how long you’ll live.   And recent statistics indicate that Americans’ life expectancy is lower than that of 29 other countries.

One of my favorite points regarding health care is made:

NICHOLAS CHRISTAKIS: But the vast majority of improvements in health in our society over the last century have had very little to do with medical innovation. What really counts is other kinds of things we can do, and those other kinds of things tend to be non-medical things. Like, thinking about the distribution of wealth in our society, or providing public health infrastructure, or better education for people, better housing – all of those things which aren’t medical phenomena. It’s all those that are really material for public health.

Social Security reportedly provides a higher monthly payment, relative to the amount put in, for lower income workers.  But because low income people have shorter lifespans, this doesn’t mean that it redistributes income downward.

And any post about income inequality, including this one, should include a disclaimer such as the following:

Any system of taxes and subsidies intended to equalize incomes will do so inefficiently if at all, and is likely to be perverted. An effective solution to the problems of poverty requires the elimination of privilege and the preservation of opportunity for people to earn a good living.

Originally broadcast last year, this seems to be a four hour program, and I’ve only read part of the transcript for the first hour. Thanks to Bob Matter for pointing it out.

Menace of Privilege returns!

I have decided to move from wordpress.com to a commercial host.  Not easy to choose one, as there is so much hype and hustle in the field.  So here I am at Maiahost, so far so good, as promised they took care of moving everything from the old taxpayer.wordpress.com (which will still exist for a while) to the new menaceofprivilege.com.  Except they did not move the theme, leaving me instead with the wordpress default.

Not a serious problem, since I was going to change themes anyway, so as to accommodate ads.  This will happen eventually.

Maiahost is not the very cheapest host but doesn’t really cost very much, and seems to have humans (well, New Yorkers) involved in its administration.