Today, the Inquirer reports how Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell wants to increase the state’s income tax rate substantially ( by almost 17% ) to help the state with its budget crisis.

Is Mr. Rendell living in a bat cave ?  This has to be the most absurd idea ever, especially with the current economic situation our state and country is facing.  This will just make life that much harder for everyone…with the state slicing off more of each person’s paycheck, less money will be available for Pennsylvania residents to spend in retail stores, meaning sales tax revenues will decrease.  This proposal most likely will have no effect on how much money comes into the state’s coffers, it will merely reallocate where the funding comes from.

I would greatly apprecate if our state would elect a Governor who at least could present himself or herself to the media as someone who sincerely cares about issues other than whether there should be toll booths on Interstate 80, how the convention center in Philadelphia should be run, and the logistics regarding Philadelphia’s future casinos.  Photo opportunities where the Governor is cutting  a ribbon at a groundbreaking ceremony for a building or work project do not qualify under my definition of a sincere interest in an issue.

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Phillies vs. Mets

June 10, 2009

Baseball Prospectus, a great web site that caters to NJ ( Nerdy Justin ) had a great piece yesterday on the current three game series between the New York Mets and the Phillies.  You’ll need a memberhip to Baseball Prospectus ( $5 / month ) to read the whole article, but the gist was that the two teams are relatively evenly matched in a number of statistical categories especially pitching depth throughout the team.  The piece has a very technical analysis of how well the Phillies have performed so far compared to how they were expected to at this point based on information such as the total number of runs the team has scored and how many they “should have”.

This short paper on “Regression to the Mean” is helpful in understanding the point made in the article about how Raul Ibanez is likely to perform at a slightly lower level during the remainder of the season than he has so far.

Since the Phillies were unlucky last night, let’s hope they can salvage a 2-1 record for this series and be energized for their return to Philly later this week!

* This blog may read like a rant, but I mean what I’m saying in it.

According to an article about real estate in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, a conversation similar to the following one took place in an office somewhere recently:

Prospective Condo Buyer: “I offer $1,300,000, cash, for the unit”
Greedy Real Estate Mogul: “Sorry, no can do!”

This person’s offer was $50,000 less than what the developer wanted for the unit in the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, a new luxury high-rise condo building across from the Philadelphia City Hall… a discount of slightly less than 4 percent.  Big deal.  You have to probably be sufficiently snobby and hard-to-deal with to live in a building like this.  The building’s web site notes how a “privileged few” will live there at the city’s “best” residential address.

In my opinion, the developer should have taken it, rather than saying no.

The “Greedy Real Estate Mogul” is Mr. Craig Spencer, who is the Chairman of the Arden Group.  The company’s web site describes in plain language how the company makes money:

” The Arden Group pursues undervalued opportunities where, due to market fundamentals, current mismanagement, lack of sufficient capital or market timing, assets can be purchased at a discount to replacement cost, repositioned and sold at a profit.”

If this company buys assets at a discount, why shouldn’t it offer a small discount to people who want to buy parts of what it owns?  Hmm…

Doesn’t Mr. Spencer have enough money already?  I mean, he is a majority owner of the Philadelphia Soul and can afford to live in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania — one of the richest cities in the U.S. with a median income of almost $160,000 a year per person!!!  If this man wants to do real estate investment in Philadelphia, he should live in Philadelphia too.  He does just enough community service and urban redevelopment (redevelopment of Dilworth Plaza) to generate positive public relations for his company without making any real financial sacrifice due to his massive resources.

I think our city would be better off with less of a difference between the poorest and richest sections.  Some people who live and/or work in Philadelphia will never be able to live in a building like this one unless they win the Powerball lottery, which is just not right.  There wasn’t quite this level of residence quality stratification in the past.  We wonder why Philadelphia has so much crime…. maybe income inequality and housing stratification are some of the reasons.