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Arizona's First Political Blog

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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010
Education, the Wisest Investment

This past Sunday, the Arizona Republic ran a front-page article on the rising default rate for student loans in Arizona. While the article does make a passing reference to the rise in such defaults among community college students, it places most of its focus on the defaults among the various private post-secondary students.

Just to be clear, in Arizona private post-secondary education doesn't mean idyllic campuses set among the ivy and hardwood trees where discussions in the liberal arts is conducted in the dead language of the day (remember Wednesday is Attic Greek!) Rather with a few small exceptions, private means occupational like truck-driving or mortuary science or if you want comprehensive University of Phoenix.

In other words private means profit and it is there that the article takes with its reporting of recruiters paid by the number of students enrolled and students with tens of thousands of dollars in loans and stuck in dead-end job. All that was missing was a tracking indicator for University of Phoenix stock.

However you don't need to look at occupational training for people with heavy loan burdens with no job prospects.... why not look at all the private colleges outside of Arizona, set among the ivy and hardwoods? You think anyone from a given New England liberal arts college sat down with a prospective English Lit major and told them that in exchange for four years and $100,000 in tuition that their job prospects out of college might be along the lines of working the espresso machine at the local coffee shop?

Or do you think they took their money and explained to the student what a great education he or she would receive and how it would prepare them for a life of something.... plus there was always grad or law school to learn a practical trade.

Or better yet, do you think anyone from the Republic walked down the street to the ASU School of Journalism and informed the students there (who are racking up debt even if it is at a public school) and informed them of their miserable job prospects?


Sorry for the delay between postings but I have been doing unspeakable things to earn a living the last few months...

... and no it wasn't male prostitution which actually would have been a step up.

Monday, February 22, 2010
Good Sticks Part 1

I'm really not in favor of all things turned to "11" on the dial at all times. There's no reason why all deserving teams should be in the NCAAs every year, no reason why the #1 and #2 football teams ranked in the polls have to meet every year, and no reason why the best athletes have to be in every Olympics.

However in the case of the latter, I am sure glad that they are for Olympic hockey.

Nothing beats high-level international hockey for sheer intensity. Nuttin'... not international basketball, not the World Cup, and certainly not the 3-man synchronized skeleton on the half-pipe combined or whatever nonsense is a medal sport these days.

My first exposure to international hockey was my first night in Canada when I was exposed to the Canada Cup which was the only venue, given that the NHL didn't release players to the Olympics, for the top international talent to play. The Canada Cup was (sadly) supplanted by the World Cup which was stellar in 1996 and finally in 1998 the NHL released its players for the Olympics.

So here we are. More on this tomorrow

Sunday, February 21, 2010
Father John Would Be Spinning in His Grave...

... except for the fact that he isn't dead yet.

As it impossible as it seems right now I distinctly remember the song sheet this morning had "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

GPLETS and Gravy

This is an old topic that Espresso Pundit helped to break and that I touched on eons ago but I see GPLET has emerged yet again into the news. However you won't find it in the local media, but instead have to go read about it in a Washington-based paper.

GPLET, Government Property Lease Excise Tax, is used by several cities in Arizona as an economic development tool. A developer will transfer title to a building and associated property to the local city government and the city leases the now-government property back to the developer. After a number of years (usually several decades) the title reverts back to the developer.

The advantage to the developer is that the GPLE paid to the city government is considerably smaller than what it would have paid in property taxes. The advantage to the city is that it gets the particular property developed.

So who loses?

Well you and me for one. As the report on GPLET from the Goldwater Institute makes plain, the tax burden is simply shifted to other taxpayers. Who else loses? Well for that you have to dig a little bit deeper into a story about the hotel industry in downtown Phoenix.

There are 3 major hotels downtown. One, the Shearton, is owned by the city. The second, the Wyndham, will be placed under a GPLET as part of a deal involving a major renovation.

So that leaves only 1 hotel, the Hyatt, still paying property taxes. Yet in the report, Phoenix Deputy City Manager David Krietor notes that the Hyatt receives other benefits from the City to help make up for that omission.

So there you go as long as everyone is taken care of when it comes to sweetheart tax deals, except for me and you of course. It's not the shifted tax burden that gets me, it's that losing out on city-provided goodies for downtown properties is for suckers and the politically powerless.

Monday, February 8, 2010
New Orleans.... Pah!

I was going to write about the Phoenix Convention Center but I will leave that to another day because my target today is the city of New Orleans.

I know New Orleans is America's favorite city given the Saints' victory last night and were the emotional favorite but why? Let's review the possibilities for why New Orleans might hold a special place in America's heart:

1) President Jefferson's quest to buy New Orleans is what led to the Louisiana Purchase and our westward expansion.

The statute of limitations ran out on this about 100 years ago and the the only reason why Jefferson wanted to buy the city in the first place was to drop the hammer on those French customs and dock officials in New Orleans who were blocking the trans-shipment of American goods.

2) New Orleans offers unique a unique Cajun cuisine and culture.

I can get my fill of that culture anytime I want by going to Disneyland and plus I get to ride the Pirates of Carribean in the same trip and without the oppressive humidity. If I want real good French cuisine I can always go to Montreal.

3) New Orleans offers a bacchanalian, Latin-like outlet to enjoy hedonism in an otherwise puritanical North America. Plus you have that great roguish element that we all enjoy from afar but that we would never tolerate in our own backyard.

Been to Vegas? Read the paper lately about Chicago? I can gamble in the former and enjoy fewer mosquitoes in the latter.

4) New Orleans deserves our sympathy because of Hurricane Katrina.

That's it, that's why everyone pulls for them.

Note it's not because of the hurricane in of itself because Mississippi suffered far more damage from the storm. Rather it's because of the levees that broke from the effects of the storm; levees which were poorly engineered and which were administered by a balkanized and corrupt political system

The people of New Orleans deserve our sympathy in much the same way the people of Hati do but that doesn't make the city itself an object of veneration. New Orleans has been a den of humidified vice and corruption since, well, just about forever.... it's first good and last governance came with the imposition of martial law during the Civil War. The docks have moved north of the city and as the Tragically Hip reminds us the whole darn city is sinking and I for one do not want to swim.

So why has America embraced such a cesspool?

Is it because we embrace losers? Heck no... did America embrace the Cardinals last year?

Is it because deep down we know that not only is New Orleans doomed but that Saints, playing in such a small market, is also? Before Katrina, the Saints were prime moving materiel for LA and after the storm the owner was all but begging to keep the team in San Antonio. Now that the team has won, it's stuck for the time being and when enough time passes for it to be politically correct to moved out of that small market cesspool, another team would have grabbed the LA market.

So there you go.

Tomorrow's victory parade for the Saints will not be so much a celebration as a swan song.

Time to let them swim.

Thursday, January 28, 2010
The Magic of Greg Patterson

At first I misunderstood this post by Mr. Patterson until I realized his intention.

First, I have been reading Patterson's Espresso Pundit for years and when it come to readership to say he dwarfs mine is an understatement. So I have alot of respect for him. He's a guy who has taken on the the hubris and over-sized egos in the dead-tree press and Democratic Party and helped bring them down to size. He constantly brings home the pertinent facts of how the traditional media is a dying industry.

So what to make of this post in which trumpets the fact that he was named one of the "10 Most Influential Arizonans of the Decade" by the Arizona Capitol Times? A little hypocritical self-aggrandizing for being named in the dead-tree press? At first I thought fame and fortune had led our fearless pundit astray.

It took me a minute to realize that much like all the times he mentions when he is going to be on TV that he is actually making fun of his popularity in the very media he rakes over the coals and that he continues to be the outsider fighting against the entrenched dinosaurs of the information society. You can tell he agonizes whether it would be immodest, a characteristic that is as distant from him as monogamy is to Tiger Woods, on whether he should even write about this recognition.

Well played sir, well-played. Jonathan Swift would be proud.