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Thursday, May 31, 2007

An e-mail from one of my readers

Thanks for your reply, and it is Medford Oregon, Rogue Valley, you may have heard of us, we and four other counties recently declared a financial emergency and they closed the library system in April for good. Josephine County just closed their library system AND terminated all deputy patrols in the county, as well as emptying out all but 30 of the 140 county jail beds (these were not characters like Otis the drunk in Mayberry either; at least half were violent criminals that got county jail time rather than state prison as part of their plea deals) and they also fired all the deputy DA's and the DA's entire staff, he will effectively be doing no more prosecutions except for the must violent should a criminal actually be caught. Search and rescue functions will now be done only by "private donation." Curry County is so hard up they are planning to dissolve the county and glom onto Josephine County; how hard up do you have to be to want to join a county with no Sheriff's patrols nor DA staff? The Sheriff in Josephine County says if funds are not forthcoming by next March he will simply open the jail cells and shutter his office for good. Needless to say half the county employees have been pink-slipped and there is no more road repairs or park maintenance. They have been passing out over 600 concealed weapons permits a month since the population will now be fending for themselves in a region noted for drugs and drug related crime.

THAT is the reality in my America today; trillions and TRILLIONS in circulation rounding the globe daily and finding their way into the boardrooms of corporate "players," but the hoi poloi, we mere citizens are being left to just die in the sticks. I know that had I been one of the witnesses against any of the 110 newly freed criminals I would be VERY worried right now.

Oddly, we now have reached the point of income and net worth inequality where it is fair to say we have TWO societies, or classes, one is that which is represented by CNBC, an imperial never never land that has it's own blindingly bright new reality in which millionaire is nothing, you ain't nobody till you are a billionaire; and the rest of us who like in the 1930's are "forgotten." The ones that still get $900 a month to keep them out of poverty such as my mother had when she was alive on her SSI. These people that depend on the "middle" class as if we still had one (they are just the better off poor compared to the new UBERAMERICANOS) and government services to get by. The disparity between rich and the rest has become such a wide gulf that they are rapidly losing all incentive to do anything but to just survive.

As to GM peddling it's liabilities to the taxpayers, well if the taxpayers have a trillion or so to blow on a faux war in Iraq they can damned well pick up the tab for pensions and healthcare for GM workers, we agree that it is the only way GM will stay and American icon. The union will make concessions but not enough to save the company, they cannot. From my point of view any lessening of liability is an increase to assets, and the government has no business giving assets to a private corporation to benefit stockholders and corporate officers that are already GROSSLY overpaid for delivering one insane policy after the next.

We are on borrowed time Charlie. It is September 1929 all over again.


  • You forgot the most important thing we need to know. Why is this county so hard up? What happened?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:52 PM  

  • why?

    By Blogger Charlie, at 2:15 PM  

  • These counties are hard up for a number of reasons; but if you think you will get some simple answer like "well, it is southern Oregon, run into the ground by aging hippies and socialists." Nope, all 5 of the most strapped counties are decidedly red counties in an otherwise blue state.

    I would also remind you that one of the first counties ever to declare bankruptcy was the very republican Orange County California when they blew the whole wad on suspect bond speculation deals.

    These five counties are the tip of the iceberg, we are simply shutting down even as the actual growth in the region is above national average. But it is a major problem through the rural western USA and the biggest reason is that the governments (state federal, and agencies like BLM and Bureau of Indian Affairs; forest service, state and national parks and national forest lands/wilderness regions etc. etc.) own up to 96% of the land as in my home county of Del Norte in north coastal California. This land is off the tax rolls, compare that to Rhode Island at 1.5% held off tax rolls. In RI they have 97.5% of the land paying taxes to run the local level governments, here we may have as little as 3% of the county to pay for all services.

    Then there is the problem of prices which is ENTIRELY beyond city and county, even state control, a used mobile home on half an acre in rural Jackson County will set you back at least a quarter million bucks. An actual home in town is averaging 4-5 hundred thousand, and that means that MOST people who work are in fact in poverty, they cannot afford the roof over their heads whether it is bought or rented. We laugh here when we see the high price of gas reported on the network news, $3.13 a gallon? We would LOVE to have that. Try $3.789 a gallon as it is down at my brother's place on the coast.

    This is a big region, meaning long drives to anywhere, and zero public transport.

    But, as I said we do have above average growth because so many in southern California are selling tract homes for a million or so and moving up here, they have mansions in gated golf course communities for $500-800 thousand and live off of the interest on the CD's they squirrel away. But it means we have TWO communities, Medford where I live and UPPER Medford, upper not only on the hill but literally above us in every way (or so they think.)

    I am not that worried, politically they would not pass the recent tax increase initiative to keep the county going, it was a modest $2.52 per thousand of property taxes, so the state will come to the rescue temporarily and this will force Oregon to adopt a 5-7% sales tax, one of the last states not to have one will be saddled with it. They could have paid an extra 60 or 70 a month on their tax bill, but no, now they will pay an extra thousand a year in sales taxes.

    Also, a major part of the problem is that while millage on property is high the actual assessed value of the properties are absurdly low. This will force a change in the law and require updating of property tax assessed values and at our rather high millage that will be a SHOCKING increase for most residents.

    Why, I wonder do people think we can sustain double digit inflation like we now have had for years on end, but the moment government needs to raise taxes because THEIR costs have also gone up like yours people just go ape? The counties are not going to get sucked into a black hole, taxes will be raised so that basic services are restored. When that happens people will understand that they have been putting off paying current debts with current assets; they have demanded services but refused to pay, now they will have to pay for current services AND past debts for services rendered in the past, and that is a big reason why this is happening. Like I said it is a red region, they never want to pay taxes to get that which they demand. So they floated bond issues and other debt. Now we have to pay for services AND the debt service, even as the federal government welches on their promise to help fund counties in the rural west, Bush vetoed the democratic Iraq funding bill at least in part he said because of the extension of the O&C funding for our region. They took all our land out of timber production with the promise that the government would replace the lost taxes and wages from that. It is all going to Iraq now. That is your answer in a nutshell.

    By Anonymous Markus, at 10:12 PM  

  • Wow - oh my goodness! You have just scared me half to death with your comments about closing jails, etc. And I live in Canada. Well - its not much better here. Our violent criminals are out in two days after being arrested for crimes with weapons. Our police chief called it a 'revolving door' and being on a first name basis with them because they are constantly being re-arrested. Something is really wrong. The inmates are running the asylum.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:19 PM  

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