Bulldoze it all, turn it into a nature preserve

From the Philly Inquirer:

Casino closings have big impact on A.C. property-tax base

The loss of 8,000 jobs in Atlantic City’s casino industry in the last 12 months has sent shock waves through the region’s economy, but an even more precipitous collapse is underway in the city’s property-tax base.

Eight or nine years ago, casinos owned 85 percent of Atlantic City’s real estate, based on assessed values, Mayor Don Guardian said last week. Now, they account for about 55 percent of the assessed values and are expected to keep falling, he said.

A proposal by New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) to stabilize Atlantic City’s tax base by allowing the casinos, in aggregate, to pay a flat rate of $150 million this year and next year instead of volatile property taxes gained traction Wednesday when Atlantic City and Atlantic County agreed on how to split that money.

County Executive Dennis Levinson scheduled a meeting Monday to discuss the revenue agreement with Atlantic County mayors, who have had to raise property taxes to make up for declines in casino assessments.

A 2007 revaluation boosted the assessed value of all Atlantic City real estate to $20.5 billion from $8.2 billion, with casinos accounting for the bulk of the increase. But since 2010, appeals by casinos hurt by sagging revenue have gutted the tax rolls, which totaled just $11.3 billion in 2014, according to Atlantic County Board of Taxation records.

“We’re going to continue to spiral down with assessed values, probably more than $3 billion this year. We’re eventually going to get down to $7 billion before we level off,” Guardian said of the city’s overall assessments.

Casinos’ assessments have plummeted since 2010 from about $15 billion to less than $6 billion, based on values won on appeals. For example, New Jersey Tax Court in October 2013 slashed Borgata’s 2010 assessment to $870 million from $2.3 billion.

The collapsing value of casinos has forced a massive shift in taxes to residents, who for years benefited from the flow of out-of-staters’ gambling losses into the city’s coffers.

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78 Responses to Bulldoze it all, turn it into a nature preserve

  1. grim says:

    The collapsing value of casinos has forced a massive shift in taxes to residents

    Sure about that statement? Who forced a massive shift of property taxes on who? I think you have the direction all wrong.

  2. anon (the good one) says:

    @billmaher:

    “Ocean life faces mass extinction” headline stayed w/ me this weekend.
    Bush said “Oceans can’t protect us.” They can’t protect selves either

  3. Grim says:

    Nice day in Shanghai

  4. Liquor Luge says:

    Neutron bomb still the answer for AC.

  5. Let’s get down to brass tacks. At exactly what latitude do we cut off South Jersey as it’s own entity?

  6. chicagofinance says:

    Politics As Usual (clot Edition):

    BUENOS AIRES—The prosecutor who last week accused Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and others of working with Iran to cover up a 1994 terror bombing was found dead in his apartment on Sunday, hours before he was to testify in Congress.

    Alberto Nisman ’s body was discovered inside a bathroom at his apartment on the 13th floor of an apartment tower here in this capital city. A 22-calibre weapon was found near him, according to a statement from Argentina’s Security Secretariat. There were no signs of forced entry into the apartment, the statement said.

    On Wednesday, Mr. Nisman filed a criminal complaint that accused Mrs. Kirchner, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and others of conspiring to cover up an investigation into Iran’s alleged involvement in the attack on a Jewish community center here that killed 85 people.

    Mr. Nisman was supposed to appear at a congressional hearing on Monday to provide more details about the allegations, which Argentine officials have vigorously denied.

    “This is truly absurd,” Mrs. Kirchner’s cabinet chief, Jorge Capitanich, said of the allegations last week. He called the criminal complaint “outrageous, illogical, and irrational” and said Mrs. Kirchner had always displayed a long commitment to resolving the case.

  7. A Home Buyer says:

    Question for those more experienced with children and the education system in general…

    How much stock do you place in School Rankings when it comes to buying a home? If the choice came down to a district that was “just meeting” standards but the home was only 50% in price and taxes of one found in an exceptional district… what would you do? Where would you pick?

    A friend of mine (looking to be first time buyers) asked the question and in their case they could probably have the wife stay at home if they bought in the cheaper district. Not surprising, both would need to work if they went to the exceptional district.

  8. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Grim, great headline. Imagine if you really could.

  9. chicagofinance says:

    Look at private school options…..alternatively, how well prepared is your wife to manage the education of your children? …..if she is intellectually curious, pragmatic, and also can advocate for your kids without alienating the administration, it may be worth her staying home…..but she has to want to do it and have the ability to do it.

    If you do not mind the store, you will be sent up the river without a paddle……if you mind the store while being an ignoramus, you will be sent up the river without a paddle.

    A Home Buyer says:
    January 19, 2015 at 9:11 am
    Question for those more experienced with children and the education system in general…

    How much stock do you place in School Rankings when it comes to buying a home? If the choice came down to a district that was “just meeting” standards but the home was only 50% in price and taxes of one found in an exceptional district… what would you do? Where would you pick?

    A friend of mine (looking to be first time buyers) asked the question and in their case they could probably have the wife stay at home if they bought in the cheaper district. Not surprising, both would need to work if they went to the exceptional district.

  10. chicagofinance says:

    Interesting view from shitowne over here……the school age population is dwindling…..we look at my son, and if there are only 35 or so boys in the entire district in his grade, you carve out about 15 who are special needs, and we can already eliminate about 10 who are peevish pricks……so we already are whittled down to about 10 boys that are just regular kids…..let alone they have to have interests similar to my son and also have parents who are willing…….really screwed up situation…….we are already thinking that we are going to have to bail at some point or really start thinking out of the box……

  11. Ragnar says:

    A Home Buyer,
    It’s a pretty difficult decision. If the school doesn’t live up to your expectations, I doubt you will ever be happy in the home. If the school is really on the border of failing, I suspect that’s a sign of problems in the town itself. Keep in mind private schools can be expensive, inconvenient, and difficult to gain admittance to. If I could at all afford it, I’d try to live in a school district getting at least a 7 out of 10 on the great schools ratings.

  12. Ragnar says:

    Chifi, weird and small district? Rent an apartment in Short Hills and let him take drugs with the elite?

  13. Essex says:

    School Rankings are generally a pretty good indicator of the state of the district and their ability to develop their population. I would be wary of 7 rankings. 8 or higher would be the firm cut-off in most cases. I’ve seen large families pay insane amounts of money for their kids to attend private schools and in most cases these were religious. I have also seen kids go to private schools and once that monkey is on your back you are looking at some hefty $$$$ for what might be offered for 1/4 of that for the whole family. School rankings are as much about who is actually showing up in the schools relative to those around the state. For middle school and high school we are also talking about some friendships that might last a lifetime. Cultures in towns around Northern NJ vary and you can factor that into the school/life picture. We have more data than ever at our fingertips. Ignore it at your own peril.

  14. Essex says:

    12. Ragnar. question: What ‘is’ a ragnar?

  15. chifi – Also, according the web site it’s one of the few schools that has a “Bullying Plan” choice on it’s pull down menu.

  16. 30 year realtor says:

    On the school question…all you have to do is look at the bifurcation of real estate values in NJ since the bubble burst. It is not so much about education as it is about real estate values. I would buy in the superior district.

  17. Juice Box says:

    # 10 – Chi – re:”the school age population is dwindling”. My guess is they taxes won’t dwindle with the amount of kids in the program.

    They have an interesting report online, projections out a few years.

    Seems to me the demographics won’t change unless the zoning does. When will the town start putting up some mufti-family units and move in some more undocumented folks to your neck of the woods?

    http://coltsneckschools.org/cms/lib7/NJ01000853/Centricity/Domain/1/Colts%20Neck%20Report%202014.pdf

  18. Bystander says:

    Home Buyer,

    Perhaps the toughest part of buying process. My town is pretty large and economically diverse and therefore supports 12 elementary schools. Some have around 6 rating, most 7-9 and a few 10. As you can guess, the 6 rated school had lowest entry point in terms of home prices, roughly 30% below what an equivalent home in a “10” district. Unless extremely lucky, you have to sacrifice something whether it is increase budget to get smaller, decent home into 10 district or keep budget and get nicer house but in an 8 district. I chose the 8 district b/c school is still top 40 or so in CT. Only a few Connecticut mastery points separate an 8 from a 10. The big drop is when you get out of top 100 schools then it becomes 20 points or more. I also rationalized that NYC area towns are very mature in terms of curriculum, administration, planning etc. If a school is low rated then there is a reason. Choose 8 or above but don’t stretch for 10. Not sure it matters that much.

  19. Anon E. Moose says:

    SX [13];

    If you can stomach literature contrary to your worldview, Ragnar Danneskjöld is a character from Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. He operates as a high seas pirate and Robin Hood, seizing ships of government supplies that are being sent to foreign countries, and returning the property to the capitalists from whom it was taken.

  20. Liquor Luge says:

    There is no education anymore; it’s all devolved into brainwashing, just like the Robber Barons envisioned.

  21. Ottoman says:

    Did Ragnar Danneskjöld marry for the government protections and opportunities of US Citizenship like Ayn Rand did?

  22. Ragnar says:

    Essex, one possible Ragnar is a fictional character in “Atlas Shrugged”.

  23. Essex says:

    19. Shows you what I remember. Yeah I read that book years ago. I prefer Faulkner and Eudora Welty. They are at least rooted in reality.

  24. Essex says:

    20. Gotta feed the machine. The world needs bankers and podiatrists too.

  25. Ragnar says:

    Anon,
    He sunk ships carrying aid to various “people’s states” and was a merciless avenger against wealth redistribution.

  26. The Great Pumpkin says:

    I hate to be like this, but I’ll be upfront. What are the demographics of these places? Just follow the demographics when it comes to rankings. You could save a lot of money in a cheaper town and still get an education. Problem is, risk factors based on demographics. Will you feel safe with your child walking around the streets in that town? Will you feel safe with your child in that school system? Do you want your child to be more at risk to have bad influence from his/her classmates? You save money, but it is at a major cost. Up to you with what risks you are comfortable taking. Influence is a major factor. What type of culture do you want your kid to emulate? Higher income towns will provide stable environments headed educated households. The effect justifies the price of the house. Your child will gain so many advantages in the social sphere, from nepotism connections to also speaking and writing well. The right kind of influence, IMO.

    “How much stock do you place in School Rankings when it comes to buying a home? If the choice came down to a district that was “just meeting” standards but the home was only 50% in price and taxes of one found in an exceptional district… what would you do? Where would you pick?”

  27. syncmaster says:

    School ratings discussion: My kid turns 4 next year so my wife is insisting that next year be the year we sell the Pway townhouse and buy into a better district. The elementary, middle and high we’re zoned for are all rated 5 on trulia (which gets the numbers from GreatSchools I think). We want to move closer to her work in the Princeton/Trenton area and are torn between going high on school ratings and not spending too much. The taxes I see in towns I’d otherwise love to buy in – places like Robbinsville – simply blow my mind. So I’m looking at hopping over the border and buying an older property in a place like Yardley. School ratings are all 8+ and home prices/taxes are slightly less unreasonable. The real cost would be my commute into central jersey.

  28. Ben says:

    Question for those more experienced with children and the education system in general…

    How much stock do you place in School Rankings when it comes to buying a home? If the choice came down to a district that was “just meeting” standards but the home was only 50% in price and taxes of one found in an exceptional district… what would you do? Where would you pick?

    A friend of mine (looking to be first time buyers) asked the question and in their case they could probably have the wife stay at home if they bought in the cheaper district. Not surprising, both would need to work if they went to the exceptional district.

    Take it from someone who teaches within the system. School rankings drive home values. Buyers look at that stupid Newsweek article and base their decision off it. The top school districts were able to hold their peak values.

    Question is, are you doing it for your kid or for your investment? School rankings are a function of a number of things, one of the main ones being the type of students at the school. Your kid will grow up around a bunch of other great kids.

    At the end of the day, the top 25 are probably all very similar in quality. The next 25 – 80 are slightly behind. Nothing wrong with 80-125. I’m basing this off of my knowledge of students and their performance. In the end, it’s all meaningless becuase your kid is likely offered the same courses in each of these districts and will perform accordingly regardless of the district he/she is in. My opinion is, if the town your are thinking of living in is in the top 100, go for it and maintain a high standard of living. No point in having your wife work 15 years and have no disposable income so your son’s classmates can have a 100 pt higher SAT score.

    Btw, totally disagree with the notion that private school is even productive in New Jersey. If you are into flushing money down the toilet, private school is where it’s at. You’ll also be hiring tutors to pick up the slack for the bottom of the barrel teachers they employ at $25k a year.

  29. Ben says:

    There is no education anymore; it’s all devolved into brainwashing, just like the Robber Barons envisioned.

    Who’s been brainwashed here? The teachers that teach their subject or someone who sounds like Alex Jones?

  30. Ben says:

    School ratings discussion: My kid turns 4 next year so my wife is insisting that next year be the year we sell the Pway townhouse and buy into a better district. The elementary, middle and high we’re zoned for are all rated 5 on trulia (which gets the numbers from GreatSchools I think). We want to move closer to her work in the Princeton/Trenton area and are torn between going high on school ratings and not spending too much. The taxes I see in towns I’d otherwise love to buy in – places like Robbinsville – simply blow my mind. So I’m looking at hopping over the border and buying an older property in a place like Yardley. School ratings are all 8+ and home prices/taxes are slightly less unreasonable. The real cost would be my commute into central jersey.

    Robbinsville is the biggest ripoff. I bought in Lawrencville. Nicer houses, same taxes, probably better school system, despite what the rankings say. If you were willing to pay Robbinsville taxes, why not go West Windsor or South Brunswick? Both much better options.

  31. syncmaster says:

    Lawrenceville’s MS and HS are only marginally better than Pway’s, going by those Trulia numbers. It’s an option for me, but I’d see it as a lateral move at best. All it buys me is a shorter commute for my wife.

  32. anon (the good one) says:

    @BarackObama:

    “From Dr. King’s courage, we draw strength and the resolve to continue climbing toward the promised land.”

    —President Obama #MLKDay

  33. syncmaster says:

    Quoting Barack Obama in a message board full of white guys is like walking around Harlem wearing a sandwich board that says I hate N******.

  34. Xolepa says:

    Plainsboro is one of the best, if not the very best in the state. All from the top caste have been moving there.

  35. syncmaster says:

    Plainsboro? Any property that isn’t zoned 55+ stays on the market for no more than a few days. As my three year old would say, “this is possible!”.

  36. anon (the good one) says:

    it is not my problem if you find the race of our President to be offensive

    yes, today is MLK day and therefore the quote is very relevant

    syncmaster says:
    January 19, 2015 at 12:38 pm
    Quoting Barack Obama in a message board full of white guys is like walking around Harlem wearing a sandwich board that says I hate N******.

  37. grim says:

    On the school question…all you have to do is look at the bifurcation of real estate values in NJ since the bubble burst. It is not so much about education as it is about real estate values. I would buy in the superior district.

    I second this comment.

  38. grim says:

    34 – Zing

  39. A Home Buyer says:

    Thanks for the opinions everyone.

    Asking the question in reverse, at what income would you consider a family being able to afford one of those homes in the pristine 8+ great schools (or under 125 ranking) school districts?

    Assuming the starter houses that do not need renovation in those areas are 400K with 9K in taxes. My basic figures indicate you would need a 110+K salary qualify for the mortgage alone following traditional lending standards. In a state where the average household income is 60K… that is a pretty big stretch to make up the difference for the average family and basically requires the dual income.

    So stated another way, at what point (income wise) do you consider the average family to be no longer… average… and capable of buying into those high ranking towns?

    (For the sake of argument, I’m assuming no other debts which may be unrealistic, but the there is no other way to even begin comparing otherwise)

  40. syncmaster says:

    I’d say 150k. 175k if comfort is important.

  41. Ragnar says:

    I’ve seen immigrant families rent small, older apartments in top rated school districts like Milburn, so their kids could get a top education. I’d like to see privatization and vouchers blast away the current inefficient and distorted education system, (both provision and access) but in the meantime, real estate is linked closely to education. Pick your priorities. “Good” NJ schools are bad enough, I’d be scared to expose my kid to a bad one.

  42. syncmaster says:

    Those immigrant families could get the same 8+ schools elsewhere without the third world living conditions.

    Households making less than 150k shouldn’t waste their time in this state. Quit flushing your money down the toilet, move!

  43. chicagofinance says:

    Another comment for A Home Buyer….

    what is your end game? A good education or is it a placement for college? Because when talking colleges, you can game the system a bit……move to as bad a zip code as you dare and then dump every red cent into buying back the difference in the quality of the education……the college admission process is distorted, and you should try to arb the market conditions whenever possible……go buy in Newark (just kidding)

  44. Comrade Nom Deplume, Guardian of the Realm says:

    [33] syncmaster

    Sorry but not getting that post. Am I just dense?

  45. A Home Buyer says:

    43 – ChiFi

    I’m not sure we have an endgame in particular at this point. We have two years before we can move so really just gathering information, seeing people’s opinions, etc.

    Ultimately, we want to stay under 250K which is a hard task in North Jersey. More then likely we will head south, but you still run into the same issues with the really great school districts there.

    The idea of a 400K mortgage, or even 300K scares us. It forces you to maintain a certain income. We all know people who have lost everything over the past few years and job security just is not what it used to be.

    While you cannot make and long term decision on the belief you are going to loose your job, having a monthly payment that is a 1/4 of the some other place would certainly help in that comfort.

    I will not pretend that we have a great income, but it is enough. I am concerned about the stigma associated with a child of being poor in a rich town, or rich in a poor town. Perhaps its overblown, but I have heard horror stories.

  46. Ragnar says:

    A Home Buyer,
    NJ doesn’t work well for lower – middle to middle income people. I’d suggest looking at renting within towns rated 8 or higher, (Ben’s lower limit). To buy a house for $250k with a good school sounds like you need to find a different state, not in Jersey.

  47. Liquor Luge says:

    sync (31)-

    Staying in NJ is always a mistake. A place like Yardley or New Hope are no-brainer choices. A couple extra minutes on your commute is nothing compared to the disaster of having your kid in any Mercer or Middlesucks skool.

  48. Liquor Luge says:

    xolepa (34)-

    Plainsboro/West Windsor way overrated, certainly not worth the crushing property taxes.

  49. Liquor Luge says:

    …second Ragnar’s #46. This buyer needs to get out of NJ.

  50. grim says:

    Boonton Twp and Kinnelon are two that come to mind that rank higher, but have more affordable single family and townhouse options. Raising Boonton Twp because the HS is Mountain Lakes.

    It may be tough, but it’s possible to get something for $250k in these GS 9 rated towns.

  51. Xolepa says:

    (48) Did you understand my comment? Who is rating it?

  52. Ben says:

    Lawrenceville’s MS and HS are only marginally better than Pway’s, going by those Trulia numbers. It’s an option for me, but I’d see it as a lateral move at best. All it buys me is a shorter commute for my wife.

    Believe me, there’s nothing even close between Lawrencville and Piscataway high schools. If you look at the AP performance, Lawrenceville buries them. Newsweek rankings are a joke. If you want to know how good a district is, look at # of AP courses offered and scores. Nothing else.

  53. Ben says:

    I will not pretend that we have a great income, but it is enough. I am concerned about the stigma associated with a child of being poor in a rich town, or rich in a poor town. Perhaps its overblown, but I have heard horror stories.

    I teach in a really rich town that is rated as a top school district. The kids don’t care. It’s the parents who are the ones obsessed with money.

  54. If your kid has the goods at K-4 and you are mobile, just move to Boston for 5th grade on. Boston Latin is free and offers education and atmosphere that kicks the crap out of many of the best private schools. It’s also the easiest road to Harvard. There are 40 schools that are harder to get into than Harvard if you graduate Boston Latin with good grades and activities. Admittance to Boston Latin is based on two things:

    1. Grades in second half of 5th grade and 1st half of 6th.
    2. Your kid’s score on the ISEE exam taken the fall of their 6th grade year.

    If your kid doesn’t get into Boston Latin as a “sixie” (which means 6 years to go), they have one more chance for admittance at 9th grade, by taking a higher level of the ISEE exam and having good grades. The good thing about getting your kid in as a six is that colleges don’t give a damn about your grades for 7th and 8th grade, so even a kid who just makes it in has two years to get with the program. To that end, they have “Saturday Success School” for 4 hours on Saturday if your kid starts slipping. Also free.

    That’s it. At Boston Latin they indoctrinate kids with such high “industrial” skills for 6 years (basically organization and time management) that college is a breeze for them, no matter where they go.

  55. Ben – I think the kids don’t care so long as the town is mostly homogenous. I don’t know if the Pumpkin or Grim would know, but there used to be a big problem in Wayne with economic strata. The solution at the HS level wasn’t obvious, but it worked. They sent all the middle income kids to Wayne Valley and sent the poorest kids AND the richest kids to Wayne Hills. At Wayne Valley they were all homogenous, no problem. At Wayne Hills the two extreme groups just striated naturally into two groups and didn’t really intermingle. I didn’t grow up in Wayne, but I lived there and taught in the schools for a time.

    I teach in a really rich town that is rated as a top school district. The kids don’t care. It’s the parents who are the ones obsessed with money.

  56. Libturd in Union says:

    Or you can wait until you’re old to start having kids to build the necessary savings cushion to comfortably purchase in a higher rated town. It’s what we did. It helps to buy a multi and live in half of it too. Though the arbitrage situation that Chi pointed out is a decent way to do it as well, but you’ll have to work hard to keep your kid in line with the rest of the douchebags. I agree with Ben that the private schools are really for suckers with money to burn. Like hedge funds.

  57. syncmaster says:

    52 Ben –

    I just checked the state reports cards for Pway HS and Lawrence HS. What I’m seeing is similar rates in both high schools for the number of students who take AP tests but higher (by about 10 points) pass rates in Lawrence.

    Thanks.

  58. Ben says:

    am I being modded?

  59. syncmaster says:

    You might be spelling out Pway. The auto moderation software doesn’t like the word.

  60. syncmaster says:

    If that’s the case, grim will ‘release’ your post from mod-prison eventually but by then no one will see it lol.

  61. Ben says:

    oh well, whatever.

  62. Ben says:

    I guess it doesn’t like the P word. So lemme try again. I’m not gonna type out a long post. Long story short, the disparity on average has been about 15% in passing rate. The performance aspect of the school is further magnified by the participation rate. On top of that, scoring 3 or higher isn’t the result you should be looking for. It’s the 4’s and 5’s that matter.

    In my district, all classes result in 95% getting 3’s or highers. The good teachers have mostly 4’s and 5’s while the less than stellar teachers having all 3’s. That information gets lost in the numbers being reported as 3 or higher. I’m not trying to argue that Lawrencville is a stellar school system. It’s above average. P-town on the other hand, is not.

  63. syncmaster says:

    Points well taken. Thanks for the input, Ben.

  64. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Source touching on what I spoke of yesterday.

    “The Relationship Between Wealth and Power

    What’s the relationship between wealth and power? To avoid confusion, let’s be sure we understand they are two different issues. Wealth, as I’ve said, refers to the value of everything people own, minus what they owe, but the focus is on “marketable assets” for purposes of economic and power studies. Power, as explained elsewhere on this site, has to do with the ability (or call it capacity) to realize wishes, or reach goals, which amounts to the same thing, even in the face of opposition (Russell, 1938; Wrong, 1995). Some definitions refine this point to say that power involves Person A or Group A affecting Person B or Group B “in a manner contrary to B’s interests,” which then necessitates a discussion of “interests,” and quickly leads into the realm of philosophy (Lukes, 2005, p. 30). Leaving those discussions for the philosophers, at least for now, how do the concepts of wealth and power relate?

    First, wealth can be seen as a “resource” that is very useful in exercising power. That’s obvious when we think of donations to political parties, payments to lobbyists, and grants to experts who are employed to think up new policies beneficial to the wealthy. Wealth also can be useful in shaping the general social environment to the benefit of the wealthy, whether through hiring public relations firms or donating money for universities, museums, music halls, and art galleries.

    Second, certain kinds of wealth, such as stock ownership, can be used to control corporations, which of course have a major impact on how the society functions. Tables 6a and 6b show what the distribution of stock ownership looks like. Note how the top one percent’s share of stock equity increased (and the bottom 80 percent’s share decreased) between 2001 and 2010.

    Table 6a: Concentration of stock ownership in the United States, 2001-2010
    Percent of all stock owned:
    Wealth class 2001 2004 2007 2010
    Top 1% 33.5% 36.7% 38.3% 35.0%
    Next 19% 55.8% 53.9% 52.8% 56.6%
    Bottom 80% 10.7% 9.4% 8.9% 8.4%
    Table 6b: Amount of stock owned by various wealth classes in the U.S., 2010
    Percent of households owning stocks worth:
    Wealth class $0 (no stocks) $1-$9,999 $10,000 or more
    Top 1% 5.1% 0.6% 94.3%
    95-99% 6.9% 4.0% 89.1%
    90-95% 11.8% 4.8% 83.4%
    80-90% 21.0% 8.5% 70.5%
    60-80% 41.3% 15.6% 44.1%
    40-60% 55.4% 19.9% 24.7%
    20-40% 76.1% 17.4% 6.5%
    Bottom 20% 79.2% 17.3% 4.5%
    TOTAL 53.1% 17.5% 31.6%
    Both tables’ data derived from Wolff (2007, 2010, & 2012). Includes direct ownership of stock shares and indirect ownership through mutual funds, trusts, and IRAs, Keogh plans, 401(k) plans, and other retirement accounts. All figures are in 2010 dollars.
    Third, just as wealth can lead to power, so too can power lead to wealth. Those who control a government can use their position to feather their own nests, whether that means a favorable land deal for relatives at the local level or a huge federal government contract for a new corporation run by friends who will hire you when you leave government. If we take a larger historical sweep and look cross-nationally, we are well aware that the leaders of conquering armies often grab enormous wealth, and that some religious leaders use their positions to acquire wealth.

    There’s a fourth way that wealth and power relate. For research purposes, the wealth distribution can be seen as the main “value distribution” within the general power indicator I call “who benefits.” What follows in the next three paragraphs is a little long-winded, I realize, but it needs to be said because some social scientists — primarily pluralists — argue that who wins and who loses in a variety of policy conflicts is the only valid power indicator (Dahl, 1957, 1958; Polsby, 1980). And philosophical discussions don’t even mention wealth or other power indicators (Lukes, 2005). (If you have heard it all before, or can do without it, feel free to skip ahead to the last paragraph of this section)

    Here’s the argument: if we assume that most people would like to have as great a share as possible of the things that are valued in the society, then we can infer that those who have the most goodies are the most powerful. Although some value distributions may be unintended outcomes that do not really reflect power, as pluralists are quick to tell us, the general distribution of valued experiences and objects within a society still can be viewed as the most publicly visible and stable outcome of the operation of power.

    In American society, for example, wealth and well-being are highly valued. People seek to own property, to have high incomes, to have interesting and safe jobs, to enjoy the finest in travel and leisure, and to live long and healthy lives. All of these “values” are unequally distributed, and all may be utilized as power indicators. However, the primary focus with this type of power indicator is on the wealth distribution sketched out in the previous section.

    The argument for using the wealth distribution as a power indicator is strengthened by studies showing that such distributions vary historically and from country to country, depending upon the relative strength of rival political parties and trade unions, with the United States having the most highly concentrated wealth distribution of any Western democracy except Switzerland. For example, in a study based on 18 Western democracies, strong trade unions and successful social democratic parties correlated with greater equality in the income distribution and a higher level of welfare spending (Stephens, 1979).

    And now we have arrived at the point I want to make. If the top 1% of households have 30-35% of the wealth, that’s 30 to 35 times what they would have if wealth were equally distributed, and so we infer that they must be powerful. And then we set out to see if the same set of households scores high on other power indicators (it does). Next we study how that power operates, which is what most articles on this site are about. Furthermore, if the top 20% have 84% of the wealth (and recall that 10% have 85% to 90% of the stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity), that means that the United States is a power pyramid. It’s tough for the bottom 80% — maybe even the bottom 90% — to get organized and exercise much power.”

    http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

  65. The Great Pumpkin says:

    64- pay extra attention to that last paragraph to get an understanding of what I was talking about.

  66. The Great Pumpkin says:

    “Do Taxes Redistribute Income?

    It is widely believed that taxes are highly progressive and, furthermore, that the top several percent of income earners pay most of the taxes received by the federal government. Both ideas are wrong because they focus on official, rather than “effective” tax rates and ignore payroll taxes, which are mostly paid by those with incomes below $100,000 per year.

    But what matters in terms of a power analysis is what percentage of their income people at different income levels pay to all levels of government (federal, state, and local) in taxes. If the less-well-off majority is somehow able to wield power, we would expect that the high earners would pay a bigger percentage of their income in taxes, because the majority figures the well-to-do would still have plenty left after taxes to make new investments and lead the good life. If the high earners have the most power, we’d expect them to pay about the same as everybody else, or less.

    Citizens for Tax Justice, a research group that’s been studying tax issues from its offices in Washington since 1979, provides the information we need. When all taxes (not just income taxes) are taken into account, the lowest 20% of earners (who average about $12,400 per year), paid 16.0% of their income to taxes in 2009; and the next 20% (about $25,000/year), paid 20.5% in taxes. So if we only examine these first two steps, the tax system looks like it is going to be progressive.

    And it keeps looking progressive as we move further up the ladder: the middle 20% (about $33,400/year) give 25.3% of their income to various forms of taxation, and the next 20% (about $66,000/year) pay 28.5%. So taxes are progressive for the bottom 80%. But if we break the top 20% down into smaller chunks, we find that progressivity starts to slow down, then it stops, and then it slips backwards for the top 1%.

    Specifically, the next 10% (about $100,000/year) pay 30.2% of their income as taxes; the next 5% ($141,000/year) dole out 31.2% of their earnings for taxes; and the next 4% ($245,000/year) pay 31.6% to taxes. You’ll note that the progressivity is slowing down. As for the top 1% — those who take in $1.3 million per year on average — they pay 30.8% of their income to taxes, which is a little less than what the 9% just below them pay, and only a tiny bit more than what the segment between the 80th and 90th percentile pays.

    What I’ve just explained with words can be seen more clearly in Figure 6.

    Figure 6: Share of income paid as tax, including local and state tax

    Source: Citizens for Tax Justice (2010a).
    We also can look at this information on income and taxes in another way by asking what percentage of all taxes various income levels pay. (This is not the same as the previous question, which asked what percentage of their incomes went to taxes for people at various income levels.) And the answer to this new question can be found in Figure 7. For example, the top 20% receives 59.1% of all income and pays 64.3% of all the taxes, so they aren’t carrying a huge extra burden. At the other end, the bottom 20%, which receives 3.5% of all income, pays 1.9% of all taxes.

    Figure 7: Share of all income earned and all taxes paid, by quintile

    Source: Citizens for Tax Justice (2010a).
    So the best estimates that can be put together from official government numbers show a little bit of progressivity. But the details on those who earn millions of dollars each year are very hard to come by, because they can stash a large part of their wealth in off-shore tax havens in the Caribbean and little countries in Europe, starting with Switzerland. And there are many loopholes and gimmicks they can use, as summarized with striking examples in Free Lunch and Perfectly Legal, the books by Johnston that were mentioned earlier. For example, Johnston explains the ways in which high earners can hide their money and delay on paying taxes, and then invest for a profit what normally would be paid in taxes.”

    http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

  67. The Great Pumpkin says:

    “Although some of the information I’ve relied upon to create this section on executives’ vs. workers’ pay is a few years old now, the AFL/CIO provides up-to-date information on CEO salaries at their Web site. There, you can learn that the median compensation for CEO’s in all industries as of early 2010 is $3.9 million; it’s $10.6 million for the companies listed in Standard and Poor’s 500, and $19.8 million for the companies listed in the Dow-Jones Industrial Average. Since the median worker’s pay is about $36,000, then you can quickly calculate that CEOs in general make 100 times as much as the workers, that CEO’s of S&P 500 firms make almost 300 times as much, and that CEOs at the Dow-Jones companies make 550 times as much. (For a more recent update on CEOs’ pay, see “The Drought Is Over (At Least for CEOs)” at NYTimes.com; the article reports that the median compensation for CEOs at 200 major companies was $9.6 million in 2010 — up by about 12% over 2009 and generally equal to or surpassing pre-recession levels. For specific information about some of the top CEOs, see http://projects.nytimes.com/executive_compensation.

    If you wonder how such a large gap could develop, the proximate, or most immediate, factor involves the way in which CEOs now are able to rig things so that the board of directors, which they help select — and which includes some fellow CEOs on whose boards they sit — gives them the pay they want. The trick is in hiring outside experts, called “compensation consultants,” who give the process a thin veneer of economic respectability.

    The process has been explained in detail by a retired CEO of DuPont, Edgar S. Woolard, Jr., who is now chair of the New York Stock Exchange’s executive compensation committee. His experience suggests that he knows whereof he speaks, and he speaks because he’s concerned that corporate leaders are losing respect in the public mind. He says that the business page chatter about CEO salaries being set by the competition for their services in the executive labor market is “bull.” As to the claim that CEOs deserve ever higher salaries because they “create wealth,” he describes that rationale as a “joke,” says the New York Times (Morgenson, 2005).

    Here’s how it works, according to Woolard:

    The compensation committee [of the board of directors] talks to an outside consultant who has surveys you could drive a truck through and pay anything you want to pay, to be perfectly honest. The outside consultant talks to the human resources vice president, who talks to the CEO. The CEO says what he’d like to receive. It gets to the human resources person who tells the outside consultant. And it pretty well works out that the CEO gets what he’s implied he thinks he deserves, so he will be respected by his peers. (Morgenson, 2005.)

    The board of directors buys into what the CEO asks for because the outside consultant is an “expert” on such matters. Furthermore, handing out only modest salary increases might give the wrong impression about how highly the board values the CEO. And if someone on the board should object, there are the three or four CEOs from other companies who will make sure it happens. It is a process with a built-in escalator.

    As for why the consultants go along with this scam, they know which side their bread is buttered on. They realize the CEO has a big say-so on whether or not they are hired again. So they suggest a package of salaries, stock options and other goodies that they think will please the CEO, and they, too, get rich in the process. And certainly the top executives just below the CEO don’t mind hearing about the boss’s raise. They know it will mean pay increases for them, too. (For an excellent detailed article on the main consulting firm that helps CEOs and other corporate executives raise their pay, check out the New York Times article entitled “America’s Corporate Pay Pal”, which supports everything Woolard of DuPont claims and adds new information.)

    If hiring a consulting firm doesn’t do the trick as far as raising CEO pay, then it may be possible for the CEO to have the board change the way in which the success of the company is determined. For example, Walmart Stores, Inc. used to link the CEO’s salary to sales figures at established stores. But when declining sales no longer led to big pay raises, the board simply changed the magic formula to use total companywide sales instead. By that measure, the CEO could still receive a pay hike (Morgenson, 2011).

    There’s a much deeper power story that underlies the self-dealing and mutual back-scratching by CEOs now carried out through interlocking directorates and seemingly independent outside consultants. It probably involves several factors. At the least, on the workers’ side, it reflects their loss of power following the all-out attack on unions in the 1960s and 1970s, which is explained in detail in an excellent book by James Gross (1995), a labor and industrial relations professor at Cornell. That decline in union power made possible and was increased by both outsourcing at home and the movement of production to developing countries, which were facilitated by the break-up of the New Deal coalition and the rise of the New Right (Domhoff, 1990, Chapter 10). It signals the shift of the United States from a high-wage to a low-wage economy, with professionals protected by the fact that foreign-trained doctors and lawyers aren’t allowed to compete with their American counterparts in the direct way that low-wage foreign-born workers are.”

  68. The Great Pumpkin says:

    67- These ceo’s that rig their own pay sit there and complain about how unfair unions are. Talk about hypocrites.

  69. Liquor Luge says:

    Jeebus, we’re still talking about P’way skools six hours later? They fcuking suck, case closed.

  70. Liquor Luge says:

    Now, on to the relevant news of the day. Looks like Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys can still put on a show:

    http://www.10news.com/news/investigations/a-sex-act-at-a-concert-in-solana-beach

  71. NJT says:

    We don’t need no Education (Wife and I) re: Schools and where to live.

    IOHO a homogenous small town that has most teachers living locally and parents that care and are involved is the key.

    Since we had to stay in NJ (or right over the river in PA) I checked out all locations on both sides of the river from Water Gap down to New Hope/Lambertville that would fit the above criterion and others.

    I have two kids, boy and a girl.

    Of course there are other variables but this base…(line #2).

    Don’t over analyze, be a parent not ‘outsource’ it to others.

    Money can’t buy everything nor ‘science’ figure it out.

    Sometimes the best decisions are outside of the equation.

    – We don’t regret moving where we are now. Matter a fact, best move we ever made (of course I would have left the area but..).

  72. Liquor Luge says:

    California Uber Alles, indeed.

  73. Liquor Luge says:

    Oh no…Jello isn’t a DK anymore!

  74. Liquor Luge says:

    Woops. Looks like the Swiss just muppetized Poland.

    “As we noted last week, the Swiss National Bank’s decision to un-peg from the Euro (thus strengthening the CHF dramatically) will have very significant repercussions – not the least of which is for Hungarian and Polish Swiss-Franc-denominated mortgage-holders. The 20% surge in Swiss Franc translates directly into a comparable jump in the zloty value of loan principals and and monthly payments for about 575,000 Polish families owing a total $35 billion in mortgages denominated in the Swiss currency which has prompted calls for Poland’s government to bail them out. Never mind the FX risk, the low-rates were all anyone cared about and now yet another ‘risk-free’ trade has exploded, Deputy PM Piechocinski says, if the franc “remains above the 4 zloty level, the government may provide support” to debtors but Poland’s Central Bank is not supportive of the bailout.”

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-19/snb-decision-sparks-calls-polish-mortgage-bailout-central-bank-against-it

  75. Ragnar says:

    Syncmaster,
    In other words, stock markets rose from crisis lows to new highs, just as the central planners wanted. From 2006 to 2008, the top 1% saw a declining share of global assets. Can we presume Oxfam celebrated that event?

  76. Leftwing says:

    43 – chifi

    Has the most relevant comment regarding schools. Know your endpoint. Way too many want the best college and assume the best nj education gets them there. Your Newark just kidding comment is no joke. Parse your demographic admissions standard and then ask what makes your kid so special. It certainly is not a nj ten rated school. Kid from Wisconsin with average earning family, scores ten percent lower, and other measures at parity beats your kid into an ivy every day.

  77. syncmaster says:

    70 – Liquor Luge

    Jeebus, we’re still talking about P’way skools six hours later? They fcuking suck, case closed.

    Yes, that was established early on. The crux of the conversation was about Lawrenceville.

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