A new high-rise building at Riverside Drive and West 62nd Street, excoriated for having one door for condominium owners and a separate entrance for residents of affordable housing, has attracted 88,000 applicants for its 55 low-priced units. Available to households whose income is between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, the affordable apartments rent at $1,082 for a two-bedroom and $833 for a studio. That’s a pretty sweet deal, even if you don’t get access to the gym, the pool, the private theater or the bowling alley, and even if you have to enter and exit the building through a designated “poor door.” You also don’t get to live at 50 Riverside Drive, with the quality. Instead, you live at 470 West 62nd Street—a distinction that will seem meaningless only to those who have not lived or worked on the Upper West Side.
Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed HR 1105 to repeal the estate tax. Before we go even one sentence further, know that the estate tax applies only to inheritances greater than $5.43 million. That’s very few; according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, approximately 0.2% of deaths in 2013 involved estates large enough to be taxed. Perhaps that’s why Republicans invariably refer to the estate tax as the Death Tax: 99.8% of Americans will not pass on taxable estates, but everybody dies. On Twitter, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) called it “a tax on the American Dream.” Speaking in favor of the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, he said:
“I rise to bring awareness to a pervasive tax that threatens the very livelihood of the future of generations of Montanans…This tax punishes Americans that have worked hard, played by the rules, and want to pass that legacy on to their children.”
I submit that 0.2% is “pervasive” the same way inheriting more than $5 million is the American dream.
We know two things about the future: it’s coming, and it will be either all bad or all good. That second part is obvious from movies. Films about the future are either set in utopias (Star Trek, Gattaca, 2001: A Space Odyssey)—or dystopias (Aliens, Idiocracy, Back to the Future.) It follows that at this moment, everything is either about to be fine or just setting off for hell in a handbasket. The odds of some problems getting better and others getting worse just doesn’t make sense. It’s an immense mathematical unlikelihood that the world would stay exactly as good as it is now. Today is Friday, and what comes after will surely be different. Won’t you call it in the air with me?
This photo of how the sausage is made comes courtesy of Art Wittich’s Facebook page, in which he complains that his fellow Republican voted to “emasculate” his party’s leadership by supporting Medicaid expansion. That bill finally passed, but not before 49 Republicans voted to adjourn the entire 2015 session of the Montana legislature rather than see it debated on the House floor. Later that night, after moderates in the GOP joined Democrats to pass a bill central to his legislative agenda, Governor Bullock vetoed a modest Republican tax cut. With only a few weeks to go in our 90-day session, comity has disintegrated in Helena. You can read about it in this week’s column in the Missoula Independent, which also contains this wonderful quote by Rep. Randy Pinocci (R-Sun River):
“The majority of my constituents want smaller government. What does the taxpayer want? I hear every excuse, but we spend money on [expletive] that’s ridiculous. I want to go to the Deaf and Blind School and see if they’re struggling.”
I also apologize for erroneously claiming that Senator Steve Daines nourishes himself by lassoing rainbows and drinking their pigment. So it’s a lot of fun. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!
The nonprofit Educational Testing Service has released the results of its 2012 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies among millennials, and the United States appears to be in trouble. American millennials ranked dead last in numeracy, behind Poland and the Slovak Republic in literacy, and second-to-last in “problem solving in technology-rich environments.” That third category finally gives the lie to “at least they know how to use computers.” It appears that American millennials don’t know how to do much of anything, despite achieving higher overall levels of education than any generation in history. Wrestling with declinism after the jump.