What’s property tax inflation in your area?

We are informed that inflation is at 3 percent. The various county and local governments here in Palm Beach County/Jupiter somehow did not get the memo. A “Notice of Proposed Property Taxes” that I recently received shows that the taxing authorities are increasing their budgets by about 9.5% on a per-resident basis. The notice shows the millage rates with and without the proposed budget increases.

(I don’t think that the budget increases can be explained by the lockdown-driven exodus from the Northeast. The county’s population grew by only 13,000 in 2022, less than 1 percent (Palm Beach Post).)

Note that the first $50,000 of value is exempt for full-time residents under the “homestead exemption” and the assessed value for a primary residence cannot go up by more than 3 percent annually (but there is no limit to increases for the millage rates?).

Readers: What’s happening to your property tax bills in our 3% economy?

One of our neighbors is an accomplished oil painter. Here’s a photo that I took of what I think is one of the nicer-looking houses in the neighborhood for her to use as the basis of a painting:

What I think is the same house, but in white:

(The truly custom houses in this area are reserved for the truly rich!)

While shopping for furniture that would help our senior golden retriever get up on the bed, I found this upsetting example of inflation:

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Seal off criminal-rich neighborhoods to tackle the public health emergency of gun violence?

CBS yesterday:

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday issued an emergency public health order that suspends the open and permitted concealed carry of firearms in Albuquerque for 30 days in the midst of a spate of gun violence.

Gun enthusiasts are saying that this is unconstitutional, but that’s irrelevant if there’s an emergency. KOAT:

“I can invoke additional powers,” Lujan Grisham said. “No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is intended to be absolute.”

It’s only for 30 days and it is intended to address what the governor has characterized as an “emergency”, so it is unclear why anyone could make a good faith objection to this order. The governor herself summarizes the situation succinctly (nytimes):

“I have emergency powers,” she said. “Gun violence is an epidemic. Therefore, it’s an emergency.”

Let’s look at some history and consider what might be a more effective approach to ending the gun violence emergency…

Prior to 2020, Americans believed that the U.S. Constitution guaranteed each of us the right to leave his/her/zir/their home to assemble, e.g., at work or school. However, it turned out that the Constitution did not prevent lockdowns of young healthy Americans on the grounds that there was a statistical chance that the lockdown could save the life of an old person somewhere.

That the societies with lockdowns had as-high or higher overall excess death rates compared to lockdown-free and mask-free Sweden isn’t relevant to this post. Even if no lives were saved, the idea was that lives might be saved and therefore the Constitution could be set aside. #BecauseEmergency

The majority of Americans, among the world’s meekest and most compliant humans, seem to be happy to have traded what had been their rights for the promise of safety. (Dutch friend at the time: “All of the rights that Americans fought and died in multiple wars to defend, they gave up in one governor’s press conference.”) Here’s part of a recent comment on Twitter, in response to a freedom-lover who complained about lockdowns, forced vaccinations, mask orders, etc. and asserted that they were unconstitutional:

Coercion is not the same as force and weakens your argument when you conflate the two. A majority of society agreed protect public health, that’s democracy.

Nobody was forced to get vaccinated. It is just that a person could have a job or be in a public place only if he/she/ze/they accepted the experimental injection. The lockdowns were okay because they were a product of democratic processes. My response:

Democracy undiluted by the Constitution sounds good. Freedom from crime is an important element of public health. What if a majority of Americans voted to seal the borders of any neighborhood in which the residents had committed more than a certain number of violent crimes? See below for how it could work in practice. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_13

Our democratically elected federal and state governments took away various freedoms based on statistical hopes and using an “emergency” as a justification. Do we have what we need to justify locking down neighborhoods from which we can expect criminal activity? From CNN:

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, acknowledged Sunday that gun violence in the US is a public health emergency.

What would it look like in Detroit, Michigan, rated #1 in “Total Crime Index”? Referring to the map below, the neighborhoods in the darkest color (?!?) would be walled off as a reasonable public health measure. Residents could leave their houses only during certain daylight hours and only for purposes deemed essential, such as buying marijuana. (See this March 23, 2020 article: “Michigan marijuana shops may remain open during the COVID-19 coronavirus stay-at-home order issued Monday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer”) There would be checkpoints at a few points in the wall where people could be screened for guns and drugs on the way in or out (in those situations where the governor was permitting residents to go in or out).

Is there any flaw in the above reasoning? Separately, if you haven’t seen District B13, I recommend it!

Related (loosely):

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Will NASA need to choose a new crew for Artemis in light of the recent Supreme Court decision banning race discrimination?

We were just at the Kennedy Space Center and learned that discrimination by race and gender ID is something to be proud of. NASA crows that the Artemis crew has been selected to include a person who identifies as a “woman” and another person who identifies as “of color”. From the project web site:

A different branch of government, however, has recently ruled that universities that get government funding shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate by race (see Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard). I’m wondering if NASA will now have to redo the hiring for the Artemis mission in a race- and, perhaps, gender-ID-neutral manner.

Here are some photos from the visit, which coincided with a SpaceX launch of the Europeans’ Euclid telescope…

Banners everywhere celebrated “40 years of women in space,” just in time for the term “women” to have become undefined:

Celebrating specific gender/race groups can be continued at home after a visit to the gift shop:

(An immigrant friend pointed out to his kids that “the real hidden figures were 1600 Nazi scientists”)

If Harvard can’t discriminate by race in admissions, how is NASA able to discriminate by race in selecting astronauts?


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If Rainbow Flagism is the state religion, why do individuals and businesses need to buy their own rainbow flags?

In Rainbow-first Retail (examples from Bozeman, Montana), I displayed photos of retail shops whose owners invested time and money to ensure that consumers wouldn’t be able to enter without paying obeisance to America’s state religion. But if 2SLGBTQQIA+-ism is our state religion and the trans-enhanced rainbow flag is our sacred symbol, why do private businesses and individuals need to organize worship?

Park City, Utah provides an answer to this question: “they don’t.” Here are some photos from last month in which we can see the city’s 100+ trans-enhanced rainbow flags, enough to adorn every lamppost in town:

Who agrees with me that it would be simpler for the government to handle annual and permanent Pride observance duties?

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How did the legacy admissions scheme last this long?

Nominally “private” colleges and universities get so much money from taxpayers that they are essentially part of the government. Taxpayers fund tuition grants that go straight into the colleges’ pockets. Taxpayers subsidize student loans that boost revenue by letting students pay more. Taxpayers fund research grants from which universities extract “overhead”.

The Equal Protection Clause:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

College admission isn’t exactly a “law”, but various cases have been decided in which this clause was applied to government programs generally, e.g., forcing states to allow same-sex marriage (and, eventually, throuples?). It wouldn’t be okay for the FAA to say “Your mom held a pilot certificate so therefore we’re going to let you have a pilot certificate at 35 hours instead of the usual minimum of 40.” Nor could the FAA say “We’re cutting you slack on the practical test because you paid $1 million in federal income tax last year.” Why is it okay for government-funded schools, such as Yale and Stanford, to say “We’re going to lower the bar for you because your parents attended and/or donated”?

Is the answer simply that no high-scoring-but-rejected-by-Yale applicant ever sued and obtained discovery showing that (1) second-rate legacy kids got admitted instead, and (2) Yale is firmly entrenched underneath a shower of government money?


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What if our National Parks charged Navajo prices?

Our National Parks get less than 10 percent of their budget from entrance fees. In other words, people who don’t go to the parks are subsidizing people who do go to the parks. A 2015 report found that visitors paid $186 million in fees directly and $85 million via concessions (food and hotels) while the Park Service spent $3.1 billion.

Part of the reason for this is that prices are low. Not quite as low as in 1938, when the parks were free:

But an annual pass that enables 8 people in a minivan to spend 3-4 weeks in the parks is $80. I had already purchased a pass for the Vegas/Pahrump trip (Death Valley, Sheri’s Ranch to try to meet up with Hunter Biden, Corvette School, etc.) so it cost us $0 in fees to spend 3 weeks in the National Parks in June. Even if we had paid $80 that would have been less than the cost of housekeeping tips ($5 is the new $3).

Let’s assume a family of 4. What do the Navajo charge for them to look at something interesting? We took a one-hour tour of Antelope Canyon and it worked out to $100 per person. Here’s a photo from that excursion:

Let’s assume that a typical family won’t be able to pay $400 per hour every hour, but $100 per person per day is the “Navajo rate” for what could reasonably be charged. The National Park Service budget is up to $3.6 billion in Bidies. For the agency to be fully funded by visitors, therefore, they’d have to host 36 million person-days. Is that practical? State-sponsored NPR says that 312 million people visited in 2022. It is unclear if they’re counting how many days each person spent in the park and, of course, visitation would fall if Navajo pricing were established rather than give-away pricing, but it seems clear that the Park Service could easily fund itself from entrance fees.

For reference, the Chileans charge foreigners $35 per adult to visit their signature national park for one day. Even at Chilean prices it would seem that the NPS could easily be self-funded.

What about families where nobody has worked for 4 generations? How are they going to enjoy the Grand Canyon? As with museums, anyone with a SNAP/EBT card could be admitted for free.

What’s wrong with the current system? Nothing, if you’re a member of the elite! Since the NPS isn’t charging anything for park entry, the people who own hotels and restaurants in the parks (i.e., the cronies) can charge higher prices. It ends up costing about $1000/day to visit the parks in any degree of comfort, so the visitors themselves tend to be elite.

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National Parkflation

Gift shops at National Parks sell books, stickers, posters, and quilts featuring all of the parks for those who wish to try to hit them all (my favorite is a scratch-off). If you’re old and remember when the “National Park” designation was reserved for truly spectacular places you will greatly underestimate the challenge. There are now 63 National Parks. How is that possible? 63 places in the U.S. that deserve to be mentioned as peers to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon?!?

It turns out that there has been a substantial amount of Parkflation.

Eero Saarinen’s 1965 Gateway Arch in St. Louis was redesignated from Jefferson National Expansion Memorial to Gateway Arch National Park in 2018 (Wikipedia).

Black Canyon of the Gunnison was a National Monument starting in 1933. Without any upgrades to the sights, which Coloradans say are worth a half-day visit, it became a National Park in 1999.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a set of hills cut through with highways just south of Cleveland. Half of Connecticut and all of New Hampshire qualifies as a National Park if this place does. From Wikipedia:

Cuyahoga Valley was originally designated as a National Recreation Area in 1974, then redesignated as a national park 26 years later in 2000, and remains the only national park that originated as a national recreation area.

We checked off the park on the way to Oshkosh 2021. It’s a pleasant place for an afternoon walk if you don’t mind being able to hear road noise.

The UNESCO World Heritage folks are more discriminating. Only 12 natural sites, all National Parks, make the cut:

  1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park (1995)
  2. Everglades National Park (1979)
  3. Grand Canyon National Park (1979)
  4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1983)
  5. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (1987)
  6. Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek (1979, 1992, 1994)
  7. Mammoth Cave National Park (1981)
  8. Olympic National Park (1981)
  9. Redwood National and State Parks (1980)
  10. Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (1995)
  11. Yellowstone National Park (1978)
  12. Yosemite National Park (1984)

(One’s in Florida!)

Readers: What are your predictions for the next few U.S. National Parks? Here are mine:

The southern edge of Vermilion Cliffs, as viewed when driving from Grand Canyon North Rim to Page, Arizona:

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Branch Covidians in the National Park Service

3.5 years after coronapanic began, the National Park Service web site:

Tours of Glen Canyon Dam
Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, the dam is closed to the public.

In case the above is memory-holed:

At Yellowstone, the National Park Service encourages visitors to wear a mask and social distance when outside in a 20-knot breeze:

What are other Americans up to? Just 10 minutes from the National Park Service HQ in Washington, D.C., there is a 24/7 bathhouse:

(The 2SLGBTQQIA+ club reopened in the summer of 2021. A 12-year-old needed to show his/her/zir/their vaccine papers to go to a public place in D.C., such as a restaurant, but the Covidcrats didn’t see any infectious disease potential in a venue where a customer might have sex with 25 different partners in one night.)

Perhaps we’re just looking at #AbundanceOfCaution and slavish devotion to CDC guidance? Here’s the CDC’s main page for COVID-19 prevention (the filename is actually “prevention”):

Handwashing is featured above even the sacred Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The National Parks have become mass gatherings and are more crowded, certainly, than our day-to-day lifestyle in the city of Jupiter, Florida (see this post, and the photos link, regarding Zion). Florida city, county, and state governments are all about building and maintaining clean public restrooms, despite being notorious for rejecting CDC guidance on lockdowns, school closures, mask orders, and forced COVID-19 vaccination. We might expect the Branch Covidians at the National Park Service to have overtaken Florida government officials in providing handwashing facilities to the general public. Yet, in fact, I found the opposite was true during a summer 2023 visit to various parks. Restrooms with running water inside the parks were closed and/or being shut down (sometimes primitive outhouses with no sinks were substituted), thus making it impossible for the humans gathering in these parks to wash their hands per CDC guidance. Said humans are encouraged and/or forced (depending on the park) to ride packed buses, so the “they’re gathering only outdoors” response does not apply.

Here’s an example closed restroom in Yellowstone:

Near the popular Steamboat Geyser:

How about in Canyonlands National Park? Maybe it is unreasonable to ask the Feds to give customers a potentially life-saving running-water bathroom on a plateau that is so high above the water? (Some of the guys running cattle on the adjacent federal land seem to be pumping water, though.) The Feds are charging only $30 per vehicle, after all, so maybe outhouses are all that we can expect. On the same plateau, the Utah state government folks who run Dead Horse Point State Park charge a $20 fee and truck water up so that visitors can enjoy civilized bathroom experiences:

Only very loosely related… the federal government imposes just one rule for what it calls the “Fishing Bridge”: no fishing. Yellowstone National Park:

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Diversity is our strength, NASA edition

Many moons ago, so to speak, I was a Fortran programmer on the Pioneer Venus project. Here’s a recent tweet from my former employer:

There’s “space for everyone” and “different perspectives” are valuable. But on the other hand, there is no space for perspectives from taxpayers who fund the agency.

Also, why is it just “LGBTQI+”? Why not 2SLGBTQQIA+?

Finally, if the future of the galaxy is female, according to Science and the baseball cap below, why does NASA hire anyone who identifies as of the 73 other genders recognized by Science? Why is “diversity” better than betting on the winning gender?


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