Monthly Archives: August 2005

Are Sales Taxes Good Public Policy?

The August 20, 2005, copy of the Anchorage Daily News featured this somewhat unsettling headline: “It’s sales tax vs. bigger sales tax.” The story began with…

Assemblyman Dan Coffey is proposing a 3 percent sales tax that would shave most people’s property tax bills by 25 percent. Assemblyman Dan Sullivan wants to examine whether a higher sales tax could replace property taxes altogether.

Let me take a philosophical diversion for a moment. I have a friend who buys and sells real estate in Florida. He is politically very conservative. In order to maintain the friendship, we generally try to stay away from political discussions. We tend to be passionate about our respective political beliefs, and butt heads when such subjects bubble to the surface of our otherwise friendly repartee.

One day we were discussing his business, and I was quite speechless when I heard him say Read the rest of this entry

The Tesche Report

A lot of important public policy in Alaska is considered by, passed by, altered by, reconsidered by, or entirely ignored by the Anchorage Assembly. To date, the best summary of such considerations by the Assembly that I am aware of can be found in The Tesche Report, a new blog written by Assembly member Allan Tesche, who represents the Downtown district. Not only is the pithy summary of events helpful, but so is the subtle and not-so-subtle commentary that accompanies it.

Cut the Cake, Not the Benefits

Today, August 14, is Social Security’s birthday. Happy Birthday Social Security! You have a lot to be proud of. Here are the top ten reasons why…

Fact #1: About half of the elderly have incomes that, without Social Security, leave them below the poverty line. Social Security lifts 13 million elderly Americans above the poverty line.

Fact #2: Social Security does more to reduce poverty among children than any other government program. In 2002, one million children under age 18 were lifted above the poverty line by Social Security benefits. Read the rest of this entry

University of Alaska Shoots Self in Foot

First, I would like to quote extensively from a recent e-mail I received from AARP. The folks at AARP are pleasant and tactful, but if you read between the lines…

How do you feel about the University of Alaska Board of Regents eliminating the tuition waiver for students over age 60? University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton is proposing that senior students pay full tuition, even though they may be auditing a course for no credit. Read the rest of this entry

I-SaveRX: Why Isn't Alaska a Member?

When you first log onto I-SaveRX, your initial impression might be visual disappointment, because the site has an older, kind of unsophisticated look to it. You need only scroll down to the bottom of the home page, however, to realize that this site is absolutely unique. At the end of the home page are the official state seals of five states, the current sponsors of the website. Alaska’s State seal is not there, but should be. This website enables the residents of these states to save a lot of money on their prescription drug bills. All states have an open invitation to join, and Alaska should certainly consider being the very next state. Here’s why… Read the rest of this entry