Rural Hospitals Redux

The Takeaway yesterday had a good segment on rural hospitals, basically continuing to “cry wolf” about their affordability. One of the participants in the discussion is, Dr John Waits, who with his colleagues and staff at Centreville Clinic Staff, are doing their best to help their community afford their healthcare. Dr Waits struggles valiantly in the discussion to avoid using the terms profit and subsidy. This is a mistake in my opinion, while you can talk about healthcare efficiencies, people need to hear that large hospital groups are for profit, yes even the not-for-profit ones. People need to understand that … Continue reading Rural Hospitals Redux

Greed, taxes and a lack of empathy

It’s tax time in Travis county and Austin, that means it’s the annual hand wringing and whining because the property values are up again, by huge amounts. Taxes are all relative. The total of tax paid is still stunningly low compared to the quality of life and services you get for that. Yes, property taxes are high, but sales tax is relatively low, there is no state income tax, and while the Ledge and Republicans have you convinced that Federal Taxes are high, and money being wasted on drug taking, idle, work shy, “minorities”, it doesn’t matter that that is … Continue reading Greed, taxes and a lack of empathy

insidious greed – HSBC

If you’ve not been following along today, it’s well worth reading back through the BBC Business Live News feed on the HSBC Tax Avoidance scandal. It is indeed the perfect example of the sort of insidious greed that is destroying society today. It’s not just the “me” culture that is all around us, but the industry and culture that is behind it. Rather than pay taxes now, there is a whole industry on tax-avoidance. It’s become an accepted practice, mostly illegal, certainly immoral and to deflect interest in their actions, just like with the bully at school, they deflect criticism … Continue reading insidious greed – HSBC

Property Tax, Travis county, Austin

There are a number of threads running through the posts on this blog about Austin and Texas. One key aspect of them is how things get paid for, and what gets paid for. Since Texas(bigger than Germany, approx. 7/8 the Population of Germany) has no income tax, as boasts about it’s low corporate taxes, apart from the 6.25% sales tax, property tax is key. Property tax, the valuation and assessment of properties has become both increasingly complex, and for many long term residents, unaffordable. Among those arguing for greater density in Austin, there are calls for better transportation, more affordable … Continue reading Property Tax, Travis county, Austin

Happy 4th to all my US Readers…

Happy 4th of July. This was my token yearly protest at 6:30am this morning, throwing a tea bag into Lake Austin from the Congress (bat) bridge. No taxation without representation! The reality is I pay little tax in Texas, not counting what the State takes from the federal government. However, I for one would be willing to pay state income tax if it helped fix the deep inequalities in the property tax, which have arisen from people like me moving to Austin, and driving huge increases in property taxes. The state of Travis county property taxes is in itself deeply … Continue reading Happy 4th to all my US Readers…

Nickel and dimed to death

On a recent visit to London I was disappointed and confused by the hotel checkout invoice. For a bar bill for 2-drinks was listed as 5-separate things, including a £2 convenience charge for service after midnight, a service charge, the drinks, and, err, the tip I’d left. At least to my memory none of this was shown on the original bar tab, just the drinks and the tip. This so reminds me of flying. I’ve remarked before that flying with United Airlines, where I don’t have any frequent flyer status, is like being nickel and dimed to death. You are confirmed on a flight, … Continue reading Nickel and dimed to death