2017 December 20

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Alfred E. Smith Building
CDTA Bus Stop - Dove And Washington
Dormansville, New York
Empire State Plaza
Holt Preserve
Kaaterskill Falls
Lost Nation State Forest
NYS Census - Taxes
Notes
Overlook Mountain
Taxes

December 2017
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Questions? Need an updated map? Email me andy@andyarthur.org.

Good evening! Partly cloudy and 28 degrees in Delmar. There is a northwest breeze at 11 mph. The current wind chill is 15. The skies will clear around 11 pm.

While I was back in the kitchen for most of the evening washing dishes, the Save the Pine Bush dinner featuring speakers from Standing Rock were fascinating, even if I had One Tin Solider, the Legend of Billy Jack in my head the whole time. I believe Billy Jack was somewhat ripped out of the headlines, 50 years ago even if it is fictional. Granted, the fight against fossil fuels is a far bigger crisis than some fictional movie that was widely panned by the critics. The water protectors do God’s work. I’m not into spirituality stuff and I like my big jacked up truck but we can’t keep burning all this black gold, especially that nasty stuff from Cannuck land. Like the natives and the good ol boys at Standing Rock,  I love camping and the idea of living off the land. Plus they had some pretty wild fires and spent some good time in the wilderness at Standing Rock. They were peaceful protestors so they didn’t have the guns, the cowboy hats or all the fun of the boys at that wildlife refuge out west. But what do I know, I missed most of the presentation.  I just operate the big dish washer and scrape the food scraps into the compost bucket. I like playing with the big toy, the restaurant size dish washer. I’m all preserving the Pine Bush and other fire dependent ecosystems.

Bus ride home was quiet and uneventful. I listened to the aforementioned song by Coven a lot, and it just seemed like with little traffic I was home quickly. Then again, it was the fast bus driver. I wonder if there was a house fire downtown, it smelled like something was burning in the city. Just laying in bed now for the night.

Tonight will be scattered flurries before 10pm. Partly cloudy, with a low of 18 degrees at 6am. One degrees below normal. Maximum wind chill around 8 at 6am; Northwest wind 8 to 11 mph. In 2016, we had mostly cloudy skies, clearing in the early hours of the next day. It got down to 19 degrees. The record low of -18 occurred back in 1942.

The First Quarter Moon is on Monday night. The sun will rise at 7:21 am with the first light at 6:49 am, which is 31 seconds later than yesterday. Tonight will have 14 hours and 57 minutes of darkness, an increase of one second over last night.

Tomorrow will be mostly sunny, with a high of 31 degrees at 2pm. Three degrees below normal. Northwest wind 5 to 7 mph. A year ago, we had mostly sunny skies with more clouds in the afternoon. The high last year was 39 degrees. The record high of 59 was set in 1957. 6.6 inches of snow fell back in 2008.

Not a particularly nice weekend on tap. Saturday, rain likely. Cloudy, with a high near 42. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible. I think that hurts our chances for a White Christmas, even if we do get a few inches of snow Friday. Christmas Eve, a chance of snow showers before 7am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 36. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Typical average high for the weekend is 33 degrees.

If I go camping this weekend, it will be up north on Christmas Day through Boxing Day. It seems like it will be quite snowy up north. That’s fine, I’ll park in one of the plowed  parking areas then shovel out a driveway closer to where I plan to camp. Of course if it looks like snow for those days I’ll skip out as I don’t want to have to drive in the snow. If not there is always New Years Eve. That might be a good way to ring in the New Year. I will probably cook up some of the leftover Pine Bush lasagna for my Christmas Dinner if I go camping.

In four weeks on January 17 the sun will be setting at 4:50 pm, which is 25 minutes and 33 seconds later then tonight. The days will be getting much longer by then. In 2017 on that day, we had rain, freezing rain, sleet, mist, cloudy skies and temperatures between 34 and 19 degrees. Typically, you have temperatures between 30 and 14 degrees. The record high of 62 degrees was set back in 1889.

Looking ahead, State of the State Day is in 2 weeks, Coldest Day of Year (Avg. 14-30 degrees) is in 3 weeks, Blue Moon is in 6 weeks, February Save the Pine Bush Dinner – 40th Anniversary is in 9 weeks, First Day of Spring is in 3 months, Independence Day is in 28 weeks and Inaugeration Day 2021 is in 36 months.

Now the valley cried with anger
“Mount your horses
Draw your sword”
And they killed the mountain people
So they won their just reward
Now they stood beside the treasure
On the mountain dark and red
Turned the stone and looked beneath it
“Peace on earth” was all it said.

– Coven, One Tin Solider

Here is what I think a Democratic tax plan should look like

I think the Democrats should put forward an alternative tax plan that makes the wealthy pay their fair share while encouraging working folk to keep and save more money. Here is what I propose for a Democratic tax plan:

Send all taxpayers a pre-filled out tax form

Too many poor and working folk are defrauded by tax preparation corporations. An easy way to increase tax refunds to the poor is to eliminate the tax preparation industry. The government knows how much you received in income for the most part, because the government receives from your employers and banks detailed statements on income earned and interest paid out. Rather then force a taxpayer to manually fill out a paper form or pay to have their taxes online, all a person would have to do is review the tax statement sent by the government, attest to it’s accuracy and provide a credit card or bank account for payment or refund either online or on paper. By using the online version, it would give people an additional $5 credit, covering the cost of postage and manual processing.

Create a new refundable $500 tax credit for individuals, $1,000 refundable tax credit for families

I think a “flat tax cut” makes a lot of sense, because it means that people who most it most will get more money in their pockets. A “flat tax cut” is fair because both the poor and rich get the same tax credit. George W. Bush implemented a similar tax cut, it proved to by mildly stimulative to the economy. It’s good policy to help people at the bottom who need the money the most get more, and for everyone else it’s fair, because everyone gets the same basic tax break regardless of how wealthy or poor they may be.

Make Taxes on Interest and Dividends More Progressive

Saving is such an important part of wealth building, that working families should pay no taxes on interest or capital gains made on bank accounts and investment. Taxes on investments should be eliminated for most working families, and should be reduced even for the wealthy. Instead of taxing wealth, we should move towards taxing carbon dioxide. Allow wealth to grow freely, especially for the poor and middle class, while addressing the carbon crisis our nation is facing.

Implement a Carbon Tax

Some liberals don’t like the idea of a carbon tax, because it means working families (and everybody else) will pay more for energy and daily necessities. This is valid point, but slowing the damage from climate change is a much larger concern then any one individual’s personal finances. I think a carbon tax should be phased in, and as it comes online, the carbon tax can be used to reduce taxes on industry to mute the effect of job loses as industry has to retool as we move to a carbon constrained future. A carbon tax will be costly on the economy, and will be costly on the rich and poor alike, but it’s too important to ignore.

Make the Estate Tax More Progressive

The current estate tax is $5.4 million tax free, then 40% for any money or property passed from one generation to the next. That threshold seems a little bit too high, I would suggest allowing families to pass on a million dollars of money or property tax free, then start at 10% for the next million, and increase it by 10% for every million over two. For too long, wealthy farmers and small business owners have been allowed to concentrate their wealth rather then spreading it out in economy. A much more progressive estate tax would provide billions in additional funding for the federal treasury, helping to close the deficit and freeing up billions to be used to strengthen the safety net and invest in our public infrastructure.

Google Maps: NY Median Househould Property Taxes by Census Tract

The new $10,000 limitation on deductibility of state and local taxes won't be a problem for the typical home owner Upstate but the same can't be said about living downstate. The Census Bureau does not report median household taxes above $10,000, so parts of the state where the median property tax exceeds $10,000 it is shown as only $10,000. That number should be read as $10,000 or higher.

Data Source: MORTGAGE STATUS BY AGGREGATE REAL ESTATE TAXES PAID (DOLLARS). Universe: Owner-occupied housing units, 2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_15_5YR_B25090&prodType=table

Map: Holt Preserve

Map: Holt Preserve

Winifred Matthews Holt Preserve is a 148-acre property on the western face of Copeland Hill in the Town of New Scotland. The preserve is visible from Route 32 and from neighboring hills. The preserve rises at the edge of the flat area known as Indian Fields. Dr. William Holt and Winifred Matthews Holt donated this hillside to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy in 1994.

http://mohawkhudson.org/our-preserves/holt-preserve/

Map: Lost Nation State Forest

Map: Lost Nation State Forest

Lost Nation State Forest covers 1,907 acres located in the towns of Stockholm and Norfolk in northeastern St. Lawrence County.

Recreation
There are currently no developed trails on this state forest. The property does provide large undeveloped areas well suited for hunting, hiking, and nature viewing.

Camping - There are no designated camp sites on this property. Back country camping is allowed. Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of water, roads or trail.

Hunting and Trapping are permitted on the property in accordance with all game regulations, unless otherwise posted.

Go-caching is allowed although caches must be marked with the owner's contact information and may not be placed in dangerous or ecologically sensitive locations.

Field Notes
The topography is very flat with extensive wetlands spread throughout the area. The wettest areas are dominated by open wetlands and shrub swamps, which gradually transition to swamp hardwoods and white cedar in seasonal flooded areas. Drier upland sites support northern hardwood and white pine forests.

As with many state forests, much of the area is former agricultural land which has reverted to forest. Open fields were planted with a variety of species including red, Scotch, and white pines, as well as white spruce.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/80872.html