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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Florida's Current Economic Woes

The most recent statistics are out, and Florida is far behind the nation's housing decline. Property sales are down, values have plummeted, and new business is declining. Another local guy with a very pretty blog called Sticks of Fire has declared that this isn't anything to be concerned about, and I'm sure he means well. But it is PRECISELY this type of rah-rah attitude that has placed us where we are today.

Floridians (particularly their leaders) are always too quick to say "let another administration handle it". Well, Bill Clinton's administration said that and we ended up with 9/11. Passing the buck or playing ostrich does not benefit Floridians. It allows the problem to accelerate like an out-of-control race car: Eventually everything will come to a screeching halt.

So, although I hate to rain on his parade, I must disagree with my fellow blogger.

Yes, Florida may still be a great place for business (even though new entries are in decline). However, it’s increasingly becoming a rotten place to live. Taxes are up, water shortages are common, land is at a premium, and the economy’s not the best.

So many people wanted a taste of our Paradise that they’ve bitten off too much and left us with too little. For instance, we now even pay to visit our own beaches, and pay a premium, at that. Natives are being forced to move away because taxes and insurance have been driven up by the carpetbaggers. Water is a scarcity and all politicians are seriously discussing the merits of desalinization plants versus the reverse osmosis process in a land where water was once plentiful and the city of Clearwater was named for it's clear water, which is no more.

Florida is a “Right to Work” state, which means that we are used, abused, drained by employers and easily discarded. I am happy that I own my own business, and I never exploited my employees, but there are so many businesses that do.

We pay high taxes, because the vast majority of businesses DON’T. We give them corporate welfare to entice them to come here and take advantage of us, and we pay the difference. Oh yes: Someone always pays. You see, 98% of all businesses in Florida do NOT pay taxes. That's right: NINETY EIGHT PERCENT.

Something is wrong in the balance.

Our economy and way of life will continue to suffer until we begin addressing our quality of living and worker’s rights. People and businesses will be forced to leave. Because, you see, quality businesses need quality workers. And both are in decline.

15 comments:

green said...

My parents can't wait to move to Florida when they retire in three or so years. Maybe the economy will be better by then....

Matt said...

You're in the two percent that DO pay?

Florida's definately a f#cked up state.

tommyduncn said...

Perhaps my writing wasn't clear (or even done well), but I did not intend to say there are no problems with the state of business in Florida.

I certainly did NOT declare there isn't "anything to be concerned about."

My point is only that even with all of the negative news, business still finds a way to flourish here. Whether that is because of cheap labor, tax loopholes, etc. is subject to further discussion.

My post mentions nothing about us regular citizens, and if our life is better or worse because of business.

http://sticksoffire.com/2007/04/24/something-is-good-for-business/

That you have brought up these issues are a great direction to take the conversation, but please don't think I was cheerleading, just pointing it out.

Saur♥Kraut said...

TommyDuncan, my dear, please don't think I was being critical of you (I hope I didn't give that impression). I think your blog is very nice, well laid-out, and written with dedication. I just disagreed with what (I thought) your premise was. On a side note, you might be very interested in someone that's currently running for school board over in your neck of the woods. Shoot me an email at saurblog at hotmail dot com and I'll fill you in. ;o)

Matt, I am. The little guys are the ones that don't have enough political punch to get outta taxes. :P

Green, It MIGHT be. As long as they're planning on living on a fixed income and not supplementing their work, say, as baggers for Publix, as many of our retirees do.

Hans said...

I have an opinion on this topic and as usual it’s not particularly well informed but it’s my opinion none the less.

As you eluded to in your post the two major items effecting Floridians right now are taxes (primarily property) and insurance. In regards to property tax the problem is how confused our assessed value vs actual value has become because of the Save Our Homes (SOH) law. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this it’s a law that caps the amount a homesteaded property can increase in ASSESSED value every year at, I believe, 3%. The idea was to prevent people from being taxed out of there homes because of jumping property values. With ACTUAL property values increasing at a rate around 10% per year for a number of years we now have a huge delta in the ACTUAL vs. ASSESSED values of homes. For example, a house that may have a fair market value for $300k could be taxed on an ASSESSED value of only $150k less a $25k homestead exemption, assuming the homeowner had been in it for a number of years. Now when the homeowner goes to sell the $300k home and downsize to a $200k home their taxes go up not down. The delta is not portable. At the same time the government has been compensating for this law by increasing the mil rates on property. I propose that the laws are changed to reflect assessed values that are actually fair market values and to adjust the mil rate down to where it should be.

In the post 2005 Hurricane Season there was an opportunity for insurers to do some profit taking by jacking up insurance rates while crying poverty because of the number of insurance claims that year. They play lawyer and accounting tricks and hide the money in subsidiaries and cry a tale of woe. The government response was to get deeper into the insurance business. Just further screwing up the works. If a guy makes a buck off of a deal before long another guy will come along and do the same deal for seventy five cents and another guy later for fifty cents. This is how a free market works. I think we need to ride this one out and let the market correct itself and not get the State further involved.

The Lazy Iguana said...

So THAT is why my booty hole is so sore!

I think that single family homes on coastal areas are safe from serious decline in value. But I kind of hope that is not the case.

You see, I would like to score a house one day! No way I can afford one now. So I say BRING ON THE CRASH!!!

I think that in places like Miami, the hit will be in the condo market. Living in a Condo will not be too bad I suppose. I want to be in a condo close enough to the water that another condo can not block my view of the bay, and at least 20 floors up.

When FL dumps all property tax - watch out. Local governments will not have anything. 911 operators may ask for a credit card number before dispatching help.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Lazy, I think a compromise is in order. Fair property tax is reasonable, accompanied by increased sales tax since we have such a large number of illegal aliens that don't pay taxes at ALL unless it's in sales tax. As for the coastal areas, it will be interesting to see if propt'y values drop, I don't know if they might drop heavily, but they ARE dropping. Here, at least: On the West coast.

Hans, excellent observations. I just learned something of interest, too: Citizens (the state's property insurance company) has the most complaints against them - more than any other insurance co. Of course they also have the largest share of policies. And, complaining to the state about the state's insurance, when Citizens is exempt anyway, is... ludicrous.

formerlyknownasgator said...

Saur,

I have home movies of me fishing where Island Estates is now. I would catch 50 fish in a day. I miss those days.

Pinellas County is toast but I still like Pier 60.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Actually Saur, illegal immigrants pay most taxes. They may not pay income or social security, but they get hit with everything else.

So unless illegals are buying homes, they are paying someone who is paying property tax on the full assessed value of the dwelling.

Rental properties are not exempt from any property tax. So if you rent, you pay 100% of the landlord's property tax (without a homestead exemption or any other exemption for that matter). If the landlord has a mortgage on the rental property, the renter also pays that - and insurance is tacked on by the bank if the owner does not obtain other insurance.

They also pay all sales tax, gas tax, alcohol tax, and so on.

Sales tax eats up more of your disposable income the less you make. Say you are poor and therefore spend 100% of your income (no savings). Assuming that everything you buy is subject to sales tax, then 7% of your income is taxed.

Now lets say you make a lot, and can afford to save 90% of your income. Only 10% of what you make is subject to sales tax. In effect, only .007% of your income is subject to sales tax.

Increasing the sales tax to a level where it can replace the existing tax base will be a substantial increase. More than the 1% the clowns are talking about. Think three or four percent - or get ready to see massive cuts in the State Budget.

This will hit those on a fixed income the most.

If you live in a $10,000,000 waterfront home on Star Island in Miami - why the hell should you not pay property tax?

Saur♥Kraut said...

Lazy, excellent points. You're right: Taxes and cost increases are ALWAYS passed on. Which is why minimum wage increases only end up costing us all more, and create increased cost in goods and services.

However, illegal immigrants don't live the same as we do, truthfully. They're notorious for stuffing a lot of people into a little space, and they also aren't going to be found in properties that add to the quality of the area. In other words, they'll be found living in low rent areas, not taking care of the property they live in, and living in what we consider squalor. Of course not ALL live like that, but their standards are lower. That's not intended as a slam, and it's not being racist: It's a simple fact.

And, of course, it's nice to think of the expensive homes getting taxed, but never the less we are ALL facing vastly increased property taxes, unless we are cramming enough people in our homes to spread the costs out more evenly. So... to sum it all up: Illegals are still paying less taxes.

ArtistFormerlyKnownasGator, I remember those days. Pier 60? Now you have to PAY to fish there.

jsull28fl@yaho said...

ok Saur
I realize that you are in the south part of the stae and maybe the same economics arent applicable but the land market is still kicking ass here. I bought 400 acres here last year for $3600.00 per and sold them a couple weeks ago for $5900.00
And on the whole economy one of my biz's is a manufactureres rep biz and we rep truck accessories,totally non-essential lines, and several of the man's are breaking records every month. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone who isnt to sorry to work isnt just killing it right now. It's never been better for me and mine
js fl cracker
fl biz owner
fl land owner/seller/buyer
fl corperation owner times 4

Senor Caiman said...

Saur,

Pier 60 Miss understanding, I get an ice cream cone and enjoy the stars. Only skates, cats and occassional flounder there.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Actually - "section 8" housing markets are hot. There is a lot of money in being a slum lord.

You can buy a multiplex in Liberty City for $250,000 or so that contains 4 or 5 one room apartments / efficiencies.

The government pays the rent, $800 per unit per month.

Illegals can not get section 8 housing, as it requires you to apply for it at the welfare office. Kind of hard to do when you are not even supposed to be here. Illegals tend to avoid all government offices.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Florida, with its tourist industry would seem to be a natural for a honkin sales tax. Is there none? (I seem to remember paying about eight or nine percent when I am at my time share at Panama City Beach)

Ba Doozie said...

this is friggin depressing. Now i'm going to eat too much peppermint ice cream and get the diarrhea