Conservative media goes after Jon Stewart

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/03/28/conservative-media-goes-after-jon-stewart-for-non-existent-real-estate-hypocrisy.html

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This is all obviously an absurd deflection. Still, the fact that those three valuations are so different is not great in many ways.

Personally, I think you should be allowed to decide yourself what property is worth for tax purposes (with rules about when and how you can change it), with a rule that the government is allowed to buy it from you at any time at (some multiple of) that price. Fewer legal and political fights between new and longtime residents, or between owners and assessors. Fewer fights over eminent domain. Less uncertainty about the cost of building infrastructure and and other new developments, or the cost of owning a home. You want to say your home is worth $10 million to get a big loan (including, for example, a loan to improve the property)? Fine, but you pay property tax at that rate or higher for the life of the loan. You want to save money on taxes by saying it’s worth $1? Fine, but be ready to move the next time the town needs to build something new in your neighborhood or you fail to pay a parking ticket on time, and make sure you have the savings to pay off any remaining mortgage when that happens.

That’s not how collateralized loans work.

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No. Just no. There are actually rules for how the value of a property is assessed for tax purposes. It’s not arbitrary, and it’s not meant to equate to the market value of the home at all times. Letting people determine this value on their own would skew the system even more in favor of the uber wealthy than it already is. Some millionaire with an 8,000 sq.ft. house could undervalue the property by a ton and still have that value be much higher than the city or county would be able to afford to buy. Besides, cities and counties and states almost never want to claim rich people’s property. And poor people don’t own property. Their landlords do. So guess what their landlords will do? This would end up accelerating gentrification and make the problem of affordable housing even worse. Every second that goes by, I think of more ways in which this is a really bad idea.

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Whether that’s being done through an innocent mistake or a deliberate effort to spread misinformation, we’ll leave it to the reader to decide

To further inform that decision, it’s worth noting that the NY Post is a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch.

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Within a week we’ll be seeing social media posts talking about Stewart’s obvious fraud by any qnuts we might know.

Despite being trivially disprovable, this will begin to circulate as a ‘fact’ in that world. Just like Biden’s simultaneous doddering dementia and diabolical mastermind status, or Clinton’s emails.

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That doesn’t mean we don’t try to de-bunk the lies and BS upon which the American right is reliant. However, we have to acknowledge that approx. 27% of the population will reject facts and reason and reality, write them off, and focus our efforts elsewhere.

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Can’t find 450 million dollars? Did you try looking in the bathroom?

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Not that I expect any consistency or awareness from the Post or any other MAGA schools, but one of trump’s core arguments in this case was that because tax valuations are generally lower than actual sales price, they can’t be used to assess fraud in declared value. Of course, that’s ignoring the fact that he would adjust the valuation based on whether it was for tax purposes or securing loans… which is the whole fraud thing.

Our town recently re-assessed to values more in line with actual market value, which is great because it reduced our taxes by $400, but our neighbor with a massive 3 story had his taxes raised by $1500 because it hasn’t sold in over 20 years, well before he installed the massive garage with auto-lifts to store his Corvette, Charger, Jeep and S-10 (yes, he’s a conservative retired cop who is moving to South Carolina to get away from NY taxes, why do you ask?).

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As a general rule if the NY Post publishes any story as an “exclusive” you can bet the reason is that no other outlet considered it credible or newsworthy.

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This is standard operating procedure-- conservative commits crime, friendly conservative “sleuths” try to find an equivalent crime committed by some leftist enemy, they ultimately find something that’s not a crime but can be depicted as hypocrisy, it will get repeated ad nauseam by every Fox News and talk show host and seep into the general consciousness of the nation, and the masses of people who don’t pay much attention to politics will know about it and accept it as fact.

“But Obama took all his presidential documents and put them in a warehouse in Chicago, and Biden stole classified documents too and kept them in his unlocked garage!”

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I have no idea how assessments work when multiple units are combined, but John Stewart sold two units:

Jon Stewart, host of the “Daily Show,” recently sold his two units in the building (9A/8B) for $17.5 million after paying $5.8 million in 2005, according to The Real Deal.

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As someone who relies on people to pay property taxes so that I can do things like buy groceries, I’m gonna say no thanks. The relative stability of property tax values is the only way that my organization is capable of long-term planning. No amount of cheap property in places I wouldn’t want to buy it would make up for that instability.

I’m also generally against using property taxes as a catch-all for funding public services, because it leads to drastically unequal access, but that’s a different gripe for a different post.

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If I went to the bank for a loan and inflated the value of my house, they’d laugh in my face. Why did they not laugh in his face?

Oh yeah. Because “everyone does it”. Everyone that’s rich, that is. There truly are two tiers of existence…

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I’m aware of that. I’m not saying the bank should believe you, and they definitely shouldn’t be required to believe you. I’m saying if you claim a high value on property, and use that value to get a loan, then your assessed tax value should be at least that high. If you try to do that and fail, then oops, you just locked yourself into high property taxes for X years for no benefit.

@danimagoo I agree towns are reluctant to enforce their own laws against rich people. To a large extent this is because they make a big stink about it when it happens. That’s why it’s important to have a well defined, streamlined process for not allowing challenges, since the person themselves already decided on a price they were willing to sell at. I also think it’s net helpful to empower everyone in the town to see exactly how selfish their neighbors are being, so they can complain to their elected officials about it. Otherwise, I disagree with everything else, and I think there’s an obvious next step that addresses those problems.
First off, where is the town that contains an uber-rich person, but is otherwise so poor that the town can’t buy it even at a steep discount?. Or that can’t take out a short term loan for the obviously discounted house and then immediately turn around and sell it for a massive profit? If I walked into Bank of America with a signed contract saying, “William Banks VII agrees to sell me his 8k sq ft mansion at any time for only $200k,” I’d walk out immediately with a pre-approval for a mortgage for as little as 3% down with all closing costs rolled into the loan. Then I can turn around and sell it a month later (maybe back to the original owner!) for millions.

I think the argument about landlords and gentrification similarly fails. If no one enforces the policy or uses the purchase option, then landlords claim low property values. They make more money. Tax revenue plummets, sure, but why would these landlords sell to developers or hire contractors to enable gentrification? But lets say they do want to convert to upscale, gentrified units anyway (which is unusual, usually a town with a collapsed tax base enters a downward spiral like around rust belt cities). Then unless everyone in the chain of developing and buying the new gentrified units does so with no loans, the end result is a higher tax base (paid for by the new residents) because everyone moving in has to pay based on the price assumed in the loans. Conversely, if it is enforced, then the landlords that try to cheat find their property in someone else’s hands, repeat until the claimed price matches market price.

I get that lots of policies fail because they’re not enforced, or enforced badly, and I do expect there to be some cheating just below the threshold where it’s worth a town’s or city’s time to enforce it. But the current valuation rules are, frankly, usually insanely unrelated to anything resembling any other metric of value, leading to distorted local economic conditions in ways that make most communities net poorer.

@JonQuixote I agree with both of your points. We don’t want an inconsistent tax base and we shouldn’t fund things solely with property taxes. I disagree that my proposal causes either of those problems. I think it’s unrelated to the latter and actually helps with the former.

FWIW in general my preferred economic policy regime would be something like “vengeful libertarian who hunts down externalities like a hawk.” It’s like how Aladdin defeated Jafar: “You want it? You got it. And everything that goes with it!” It’s not like a monkey’s paw, there’s no active malice in granting people what they ask for. But the mechanisms should ensure you’re required to deal with all the foreseeable consequences of your choices."

Stewart / Colbert 2028!

Unfortunately neither has any interest being president
No to dealing in the massive systemic problems amd accompannying headaches and pay cut that would come with it

On my second point, like I said, different gripe for a different post, wasn’t saying that it was related, just general complaining on my part.

On my first point though, municipalities use mass appraisal rather than individual appraisal for figuring out property values. Then they plug in the appraised value into another formula to figure out assessed value. Where I live, you can dispute the mass appraisal rate, and who knows, you might even get a deal, but nothing like the extremes you gave as examples, and most people don’t bother to try. A move from mass appraisal to individual appraisal would be untenable for local governments to perform, and considerably more work for your average homeowner.

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Yeah, because the last president who came from the media was such a roaring success! Let’s do that again!!! /s

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Nor would either necessarily be any good at it. Being a great commentator/comedian/talk show host involves a whole different skill set than being a great President.

I mean, Lincoln was a great President but that doesn’t mean he had a hilarious tight five.

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