Friday, July 23, 2010

Photocopies = Housing Fund?

Stuff like this drives me crazy.

In my work, I often have to get copies of the deeds and easements of record that encumber a property. My current project is an acquisition of easements on 39 parcels on a run in Lorain County, Ohio. I get these documents because they detail any potential conflicts for the areas of land I am trying to gain rights to.

I'm a captive audience. I have to pay the fee, whatever it is, because I need the information.

In my home state of Indiana, copies are $1/page for deeds. In Ohio? They are $2/page.

Does it intrinsically cost more to make a copy in Ohio than in Indiana? Of course not. Look at the itemization on the receipt:

That extra dollar goes into something called the 'Ohio Housing Trust Fund'. Well, isn't that nice. Here I am, coming to get documents, not even an Ohio resident, and I am taxed to pay for someone's housing in Ohio. If this isn't taxation without representation, I don't know what is.

I guess I can console myself in the knowledge that Cook County Illinois (Chicago) charges $10/page. Yes, that's right 1-0, ten dollars per page. It used to be $50! No kidding. Apparently, Cook County figured out that for that money, you'll go to the title companies for copies, since they have extensive files in-house. The heavens only know what that money is going towards there. But to record a document in Cook County, they nail on a $10 fee for support of rental housing. Anything these governments can do to redistribute wealth, they will do.

I can also console myself that I am reimbursed on this cost. So, get off it, right? Well, that cost is passed on to my client, a utility, who will then pass the cost on to you, the consumer. This is about as hidden a tax as I can think of. It will never show up on any balance sheet. So many ways the state finds to make doing business more expensive- for a good cause, sure- but more expensive all the same.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


One reason I don't like government dictating business policy- It makes mistakes.

Sure, business owners make mistakes too, but when it happens, it's on them. Nowhere to point the finger but at themselves. How about the auto dealerships that were hastily closed in trade for bailouts of the parent corporations? From CNN:
"Treasury made a series of decisions that may have substantially contributed to the accelerated shuttering of thousands of small businesses ... potentially adding tens of thousands of workers to the already lengthy unemployment rolls," said the report, released by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), Neil Barofsky.

GM and Chrysler were both required to submit restructuring plans to the Treasury's Auto Team in February of 2009, but the plans were rejected because Treasury deemed that the car makers weren't moving to close dealerships at a rate fast enough to keep their businesses viable.

So the auto manufacturers accelerated the process, with the help of bankruptcy laws that let them cancel dealer contracts. Chrysler terminated 789 dealerships last summer and General Motors announced plans to wind down 1,454 dealerships by October of 2010.

I'm all about the austerity and cost savings, wherever they may be found. Were the dealerships losing money?
Dealerships weren't axed to save money: The audit also found that dealerships weren't axed for the sake of saving money but for "far more amorphous reasons."

"Key members of [Treasury's] Auto Team stated ... that they did not consider cost savings to be a factor in determining the need for dealership closures," the report said.

It would be interesting to learn what those 'amorphous reasons' were. I don't like an amorphous government. It just doesn't breed confidence.

Sure, the automakers made the deal with the devil, and had to take Treasury's terms to get the money. But actions should have some reasons underpinning them.

If the government is acting to save jobs, this was a complete idiot's way of doing it.